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Total War: Shogun 2 Heaven » Forums » Bardic Circle - War Stories & AAR forum » The Eagle and the Wolf- Pt II- Tyroes in the Forest
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Topic Subject:The Eagle and the Wolf- Pt II- Tyroes in the Forest
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Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-27-09 02:12 AM EDT (US)         
Excerpt from 'Tyroes in the Forest':

A rider hurried in. Alone, he was no threat, so the legionaries of the VI Victrix let him approach. They relaxed as they recognized the auxiliary, and the leading centurion detailed off two men to escort him to the legate.

“Horsemen, legate,” the scout reported. “Off to our left and closing. Scattered bands of ten or so, with footmen. Do you wish us to take them out?””

Vipsanius Messala looked off to where the scout pointed, and shook his head. “Check them out. The Xth is over that way covering our flank. Marcus is a good commander- he will have scouts out as well. If they are his Remi, tell them they are drifting right.”

“And if they are Germans?” asked the scout.

“Then kill them,” the legate ordered curtly.

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



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

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 01-22-2013 @ 01:04 AM).]

AuthorReplies:
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-27-09 02:13 AM EDT (US)     1 / 98       
Noviomagus, Germania Inferior, January AUC 827

Marcus Rutilius did not like the orders he received, but there was little he could do but obey. The new governor, Quintus Julius Cordinus Caius Rutilius Gallicus, had the approval of the Emperor to retrieve the Eagles of the V Alaudae and XV Primigenia – lost when those legions had been starved out of Vetera then cruelly butchered- and he was intent on that. Rutilius Gallicus had his approval- and personal reasons. Marcus Rutilius knew this well- the governor had been a tribune in the V Alaudae back when Rutilius first arrived in that legion as a replacement. The governor lost a lot of good friends in that slaughter, and Quintus Munius Lupercus- the legatus- had been a close friend with familial ties to the Julii Cordini. It was only natural that the governor made war to punish his murderers. The Eagles were just a means to garner Imperial approval- and it worked.

He could not ignore the orders, but he could and would ensure that those orders killed as few of his precious legionaries as possible. It was to this end he now prepared, with a staff meeting of all tribunes and senior centurions. The men were ready in his study when he entered, the tribunes rising from their stools and the centurions already standing when he entered. He was pleased to note that Aulus Lucanus Strabo, the cross-eyed pampered and bigoted brat of a senator, was at ease next to Cadorus, the British tribune. That bode well.

“The orders are in,” he began. He lifted a linen sheet from the wooden board anchored to his table. Under was another linen sheet, with lines and boxes. Every man there recognized the wavy trace of the Rhenus and the locations of the castra in the province without having to read the words marked upon it for those who did not.



“The other three legions of this province will gather at Castra Vetera,” he announced, “the quarters of the fourth legion, the XXII Primigenia. From there, we will sweep through the southern portion of Bructeri lands along the Lupia River to its headwaters, where Drusus defeated the Sicambri ninety or so years ago, before turning north to follow the Ems along the Bructeri-Chauci border. Along this river, our scouts say, is the royal town where the Bructeri king holds his hall. There are lie the Eagles of the Alaudae and the Primigenia, our objectives.”

He turned from the map to face his men. “We are also ordered to slay or enslave any Bructeri we come across as a reprisal for the murder of those legions. Does anybody here not know the history behind this action?”

Cadorus raised his hand, followed by Lucanus Strabo. After them, at least six of the centurions also raised their hands.

Rutilius cursed softly. They should have heard this by now. The memories were painful and strong, but he regurgitated them anyway, against his own will. These men had a right to know what kind of men they faced.

“The Germani had besieged Vetera, as I am sure you do know. There were the remnants of two legions there. I say remnants because they had gotten spanked hard by the Germani earlier- when they moved to assault Batavodurum. That’s Noviomagus before it was renamed and moved, by the way. They survived a long siege, eating fish caught at night and making soup from moss growing on the walls, until they could hold out no more. Eight months they held out, awaiting relief which tried and tried to come, only to be forced back time and again.

“The men were going mad with hunger, and Munius Lupercus- senior legate- finally caved. He surrendered the fort to the Batavians, on the condition that his men be give free passage to the nearest Roman holding. At that time, the nearest Roman haven was Massilia- everything in between was either in Germanic hands or threatened by Gallic revolt. The Batavians accepted, provided the legionaries left their arms and armor in the fort. It was so, and they gave the starving men some food, rations for the journey, and a scroll of free passage as agreed. This we recovered, so we know at least Civilis gave the order of free passage. Then Lupercus and his men marched south.

“They never made it to Gelduba, much less Massilia. They were ambushed and slaughtered to a man in the forest. Every one of them. Dead. It was discovered later that Civilis did not order the deed, but it was rather the handiwork of the Bructeri. Lupercus was to be taken to their queen- a seeress by the name of Veleda. Neither his nor the bones of Numisius Rufus, the XV Primigenia legate, were ever found.”

He looked at the horror in the men’s eyes and saw they understood the implication. “These Bructeri did not hesitate to kill the helpless, nor to violate a sacred vow. They are not to be trusted, and deserve no mercy.”

“These are also the buggers who tried at least three times to kill the legate last year,” Palla announced. “I heard from the primuspilus of the XXII, sir. Those men who wiped out your Median guard and put that arrow in your chest- they had Bructeri arrows on and in them. Same twisted fletchings your Erwin made. The other two times was right here in town, people. These Bructeri bastards are very bad people.”

Murmurs rippled through the assembled soldiers, but the murmuring was angry. There was no sympathy or pity for these wretches- they deserved none and shall receive none. Not from the X Gemina, at least.

“So it is a simple search-and-destroy mission,” Cadorus summed up. “We search for the Eagles, and destroy anything and anyone we come across. We have three solid, veteran legions- we shall prevail.”

“The Bructeri are even less popular across the river as they are on this side,” Rutilius continued. “They border on both the Chauci, the Marsi, the Tencteri, and the Frisii. Merchants reported seeing Bructeri envoys in each of those lands, and each time the envoy was sent home upset. The Tencteri used to have good ties to the Bructeri, but dropped those after the revolt was crushed. Evidently they had enough of Bructeri friendship as well.

“So we shall have guides over there,” he added. ”Two Marsi and a Tencteri hunter. They have once lived there, so they know the land. The Bructeri think they are Kings of the Forest. These chaps think otherwise. They have little to like about the Bructeri. So we will not be going in blind like Varus.”

“Your orders, legate?” asked Cadorus.

“We train like our lives depend on it,” Rutilius answered. “I want five day hikes for every cohort- three at a time. Weapons drills in the morning, marching twenty miles, build a camp, then repeat. I want the auxilia in on the training as well- cavalry and spearmen working with and against each other, while each of the Arvernii should be able to hit a melon at a hundred-fifty paces or better.”

He turned to Palla. “Top, you accompany each march, like we did before I got hurt. I want at least two tribunes on each march as well. Later, we take the whole legion out on maneuvers, but I have to arrange something before we try that. And of course, I will be on many marches as well- if I make you do it, I have to show that I am willing to do it as well.”

Rutilius dismissed the men to spread the word among the cohorts that it was going to be a hard winter. Then he called Salvius to bring his warmest cloak.

“Where are we going?” asked his aide as he entered with two cloaks.

“I am going to see the king,” the legate answered. “I assume you are going to wait outside.”

“Smartass,” Salvius smirked. “I will meet with Frieda at the inn, then come back to escort you up here two hours after. Good enough?”

“I’ll have my Batavian escort once I hit the market,” Rutilius reminded him. “Escort me there, then you can go spend four hours with Frieda, if you like. But please send my regards to Froydis, if you see her there. Tell her my wound is much better.”

“She hasn’t been around much lately,” Salvius observed. “You two have a fight or something?”

“I’ve just been busy,” Rutilius replied. “You know how a legate’s life is.”

“Aye,” was the reply. And after that, a trip through a wintry castrum down a wind-blown track to a cold long hall across from a frozen market. Ten men fell in around him as Salvius made his farewell. Rutilius was chattering in his teeth by the time he reached the hall, but never complained about it- he loved the cold. It was far better than desert heat. If it was cold, you put more clothing on. If it is colder, then more clothing. If it was too warm, once you are standing naked- there is nothing more you can do.

The guard escorted the legate and his Batavian bodyguards inside, then led the legate onward to where Tiberius Labeo sat to dinner. It was a simple affair, warm stew and a few friends- nothing formal.

“Marcus, my friend,” the king said, recognizing his visitor. “Come and join us. You know Jurg Blackeye and Ulric, Son of Reinhard, correct? Both were in my squadron during the Little War.”

Rutilius nodded to the men and accepted the bowl of warm stew a servant brought him. He sat, chatted, then afterward asked Labeo for a moment.

“I need some men,” he asked when they were alone. “Enough to make up three cohorts.”

Labeo sat back, shocked. “We do not have that many! We already fill eight cohorts for Rome- any more and we cease to exist, or leave our women and children unprotected. That was what Civilis used as a means to bring us against Rome in the first place.”

“Sorry, let me rephrase my request,” Rutilius said, identifying the cause of Labeo’s alarm. “I want to raise three cohorts for a few months, then disband them. I will be training my legion, Tiberius, and need a moving enemy to maneuver against. There will be no blood spilled- it is maneuver training, not weapons training, and each man you get me will be paid two denarii per month and be provided with food for the duration. I will be paying, not Rome, and I require no sacred oath. As I said, it is for practice.”

Labeo relaxed visibly. “I see. And very wise!” He nodded and lifted a horn in respect. “But alas, I cannot help you. We simply have too few men.”

“Women would do,” Rutilius pleaded. “All they have to do is approach the legion, follow their banners as it moves around, then return to their homes at night.”

“If we bring our widows to your legion in the field, they would attack and rape it,” Labeo laughed. “As I said, we have too few men. And women have urges too.”

He sat forward. “But I have an idea. Niall. The Cananefate have not suffered as much as have we, and they have had no auxilia to fill. He has a warhost with whom you can train. But he will ask a price.”

“Two denarii for a thousand men for two months, plus the cost of food, is about all I can pay.”

“Forget that silly metal,” Labeo said, waving his hands as if shunning the thought. “Think Cananefate. Training and weapons. Your men have both- he has only what was scrounged from battlefields. You agree to help train his warhost and your armorers help with outfitting them, and he will provide the warhost with whom to train against.”

“It is worth a try,” Rutilius muttered after a moment’s thought. Rome wouldn’t approve of his training and outfitting the warhost of a foreign nation, but thankfully Rome was far away. And the Cananefate have already proven they can and will provide a friendly buffer against the incursions of the more bellicose Frisii north of them. “Thank you, Tiberius,” he said as he rose. “That is a most ingenious solution. I shall send word tomorrow to see if he will agree to speak to me.”

“Let me handle the meeting,” Labeo asked. “You handle your legions and the Romans, I the barbarians. It has worked well so far.”

Rutilius agreed. He held out his hand to the king, and the two men shook on it.

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 11-27-2009 @ 03:53 PM).]

Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 11-27-09 01:32 PM EDT (US)     2 / 98       
Yay!

I knew you wouldn't be able to refrain from your story for long. I am looking forward to the next chapter already.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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

(dis ma house)

[This message has been edited by Edorix (edited 11-27-2009 @ 01:33 PM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 11-27-09 01:51 PM EDT (US)     3 / 98       
Same here. Let loose the banners of war!

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 12-01-09 04:09 AM EDT (US)     4 / 98       
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Rutilius marched his four cohorts to Traiectum and had them set up a camp while he travelled onwards to the fort itself. There he met briefly with the prefect, Aulus Horatius, explained the situation and plans, before heading to a clearing just north of the fort where the Cananefate king should be expecting him.

Niall was there, tall and lanky as always. With him was two hundred horsemen, all of whom were a bit nervous at the eighty-one horsemen approaching. Then Rutilius and Dieter halted the escort and continued closer alone. They were recognized, and the other Batavi waved over as weapons lowered and handshakes were exchanged.

“It has been too long since we have spoken directly,” Niall said in greeting. His handshake was warm and firm, though his Latin was flawed.

“My duties have changed, as always. I am no longer governor, nor deputy governor,” Rutilius replied, using his the Cananefate dialect to Niall’s surprise and delight.

“We have heard. A new governor, another Rutilius. We expect good things from him.”

“I wouldn’t,” the legate retorted bitterly. “His first words to us were we are going to war against the Germani. This bodes poorly for the peace.”

Niall shrugged. “As long as the Germani he wars against are over there,” he said, gesturing to the east, “and not over here, we have no worries. Foreign wars are good for business- soldiers need boots, belts, and helmet liners, and we have many cows.”

“They also need woolen cloaks, blankets, and breeches,” Rutilius added. “Do you also have many sheep?”

Niall shook his shaggy head. The long locks fluttered in the winter wind.

“Foreign wars pull troops away,” the legate continued. “If we cross the Rhein, there is no legion here to help you fend off the Frisii. They might be tempted.”

“We have fought them before,” Niall agreed. “They would indeed be tempted.”

“Thus our meeting. I need an army to train my legions against- maneuver only, no killing. I was willing to settle for any moving bodies to simulate a warband, even women, but Tiberius Labeo had a better idea. We could maneuver against each other, Niall, and practice war without death. My units would learn to react to a fluid battlefield, and yours would learn fight together as a whole. We both benefit.”

The Cananefate thought it over. “We have always admired Roman discipline, even when we fought. Always have the Romans killed more than they lost, until they met us at Vidar’s Altar.”

“A foolish general can do that to the best of men,” Rutilius replied bitterly. “By the same measure, a good general can do that to a much larger foe if he has good men, as you proved in the battle. Your tactics and handling of the battle was superb, your men tough and willing. Our side was led by a fool, and our men unwilling to die for him.”

“Still you nearly destroyed us there,” Niall pointed out.

“Horseshit and cowflops,” Rutilius snorted. “You fought well and led brilliantly, we less and it showed. Cornelius led off with four cohorts on our right- under my command. He let us take on the brunt of your forces to weaken you while the rest waited around doing nothing. He only moved when we were attacked by your best horsemen emerging from the woods behind us to shatter our rear- and then he committed Livius and his five cohorts to the left while he charged grounded spears in the center! He sacrificed myself and four cohorts as bait, then left the hook bobbing unattended while he gallivanted off against fresh warriors.”

Rutilius shook his head. “Had I been in command, the battle would have gone much differently. I would not have moved a man out of place until the onagers were empty of stones. Then I would have moved forward with all men, in two lines, with the archers tucked between. Then we would stop and let the archers expend every arrow. Then we would have done a standard pilum volley and gladius charge. Your ambushing cavalry- a splendid move, by the way- would have fallen to my second line. We were compact, yet with space to move and fight. You would have stood no chance. We would have lost many, but won the battle.”

Niall thought it over. Cornelius had always been an arrogant fool. He and his brother died on Cananefate spears. Yet what Rutilius said was true. Had the battle played out as Rutilius would have done, a different outcome would have resulted- and one far less pleasant to the Cananefate.

“You praise my skill, as is proper,” Niall said in his deep voice, “and thus give me little reason to agree to mock battle. We both know the measure of the other.”

“There is nothing about maneuver and leadership I can teach you,” Rutilius agreed. “And some things you could teach me. But we are not here to discuss teaching each other the art of fighting a battle. We are here to discuss teaching our warbands how to fight and move as a team. Teaching them, not ourselves. In this I think both peoples can gain.”

Niall nodded. “It is so. We Cananefate fight like heroes- but heroes fight alone. The Roman always kills more because he fights as a team. I would like my people to learn this art.”

“I will pay for this honor,” the legate added. “Name your price, and if I have it, it is yours.”

Niall shook his head. “It is winter, and the warriors drinking ale in my hall or theirs, farting and flirting with the maids. They do nothing now, so there is no loss for the Cananefate in this endeavor - only gain. And food- our harvests are still poor, though improving.”

“We shall fight through the day as foes, and feast together in the evening as friends,” Rutilius agreed. “Our armies together. And I shall instruct Claudius Victor to ensure that the grain from half of my farms comes to the halls of the Cananefate in the autumn. You shall have enough to last the winter.”

“The food we can use,” Niall agreed. “Labeo mentioned weapons and armor. We have enough armor to give each man and woman a shirt of mail and still have much left over. Our harvest in arms and armor has had a surplus in the Great War. But things we could use are more axes, shovels, scythe blades. The Romans make very good scythe blades- it will help with the harvest. And franciscas- our smiths have not the time to make them any more with all the farm tools. If you give us these things, and the produce of two farms, we can manage the rest with ease.”

“I shall have our smiths make a hundred axes, a hundred shovels, and a hundred scythes,” Rutilius agreed, “And then they shall start on franciscas until we must deploy.”

Niall spit upon his hand and held it out. Rutilius did the same, and the men shook.

“I shall come here again, in one month’s time,” he said. “I shall have my legion with me.”

“I shall be here, a warhost around me, waiting. No javelins, and only sticks for swords and blunt-headed arrows, aye?”

“Aye.”

Rutilius had his opposing force, and a good one.


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“Our plan looks like it is working, my brother,” Udo called to his twin Ulfrich. “We have just had a visitor from the Marsi. He is concerned.”

Ulfrich dropped the log he was holding into the hole his men had dug. It slid in with a thump, and the men started filling the excess hole. A warrior stepped forward to hold the log upright so the king could speak to his co-king.

“Concerned that we are building three villages along our common border?” Ulfrich asked. He was heaving after his exertion, but that was fine- he felt stronger than ever, after all this work. His men the same. “Or concerned about the running back and forth between them to create believable tracks?”

Udo smiled. Ever since the Witch has prophesied his brother meeting an awful fate at the hands of Rutilius, he had watched his brother slide down a pit of despair and ale. Now, with Rutilius dead, he springs back to life. He admired his brother’s return to strength and vigor.

“Neither,” Udo said. “They have been watching the Romans across the river. They are doing as are we- training for battle. The Marsi know what this means for them, and are afraid.”

“Then they shall join us when the Romans come?”

“Aye, brother,” Udo cried. “They shall! And the Chauci as well. Always have we allowed Chauci warbands cross our lands to drink Roman blood. That hospitality will be rewarded. They too shall stand by our side.”

Ulfrich looked up in praise of the wise Woden. “Thank you, One Eye!” he roared. Then to his brother, “Feed me some Romans, brother. This warhost and I are ready to take them all.”

Udo laughed. “I have no doubt, brother of mine. Arnulf and Erhard report the same among their men. We shall have a mighty warhost when the leaves return to the trees. The strongest ever seen in the Dark Forests.”

“We shall be ready,” Udo continued. “Gotthold and Frantz have been hunting like mad, and the women drying what they bring in. We have culled the herds as well and smoked the meat. Greens have been picked, and grain stored. When the Chauci and Marsi arrive for battle, they shall not go in hungry as had cost our tribes before.”

“That is Roman planning!” bellowed Ulfrich with indignation permeating his voice.

“We can learn from them,” Udo reminded him. “Not all they do is bad. And they shall learn from us as well- stay out of our Forests!”

A rider approached. Udo hailed him, and took his message. He replied, then sent the rider away to his brother’s amusement.

He turned to his sweating twin. “Nils and Adelbart have been scouring our lands for the best battlefield. They think they have found it- And soon every nobleman among us shall know the lands between the river and that point like a man does between his woman’s thighs. This is our forest, and we shall by the gods use it as did Herman against Varus.”

“That, my brother,” Ulfrich said as he lifted another log to help finish the house, “is a good use of our time!”

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Lucius Amensius had the same idea as Rutilius- get his XXI Rapax into the field and have it train as a single unit. But unlike Rutilius who hired Germans to be his opposing forces- and thus gain valuable lessons from fighting them- he had two Roman legions right at hand. Titus Flavius Sabinus and his I Adiutrix provided good opposition, but the XIV Gemina proved better. As all three legions were veterans who had been together for at least four years, the level was high.

Like now, for instance. The XXI Rapax was emerging from the forest onto a clearing. It was in column formation as the underbrush forbade deploying on line. Across the clearing waited six cohorts of the I Adiutrix. Amensius upon his horse looked around nervously for the other four cohorts, did not see them, and snorted. They were there, somewhere. He had his legion form up into three lines, and be prepared to defend from any direction.

Which was about what Sabinus wanted. As the first cohorts formed their lines, he charged. The six cohorts ran across the small clearing and launched their training pila close enough for the missiles to hurt before drawing their wooden swords and closing.

Amensius watched helplessly for a few critical seconds while his first three cohorts were being pummeled into submission, then ordered the three follow-cohorts to swing into the flank of the attacking I Adiutrix. There, he thought, that ought to teach that pup how one hands an overeager warlord his head.

The six cohorts finished beating down the lead XXI cohorts and formed to greet the oncoming cohorts. The two met in a crash of wood upon wood, the fresh cohorts beating back the winded I Adiutrix, until they themselves were taken from behind by the four remaining I Adiutrix cohorts who had disposed of the rearguard while all attention was drawn to the front.

“Cacat!” shrieked Amensius as a wooden Adiutrix gladius knocked him from his horse. “I’ve been had!”

Sabinus rode up to him with a smile on his face. Across the battlefield, soldiers of one legion were helping the others to their feet. “I think that should do it. Thank you, Lucius, for deploying so textbook. And you cannot blame it on our archery this time.”

“How did you do that?” Amensius wondered. “The sucker with the six cohorts ahead I understand. But how did you get four cohorts to my rear with nobody noticing?”

Sabinus smirked. “A trick I learned from the Germans and Gauls near Augusta Trevorum.” He pointed a wooden sword to the thick underbrush lining the clearing and permeating through the woods. “I had my men lay down there, where I knew your men would not go. Soldiers in a hurry stick to the paths of least resistance- in this case the path itself. You walked right past us, and lost three cohorts when they rose up.”

Amensius looked over the battlefield and saw immediately both how and why the trick worked. Then he cursed. It was bloody clever to use his men’s natural tendencies against him in such a devious manner.

“Did you learn this trick the hard way, Titus?”

Sabinus nodded. “We never saw them until they attacked. Luckily, they thought we had seen them, so they simply rose up before us and charged. I killed my first man then, and at least fourteen others afterwards. We crushed them.”

Amensius nodded in agreement. “A thing like that tends to stick in the mind,” he agreed. “I have learned this lesson now as well, fortunately at no more cost than wounded pride and a few bruises. Your men hit hard!”

“Yours refuse to drop when ‘stabbed’ by a gladius,” Sabinus replied pertly. “A good crack on the head and there is no doubt.”

Amensius laughed, as did Sabinus. They were ready. Especially if the XXI Rapax fought against foes who used Roman tactics and weapons.

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The VI Victrix was also preparing for the coming campaign. Gnaeus Vipsanius Messala, the legate, knew his men were all veterans who had fought Germani before. They could march and maneuver as well as any legion, and could build a camp in their sleep. That was one lesson from Gelduba that sank in- a legion on the march will build a proper camp every night, whether it was needed or not. He had lost too many men to foolishly sleep under the stars with nothing but a thin leather wall between danger and his men.

Thus the VI Victrix prepared for the campaign by weapons drills. Every morning for four hours the men would spar with each other. Then was a light lunch and two hours of pilum practice. The next four hours were spent building strength and endurance by the construction of small boats, planing trees, and sharpening pylons.

By the time the orders came to march, the VI Victrix was a tough, strong, and lean legion- with a lot of boats, planks, and pylons.

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 12-01-09 12:04 PM EDT (US)     5 / 98       
Good stuff!
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 12-01-09 02:02 PM EDT (US)     6 / 98       
Looking very slick!

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 12-04-09 09:52 AM EDT (US)     7 / 98       
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The March thaw turned the fields around Traiectum to mud, signaling the end of training and the beginning of the real thing. Unlike the XXI Rapax who had fought mock battles and earned bruises and broken bones for stubbornness, the men of the X Gemina had hardly a blue spot among them. Their ‘battles’ against Niall and his Cananefate warhost were mostly marches through the woods and clearings, with reactions to the presence of hostile warriors being the correct turning and deployment to bring the cohorts on line, or to a flank, or to the rear.

Nary a weapon was raised, by either side, and only one fight broke out- when a two-cohort detachment under the command of Lucanus refused to accept the verdict of the primuspilus that they had been ‘slain’ by their German opponents. Lucanus had faced the spearmen correctly, but had ignored the rest of the terrain and assumed these were his only foes and therefore deployed his second cohort to flank the spearmen. Palla pointed out the archers off to the side—in plain sight- that his disposition ignored and declared the one cohort dead and the other halved. Lucanus disagreed, and with the support of his men, violently disagreed. They charged the spearmen, who fought back with their staves against the wooden gladii. Luckily the Cananafate had blunt arrows with them and showered the angry men with shafts that stunned and hurt, but did not kill, ending the argument.

Gnaeus Milus arrived with the thaw, bringing a small convoy of wagons with him. Some of the wagons carried supplies for the legion for the march back, while others were laden with works of steel and grain. He broke off from the convoy upon seeing his legate and galloped over.

“Hail, legate!” he cried to Rutilius. “I hope the men learned all they need. Orders from Novaesium, sir. We are to be outside Castrum Vetera on the Kalends of April, two weeks hence.”

Rutilius turned to Palla at his side. “Pass the word, Top. We break down camp and move back to Noviomagus at first light. Collect the wooden swords and other toys, and have the men arm themselves with true weapons.”

Palla thumped a fist to his heart and sped off. Niall, the third man in the small group, looked over the praefectus camporum though said nothing. It was enough that he noticed the man. Rutilius would handle the introductions if he felt it proper.

He did. “Gnaeus Milus, my third in command,” he said, gesturing to the prefect. “Niall of the Cananefate, their king and my friend.”

Gnaeus held out a hand, which the German shook while giving a nod of approval. It was still a bit of a shock to see Romans greet him with such openness, so few years after he had helped destroy thousands of them.

“Your men have taught us much,” Niall admitted. “We hope we have served you well as well.”

“You have,” Rutilius admitted. “Not only my men, but I myself have learned much from this past month. I trust our cooperation will keep many of those on this field alive through the summer.”

“I trust that your prefect here has the axes and scythes as payment, that my people do not starve through the summer,” Niall retorted, but with a broad grin. He had no fears that Rutilius would renege on his promise. He was Rutilius, renowned along the Rhein for being a man of honor.

“One hundred axes, one hundred shovels, and one hundred scythes,” Milus counted off. “One hundred eighty sacks of grain, twenty of dried greens, about six hundred franciscas, and another four hundred francisca heads.” He turned to the legate. “Our carpenters got called down to Novaesium. The VI Victrix needed a hand on a wooden project for a couple of weeks, while our armorers found an ingenious method of turning metal plates into francisca heads quite easily. So I had your man Claudius Victor acquire the handles but there were still more heads than handles, while we bought up every relic and axe in the district. You’re out about another two thousand denarii, sir, but Gaius-your accountant- said you could handle it. I hope you do not mind.”

“You did well, Gnaeus. Six hundred franciscas, and another four hundred heads! Jupiter! Your men did indeed find a way to make them fast!”

“We thank you, Gnaeus Milus, and you, Marcus Rutilius,” the king said. “You give my people the means to live. We hope our time together here has done the same for you.”

“Give my regards to your son, Niall,” Rutilius said in parting. “I had hoped to see him here, learning from the masters.”

Niall laughed. “He has been learning, though not here. I would not have him learn to fight Romans- he has had enough of that. He is on the coast now, learning how to fight our kind from another master. He will be grateful that you remembered him.”

“He saved my life twice. He is hard to forget.”

“And you saved his, putting me and our people in your debt,” the king acknowledged. He turned to leave, then rode to his men. “Cananefate! We return to our lands. Lendal- escort those wagons to the Village near the Water, then when emptied, return them to Noviomagus.”

“Aye, Niall,” cried the men, and Lendal as well. A simple wave, and the warhost began moving west, toward the sea.

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The X Gemina returned cold but proud to its castrum and began making ready for the coming campaign- cleaning equipment, sharpening weapons, inspections of gear, and so on- all under the critical eye of Lucius Palla. Gnaeus Milus did the same for the immunes and evocati of the legion, while the tribunes and auxilia looked after themselves. Rutilius bellowed for Salvius to draw him a hot bath the instant he hit his quarters and began stripping in anticipation of that longed-for event.

“Uh-hum,” came a small female cough from near his table.

Marcus spun about, the tangled tunic falling off his arms as he grabbed for his gladius. A small laugh stopped him. He faced Froydis red with embarrassment, his chest exposed and naught but his leggings covering the rest of him.

“How did you get in here?” he asked harshly, “and why were you hiding?”

Froydis cocked her head to one side, then shook it gently. “Salvius let me in when I saw the legion returning. As for hiding,” she laughed, “I was not! I am small, true, but I was standing here in plain sight admiring this artwork when you bustled in and stripped yourself.” She looked straight in his eyes with no hint of humor, a trait he knew she displayed when she was being absolutely serious, and said honestly, “I thought you saw me when you came in.”

She looked over his body and moved closer. He did not back away, nor make a move to cover himself. She reached out a finger to touch the scar upon his chest, then lower to trace the slice made in the market.

“These have healed well,” she said thickly. She did not know what was going on in her throat, but it almost refused to work. The she did that trick with her eyes again as she locked them to his. “You know what I like most about you, Marcus Rutilius? Most men look at me only as a possible bedmate. You look at me like a friend, which I trust we are, a friend who just happens to be a woman. And I like that. You respect my talents and my ideas. But I am a woman, too. Do you not ever look upon me as a woman as well?”

Rutilius looked upon her now, the top of her head coming to just above his chin. He blonde hair was parted in the center and formed into two small braids behind her ears that almost caressed her shoulders. Her face was small and fine, with two beautiful eyes he could drown in. Her nose was a pert snub- definitely not Roman!- and her chin pointy yet strong. She had a narrow neck, strong but small shoulders hidden beneath her brown Cugerni cloak, and strong but thin arms ending in delicate hands. Her body was draped in a green dress, held together with an ivory brooch chased with gold. She was indeed very pretty, if small.

“I do, at times,” he admitted. His throat was also constricted, something he had never experienced. Words were hard to form with the blood pounding in his temples. “But I do not want that to affect our friendship. Too many friends of opposite genders fall out after a romp. Sex is wonderful, but it also changes things. I do not want to jeopardize what we have, little though it is.”

She stepped forward and raised herself onto he toes. She kissed him once on the cheek, and again on the mouth before darting away. “We have more than you might think, Marcus,” she said. “More than I might want. Yes, let us take this slow.”

She threw him a sheet to cover himself while she returned to the desk. The sheet she threw- the one hanging over the wooden board affixed to the desk- revealed the map underneath. She turned her attention to it while he wrapped himself, then asked, “What is this?”

“I cannot say,” he replied.

“You will not say, is more correct,” she admonished. She looked closer, then startled. “It is a drawing of the land across the river! Bructeri land!”

“I cannot say,” he repeated.

“You do not have to,” Froydis said. “I notice things, remember? I notice this bend in the Rhenus here, and this mark is about where Vetera should be. I buried my husband around there. But this?” She pointed to the Lupia and the Ems, and the X along the Ems. “What is this?”

“I cannot say,” he repeated.

“Do not be foolish, Marcus,” she scolded. “I am not your foe. If I was, you would be dead. But my husband was a farmer, and occasionally a hunter and a trader. I have traveled Bructeri lands, but know of nothing here.”

“You have been there? You, a Cugerni?”

“You really do need to work on your memory,” she chided. “Too much reading, not enough listening. No wonder Erwin got so close to you.” Then she turned serious. “Here, along this river,” she said, pointing to the Lupia, “about here, is a stone tower unlike anything else you will find in the Forest. That is where Veleda lived, the one who told me of my fate and gave me the strength to go on. But this cross here, there is nothing there. So why the X? That is obviously where you are going, but why? It makes no sense.”

“I cannot say,” he repeated a final time. He came up behind her and put his arms around her. She stiffened at the unexpected contact, then relaxed as she sensed no harmful intent. “Leave it be, Froydis.”

She spun about and placed her arms around his neck. “You are leading your legion into hostile territory,” she said. “Your fingers left marks upon the painting. You will travel up that river, and then across a stretch of wild land to another. I worry, Marcus. Your path leads you between the Marsi and the Bructeri, then between the Bructeri and the Chauci. None of those tribes are any friends of Rome, or you.”

She pulled his head down to hers and kissed him deeply. His muscles stiffened now, then relaxed as he drank in her kiss and kissed her back. And hers were shuddering. The Vision! What I have been seeking! It is here, with him. The realization shot through her with the power and speed of lightning. The kiss became deeper, more intense, as the two surrendered to each other. After several long minutes, he lifted her up to carry her to his bed. It was time to consummate this revelation.

“Not yet,” she said huskily. “Not tonight.” She kissed him again, eagerly, then broke from his embrace. “Be careful over there. Trust your own judgment, Marcus. Listen to your heart, but do not act alone. Be strong, and I will see you when you return. And then, if this strange thing we have is still strong, then we shall find out if we are ready for this.”

She floated to the doorway, then paused. He had not moved. “Trust yourself,” she repeated, “but do not act alone. Come back to me whole, my love.”

And then she was gone.

Rutilius stood rock still for a long time, playing it over in his mind. Just what the hell had just happened here? What poison had stolen his voice? What potion had seized his muscles? Why did she so suddenly flee? Was this all just a tease to annoy him? Or was it real? Or was she a spy seeking information that Erwin could never glean? And then the big question- why was she allowed in unescorted?

“Salvius!” he bellowed. “You have some ‘splainin’ to do, Marple!”

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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 12-04-09 01:03 PM EDT (US)     8 / 98       
It's good Terikel. Great job.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 12-04-09 02:00 PM EDT (US)     9 / 98       
Yep. I liked how you worked that mini kissing scene.

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 12-04-09 04:45 PM EDT (US)     10 / 98       
Great as always Terikel!

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?
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 12-10-09 08:54 AM EDT (US)     11 / 98       
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The X Gemina moved down the solid road to its sister legion at Vetera, an armored snake meandering along a wooden track. Behind the lead cohorts came the auxilia- Remi cavalry and Arvernii archers, then the immunes and the baggage followed by the spearmen. Bringing up the rear were the remaining cohorts.

Rutilius halted his horse by an outcropping and watched his legion move. It was a grand sight, though slow. He knew the legionaries could move much faster than that, but the baggage slowed the whole thing down. He would have to have a talk with Milus that evening.

Vetera II was built not far from the original castrum, which had been destroyed in the revolt. The Romans had not rebuilt the place where two legions had been starved into submission, but rather interred their ashes among the broken buildings and constructed a new castrum nearby. In that castrum was based the XXII Primigenia, the only legion of the Germanias to make it through the revolt whole. It marched from Mogontiacum to Vetera, and from Vetera to Mogonticum, fighting the entire way. It had actually relieved the fortress once, but the relief was short-lived. Now that proud legion stood guard over the ashes of its sister legions, the only legion qualified by blood and sweat to do so.

Outside the castrum was nothing but clear fields. The XXI Rapax and VI Victrix had yet to arrive, giving the X Gemina first pick of locations to set up camp. Rutilius chose a hillock near the river, where his engineers could quickly dig him a water supply if needed. He pointed the site out to Palla, and the legion began building its home. Rutilius observed the construction with approval, then gathered his guard up and had them help. Their commander, Dieter, and two others would accompany him to the castrum proper to report to the commander. And enjoy a bit of watered wine if Paullus was not too busy.

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Gnaeus Vipsanius Messala and the VI Victrix arrived two days later and set up a second camp outside the castrum. He had with him the governor and his bodyguard- two turmae of Gallic Cavalry, Remi and Aeduan, and three centuries of ex-gladiators. Rutilius laughed. He might as well have brought a circus, too. As for himself, he’d rather have his Batavians than the Gauls. The fasces and the lictors- dressed in their red tunics- proceeded onward to the castrum, signaling that governor was also doing that. Messala turned his legion over to his tribunus and followed. Rutilius called over Cadorus and did the same.

“Come with me,” Rutilius said to Dieter. “Have Arnulf hold the rest here.”

“Why me?” the stiff-spined warrior asked.

Cordinus would ask the same when the Batavian was brought into the praetorium.

“Dieter Straightback served in our army for nine years, a tribune for three of them,” Rutilius said to the governor. “He has fought those men over there all of his life, and can give valuable insight to how the enemy will react.”

“They are Germans,” Cordinus retorted. “No offense, former tribune, but their reaction to our coming attack is quite easy to deduce. We shall cross, they will try to resist. We overcome them, they flee. Then we pursue and destroy them. And then on to our objective.”

“That is basically correct,” Dieter answered. “We do the same here. We let them cross, get them lulled into feeling secure, then smash them. Then we follow, and what you said occurs.”

“I am glad you agree,” Cordinus muttered. It was almost sincere.

“However,” the Batavian continued, “This time we are attacking first. It will be harder. And the kings over there... They are not stupid. They will have learned.”

“My plans for the assault crossing are already made and cannot be altered,” the governor-general replied. “Even if I wanted to. Now once we are over there, well, that could be discussed. I am sure your charge has informed you of our mission?”

Dieter shook his head. “Lord Rutilius has said nothing as to our destination or objective. We Batavi deduced we were going on the attack by the amount of training and preparation we saw, and assumed the target would be the Bructeri- always a thorn in the flanks of good men. If my conclusions are incorrect, please forgive me.”

Cordinus Rutilius Gallicus looked to Marcus Rutilius. “Either you have a very loyal man here, Marcus, or a very smart one. Are our plans indeed safe?”

“He is both, dominus,” Rutilius agreed. He thought over Froydis for a second, then nodded again. “Your plans are indeed safe. Nobody but the legion and my guards has been told that we are going to battle, and only my officers know the target.”

“Can you trust these German guards not to talk to their relatives?” he asked. Venom dripped from his tongue as he spoke of the people who murdered his former legionaries, his friends of the V Alaudae. He had a hatred against all things German, and it showed.

Rutilius shot him a wicked glare. “Can you trust your six lictors, one hundred twenty barbarian horsemen, and one hundred eighty gladiators not to brag their guts out trying to impress a woman enough to get under her dress?” he shot back.

Cordinus stiffened as if slapped. “You are out of line, legate. That was uncalled for.”

Rutilius stood his ground. “No sir, it is not out of line. It was a simple observation. You cast aspersions over my guards because of their German origin, while ignoring the same question about your own barbarian cavalry and gladiators, many of whom are likely ex-criminals. My guardsmen, lord, are veterans who have fought for Rome while yours fought for pay and their own liberty. We are standing here in this castrum today because this man, this Batavian ex-tribune of Rome, led our cavalry into the German rear not two hundred paces from here and shattered their line. If the character of my guards is to be questioned, those shady characters around you ought to suffer the same scrutiny. Sir.”

The ferocity of the defense shocked all present, including himself. So much so that Paullus handed him a goblet of watered wine while Messala interjected himself between the Rutilii, the elder of which took a step backwards.

A figurative backstep followed the literal one. “All right, he can stay.”

Cordinus moved to the table, where he had a model of the area created. The legates and their men gathered around, and much was discussed and debated. As the general explained his plan for the assault, the others quickly saw how clever it was- and why once in motion like it was, there was no stopping it.

The continued attack once across, however, was altered- and at Dieter’s suggestion. Varus had lost three legions marching in a column through the woods not too far from there. Cordinus risked the same. Once the general heard that comment, he was all ears. The changes were made, and the legates dismissed to return to their units to await word from the fleet. Once that word arrived, there was no going back. They were going to cross the Rhein and do battle with the People of the Forest in their own home. It was going to get very bloody over there.

The logistics were simple. Since the army was crossing one river and marching along a second, supplies would come by boat for the most part. There was an old fort, built under Drusus, that will serve as a base once the army struck away from the river. A secondary route for supplies- and wounded being returned- would be by wagons along the river tracks to the bridge.

Neither Rutilius nor Dieter liked the plan much, but it was instinct and not reason that led to the dislike. From the standpoint of a praefectus camporum or a quaestor, which Cordinus had been, water transport was more feasible and reasonable that land-bound wagons for supplying an army. But men who fought in the ranks liked to have their supplies coming over solid land where there is no chance of the vital supplies suffering a watery demise.

The plan was understood, all questions answered, and the details explained. Rutilius had the evening to explain the plan to his tribunes and senior centurions before it was to bed and the next day, battle. Milus grunted at the mention of the bridge, mentioning that was probably the reason for the overstock of supplies at Noviomagus- with the bridge in place, there would be no more riverborne traffic to the castrum. The river road was closed until the campaign was over.

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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
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 12-10-09 11:09 AM EDT (US)     12 / 98       
Good installment although I don't know why they are moaning about supplies being ferried in by boat.

Normally land convoys are just asking to be harassed.

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 12-10-09 11:47 AM EDT (US)     13 / 98       
A soldier's instinct, I guess.

Land doesn't get a hole in it and swallow up a large amount of the food you are depending on. If a wagon tips over, you put it right, pick up the stuff, dust it off, and put it back in and you are on your way. If a boat tips over.... its gone.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 12-10-09 01:05 PM EDT (US)     14 / 98       
Good work, Grand Master Skald!
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 12-15-09 06:03 AM EDT (US)     15 / 98       
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The morning saw the legions break down their camps before the sun cleared the trees and assemble in columns of cohorts before the castrum. From that point on, it was a waiting game for them as the engineers of Cordinus moved to the river banks and began their preparations.

They did not have to wait long. Signal fires upriver drew the attention of all upriver, where the Roman fleet could be seen approaching. The engineers redoubled their efforts. By the time the first ship approached the waiting engineers, the bank had been cut way to form a ramp leading into the water.

Each ship in the fleet was towing four barges laden with pylons, planking, and rope. The ships were approaching in line, with a large interval between the last barge and the next ship. The legates, briefed to the operation, marveled at the timing. The lead ship would swing close to the bank then veer off, leaving the towed barges to swing in along the shore. Two men on each barge heaved a rope to the waiting engineers, who grabbed their end and scurried off to tie it to one of the fourteen trees on the bank they left standing. The other engineers caught other ropes and pulled the barge into the ramp. There it was anchored by the ropes and the pylons swung overboard to help support the rigging against the current. Two men with sledgehammers raced forward to begin pounding the pylon into the riverbed.

Thereafter the engineers did the same with the following barge, and ran to bind it while others maneuvered the boat to lie next to the first. Both were tied to each other, and planking tied across both boats at the middle and fastened with ropes. Then the third was brought alongside the second, and the process repeated.

Once the first four barges were secure, the rest of the planking was pegged to the first, crosswise. This created a wooden road reaching in to the river. The next ship came in and repeated the process, and then the next, and the next, stretching the pontoon bridge halfway across the four hundred-pace wide river.

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Udo and Ulfrich were expecting the Roman assault. They had the Bructeri horseborne stationed on the flanks of the anticipated bridgehead, ready to charge in among the milling soldiers and slaughter them wholesale, if any made it through the arrow storm Ulfrich had prepared.

Four hundred archers, among them some of the best of the Bructeri, stood hidden in the thick brush along the river. Each had sixty arrows, double the usual amount taken for war. They were spread to either side of the spearmen, who knelt impatiently as the Romans approached. Their task was to hold the Romans so the archers could dump them into the river with the arrows.

The Roman bridge was nearing the midpoint, two hundred paces away. Already some archers were limbering their bow-arms for the coming action.

A lot of Romani would feed Father Rhein this day.

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“I wonder how well those engineers will fare when they get in range of Bructeri arrows,” Cadorus wondered.

Rutilius smiled. “I posed the same question when this plan was proposed. Cordinus might be a stuck-up ass, but he planned a good assault crossing- better than I could, to be honest. Just watch.”

Before they could observe, a courier from the general arrived and ordered them to take position by the bridge. Both men could see the VI Victrix already breaking column to move upriver. Behind their screening move, the sixteen onagers assembled during the night broke through the brush to start their move toward the bank.

“Palla!” Rutilius shouted to his primuspilus. “Start the columns toward the bridge. Don’t forget to leave some room for the scorpion!” He turned to Cadorus, pointing out the onagers and scorpion moving into position. ”Those are going to pound the other side, whether there are Germans there or not. There probably are, which will cause the bastards to either come out for the scorpion, or fade back out of range. Either way the immediate area is secure enough for our assault run across the bridge.”

Cadorus nodded at the wisdom. Cordinus was not such a dummy after all. Then again, he had served under few Roman generals who were fools. He spurred his horse to catch up with his legate.

The Scorpion trundled over the bridge to the end, then stopped. It had two iron plates attached to the front as protection for the crew, which huddled behind the shields awaiting the rain of rock. When the thump of sixteen onagers launching their loads into the sky reached them, they began launching their bolts into clumps of brush likely to conceal Germanic archers. They were rewarded with cries of pain.

The Bructeri ambushers cried out at this unfair tactic, and stepped to the edge of the river to launch their own quills at the iron monster shooting them. Some few found their marks, but ricocheted from the iron plates, Far more missed completely, falling short into the river. And through it all the onagers kept launching, raining death from above upon the hapless, helpless Bructeri.

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“We serve no purpose here any more, brother,” Ulfrich conceded as he watched his men die upon the bolts and under the rocks from the Roman artillery.

“Agreed,” Udo replied. He blew upon his ram’s horn and shouted, “Bructeri, we are leaving!”

The horsemen faded away, back into the depths of the forest. The spearmen crept after them to avoid Roman rocks, then joined them. Some archers, however, stayed to continue the uneven duel with their Roman counterparts.

“Fall back, you fools!” Ulfrich roared. “You die uselessly there on the bank!”

“We’ve dropped five of them so far,” a proud archer retorted. ”There are only three more to go and we have them stopped cold!”

“They kill ten of you for every one of them you kill, fool,” Udo shouted. “Get out of there!”

“Leave them,” Ulfrich conceded to his brother. “They are not our best anyway, and the fools can cover our retreat. I had hoped to kill more of them here, but such is not to be.”

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The one-sided battle lasted another forty minutes before the onagers ceased their pounding. The Bructeri cheered the silence of the war engines, and redoubled their efforts to pick off some of those horrible little men behind the iron plates. By the time they realized the futility of it, it was too late for them.

Four cohorts of the XXI Rapax had landed unobserved on their side of the river further up when all attention was drawn to the engines and the bridge. The legion had crept forward, and signaled by mirror the halt in bombardment. Now that the stones were no longer falling and the only missile fire aimed at their bank was the accurate and lethal scorpions, they charged the scattered archers and rolled them up like a rug. The rest of the XXI Rapax was landed by river barge into the bridgehead, and the crossing was secure.

Now the rest of the bridge could be finished. Ships landed another detachment of engineers on the east bank, then the barges started to form on that bank. The eastern pontoon bridge reached out to the existing western bridge. Each ship which delivered a load of barges continued on to the Roman bank, picked up a detachment of the VI Victrix, and began ferrying it across river to join the XXI Rapax in expanding the bridgehead. Soon the bridge was complete, and the X Gemina and remainder of the VI Victrix crossed it to join the rest of the army.

The crossing was a success.

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“Those awful machines,” Ulfrich cursed as they slunk away from the crossing. “Without them, no Roman would have touched our soil alive.”

Udo snorted. “You give too much confidence to our bowmen and not enough to our foe. They would have paid in blood, but they would not have stopped. True, we lost a wonderful opportunity to kill many of them, but then again, we learned something important.”

“That archers are no match for scorpions? We knew that already, brother.”

Udo sighed. “We learned that our opponent is cautious, and a thorough planner. His crossing was flawless- and gave us no chance. We must remember this when we face him in open battle.”

Ulfrich looked back at the Roman bridgehead dwindling in the distance. Through the trees he could see glints of armor moving about. “I think we must be careful as well, brother of mine. The Romans has many, many legionaries- they are hard to kill, and this Roman knows our ways well.”

“The Roman chieftain is a planner, a thorough planner,” Udo repeated. Could no thoughts of strategy penetrate his brother’s hard head? In battle he was brilliant, but between battles… that was thinking better left to Udo. “He will have a plan, and he will stick to it. It will be one which uses our ways against us, as he knows our ways well. It will leave us little chance. And this, brother of mine, this we will use against him.”

“Huh?”

“We force him to change his plan,” Udo said slowly. “A Planner. We do something he does not expect, he will react poorly. And the unexpected… in that, Ulfrich, we excel.”

Ulfrich smiled. “We let him continue on, and refuse battle instead of standing where we had planned. He will not expect this, and throw off his plans.”

Finally, it dawns upon him. “Yes, brother, and when his plans go awry, he will be forced to think upon his feet. Planners cannot do that. Then we will have him.”

“And crush him!” Ulfrich smashed his right fist into his left palm and ground it in. “And the ‘villages’ we built prepared to fight from?”

“We burn them as they approach, as we had planned,” Udo affirmed. “But we do not let our warbands fight from them. They would die without taking enough Romans with them.”

“The chieftain and his planning, aye,” Ulfrich agreed.

Udo smiled. He did understand. Now, to draw Roman blood. “We still need to strip away his horsemen. Gather whatever archers are left by the stream just beyond the first of your villages. Have the spearmen and cavalry ready in place. He will not dare to begin either siege or storm without his precious horsemen scouring the land beyond. Let us scour him, and blind him.”

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The reports came in. Cordinus was rather pleased with his crossing. He lost six of the scorpion crew, four pontoons had missed their position and had to be cut free, and the engineers had lost a total of eighteen men, but the Bructeri had lost far more men- and had not stopped his crossing at its most dangerous. In all, an overwhelming success. This bode well for his expedition.

He ordered the legions to prepare a camp. This day was almost over, and he had no desire to lose his advantage through carelessness. Today the crossing, tomorrow the invasion proper.

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Far away, Veleda closed her eyes as the Visions came again. She could tell be the vividness and sounds that this was a strong one, and in real-time. She watched the boy running through the forest, heading toward the setting sun, then trip over a root hidden among the leaves. The sound of the bones snapping in his leg caused her to shudder, and actually feel the pain the boy felt. That did not feel good, but she opened her eyes and smiled anyway.

Her prophecy was coming true. For want of a leg, the runner was lost. For want of a runner, the message was lost. For want of a message, the battle was lost, and with that battle, the chance that slug Udo had of stopping the Romans dissipated. He might still hurt them, but he was doomed. As was his brother.

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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 12-15-09 08:34 AM EDT (US)     16 / 98       
Awesome, keep it up.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 12-18-09 04:15 AM EDT (US)     17 / 98       
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Messala was ordered to begin the march once his units were collected and formed for battle after breaking down the camp. He was to follow the river, with the X Gemina trailing to his left. Amensius and his XXI Rapax would bring up the rear, with the command group and baggage trains in the middle.

The baggage trains were traveling light. No wagons, and only mules carrying food chests. There was no artillery, and only the most basic of equipment was taken. He hoped in this manner to move quickly through the forest along the river. Any heavy equipment and extra foodstuffs, would be on the ships in the Lupia paralleling his advance.

Before the VI Victrix he had his eyes- his personal Aeduan cavalry. These horsemen were armored in mail like good Roman cavalry, and carried the long spatha and lanceas. They were good men. He had served a stint in Gaul before the revolt of Vindex and had come to adore their ability to smash down enemy formations and to chase fleeing rebels across open fields. It would be different here in the forest, but then again, the Aedui should feel much better about it. Here their foe was German, their hated foe, and not those of their own blood. He expected much of these magnificent horsemen.

Off to the left of the command group marched the X Gemina. He saw their cohorts moving in a ragged line through the trees and was not impressed. He had heard tales of their legate, and thought him overrated. As he watched the cohorts move, he felt that opinion justified. The X Gemina looked more like a gaggle of geese scampering about a pen then trained legionaries moving to battle.

Rutilius, centered on his legion, felt the same. He had his Remi cavalry dispersed into decuries patrolling ahead and to his left, with his Iceni auxilia in support of the forward decuries and the Nordicans close in on his left with four centuries of Arvernii archers nearby. The other two centuries of archers he had before his cohorts, to provide a deterrent against anyone chasing his returning scouts. The legion had five cohorts on line under his most experienced tribune- Manius Severus, to the left of the VI Victrix and slightly behind, with two other cohorts trailing along his left under the command of tribune Sextus Minucius. His remaining three cohorts formed a second line behind the first and were commanded by Aulus Lucanus.

“Runner!” he called, summoning a courier. “Tell Lucanus to dress up his line. Just because his men have to dodge trees does not mean they are having a walk in a park. His men can hold formation in the fields, thus they can do the same here. And remind him that he does not have to hold close order while in reserve- open order is better in the woods anyway, and will make it easier for his men to march..”

“Aye, legate,” the runner replied, and repeated the message verbatim. Rutilius nodded, and the man was off. Shortly thereafter the three cohorts loosened their order and dressed their ranks as if they were true soldiers.

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A rider hurried in. Alone, he was no threat, so the legionaries of the VI Victrix let him approach. They relaxed as they recognized the auxiliary, and the leading centurion detailed off two men to escort him to the legate.

“Horsemen, legate,” the scout reported. “Off to our left and closing. Scattered bands of ten or so, with footmen. Do you wish us to take them out?””

Vipsanius Messala looked off to where the scout pointed, and shook his head. “Check them out. The Xth is over that way covering our flank. Marcus is a good commander- he will have scouts out as well. If they are his Remi, tell them they are drifting right.”

“And if they are Germans?” asked the scout.

“Then kill them,” the legate ordered curtly.

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Cynglas was point rider for the Aeduan horsemen moving cautiously through the deep forest three days later. The canopy of green above blocked most of the direct daylight, which for Cynglas meant that thankfully the underbrush was decidedly thin. No Germani could hide there, but his quick eyes never ceased their rapid darting neither here nor there for that. Germani could hide anywhere, behind a large tree, or in a shallow pit under the leaves. Living Aedui never doubted the ability of their foe to shorten a life.

He was nervous. Already there had been a rally- but that had been a false alarm. The scouts of the other legion had drifted toward the river, coming into their sector. The footmen with them caused concern, until it was discovered that they were auxiliaries. Stupid that, Cynglas thought, mixing horse and foot as scouts- the infantry are too slow to keep up with horses. Still, the scare managed to heighten his senses for the real thing. He focused on his task- finding the enemy before they found him.

Concentrating on finding the hidden tells of where a foe might be hiding close to his person, he did not see the structures ahead until he was well within bowshot of them. Luckily there came no arrows, otherwise Cynglas would no longer be counted a living Aedui. He desperately wanted to remain in that count, so he wheeled his mount about and rode back until he was out of range. Only then did he raise the horn to his lips and blow a signal.

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“Let him be,” whispered an archer to his comrades from the brush lining the clearing to the north of the village. Their arrows could most likely just reach the Aedui, but killing a single scout was not a good idea. “There will come more, to investigate. Then we kill- the lot of them.”

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“Village ahead, commander,” Cynglas reported to his prefect. “Unfortified. Twenty houses or so, two barns, a well maybe in the center. Looks deserted- no sign of life. Not even tracks about the outskirts.”

The prefect acknowledged the report with a nod and turned to his cornifer. “Sound the rally. We will investigate this further. Cynglas, ride to the general and inform him of what you saw, and where.”

Cynglas rode off, cursing his bad luck. The others would undoubtedly find the village deserted as he reported, and fleeing people always leave behind something of value. His comrades would pick up that loot, while he carried naught but a message. He cursed his bad luck again.

He passed the others coming in to the rally signal and waved, then sped off to the west as the others rode further to the east, to the village, and to the waiting Bructeri.

He would not be cursing that evening. Fate would make him the only Aedui to see the sunset that day.

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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
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 12-18-09 04:28 AM EDT (US)     18 / 98       
Looks like the Bructeri are about to unleash their ambush.

Great work!

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.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 12-18-09 12:31 PM EDT (US)     19 / 98       
Da gweithia, Terikel!

Good work!

That last line was a nice touch. I look forward to a graphic description of Roman blood soaking into the streets! *evil*

[This message has been edited by Edorix (edited 12-18-2009 @ 12:44 PM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 12-21-09 02:28 AM EDT (US)     20 / 98       
Aedui=Gaul.

Are you sure you want to see that?
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 12-21-09 06:54 AM EDT (US)     21 / 98       
Ah, it's okay.


• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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

(dis ma house)

[This message has been edited by Edorix (edited 12-21-2009 @ 06:55 AM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 12-22-09 02:48 AM EDT (US)     22 / 98       
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Another rider was heading for Quintus Julius Cordinus Caius Rutilius Gallicus from the north, also bearing news. As Fate would have it, he arrived a few minutes after the Aeduan told of the village ahead.

“The X Gemina reports contact, lord,” the Remi reported. “A warhost. Legate Rutilius estimates their number at five thousand warriors, mostly infantry. He is redeploying to stop them, and requests the XXI Rapax be ordered to turn north immediately to come in behind them.”

Rutilius Gallicus snorted. Nary a Bructeri had been seen since crossing the river the day before, and they were only three hundred dead. He remembered the tales of Cerealis’s victory over them at Vetera a few years before. Hundreds if not thousands of them were dead. Even in these fecund forests, such losses to a single tribe would not be replaced so swiftly. It would take generations. So the report was obviously wrong.

“I am sure they number no more than five hundred,, auxiliary,” he corrected. “Your legate must be mistaken. Probably nerves. Look, the village ahead is small, and the number of foes small- the Bructeri are not so stupid as to risk five thousand in open battle to save a dozen houses. Jupiter’s Brass Balls, man, after their losses in the revolt, I would not be surprised if that was all they had in their entire tribe! Request refused. Tell Rutilius to handle the five hundred by himself, and be quick about it! I want him in position to guard the flank of the VI Victrix when they assault.”

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“He refused, legate,” the messenger reported. “And he says you can deal with these five hundred yourself. And he expects us to guard the flanks of the VIth when they assault the hovels. His words, lord.”

Rutilius swore. What was going through that man’s head? Did he think I could not count? Or mistook a M for a C? He took a deep breath. Curses and harsh language would not stop these Germans. Severus and his five cohorts would.

“Swing Severus and his five cohorts north to form a line across their path,” he ordered, speaking to a courier. “Then run to Municius and tell him to move north then halt. He is to fall upon the Germans from the flanks and rear when he hears the sounds of battle.”

The courier repeated the orders and took off. Rutilius turned to Cadorus.

“And you, my British friend, get to command Lucanus and the three reserve cohorts. Bring them up behind Severus, but a tad to his right. When battle comes, move forward, circling to the right, and fall upon their left flank.”

“And you, Marcus?”

“I will direct the reforming of the auxilia on the flanks of Severus, with the Arvernii tucked inside, then gather up the Remi.”

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The Bructeri came on, at walking pace, and totally oblivious to the kneeling Romans before them. The forest was more open here, and that meant more light to feed more brush, brush behind which Roman cohorts waited with pila in hand. The Bructeri felt safe, knowing that the Romans would halt by the village they had built during the winter, form up for an assault, and get their faces kicked in by Ulfrich.

Erhard and his men knew the plan well. It was a good plan. And the Romans were still over two miles away, down by the river. Plenty of time, plenty of space. All Erhard and his men had to do was wait until the battle started, then close in and follow the legions- and trash their baggage trains and camps while they were otherwise occupied. An easy task.

Unless, of course, the plan changed and they had not received word of the change.

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“Let them come another forty paces,” whispered Manius Severus to his men. “Then we wipe that smugness from their faces.”

Around him the men of the X Gemina silently readied themselves.

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“Halt,” cried Erhard the Bear. He was a large man, thick and strong like his namesake. “Settle in, Bructeri, and await the assault.”

The spoken order carried in the otherwise silent forest. Around him the warriors began kneeling, others sitting up against a tree, and some even lay down. It was a warm spring morning, a lovely day to kill invading Romans, but that was not their task today. Today they were the trackers, following the legions and sweeping up the stragglers. And when the big battle comes, they will fall upon the rear of the Roman Army and capture their general as an offering to Woden. So is it ordained, so shall it happen.

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Severus almost wept when he saw the Bructeri stop and drop into the bushes. Another twenty paces and he was going to give them the surprise of their very short lives. And the words... His German was not very good, but a legionary near him understood- and passed it on.

“They know we are here, sir,” the legionary said. “That big one called the halt and ordered his men to settle in and await the assault.”

“Then that is what we do,” Severus answered. He stood up, and signaled his men to do so as well. “Maybe they do not know how many. They will find out, son. Cornifer- on my signal, sound the attack. Ready, NOW!”

The battle horn blared the notes the legionaries had been waiting for. Released from their silence, they rose up in unison, charged forward twenty paces then halted, raised their pila, and launched them upon the command of their centurions.

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The sudden appearance of two thousand Romans before them was devastating in the extreme. Erhard’s eyes were drawn by the sudden appearance of an armored man standing up sixty paces away, but his brain could make no sense of it- there were no Romans within miles! The single man was quickly forgotten as five cohorts joined him in standing up. The Romans simply erupted from the brush and charged forward. Their surprise was complete.

He had the wits about him to drop to the ground, and that saved his life as pila swarmed in among his vanguard. Some few caught the deadly missiles upon their shields, but far more had dropped their shields when the halt came. These men took the Roman javelins in their arms, heads, and breasts. Many fell. And then the Romans had swords in their hands and were closing.

Erhard saw his men dropping around him. The Bructeri were in a gaggle, with most of the gaggle behind him. He knew what he must do. He fled, abandoning the men who were dying about him, or counter-charging the Romans. They were dead, but their deaths would buy him the time to avenge them. They knew it, and he knew it.

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Severus and his cohorts absorbed the charge easily. Those few Germani who broke through the first ranks found themselves immediately impaled on the gladii of the second. Now the cohorts were advancing again, stabbing with the deadly gladii, pummeling with the large scutum, and stepping forward. Mercilessly, unstoppable.

Then the initial charge was exhausted, its men dead. The following group was formed in ranks four deep, with other groups hustling to their flanks to extend the line. And yet others began moving to flank the Romans.

Manius Severus was in a world of shit. The only way he saw out of this mess was to kill the Germans faster than they could arrive and form up. To which end he lifted his sword, aimed it at the forming Bructeri, and ordered the attack.

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Aulus Lucanus Strabo heard the shrieks and cries of men dying to the north, where he knew Manlius Severus was. He liked Severus- a tough little man, decent enough to the new guys. He listened to the sounds of battle for a moment, trying to judge. It sounded like a hell of a brawl, with more German shouts than Latin.

Severus was in trouble.

“Cohorts, halt!” he screamed. “Left face! Form ranks! March!” Soon, my boys, we will blood our swords in German blood!

The cohorts obeyed the commands, and the column began moving north to battle. Each man in the raw cohorts was as energized as their young noble tribune. It was time to become veterans.

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The Prior Pilus of the III Cohort had a damnable itch. It began in his ear, and got worse. He tried to ignore it, but that did not work. Finally, he examined his situation and found that there was nothing about except for his men marching through the woods. He pulled off his helmet and stabbed a finger into his ear to scratch, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy, and only made it worse. A hair. It has to be a hair growing. He parsed his fingernails together and dug, then pulled.

He was rewarded with a sharp pain, then a flood of relief. The hair was out- almost the size of his thumbnail. No wonder that itched so bad.. He threw his helmet back on and rejoined his cohort.

He never heard the order to halt, nor could he see past the bulk of his cohort and the trees that the II Cohort was no longer on his left.

Worse, Aulus Strabo never looked back to see that only two cohorts were following him, not three.

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The Bructeri were swarming the five cohorts of Severus now, curling around his flanks and forcing them back. He culled a century from each of his three middle cohorts and used this ad hoc rump cohort to push back those on his right, deeming that the weaker flank.

The Bructeri sensed that weakness as well. More and more of them piled on, overwhelming the makeshift cohort and driving it back.

Into this maelstrom of flashing swords came Aulus Lucanus Strabo and his two cohorts. The young tribune saw the centuries pressed hard and breaking. He gawked for a long second in which twenty good Romans died, then broke his trance with a shouted order- “Attack!”

The pila of the two cohorts caught the Germans unawares. Men dropped, then others turned to face this new challenge. Strabo saw them come, and charged with his men. All fear and insecurity dissipated with the onset of battle rush. The enemy was there. It was time for battle.

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Minucius heard the sounds of battle as well. Unlike the new tribune, he was a seasoned veteran. He plotted the sounds of the battle in his head, and looked to the terrain to see how best to come there. He saw the way, then hurried his cohorts along this path.

I hope Severus can hold out. Help is on the way.

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Rutilius had gathered his archers together and reformed the Iceni. The Remi had long since formed up with him. Together this small group began moving to the forest battlefield.

“I could not find Strabo,” Cadorus reported. He pointed to the right where the III cohort was hastening back toward to the command group, “but I did find these. Where would you like it?”

Rutilius looked to the right and saw the cohort, its standards barely visible. He cursed lowly.

“Cadorus, gather up that cohort,” he ordered. “Take it and those Iceni spearmen and hurry to the battlefield.”

“And once there, legate?”

“You are a veteran, Cadorus,” Rutilius reminded him. “Do what you see fit with it.”

With that, Rutilius rallied his archers and cavalry and headed north while Cadorus formed up his small command and followed.

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It was just like in the training versus those blasted Cananefate, Strabo thought as he stabbed down yet another Bructeri warrior. They had their men to our front, as is proper, and we slammed them, as is proper. Now die, German scum, that I may receive a hero’s award for saving these five cohorts.

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And just like in that maneuver exercise, Strabo paid no attention to his own flanks. As his men began curling around the Germans curling around the cohorts of Severus, a large group of Bructeri hunters came upon them unseen and unloaded their hunting arrows into the unshielded flanks of the II Cohort.

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Arrows whistled through the air and sank deep in flesh where they found it, impaled themselves upon shields or ricocheted from armor where they did not. The surprise of the attack, however, more than made up for its lack of lethality. A second volley, then a third took out more of the cohort.

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I might actually win this, Erhard thought to himself as he surveyed the battlefield. He had forty five hundred men after the death of his vanguard; the opponent but two thousand, three if one counts the newcomers. There were many dead on each side, but those Romans in the center are weakened. Their left was even worse off. They will break soon, and then it will be all over. A good horseborne charge could seal it.

“Horsemen!” he cried. “Let us end this now, with victory and honor!”

“Victory and honor!” the horsemen repeated, and kicked their horses to the gallop.

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Erhard’s charge landed squarely on the Roman left. Men were trampled under raging hooves, the mass of the horses breaking the tight formation open. The horses plunged up and down, the swords of their riders flashing red and redder as they hewed down the armored men of Rome.

This is the life! Erhard thought as he pressed in among the breaking Romans. More and more of them were being pressed away from their fellows, making the job of killing them that much easier.

Thus when the sharp pain in his chest came, he was shocked. Then he thought nothing else as he tumbled from his saddle.

Behind the battling horsemen and Bructeri infantry, Minucius and his three cohorts of legionaries and the Nordican spearmen bore down on them.

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The arrow storm killing his men abruptly ceased.

Strabo looked up to see the Bructeri hunters fleeing, in numbers far less than had been shooting at him. Another whoosh followed, and a second volley of Arvernii arrows cut further into the hunters. Then the arrows shifted to fall upon the massed Bructeri from the front.

Thunder erupted, a long, rolling rumble. The ground shook. And Marcus Rutilius, his Batavian bodyguard, and the Remi cavalry charged into the Bructeri warriors engaging II cohort. The effect was colossal- the Bructeri were trampled under, or thrown into the air from the collision, or hacked down where they stood.

The Bructeri turned to face this new threat when they found themselves under attack from Cadorus. The Iceni tribune and his tribesmen, backed by the III cohort, sealed the door on the Bructeri.

Surrounded by armored legionaries and either cut down or pushed back, the Bructeri lost heart. Erhard was nowhere to be seen- either dead or fled. No matter. They had survived their chieftain, a terrible shame. They became like dead men, fighting only for the honor of dying in battle.

The X Gemina obliged them.

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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 12-22-09 08:43 AM EDT (US)     23 / 98       
Superb, as usual.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 12-22-09 09:18 AM EDT (US)     24 / 98       
So the Bructeri lost. Great chapter once again. But once again Rutillus has to save the day. Can't he just look stupid for once hehe?
Did he think I could not count? Or mistook a M for a C?
You don't know how much I laughed at that.

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 12-22-09 09:21 AM EDT (US)     25 / 98       
But once again Rutilius has to save the day.
He does that a lot. It is in his nature.

He gets a comeuppance in Part III, and a worse one in Part IV. Still working on that one.
JohnWoo
Ashigaru
posted 12-22-09 02:56 PM EDT (US)     26 / 98       
I have finished reading some of your previous work, including "the eagle and the wolf - Pt I", and I must say that I have rarely come across such a cunning writer. Your stories are superbly written, often dragging me onto the edge of my chair with excitement.
They are proof of your skill.
I'll be looking forward to further updates, Master Skald.

With great respect
JohnWoo
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 12-23-09 01:48 AM EDT (US)     27 / 98       
Thank you most kindly for the praise everyone.

JohnWoo- The whole 'Eagle and the Wolf' storyline is actually a sequel to this series:

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

That covers the Batavian revolt and a bit about the turmoil in Rome in 69 AD. Each chapter is presented in its entirety in the OP, and some of which are quite long. The events in that series serve as a background for this series, which was inspired by a comment from SubRosa.

This link leads to the Order of the Silver Quill, where you may find other fine (and completed) tales for your reading pleasure.

|||||||||||||||| 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
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 12-28-09 02:58 AM EDT (US)     28 / 98       
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“Palla! I want reports on casualties as quick as you can,” Rutilius ordered. “And from the auxilia as well. Cadorus! Set the spearmen and archers to guard for any return, and direct the Remi to put out a screen. Severus, you are senior here. Start a body count.”

“Aye, legate.”

“Aye, lord.”

“Aye, legate.”

Salvius rode up and handed the legate a waxen tablet. Inside, he had already recorded a measure of the battle. All that was needed was to fill in the numbers of dead, wounded, and killed. Rutilius stuck the tablet in his cloak and smiled for the first time since crossing the river without incident.

“Good man, Marple,” he said lowly.

The numbers rolled in during the course of the day. Palla reported first. The X Gemina had four hundred ten dead, and sixty eight wounded so badly they were no longer capable of duty. Another two hundred or so were with the surgeons and doctores now, but they were for minor wounds and should be back on duty soon.

Severus reported about six hundred slain where he first encountered the Bructeri, and a total of four thousand four hundred scattered across the lines of battle. Most were clumped in the pocket formed when Cadorus slammed the back door on them, with the Remi reporting some few hundred escaping.

“We also found a wealth of weapons, armor, and silver among them, and not a few gold trinkets here and there,” Severus added. “And three hundred living horses.”

Rutilius entered the numbers of slain onto the tablet along with Palla’s report, and handed the tablet to a courier. “Take this to the general. If he still refuses to believe, he can come count the dead himself,” he ordered. Then he turned to Severus. “Have the loot loaded onto those horses and have the lot brought to Milus. He can send it back to Vetera with the badly wounded. No sense having that junk laying about here where the enemy can pick it up to use against us again.”

Then he turned to Strabo and Minucius. “Once the dead are piled and our own burned, take the legion to that clearing by the river and build a camp. We aren’t going anywhere until the centurions and I redistribute the legion.”

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While the X Gemina was fighting Erhard’s warband, the VI Victrix was readying its assault. Legate Messala was observing his men moving into their assault positions when he heard the horns and hammering of battle to the north.

“Its just the X Gemina,” he said to his aide. “They are taking out a group of Bructeri coming to rescue these hovels. Ignore them, and have those bloody Dalmatian archers move closer. I don’t want their arrows landing in the backs of the VIII cohort!”

“Good call,” Cordinus agreed. “You know battle well, Gnaeus. You’ve taken into account the terrain, the lack of fortifications, and the expected enemy. In addition, you planned for contact and pursuit beyond the village.”

Messala shrugged. “We know nothing of the expected enemy, sir. There are some signs of life there- we have observed some movement. But the Aeduans, sir- nobody has heard anything from them since they spotted this village.”

“Ach,” Cordinus snorted. “Bloodthirsty headhunters, but excellent scouts. Publius Terentius, their commander, is a good man. He is probably behind the village now, ready to chase down any fleeing survivors.”

“You are probably right, sir,” Messala agreed. Still, the lack of certainty irked him. It was not his problem. This village was. And he was as ready as he could ever be. “Cornifer! Sound the attack.”

The assault of the VI Victrix was a thing of beauty. The cohorts moved forward in testudo against defensive fire while the Dalmatians peppered windows and walls with arrows. Once within a hundred paces the cornifers blew again. The testudos fell apart into ranks of men and the cohorts charged inward. Cordinus almost wept at the beauty of this textbook assault, until the village erupted in flames.

“What the hell is going on?” Messala and Cordinus Rutilius Gallicus roared in tandem. Messala rushed forward to see, while the general remained with his guard to contemplate this.

Closer to the village, Messala saw dead horses and struggling men- though they were not struggling in battle, they were struggling for the lives of the wounded men they were trying to carry out of the village. The thatch rooves of the houses were afire now, casting smoke and sparks everywhere, while the wooden walls also began to catch fire. Nowhere was there a German to see. Only a few Romans disoriented by the sudden lethal shower and a lot of dead Aeduans.

“Fall back!” he roared to his men. “Exit the village now! Its a trap!”

He was correct, and knew it. That nagging feeling was now confirmed. From beyond the village he could see even more arrows coming. Warshafts fell among his fleeing men, and some fire arrows splattered against their shields and armor.

The four assaulting cohorts fell back, dragging their wounded and dead with them. Some of the soldiers had their scuta held above the wounded to prevent further injury to their mates. The Dalmatians, seeing the incoming arrows, decided en masse to return the favor. Roman arrows reached out over the village into the treeline beyond.

“Send our auxilia around the north,” Messala ordered his tribune, “and send two cohorts with them. See if you can fall upon those archers unawares.” He turned to a second tribune. “Set up the medici over there nearer the river. And have those cohorts not otherwise engaged begin building a camp around them. We will be here for a while.”

The tribunes moved off, and the men followed. A few minutes later a horn on the far side of the burning village blew the signal for the attack. The arrow rain ceased.

The village still burned.

An hour after that debacle, the courier from the X Gemina rode in. He sought out the general and handed him the tablet. Cordinus opened it and shook his head.

“Absurd!” he scoffed. “How can this be?”

“The legate says you may count the dead yourself, if you like,” the courier replied evenly. “Tribunus Minucius piled them up by the battlefield in groups of twenty for easy counting. And the X Gemina is encamped nearby until the legate and centurions finish cross-leveling the legion.”

“Five hundred out of action or dead,” Cordinus uttered in surprise as he read the tablet. “He lost a full cohort... What kind of legate is he? I had heard many things about him, but a poor tactician was not one of them.”

This angered the courier, who was the same who delivered the request for the XXI Rapax to deploy in support- a request that was refused. “Our legion took on an equal number of Bructeri, sir. You can count them yourself. And because of Marcus Rutilius, we lost only one cohort. Had the XXI Rapax been in support, we could have easily crushed this warband between the two of us with far fewer losses. There may well be a Rutilius here with his head up his ass, sir, but it is not Marcus Rutilius.”

Cordinus flushed beet-red at the insult. “Numbers in reports are always inflated. Take me to this skirmish in the morning. I will take up the invitation to count these dead myself. And if my numbers are far less than these, the X Gemina is going to have far more problems than an inability to count.”


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The camp took a little longer to build than normal, but it was up and to standard. Palla smiled at the result, then told off the centurions to start the guard schedule. Then he reported to the commander’s tent.

Inside were the legion officers and the Batavian ex-tribune. Salvius was there with stylus in hand, and two couriers as orderlies. Rutilius was pacing.

“Stop that, legate,” Palla said. “It makes us all nervous when you are doing that.”

“Just waiting on you, Top,” Rutilius replied. He stopped the pacing. “We are all here now. You start. What do you prefer: cross-leveling people to have ten understrength cohorts, or stuffing the remainder into nine overstrength cohorts?”

Palla thought that over. Each had its advantages. But with the majority of the dead coming from two cohorts, it made more sense to put them together and leave the others intact as much as possible. Plus there was the centurion problem- they had lost eight in the battle, including the Pilus Prior of the II cohort. That made his recommendation the easiest. “Go with the nine cohort solution, sir. That breaks up as little of the teams as possible, and solves the centurion problem for the most part. Still need to promote two.”

“Salvius and the Aquilifer,” Rutilius replied instantly. “Decimus Oppius rallied two flagging cohorts with his approach and encouragement, while Salvius here has been deserving of the rank for months now. Plus he saved my ass several times in that stewpot. Worthy of a Corona Civica, had we held the ground.”

“Too bad we were mounted,” Salvius sighed. “Charge and withdraw, charge and withdraw. Always the bane of awards based on taking and holding ground. But at least I get a swagger stick now.”

“Sorry, Salvius, you don’t,” Palla replied. “Mars knows you’ve earned it, but we cannot promote to centurion a man who had so recently been busted for insubordination. You’ll get your stick, son, just not yet.”

“Foolish regulation,” Rutilius agreed, “but a lawful one.”

“Nice to know you were thinking of me, though,” Salvius admitted.

“Have the centurions noted anyone else qualifying for awards?” Rutilius asked.

Palla shook his head. “No sir, a couple of the men earned some phalerae or a torc, but no qualifiers for the major crowns. But this campaign is still young. Might get some later.”

“Moving forward, the review of the action,” Rutilius continued. He scolded Severus for initiating the ambush without the legion being in position. The tribune, in his defense, admitted to thinking the ambush was already blown and that his actions were then justified. The legate agreed, but pointed out the simple fact that it had not. “Patience, my dear Manlius, patience. And discipline. You should have waited to see if the enemy acted upon that knowledge. Its a hard call, tribune, but that is why you are a commander and not a sword-swinger.”

“Understood, sir,” Severus admitted. He meant it- the legate was correct.

“Cadorus, Minucius,” the legate continued, “you performed well. Nothing of note, either incorrect or brilliant. Just good solid work. And you, young Strabo....”

Strabo braced for the ass-reaming he knew was coming. He had acted without orders, ignored the terrain around when he focused on the Bructeri ahead, and got a lot of men killed. He had even forgotten an entire cohort- left them alone in hostile territory. He was going to lose his position, be sent home in disgrace. A failure.

“You did extremely well for a novice,” Rutilius said in praise. “You heard the sounds of battle and responded to them with the initiative and speed which I require of my tribunes. True, you left a cohort behind, but that turned out well for Cadorus. You should always count your men, and check that all heard your command! You ignored the archers who were dangerous and charged into the flank of those warriors harassing Severus’s flank- the most dangerous foes. Good call. You lost some men, but saved many more. Well done.”

He turned to the entire group. “If anybody has anything to add, say it now. Otherwise return to your men, check them over, prepare them for tomorrow. Dismissed.”

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The following morning the courier led the general to the site of the battle. He really did not need to do so- the General could just follow the scent and smoke of the burning Roman corpses. Soon he saw the flames, and cursed their height- the higher the pyre, the more of his men were on it. Then he saw the German dead- and started counting.

“You have a problem, auxiliary,” he said after a moment. His voice was icy frost on a January morning. “There are twenty piles here, of twenty Germans- that’s four hundred, not four thousand. Take me to you legate. He and I have a lot to discuss.”

“This was where Manlius Severus first hit the Germans, lord,” The auxiliary replied in a voice as cold as that of the governor. He pointed to beyond the pyre. “There, is where most died, theirs and ours.”

He led on, and the governor followed. Beyond the pyre was a sea of dead, piles of corpses making wave tops throughout the brush. Cordinus stopped his horse and gawked- there were hundreds of piles dotting the forest floor. Literally hundreds.

“I want to see the legate now,” he said thickly, his voice betraying the emotion he felt rampaging through his system at the sight. “Now, damn it!”

Rutilius was in the praetorium of the camp, tidying up the last of the personnel transfers when Cordinus burst into the room. The first thing he saw was Rutilius and a centurion. His wrath was displayed when he looked at one of Rome’s most trusted and admired soldiers and ordered him curtly from the tent as if he were a dog caught piddling on a fountain in the atrium of a manse. Then he turned to the legate.

“What the hell were you thinking, legate?” he bellowed. “You engaged a warhost of hostiles nearly the same size as your legion without my orders? You are my legate, Rutilius, commander of one third of my forces. If you lose that legion, then we are all in a mess. You could have ruined this expedition! Well, legate? What have you to answer for this treasonous gross dereliction of duty?”

It took all his self-discipline to refrain from grabbing the little, arrogant prick and ripping his head off- figuratively and literally. Rutilius was furious- so furious he was turning to ice. In that vein, he called forward the courier who was outside and asked for the correspondence. When he had the tablets, he opened them and held them before the angry governor.

“I did report the warhost my scouts had seen,” he said coldly. “I reported their disposition, their numbers, their intended route of travel, and requested the XXI Rapax come up on my flank. Two legions would have erased those Germani with little loss, sir. What was the general’s response, Arturus?” he asked of the auxiliary.

The Gaul looked at his legate with wonder. He did not know how the man could keep such a calm face in view of the heinous – but utterly false- charges the governor had leveled. It was an inspiration, thus he answered as calmly as the legate, “He said, and I quote, lord, I am sure they number no more than five hundred,, auxiliary. Then he added: Your legate must be mistaken. Probably nerves. And he closed with: Request refused. Tell Rutilius to handle the five hundred by himself, and be quick about it! I want him in position to guard the flank of the VI Victrix when they assault. Sir.”

“Thank you, Arturus,” the legate replied before turning on the general. “Your words, your commands, sir. Your orders were to handle those Germans myself. I did. So what exactly is the problem?”

Cordinus puffed up, then rapidly deflated as the evidence punched through his rage and spiked his brain. He was the one who had erred- assuming his legate could not count. Rutilius had done it by the book and Cordinus had absolutely no evidence otherwise. He knew that he was wrong, yet he was peculiarly aware of his family’s senatorial honor- and of his legate’s Third Class origins despite sharing a familial name. He could not bring himself to apologize, or even go so far as to lessen his wrath. The only thing he could do was plow onward.

“I have served Rome in Asia, Galatia, and most recently in Africa,” he said. “I have served in Armenia under Corbulo, the greatest Roman general since Caesar. Always, the reports flowing in were exaggerated by a factor of ten. I had no reason to suspect this was any different.”

Rutilius shrugged. He could afford calm now- he had the upper hand and evidence while the general was squirming to a tapdance. “Asia, Galatia, and Africa are not combat zones, general,” he pointed out factually. “At most rebels, though Armenia did put up a nice battle. Here on the border- actually across the border- we are in a combat zone. The general needs facts- not fiction!- to make an informed decision, so we legates report facts. We do not exaggerate. We report what is known.”

That got his ass a little. Cordinus exploded in a storm about incompetence.

“You lost an entire cohort against mere footmen- barbarian footmen at that, legatus,” Cordinus shout in repetition, as if that mattered. “Unarmored barbarians. In Armenia we faced ranks upon serried ranks of armored soldiers- and rarely lost more than a handful to them. Their cavalry- those bloody archers and cataphracts were another thing, but their infantry marched to battle already knowing their were dead. This,” he said, gesturing to the pyre of Roman dead in the clearing beyond, “this is a travesty.”

Rutilius grew very cold inside. “The Germans are not Oriental soldiers who fear Roman might, lord,” he said in a voice so low it was almost a whisper. “The Border here and the people living beyond it are far different from any with whom you have served, generalis. These men go to battle with only one thought- to die there taking as many foes as possible to serve them in the afterlife. They know and love Roman might- a worthy foe, in their eyes. They gladly charged upon our swords in the hope that their own swords can taste our blood. They are unarmored, but brave. Very brave. I shudder when I think of what would happen when they learn how to make mail.”

He looked directly into the eyes of the general. Fires smoldered there, but his own eyes reflected icy clouds. “You are blessed with very capable and experienced legates. Messala served four years in Moesia along the Danube, Amensius three with the V Alaudae in Vetera, and I have been here on the border for about eight years now. We all know Germania is far different that Gaul, or Galatia, or Asia, or Africa, or Armenia. Here we do not exaggerate- our lives depend on facts. You need to learn that, sir, and learn it fast.”

“Or what?” sneered Cordinus. “I get a dagger in my spine?”

“No sir,” Rutilius replied coldly, and with a small smile. He found this the best approach. “You will not get a Roman dagger in your spine. At least not from your officers. You will simply get us all- including yourself- massacred. I hear the Bructeri around here specialize in burning captured officers alive in wicker cages- roasting them slowly until they can no longer scream as their lungs have been cooked. That will not be my fate, though. This is a good sword I have. It will do to fall upon.”

There was nothing Cordinus could say to that. He was not threatened, and the portrayal of the future was grim if absurd. Three legions destroyed? Hah- that could never happen! He remembered his time in Armenia- the horsemen were decent enough but the infantry was a joke. Barbarians tackling legions and winning? Never!

Then the memory of Varus and the XVII, XVIII, and XIX invaded his mind and seized his consciousness. The Teutoburger Forest... That was not far from here. The ghosts of three legions screamed at him, calling him a fool, trying to get him to see the light.

He had seen enough, and was left speechless. He could only give a ‘hrmph’ and storm off.

Once he was gone, Rutilius uncorked a skin of wine and guzzled a mouthful. Then he handed the skin to his courier, who did the same. Unwatered, undiluted. Both drank half of the mouthful then spat the rest out, rinsing the distaste from the recent conversation from their mouths as if they could rid it their minds the same way.

“That prick does not like you, sir,” Arturus said, taking a liberty with his legate. Common soldiers should never address their superiors without being invited to speak. Nevertheless, the legate had given him wine- in his Gallic eyes, he was being treated as an equal. “I do not know what about you makes him dislike you so, but he does. Intensely.”

“It does not matter,” Rutilius answered. “It is enough that it is so, and that we know.” He spat more wine out, then took another mouthful and swallowed this one. His true calm was returning, and none too soon. “Fools like him get good soldiers killed. Mars! And Cerealis had promised not to send more like him to this fragile province.”

“At least we have legates like you,” Arturus said lowly, in case the general left a bodyguard to eavesdrop. “Whenever fools like him get soldiers like me into a jam, there are legates like you who extract us without too much pain.”

Rutilius laughed, the anger washed away between wine and humor. “I am glad you feel that way, Arturus!”

Arturus shrugged, then headed for the tent flap. He paused, and looked at the legate with awe in his eyes. “I am not alone, lord. Many here agree with me.”

He left, and the legate was alone. Only the crackle of the pyre and the steady tread of guards making their rounds disturbed the forest. Rutilius used this time to study his map. It was not a minute later that he was disturbed again.

“You need to watch your ass, sir,” Primuspilus Palla said as he entered unannounced. “Or that prick is going to eat it.”

Marcus looked up at his top centurion in surprise. “You heard that? I thought it went quite well, actually.”

“Pluto’s Frozen Balls, sir, the entire camp heard his tirade,” the centurion replied. “And you did handle him beautifully. But you must be careful. He is out for you.”

Rutilius dismissed the warning with a wave. “He can do nothing. I followed his orders to the letter.”

“Yeah,” Palla agreed. “So did Salvius. And look at him now- a legionary when he should be swinging a swagger stick and terrorizing the malcontents of some sorry excuse for a century.”

Rutilius nodded. He could indeed see how things could go if he was not on his toes. “I shall be careful, Top.”

Palla nodded and exited, leaving the legate alone once again to ponder the day’s events.

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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 12-28-09 07:30 AM EDT (US)     29 / 98       
An excellent update, Old One!

Nice and long - pretty demoralising when you're working on a similar project of more limited scope though.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 12-28-09 08:46 AM EDT (US)     30 / 98       
Wow that new commander is a dick, although Rutillus handled him brilliantly!

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 12-31-09 05:00 AM EDT (US)     31 / 98       
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Three hundred forty souls wandered through the dark forest. They wore clothes and bore arms, but not a one was unscathed. All carried wounds. All were bloody, most still bleeding, but unlike the rest of their warband, they were still alive.

The remnants of Erhard’s warband hid from patrolling cavalry, and moved only when totally alone. And they moved first north, away from the Romans. Then they walked eat, towards their king. Villages gave them succor, and bandaged their wounds, yet the men did not stay long. The King must learn what they know. Ever forward these survivors went, some dropping along the way.

Three hundred eight men reached the King’s Hall. Neither Udo nor Ulfrich was in residence- both kings were with the warhost trying to bleed the Romans little by little. Both needed to know that Erhard and his men will not be there to sweep in from behind- those men were dead, as was the Bear. Worse, the man who had slain the Bear and his warhost was a blonde, silver-armored legate riding a white horse. There was only one legate who fit that description, and he was dead, slain by Ulfrich in his own market.

Elsewhere, another man made his way to the King’s Hall. He too bore news- having scavenged it from a talkative smith in Novaesium. The troops were gone, giving the man little to do except drink his own home-brewed beer and gossip with the vigiles who were garrisoning the castrum there. The governor had ordered the legion north to Vetera for a big push into Bructeri land- and that governor was called among other things Caius Rutilius.

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The legions stayed put for a full week, cleaning up the battlefields and tending to their own wounded. Those too badly off to walk were carried to the river and placed on ships bound for Vetera, while those in good enough health to continue were placed back into their centuries. The praefecti campora made their supply runs, bringing the legions back up to full, and carrying the post. Among the outgoing letters were two by the general- one to the current consul and his benefactor Titus Flavius Domitianus, and another to his fellow governor Gnaeus Pinarius Cornelius Clemens of Germania Superior. Neither contained any praise for the recent skirmish.

On the eighth day the legions broke camp and began their march forward. This march was tempered with the knowledge that there were Bructeri about- in numbers, and that they were not about to engage in open battle after the loss in the last one- but would rather snipe and skedaddle. The X Gemina put mounted archers with its cavalry, while the VI Victrix borrowed the cavalry of the XXI Rapax and did the same.

The Arvernii and Dalmatians could not shoot from horseback, but they did not need to- they trailed the cavalry and when they saw arrows or spears emerge from the brush, they dismounted and filled the offending brush with shafts. Sometimes they did not even wait to see if anything came from a suspicious scrubline- they shot a few shafts in just to make sure. On more than one occasion this casual shooting broke a potential ambush before it could draw Roman blood.

In this manner, the legions moved slowly forward along the Lupia, until they reached the site of one of Drusus’s forts. Here they would refurbish the site, clear the woodline, and settle in while the general sent scouts to reconnoiter the area for further progress. He had no desire to have another such encounter with a German legion-sized warband.

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Udo watched the Romans rebuild their outpost with disdain. What a waste. All that work, and only to destroy it when they leave. Then he smiled. They will have to garrison that post. That means fewer men on the march for later. Or, even better, a simple way to cut them off. I must remember this.

“My king,” a Bructeri said, gathering Udo’s attention. “The Roman horses move north instead of along the river. This could be bad.”

Udo could not see in that direction, but he knew what was there. Three villages, not a day’s ride from where the Romans lodged. If they found those villages, it could get ugly. “Is my brother nearby with his warband?”

The warrior shook his head. “Your brother awaits the Roman advance further along the river. A few more days march and they will reach the tower, where he has planned something special for them. But if they swing north...”

Udo cursed. He knew well what would happen- the Romans would gut his tribe like a fish, especially now without that fool Erhard and his warband to deflect them. Needs decide actions, or so he had heard.

“Ready those warriors who can ride, Atulf,” he ordered. “And inform my brother to commandeer any boats he can find. We land-bound shall harass the Romans by the river and draw their attention to us by day, and he can raid their tents in the night.”

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“Germans!” screamed the sentry. “Thousands of them! To arms!”

The camp of the VI Victrix sprang to life. Legionaries- border veteran all- were already armored. It was merely throw on the helmet, pick up scutum and pila, and run to the walls. Within minutes, the entire legion was battle-ready with seven cohorts on the walls and another three formed up as a reserve. Vipsanius Messala looked over his legion with pride- they were good men.

The Germani thought so too, which is why they halted their attack some hundred paces before the walls. At a barked command they parted, allowing archers to come forward. Arrows showered the legionaries of the VI Victrix, forcing their head down. When they popped up again, they found the German warriors close enough to hurl axes and spears at the walls.

The Romans, enjoying the height advantage, threw things back. Pila speared the air to impale Germans while exposing the hurlers to the archers. It was a tit-for-tat exchange, and then a ram’s horn blew. The Germans melted back into the eastern forest, leaving a few dead and dying upon the field.

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Gnaeus Messala looked over the carnage from a corner tower. Unlike his sentry, he saw at once that no more than a few hundred had attacked, then so quickly retreated. He shook his head in confusion.

“That was a bloody stupid attack,” he wondered aloud. “Germans are not stupid. So why this?”

His primuspilus, at his side, shrugged. He was as astonished at the brazen Bructeri attack as his legate. It went against all military sense to attack an entrenched enemy with so few, especially when there was absolutely no chance of victory. They were barbarians, but nobody who ever lifted a sword ever said that barbarians were stupid.

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The same foolish attacks occurred against the camps of the X Gemina and the XXI Rapax, where Cordinus had his headquarters. They repeated every few hours until they had the desired effect- which was the order by the general to chase those cowards, pin them down, and utterly destroy them.

When the orders came to the X Gemina, Rutilius was looking over a map with Tribunus Lucius Albius, the Remi commander, and his decurions. The horsemen had reported finding several trails to the north, leading towards open sky. There were scattered footprints on the trails, along with some effort made to conceal them. Puzzled, the legate and his cavalrymen tried to discern the riddle within.

Now all of that was for naught. The XXI Rapax and VI Victrix were to chase these harassers, while the X Gemina was to split and garrison the three camps until the legions return. The X Cavalry Auxilia was to report to Messala as replacements for his lost Aeduans, while the Arvernii were to reinforce the Raptors.

“Our general has caught this German foolishness,” Palla quipped. “This order is as stupid as those harassing attacks.”

“How so?” asked Albius.

“He orders us to guard the camps, then takes away our ranged troops and mounted troops- leaving us with only spearmen and legionaries,” Cadorus explained. “If the enemy attacks us again, we will be forced to come out to chase them away.”

Albius shook his head. “Now these attacks makes sense,” he said. “The Germani harass us, until our natural desire to choke the bastards rises and we give chase- admittedly with those troops of which he is stripping us. Then the bastards lead the other legions away, and attack us here.”

Palla looked up at that. It was bloody simple indeed. “The tribune has a good point.”

Cadorus nodded as well. “It was something similar to what I did against Suetonius. I cost him months.”

“Salvius, write that up and send it to the general under my name,” Rutilius ordered. “And make a copy for the general to initial.” He turned back to his officers. “So, we know what they could do. Any ideas how to use it to perform indecent acts against their nether regions with it?”

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

|||||||||||||||| 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
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 12-31-09 06:14 AM EDT (US)     32 / 98       
So it seems the Bructeri are employing the old come and catch me if you think your force is so good.

Simple, yet very effective. Good installment.

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.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 01-01-10 05:52 PM EDT (US)     33 / 98       
I am already avidly awaiting the next part. As usual.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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

(dis ma house)
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-05-10 01:54 AM EDT (US)     34 / 98       
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Cordinus was finishing reading a letter from his colleague Clemens.

Dearest Caius,

I must reiterate what I have written before. Though I have not met your Rutilian cousin personally, I do know of him and his background. My dear cousin, Sextus Cornelius, had the misfortune to have him as a tribune, together with another cousin of mine, Marcus Livius Cornelianus. Both cousins died in that mess a few years ago- the entire force was slaughtered, except for Rutilius and a few cowards who fled at first sight of a naked blade.

Rumor has it he once drugged the bodyguards of Mucianus and held a dagger to the man’s throat. Then Mucianus makes him his personal legate, and sends him north with Cerealis, who gave him a legion, then made him acting governor.

Watch him closely, and do not trust him. He is a weasel who will sow discontent in your army then take it over- or destroy it and give you the blame. Ride him hard, as I told you before, and give him no leeway to subvert your command. The man is evil and an opportunist, worse by far than any demagogue in the Forum. He came far for his origins, and has now fallen from that height. Anyone who has tasted the good life reacts poorly to having that life taken away. He is no different. Be careful.

Further news from the south...
The rest of the letter contained news of home, Eternal Rome, and the grand victory of Titus Flavius in Judea.

Cordinus put the letter down and picked up the second. It was sealed with the bull sigil of Domitianus. He scanned past the salutations and hometown gossip for the information he asked of his benefactor. Ah, there it was.

Be careful with Rutilius. Handle him with care. He is a very dangerous man, incorruptible, and utterly devoted to his concept of Rome. As long as your actions coincide with that ideal, he will be a loyal and devoted legate. Uncle Quintus speaks highly of him, as does Gaius Mucianus. Both gave him promotions and awards they claim he won fairly- and they disliked him at first. He won their confidence and friendship through hard work and spectacular results. As I said, a most dangerous man kind of man- a lucky one.

My own relationship with him is strained too- though he saved me from a burning death at the hands of the Vitellian Praetorians upon the Capitoline, he did so with disdain and made it clear he was only paying a debt to Mucianus- not for love of the Flavians. My advice to you is thus this: give him tasks to keep him busy for Rome. Idle hands lead to problems, and with his abilities and connections, those problems could lead to your demise. Keep him busy, and you will have no worries.


Cordinus put the letter down in shock. He knew pieces of his legate’s biography, but not these details. And the words Domitian chose... almost a grudging praise. He would have to evaluate this versus the information from Clemens.

“Courier from the X Gemina, sir,” his aide announced. He entered and handed the tablet to his general. Cordinus read it and snorted, then looked back at the two letters. Capable, and dangerous. Keep him busy. That made his decision easier.

“Tell Rutilius he can keep his archers,” he decided. “But his cavalry will still report to Messala. The VI Victrix needs the horse more than he does. And have him finish construction of this post.”

There, he will be busy.

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Udo watched the Romans march out of their encampments and form up facing east. Two legions were coming against him, leaving a third behind to finish the wooden palace. This was better than expected, he thought as his face broke into a large grin. A third of the Roman force was out of the fight- and soon two thirds. He signalled his cavalry to the ready and the infantry to begin their retreat.

Atulf led the infantry eastward to where Ulfrich had waited. His mustached and bearded face his a grin as large as that of his king. The Romans had taken the bait. Now to sink the hook, all he had to do was keep in front and away from the arrogant cockroaches. Udo on horseback and Ulfrich upon the river will do the rest.

Cordinus obliged, focusing on the warriors frustratingly just at the edge of vision. He ordered a charge at the run, but the unarmored Germans easily maintained their distance. Albius, the X Cavalry tribune, reported horsetracks heading north, which worried Cordinus for a moment. He had bad flashbacks of horseborne danger from his time in Armenia, but brushed it off. Here in Germania it was infantry with the power, while horsemen were but glorified scouts. He dismissed the Bructeri cavalry and concentrated on catching those irritating infantry.

That night he would encamp the legions, endure the German harassment, and the next morning try again. And again. And again, each day bringing him further and further from his base and away from his third legion, now stripped of horseborne eyes that may have seen the German danger before it fell upon them.

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The X Gemina was alone, but the immunes of the other two legions were also left behind, along with their heavy equipment. Rutilius put them to good use- he said simply that with no legion to support for the time being, they had thus no daily toils to perform. And if they wanted to live to see the return of their legion, they ought to get that post built. He left two cohorts to assist, then had his other seven break down their camp and relocate it closer to the outpost. The camps of the XXI Rapax and VI Victrix were dismantled the second day and relocated closer to the new camp of the X Gemina, all three now being mutually supporting and with access to fresh water in the event of a siege. Trees were cut and planed, creating open fields around the camps, while the wood went into the construction of the outpost.

During the day the immunes worked on the post, walls and towers first, then gates, then the internal structures, while the cohorts took turns assisting them with labor or patrolling. The ships Rutilius Gallicus had laid on brought in supplies of nails and fittings. At dusk they would settle in to their camps, with three cohorts in each, then after nightfall all would move into the camp of the X Gemina while six cohorts moved to man the outpost itself.

The dawn of the fourth day saw the expected German attack. Horsemen boiled from the edge of the forest and rampaged through the open fields towards the camps. They threw spears and axes, and closed in upon the walls to throw torches.

Udo knew something was not right as he hollered and shouted around the outlying camps. There should be Romans throwing weapons back, yet not a head appeared upon the walls. He put it down to cowardice, and wished he had brought his full warband on this strike- the foot-bound warriors would have been able to easily scale the walls and slaughter the sleeping inhabitants.

Men started falling about him. This was more like it, he thought. The place was not deserted! He craned his neck about to see from where the lethal missiles were coming, but saw nothing. At first. Then he caught a glint of sunlight from a helmet by the post. Ah, there they are- mice ready to be squashed. He rallied his men about and commanded them to keep moving.

With the charges and agitated movement, less men fell from their mounts. Each death was to be mourned, but served a greater good. For while the Romans shot their arrows from such a long distance, they were watching and aiming at the horsemen- and ignoring the river where Ulfrich and his warband were silently approaching.

“Try to get that big one there,” Cadorus ordered an artilleryman working the scorpion. The artilleryman nodded, and while his partner loaded and cranked the weapon, he drew a careful bead. When the final ratchet clank fell in place and the aiming point was right in the fool’s brisket, he pulled back the firing lever. The javelin shot forward, whistling through the air, and headed straight for Udo.

It fell short. The spear impaled his horse right in the chest, dropping him and the animal in a tumble of steel and flesh coated with a fine arterial spray.

“Good shot. Now that one,” Cadorus ordered, turning his attention to the next leader-type among the stupid horsemen. He never saw Udo rise up from the tangle of man and horse and catch up a riderless horse. The Bructeri king had been down, but now he was up again- and knowing what he faced. Still, he had little choice. He had to keep the Roman attention to give his brother the opportunity to sneak into the post unseen and slaughter its inhabitants.

He could have saved himself the trouble. The post was crowded with a full legion of legionaries and three legion’s worth of support troops. Every wall had eyes, and not only for the turkey shoot out on the field. Some eyes were turned riverward, and saw the slinking danger. A runner was sent to Rutilius in the northeast tower, where the legate was directing his forces and occasionally popping off an arrow from his bow.

“Legate,” the runner huffed. “German infantry- they are coming down the river- On boats.”

Rutilius lowered his bow- he had just emptied his fifth saddle- and looked toward the river. He cursed as he realized the Bructeri plan. Bloody clever! “Runner, report to Cadorus. Have him move the west wall defenders to the south wall. All of them. Now.” The runner departed, and Rutilius summoned another. “Wave a blue flag to our camp so that Severus knows from where the real danger lies, then order Strabo to move half his force- keeping below the parapets!- to the south wall to be commanded by Cadorus. Move.”

That runner also departed. Rutilius saw Cadorus receive the order, turn to the tower and raise his shield in acknowledgement. To his right, Strabo was doing the same. And to the west, a green flag was waving from the Gemina camp. All was being made ready for a wonderful reception to a damned clever surprise.

Ulfrich knew nothing of this. He saw only what he wanted to see- the Romans occupied with his brother, and the riverward wall of the new fort unguarded. He smiled, and lifted a rope. The signal was seen, and along the river men stood with grapnels and ropes. The ropes flew true, and were drawn taut. Bructeri warriors began climbing.

“Wait for it,” Rutilius muttered from the tower. “Wait for it... NOW!”

Two cohorts rose from their crouches and hurled a deadly volley of pila into the clustered warriors below. A second volley followed, and then swords were used to cut the ropes of those climbing while others hurled a third and then a fourth volley into the packed men below.

It was a slaughter. Men fell, spitted by a pilum or merely cast from the walls. The Arvernii archers filled many more with shafts, and Rutilius loosed a few of his own from the tower. It was impossible to miss in the mass of warriors swarming at the base of the wall. Ulfrich saw the futility of storming in the face of such a determined defense and quickly ordered the retreat- there was nothing to gain here except a death for which he was not yet prepared. The Bructeri pulled back to their boats, then began heading upriver.

“Archers to the east wall!” cried Rutilius when he saw the Bructeri begin falling back. The packed boats were large and beautifully slow-moving targets for Arvernii archers. The auxilia kept shooting until their arrows no longer tasted flesh, the prey being too far away.

Udo saw the boats leaving and decided to do the same. It had been a grand plan, but it had ultimately failed. He gave the Roman commander a grudging respect, and called his own warriors to melt back away. This encounter was over, but there will be others.

“Four cohorts to the camp of the VI Victrix,” Rutilius ordered as he watched the Bructeri disappear. “Try to put those fires out.” He gave a wistful glance towards the burning camp of the XXI Rapax. Sorry, Lucius. “And two more to contain the damage to the Rapax.”

He had lost the better part of two empty camps but no lives, while the Bructeri had lost several scores of cavalrymen and many boatloads of warriors. In all, he counted it a solid victory.

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 01-05-10 03:01 AM EDT (US)     35 / 98       
This is great. What more can I say?
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 01-05-10 07:51 AM EDT (US)     36 / 98       
Great chapter. The Bructeri must have thought they were close to victory before the trap was pulled.

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 01-07-10 04:55 AM EDT (US)     37 / 98       
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Cordinus Rutilius Gallicus returned four days later, dragging two tired legions with him. The first thing he noticed was the pile of dead bodies in the center of two partially-burned camps and a third full camp. He did not even notice the completed outpost, or the scorpions mounted in the towers and on the roofs of the buildings inside, until he was almost upon it. When he did, it tempered the rage rising inside him somewhat at the waste.

Rutilius and Cadorus met him at the outpost gates, and quickly ran down the battle- the Germans feinted with cavalry to draw their attention, then snuck down the river in boats to attempt a storm along the back wall. They were driven off with no deaths, and but a few wounded.

Cordinus did not seem to care. He looked over the remains of the burned camps. “You kill a few dozen Germans but lose two entire camps, and call that a success?” he bellowed. “Where do you expect these tired legions, who have been chasing Germans for over a week now, to sleep this night? I’ll tell you where, legate. They will sleep in your camp, while you and your legion spend the night under the stars.”

“They are welcome to our camp,” Rutilius replied, in that utter calm that he knew thoroughly irritated the general. “And we will spend the night inside the completed outpost, in comfort. Or maybe, sir, it is better if the two legions move into the outpost after eight days marching, and let us finish making the stakes and fittings for new camps on the morrow- as we had already planned to do.”

Cordinus grumbled, then agreed to have the tired men move into the outpost, as both general and legate knew he would. But he had to get a last bite in, to see if he could rile this arrogant legatus. “We will pull our own guard duty, though. I see the results of when your men guard something.”

Rutilius let the lame comment pass without remark, but Cadorus at his side rose to the bait.

“Tell me something, lord,” the Briton asked in a semblance of calm that reflected his true ire anyway. “How would you have defended three camps and an incomplete outpost? So that we may do better, next time.”

The sarcasm of the last statement was lost upon the general, who scoffed and pointed to the camps as if instructing a cadet instead of a tribune who had been fighting in one army or another for thirteen years now. “You have three camps, yes? That is one, two, three. And you have nine cohorts. Nine divided by three equals three, thus I would put three cohorts into each camp, with the support troops in the outpost. In that manner all three camps are guarded. That’s how!” the general shouted.

Rutilius remained calm for a moment, then a grin started to break his resolve. Severus and Minucius, under no such obligation of duty, began to laugh raucously, causing the general to turn beet-red with anger. Only Aulus Strabo did not laugh, but then again, the young tribune knew as little of battle as the general. Since the other tribunes were incapacitated with laughter, and the legate struggling valiantly to maintain an aloof appearance, it was up to Cadorus to rely to the general’s stupidity.

“And you would have had three burned camps, one destroyed fort, and one dead legion, sir,” Cadorus pointed out. “Seven cohorts of Germans came down that river and hit this fort from its blind side. Those seven cohorts would have destroyed the immunes you would have stationed here- hamstringing all three legions!- before they attacked the camps one by one. There was enough cavalry roaming between the forts to prevent any one from aiding another, making sallies suicidal. And with the other two legions off chasing ghosts four days away, there would be plenty of time for them to finish off this legion. Sir.”

“Leaving you to find our corpses, three burned camps, and a burned fort as a welcoming gift,” Rutilius added, bringing it back to his tribune’s opening. “They assaulted our walls, but we repulsed them with heavy losses and took none ourselves. Here in the forest, sir, wood is replaceable. Men are not.”

Cordinus did not like it, but he was not as big a fool as he just seemed to be. A quick glance at the battlefield and location of the camps- and not knowing from which direction the Germans would come- confirmed the tribune’s words. Doing it his way would have gotten them all killed- and without this base and that third legion, his expedition’s chances of success diminished rapidly. The tribune was correct, damn him to Pluto’s Realm! And the legate as well. Double damn!

“Have the other two camps ready by tomorrow night,” he ordered gruffly, then went in to inspect this new fort. It had better be worth the humiliation he just put himself through!

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Udo and Ulfrich were encamped north of the Witch’s Tower, while Herman and Georg- two of the most clever tinkerers in the warhost, finished putting the last touches onto Ulfrich’s surprises. They were dour at the failure of their river-borne assault, even more so as they discussed what they had learned from it.

“Your blade did not go deep enough,” Udo cursed. “And Erwin lied.”

“We have not heard from Erwin for weeks now, brother,” Ulfrich reminded him. “Things can change in weeks.”

“Men do not rise from the dead in a few weeks,” Udo roared. He had a sudden urge to throw his beer at his brother and choke the idiot to death with his bare hands. “I saw Rutilius with my own eyes. Silvered cuirass with a blemish over the heart from our first attempt to kill him, with a gouge from your second, blonde head, cold demeanor as he directed his warriors in slaughtering ours. It was him.”

“That is why we failed to kill many when they came across Father Rhein,” Ulfrich remarked. The bravado and strength seemed to flow right out of him to disappear into the ground as if rainwater on sand. He remembered the Witch’s prophecy. “The men are happy because Rutilius is with them. Wotan’s Iron Balls, brother, we are doomed!”

The legates are furious with the orders of Rutilius,” Udo quoted from the self-same prophecy. “Do you know why that is, that the men are happy but the chieftains furious? Because there are two Rutilii- Marcus the chieftain, and Caius the kinglet. The kinglet issues the decree to come against us, not the chieftain. We have been trying to kill the wrong Rutilius. And in doing so, we bring the wrath of the legions upon us.”

“Nevel and Fredrik have the kinglet in their pocket,” Ulfrich said with a spreading grin. “And if the chieftain goes to the Tower, then we will have eradicated both Rutilii.”

Udo raised his horn of beer to his brother. “We may yet see success in this bold venture!”

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While the general inspected the fort from top to bottom, his legates turned their legions over to their praefecti campora, scooped up their second-in-commands and went to the camp of the X Gemina for a heart-to heart with Rutilius.

They were challenged at the gate by the guards, then passed inside as they were recognized. The two legates looked the camp over with approving eyes- it was well-sited, a well was being dug upriver from the latrines, and the tents laid out as they should with no ropes in the lanes. They followed the lane to the praetorium where the legate of the X Gemina would be going over the orders with his staff. They waited patiently outside, listening to the orders brief through the tent walls and nodded to each other.

Titus Faenius, the tribunus laticlavius of the XXI Rapax looked to his legate with a nod and said, “We ought to do that too, sir.” Amensius agreed- having a full-court senior staff meeting was a good way for a legate to get advice from those who had served Rome for years. Finally the meeting broke up and the senior centurions and tribunes went about their tasks. The legates and their tribunes then entered the tent.

“We have brought wine,” Messala said by way of greeting. He lifted a skin on high, then presented it to his host. “You, being the only here who has seen true battle since we crossed, may have the honor of first sip.”

Rutilius shrugged, then accepted the proffered skin. He sipped a bit, found it unwatered, then poured more into a goblet to which he added a third of water before handing the skin back. He then gestured to Salvius to fetch goblets for the guests, who took the stools so recently vacated by the centurions.

“We have a problem,” Lucius Amensius began. “And his name is Rutilius.”

Marcus Rutilius looked up at that.

“Quintus Julius Cordinus Caius Rutilius Gallicus, to be precise,” Amensius added. “The man does not like you nor trust you, and is jeopardizing us all- and the precious Rhenus border- in his actions concerning you.”

“Is he a cousin that your father maltreated or so?” Messala asked. “Or did your grandfather adopt him out for a too-small price? Something is eating the man, and since you never laid eyes on him before he came here, it has to be something from your past.”

“I know him not,” Marcus replied with sincerity. “Nor do I know any of our gens cognomated Gallicus. I do not think we are related, but my family history has never interested me very much.”

“Some senator you are,” laughed Gnaeus Vipsanius Messala. “Senators are supposed to preen and gloat over their ancestry. Anyway, back to our problem. He started out well with the planning and that wonderfully-executed crossing. We had high hopes for him, and were glad to be on the offensive for once.”

“Then the Bructeri fight back, and he ignores your request for help,” Amensius said. “You fight a wonderful battle, losing hardly any, yet he punishes your legion by making it stay behind to guard empty camps while Rutilius Gallicus leads us off chasing ghosts.”

“Cordinus,” Rutilius said, “my legion does not refer to him by my family name for some odd reason. He is on a quest. He does not like me, and that is mutual. But his decision to leave my legion here was a good one. We had just fought a battle, and were in the midst of redistributing personnel to fill nine cohorts. We were the logical choice for defending the outpost, so I agreed with his orders. His decision to garrison empty and dismantled camps, however, bordered on the ridiculous, so I ignored it.”

“The man is militarily incompetent, despite his early success,” Messala agreed. “He splits his forces on enemy territory to chase men he ought to know we can never catch. And he stays on it despite our pleas.”

“It is like he listens to those two guides more than he does legates with actual battle experience here,” added Faenius. “Messala here had to threaten to write to his patron Mucianus back in Rome to even get his attention.”

Messala nodded while Amensius added, “I have no benefactor in Rome, having been promoted by Cerealis. But I did submit a request for transfer. Together with Messala’s patron, we managed to get him to leave the ghosts alone- especially when we came to that tower.”

“Tower?” Rutilius asked with alarm. He brought up his map. “Where? Show me.”

Amensius pointed. The location was about the same as where Froydis had said Veleda had her tower- a structure that had no business being upon a river in Germania.

Rutilius sighed knowingly. “One of the things ‘our problem’ is questing for is Veleda, the seeress who aided Civilis. She is reputed to live in a stone tower about where you saw it. It strikes me as odd that when he finds the tower, and his goal, he returns here.”

“And chews you out for living where he would have gotten a legion killed,” added Messala. “I wonder if his reasoning for garrisoning the empty camps had more to do with putting you in harm’s way than military expedience. He gives orders that make little tactical sense.”

“I think we need to approach him, the three of us,” Amensius said. “With our tribunes and our senior centurions. And tell him to either hand over tactical command to one of us, or to bring us back to our side of the river. This horseshit he is pulling now will only get good soldiers killed, and Rome has too few already.”

“No,” Rutilius said flatly. “We shall not mutiny. That may be his goal- to get a mutiny so that he can claim we sabotaged his expedition. If we obey every command and he fails anyway, he has no scapegoat. He will have failed on his own. No, my friends, we do not mutiny. We get rid of him the old-fashioned way. We obey his lawful commands and let Rome see his incompetence.”

“How many of us have to die until Rome finally sees this governor as a walking military disaster?” asked Faenius.

“That is why he has us, tribunus,” Rutilius replied. “We keep the men alive despite his uselessness. He is no combat veteran, but we all are. Advise him. Don’t murder him.”

“He trusts those German guides more than us,” Amensius added. “We will not get far against their advice.”

“Find out about them,” Rutilius ordered. He remembered Erwin and Georg from Noviomagus. Spies. These two could be more of the same. “Capture some locals and have them interrogate them while I am nearby. Ich kan sie verstehen,” he said in Batavian, “I can understand them.”

“Since when do you speak that gutteral garbage?” Messala exclaimed.

Rutilius shrugged. “Evidently since birth. My mother was a Chatti, and that seems to be the local lingo here. I’ll be able to tell you if the guides are truthful or not.”

Amensius grinned, as did the two tribunes. Messala did not.

“You’re half slave?” he said in shock. “Jupiter and Juno!”

“Half-German, by blood,” Rutilius corrected. “My father freed my mother and married her before I was born. In freeing her she got the citizenship, and dad always was proud of our family line. I am guessing he still is, even with a half-blood son.”

“You did well enough to earn my respect,” Messala admitted. “I guess one cannot chose one’s ancestry.”

“Maybe that is the crux of the problem with ‘our problem’,” Faenius added. “He knows of your mixed heritage, and sees you as a threat. That would explain about everything- he does not trust you since he thinks you are more aligned with these barbarians than with us.”

“He is not, you fool!” Messala roared, despite his own previous outburst.

“I know this, legate,” the tribunus continued unabashed. “But maybe ‘our problem’ does not. He may think otherwise- thus the trials and extra scrutiny, and fault with every move. He is testing you, legate Rutilius, to see if you are a true Roman or a man with loyalties as mixed as your blood.”

“His getting friendly with a local lady doesn’t help his cause any either,” Salvius added.

Rutilius shot him an angry look, but Messala clapped the legate on the shoulder in congratulations. “About time, my friend.”

“She is just a friend,” Rutilius muttered, even as he himself wondered about it. “If you must know, I was going to ask for the hand of the daughter of Decimus Licinius, Licinia, but this expedition came up before she returned to our parts.”

“Putting a wedding ring on the finger of a good Roman woman would allay loyalty suspicions,” Messala agreed. “As much as tying one on with a Germanic would raise them.”

“That is total horse shit,” Amensius said firmly, “but is does explain the actions of ‘our problem’. Plus you are a bona fide hero with crowns and phalerae and everything, while he is a nobody who got this posting due to friends in high places. He fears your ability, your fame, and what might happen if you turn that against him.”

“I do not give a damn,” Rutilius answered flatly, standing to signal an end to this gathering. “I will continue to do my duty to this legion and this army, to the province, and to Rome. As long as my namesake does the same, we have no issues.”

“And if he starts placing his own above Rome’s interests?” asked Faenius.

Rutilius shrugged, leaving the answer open.

Amensius was more direct. “Then we will need a new governor.”

Messala sighed. “It does not matter. He trusts only to those damned German guides, and not us, and especially not you. We could never get you close enough to them without ‘our’ problem finding out about it.”

“Salvius,” Marcus ordered. “Fetch Dieter.” He turned to his visitors. “I might not be able to get close to these gods-given guides our general so blindly follows, but I have eighty or so warriors who might. My bodyguards. I’ll select one who speaks good Latin, and equip him as a legionary. Lucius, you take him since the general is most often in your vicinity. Post him where he can listen in, and have a centurion you trust give him some tips so he doesn’t stick out.”

Amensius smiled wolfishly. “That I can do.”

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

|||||||||||||||| 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
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 01-07-10 05:25 AM EDT (US)     38 / 98       
Very good chapter. So there is talk of discontent amongst the officers. Very interesting.

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.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 01-07-10 11:15 AM EDT (US)     39 / 98       
I really like Cadorus.

And I really like this talk of a new governor! Da gweithia!
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-07-10 11:25 AM EDT (US)     40 / 98       
So do I, which was why I decided to bring him over from The Legacy of Prasutagus.

We are about halfway through Part II now, for those who are interested in knowing such things. More intrigue, and battles, and other delights are on the way.

Stay tuned, and remember (for those of you who read but remain silent) that writers crave feedback. Praise is always welcome- it is the ambrosia that feeds us- but other comments and questions are welcome too.

|||||||||||||||| 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
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-11-10 02:29 AM EDT (US)     41 / 98       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Five men returned to the fort that night, four officers and one very angry legionary.

The march resumed two days later, once a contingent of marines was brought in to garrison the fort. They were already acquainted with the scorpions and bows, and had a rather good supply of arrows with them. Rutilius had Amensius sneak him a bundle to replace those he lost in battle. Once the marines were familiarized with the terrain, and had a good idea of the defenses, Cordinus ordered the camps struck and the legions began moving west.

The march east was slow- the river banks were steeper here, and the number of smaller streams flowing into the river increased. The number and thickness of bushes growing along these streams increased as well. It meant good defense should the need arise, but at the same time it made progress slow. Yet there was a clear path through the mess- created by ten thousand Romans marching in column chasing elusive warriors not a week past.

Four days marching, having seen nary a Bructeri, brought them to the tower. Here Cordinus ordered a halt, commanding the legions to encamp. Then he paid a visit to the X Gemina.

“There is a tower up ahead,” he explained to the legate of the X Gemina. “I am told that is where the witch lives. I want your legion to build a camp on the far side of it, and tie in with Messala who will build directly north of it. I want it sealed off. Tonight. As soon as that is done, I want you to lead a cohort against it. Capture the Witch, Marcus, and all shall be well between us.”

Rutilius was taken aback by the sudden honor, and use of his given name. He saluted with a fist over his heart and a “By your command” for his lips.

Cordinus nodded, and returned to the camp of the XXI Rapax to the west of the tower. There he ordered Amensius to ensure he was tied in with Messala. Nothing and nobody was to penetrate their web- either in or out. If the Witch was home, she would be caught. The grand trireme tied to the dock led them all to believe she was home. Amensius was ordered to secure it the moment the cohort of the X Gemini began moving against the door. Orders given, Cordinus sat back to watch the unfolding action.

Rutilius readied his assault team. There was a lot of moaning and bitching from the men of the X Gemina- each wanted to be in on the action, and each wanted the legate not to be. Rutilius asked them how many spoke German, to which only his eighty Batavians and some few others raised their arms. Then he asked how many have experience fighting inside a building- to which all arms went down.

“I have both,” the legate announced. “Thus I lead. Now I want two volunteers to man the sledges, and another ten as a close assault group to follow me inside. Palla, pick the six best dagger-men you have. Dieter, pick your best four. Then I want another seventy with thickened shields to be a moving distraction for the defenders.”

The centurions acknowledged and began sorting out the men. Dieter told off four men from the Batavian Guard. Within minutes, Rutilius had his strike group ready.

The sun was setting, an angry red ball below the treeline dipping into the ground when the single century of the Xth began running towards the tower door. Another four centuries of the Arvernii took up positions around the tower and readied for any resistance. Amensius saw the movement and ordered his own men into action. The ship was secured easily- it was abandoned. And the heavy pounding of two sledges against the tower doors told him Rutilius was likewise busy.

The door sprang open with a tremendous crash, sending it flying back to land upon a series of bows drawn taut. These bows released their deadly loads into the door instead of the people beyond, though some few pierced the door with enough force to exit the other side and embed themselves on shields. Rutilius and his chosen assault team rushed in as the cohort formed up behind.

They found a heap of strings and broken bows, but no warriors. Glancing about, Rutilius saw the stairs leading up and two doors leading to other chambers. He signaled his men to stop in their tracks. In the ensuing silence, he heard nothing. He pointed his dagger at the sledge men and then gestured to the side door, while another signal sent three men to the far door. He and the rest waited by the stairs.

The sledges pounded. This door flew open as the lock broke under the impact. The opening o the door triggered a scything axe to swing out at head height- anybody charging into the room would have done so without his head.

Again Rutilius signaled for silence. And again, nothing was heard. He motioned for his men to stay put while he went outside. He looked to his archers, who were fervently scanning the battlements and windows but had their bows ready for the draw. They too saw nothing. Rutilius nodded and went back inside.

“I think this place is trapped, but empty,” he said. “I am going to climb the outside and enter from the top. Hermann, Egnatius, and Wolf, you come with me. Calabrius, you maintain watch down here, in case I am wrong.”

Orders given, Rutilius scooped up a grapnelled rope from one of his men and went outside. Two tries later, the rope was firmly anchored to the top. Then he began to climb before a rough hand hauled him from the rope.

Ich gehe erst,” Hermann said. I go first. Rutilius nodded, and the Batavian began scaling the tower. A few minutes later, he was at the top. Another minute later, Rutilius was beside him, then the other two.

Atop the tower was a trap door, opened. A peek inside revealed a cozy chamber devoid of life. Rutilius put his dagger away and using the rope he had so recently climbed, had his men hold it while he slid down into the room. He as followed by the Batavian Wolf.

The chamber was dark in tone, with softer edges along the bedding and furniture. The smell of broken lanterns punctuated the atmosphere. The chamber was also thoroughly ransacked, with items thrown haphazardly onto the floor from the shelves they once adorned. A large table stood to one side. Behind it, an oaken chair lay on its side. There was a door that presumably led to the stairway, and facing that door was a tangle of rope and blades- another trap.

“Cut those blades free,” Rutilius ordered. He himself rummaged through the mess, looking for clues of the Witch and her current location- she was obviously not here. He did find a small box hidden on the underside of the table that had been missed by whoever trashed the place. He opened the box carefully, holding it away from his face should anything nasty hop out, but nothing happened. Inside the box were two ivory combs chased with gold and a ring sporting a rather large ruby. He stuffed them into his belt purse and moved to join Wolf by the door.

“The Witch has fled,” the Batavian said, and added as he pointed to the blades, “yet she left us presents. This would have killed anybody stupid enough to enter.”

“We must still check every room,” Rutilius reminded him. “General’s orders.”

“Do we have to check from the inside?” the Batavian asked with a grin.

Rutilius matched his grin. “No orders about that. Come, we leave.”

Rutilius looked up toward the rope and saw the stairway hanging beneath the opening. Almost without thought, he reached for it, but was stopped by Wolf- who then pointed out the string attached to it. Rutilius cursed, then thanked the man before going up the rope. Wolf followed.

Atop the tower once again, Rutilius explained the situation about the traps. Each would take turns on the rope, peeking in the windows from the outside in. Each room in the tower was likewise examined- empty, except for lethal traps. He had seen enough. The Witch was not home.

“Have Calabrius get out,” he ordered, “and lets get out of here.”

Wolf first, then Egnatius, then the legate, and finally Hermann went down the rope. Hermann went faster down the rope than the others- he had heard a click from under his feet. Small flames could be seen in the tower. They spread quickly- the tower was a pillar of flames lighting up the night sky within minutes, lighting the way of fleeing Romans..

Cordinus was not happy. He ran forward to accost Rutilius.

“You were to sweep the place and bring me the Witch,” he yelled. “Not play monkey on the outside then burn the tower down.”

“It was a trap, general,” Rutilius retorted. “Every room was rigged with death-traps- facing the doors. Other than that, the place was empty. I doubt very much anybody was inside.”

“Then who set the fire?” the general asked. “I doubt a candle could hold its flame for those hours it took us to secure the perimeter and dig in.”

“I do not know,” Rutilius answered honestly. “I do know the scent of oil was prevalent in the upper floors.”

Ich weiss,” Wolf answered. Rutilius translated the man’s words for the general. “There was a grindstone by the corner, with an axe on it. Hermann must have dislodged the stairs, causing them to fall. The cord tied from stairs to handle spun the grindstone, causing sparks which caused the fire.”

Rutilius stopped translating and looked to the general. “It was a death-trap lord, but I do believe this was the home of the Witch sometime in the past. I have heard the legends, as have you, and that ship Lucius is holding was the one stolen by the Batavians from Quintus Cerealis in Colonia. The furnishings, though ransacked, were feminine. She lived here, but not any more. And those traps- definitely not the work of a witch- more a warrior.”

Cordinus swore softly. He looked at Rutilius, who stood firmly at attention, ever vigilant. He nodded as a light went off inside his head. “You are correct, Marcus,” he admitted. “I do have a lot to learn about these Germans. Death-traps in a stone tower... They are rather clever, these barbarians. They knew we would have to check it out. Our own curiosity would kill whoever we sent in, with the final trap burning the place down to cover their traps. Very clever little barbarians indeed. Get some rest, Marcus. Tomorrow we march to kill these treacherous foes. ”

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

That night there was a second meeting of legates, this time in the camp of the VI Victrix. Rutilius took Cadorus, leaving Milus in overall command but Palla in tactical. Both men agreed, and Cadorus and Rutilius met up with Amensius and Faenius by the gates of the VI Victrix.

“Today was almost your death, Marcus,” Gnaeus Messala began. “Why did you not send in a centurion or one of those other seasoned brawlers you have over in the Xth?”

Rutilius shrugged. “I was best suited for indoor work, they for the battlefield.”

“Ha!” laughed Messala. “That might work on someone who has not seen you on the battlefield, Marcus. But really, when have you ever fought inside buildings that your men had not?”

“Rome, four years ago,” Rutilius answered lowly. “When that bastard Primus raped the place. I would rather not get into details.”

“I would like to have gone into that tower,” Faenius said suddenly, trying to break the somber mood that fell over the gathering at the memory of the Flavians’ final victory over Vitellius, and the senseless butchery of Roman citizens that followed. “Just think of the fame for having captured the Seeress of the Bructeri.”

“It could not have been one of us,” Amensius said plainly. “Your German told me the guides were a bit specific- to have any chance of success in capturing the Witch alive the assault party must be led by one who spoke German, or had a German with him. Neither Gnaeus nor myself have Germans. Only you. Thus you had to go.”

“These Germani are clever indeed,” Cadorus noted. “They have tried twice to kill my legate- on the open road, and in a crowded market. Now they try with a trapped tower. What will be next?”

“He is the one who knows best German ways,” Amensius agreed. “We all know our general has his headquarters up his hindquarters; If he ever listened to his legates, we would give him good advice- Marcus especially. With Marcus out of the way or dead, we are at a disadvantage. Thus the Germani are trying to do just that- and whittle the rest of us down while they are at it.”

“I have noticed a conspicuous lack of Germans in these parts,” Messala added.

“I haven’t,” laughed Cadorus.

“I have, though,” Rutilius countered. “True, we’ve killed several thousand. All warriors, and all in either the single battle when we first landed or in the failed assault on the outpost. But I haven’t seen a single German apart from them. Strange that, on such a lush river.”

“Rivers flood,” Amensius said. “Maybe the Germans are inland, away from a potential flood.”

“There was that one village,” Messala noted. “I lost my Aeduans there. And the arrow storm when we tried to storm it...” He shuddered. “I nearly lost two cohorts had the men not turtled up.”

“Have you seen any Germans, Lucius?” Rutilius asked. When he shook his head, he repeated the question to Messala, who also answered no. “Me either. Something is definitely wrong here.”

“They knew we were coming?” Amensius asked in wonder. “Even before we did?”

“The Witch,” Messala said suddenly, his head shooting upright at the thought. “She must have foreseen our coming. And her people set up this wonderful path for us to follow- with their own people safely away.”

“And two loyal guides to ensure we stay on it,” Amensius added. “Spies.”

“Agreed,” Rutilius said. It made very good sense. “Now, how to use this against them?”

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 01-11-2010 @ 02:31 AM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 01-11-10 08:40 AM EDT (US)     42 / 98       
House fighting is a bloody thing. They were lucky. Rutillus would have wanted grenades.

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.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 01-11-10 12:11 PM EDT (US)     43 / 98       
Another excellent update, Lord Terikel!
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-14-10 02:15 AM EDT (US)     44 / 98       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Two days march beyond the Tower was another village. This one had a palisade about it, with some sort of catwalk behind so the warriors could fight. And it was occupied. A message to the general was dispatched and Messala began planning his moves. He looked over the ground for traps or ambushes, saw none, and was about to order his men to dig in when the courier returned from the general.

“Orders, legate,” the courier announced. “We are to assault the village on the march, before they can scamper away.”

No ladders, no towers, no ropes. How the hell do we...

“Tribunes! To me!” he ordered. “And you, courier, ride to the X Gemina and inform Rutilius of our situation and orders.”

When the tribunes arrived, Messala laid out his plan. The officers grinned- that was pure cunning.

The VI Victrix came up from cohorts in column to cohorts on line while the tribunes rode to each senior centurion and laid out the plan. As each one acknowledged, the tribune would move off to the next. Soon the entire legion was ready.

Messala gave the signal- a long blast of the cornifer’s instrument. The warbling blast carried through the otherwise silent forest. The archers moved forward and began pelting the walls with shafts. Under their cover, the centuries moved up in testudo against return fire. They reached the walls, and the first ranks began building a pyramid of held shields, allowing the following ranks to do the same higher up. Soon they were at the wall and the following ranks could climb up to and mount the walls.

The arrows ceased. The men of the VI Victrix found themselves masters of the deserted village- with a few die-hard warriors holding a breach in the unfinished wall beyond. These were quickly cut down and the VI Victrix boiled onto the plain beyond.

Here they were met with an archery barrage- but quickly turtled up and resumed plodding forward. Arrows fell among them, but very few made it through the testudo. Then the horn blew again, and the legion sat down to wither the storm.

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

“What in Hel’s Half-Black Face are they doing?” Ulfrich wondered. “They storm the village before we could even draw blood, now they halt in arrow range and just sit there?”

Udo looked over the small field and beyond. True, the legionaries who had so quickly overwhelmed the village were sitting still, but in the distance he could see glints of armor- men on the march.

“Let us get out of here brother,” he said curtly. “Those there are to hold our attention while those others come about and envelop us. Today we lost the skirmish. Let us not lose our lives.”

Ulfrich grunted, but accepted the wisdom. Their ambush was a failure. It was time to escape.

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

“They saw us,” Cadorus muttered. He was looking over the holes in the brush and the raw places where men had knelt. “They saw us and ran.”

“How many, do you suppose?” Rutilius asked of his second-in-command.

The Briton shrugged. “Hard to tell, legate. I would reckon about five or six thousand. If the VI Victrix had come upon them themselves alone, it could have gotten bloody.”

“Had they not spotted us, it would have been bloody,” the legate retorted. “Their blood on our swords.”

Cadorus nodded. “Very much so. If you please, my lord, I would like to take the Iceni auxilia and sweep the village. I might learn something.”

“Aye,” Rutilius agreed. “You do that. I will take Lucius Albius and my Batavians for a little ride. I am tired of seeing nothing but ghosts in forests known to be teeming with blood-mad warriors.”

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

The legates gathered in the main longhouse of the abandoned village after sunset.

“Where is the general?” Rutilius asked. “He ought to see this as well. It might open his eyes.”

“He is poring over his map,” Amensius informed them all. “Together with his spies. He is trying to plan our next move.”

“I am willing to bet that we follow this river for two days,” said Rutilius, “without seeing a single German and then come to another village. There we will be ambushed again.”

“I have no psychic abilities, but I agree with that prediction,” Messala said in support.

“Here is the proof,” Rutilius said. “Look about you.”

At his words, his Batavians held their torches nearer to the walls of the longhouse while two others illuminated the floor. He gestured to Cadorus, who pointed out the construction.

“This house was built within the last three months and never occupied,” he said. “Notice the roughness of the wood, its continued oozing of sap, the lack of caulking in the walls, the base of the struts, and the lack of a hearth. No house built during the cold winter or early spring months would lack a hearth for warmth, or caulking to keep out the wind. And no house would have such rough edges- they would be carved away to prevent children from hurting themselves.”

He looked over the group. “I have checked all fifteen buildings in this village. All are the same.”

“It gets better,” Rutilius added. “I rode further out than our line of march. Dieter, tell them what we found.”

Dieter Straightback moved into the center of the gathering. “Legates, we found the remains of two villages. The poles supporting the roofs and walls had been pulled out of the ground and the holes hastily covered with dead leaves. We also found trails leading to and away from the river.”

“And this means?...” Faenius asked.

“It means that in the last few months, the Bructeri built three new villages and moved at least two others out of our line of march,” answered Messala. “It is proof that our general is dancing to a Bructeri tune.”

“We entered these woods with no knowledge of what lay within,” Rutilius added. “Our sole sources of information are the old maps created in the time of Drusus and the word of two traitor guides we believe are no traitors at all.”

Faenius swore softly, as did the other legates.

“You are right, Marcus,” Lucius Amensius said. “The general ought to see this.”

“It will do no good,” Messala cursed. “He will not believe it, since Rutilius found it. We’re screwed.”

“Maybe not,” Rutilius said. “Lucius, do you have enough boats to make an amphibious assault?”

Amensius shook his head. “We left them on the Rhenus.” He cocked his head toward Rutilius. “What are you planning?”

“It’s moot now,” Rutilius replied. “If you had them, load up and sail past Messala to take the bastards at the next village from behind. My legion locks the door from the north, and the Bructeri warriors are trapped in a box of three legions. Dead meat.”

Amensius sighed. “That would indeed be a good plan, had we boats. But we do not.”

Messala grinned. “There is still a way. Do you remember the Chase of the Ghosts a few days back? That started when Marcus here began scouting outside his zone.”

“My men were getting bored,” Rutilius replied. “I needed to keep them busy.”

“Well, do it again,” Messala added. “I’ll drag my left flank some, covering the precious general, while you move further north. If I give three blasts on the horn, you’ll know I’ve encountered another fake village. There will be a stream behind it to hinder our assault, like before, and to provide bushes from which the archers can shoot our men. You hear the horn, you run due east until you cross that stream, and then “right flank march” on line right into the flanks of the bastards.”

“My legion will undoubtedly be watched,” Rutilius replied. “If not by the Bructeri then by our own general.”

“I can take care of the general,” Amensius chimed in. “I’ll keep him preoccupied with horse manure and bull excrement about logistics and the like, which he loves talking about. I’ll doubt he will even notice your boys moving farther out. He can’t see through these woods any better than I can.”

“I’ll trail three cohorts off my right flank in case the general does see something, and range the other six further afield,” Rutilius agreed. ”But I will need my Remi to chase off the Bructeri watching my legion- and to prevent them from sending word to the ambushers.”

“I’ll tell Lucius Albius to go forward, then circle back to rejoin your legion.” Messala agreed.

“Then we let our general plan his battle and issue his orders, while we fight the battle properly,” Amensius concluded. “The way it should be.”

The others nodded solemnly.

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 01-14-10 10:36 AM EDT (US)     45 / 98       
Intriguing, continue!
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 01-14-10 07:14 PM EDT (US)     46 / 98       
I've been catching up on this tale, and I am not disappointed. Excellent as always, Terikel. I especially like the inclusion of Cador and Dieter Straightback.

I would like to advise you on certain Latin terms however.

First, I recall your using doctores for Roman doctors; however, the Romans wouldn't have used that term for medical personnel, instead it would be reserved for a teacher.
Also, although there is a signifer and a aquilifer, there is no cornifer. Instead, the common term was cornicen.

And of course I saw the handful of typoes that always escape the author, but nothing major.

Keep up the great work, I eagerly await the next installments.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kćn ɹid đɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-15-10 02:01 AM EDT (US)     47 / 98       
Thanks for the tips. I changed the hornblower to cornicen throughout the remainder of the tale, but I am far too lazy to go through the little blocks of text now to change them. That's for in the future. (I am actually a bit embarrassed- I thought the cornicen was an instrument after reading in a saucy story somewhere how a centurion-in the heat of the wild party, started blowing a cornicen. Yuck! I don't think I am going to re-read that book anytime soon.)

I knew about medici, the little dudes who carried the wounded from the fields and earned a sesterce per man. I had them double as combat medics, as you have seen. Doctores, which you rightly point out are teachers, I used as 'advanced medici'- their teachers, those who knew more about medicine that the medics. Do you have a better word for me? Surgeons, maybe?
And of course I saw the handful of typoes that always escape the author, but nothing major.
Please email me those you find, or list them here. I would like to correct those immediately. I hate making mistakes!!!

Thanks for the input and feedback.
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 01-15-10 02:22 PM EDT (US)     48 / 98       
I'll be sure to list typos I come across as I read from now on. However, like you, I don't wish to go back through at this point. I do like copy editing, but if I'm not being paid for it, I have to limit myself.

For additional terms, Chirurgus is Greek borrowing which eventually gives the English "surgeon" and means the same. You might use magistri medici meaning approximately "medical masters".

However, medicus is about the only term for any men of medicine in Latin. Doctors, physicians, and surgeons all are considered medici; Greek would likely be a source of finer distinctions in medicine.

Also, I'm not sure how close medici would go to a battle. I know they would be along with the legion, but I think they would mostly stay in the camp or fort and not be field medics despite the derivation into English. I highly doubt they would function in anywhere near the same position as WWII medics would, for example.

And a big ew at your book with the centurion and the cornicen. No one would ever blame you for thinking a cornicen was an instrument after reading that.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kćn ɹid đɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 01-15-10 03:40 PM EDT (US)     49 / 98       
I've given up on correcting Terikel's little errors; turns out he's not quite so infallible as I pretend he likes to think.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-15-10 04:00 PM EDT (US)     50 / 98       
He has given up because there are so many...

I've given this some thought, because I am going to be using those terms a lot in the rest of this chapter. I'll stick with medici for lower-tier doctors and medical workers. For the more advanced medical personnel, doctores (teachers, masters) might still be fitting, but I will try to switch to surgeons where possible- I want the term and level of competence to be readily available to non-Latin speakers. Stretcher-bearers will no longer be referred to as medici.

Is that a fitting compromise between word choice, meaning, and easily-grasping of the concept?
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