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Total War: Shogun 2 Heaven » Forums » Bardic Circle - War Stories & AAR forum » The Eagle and the Wolf Part III- Downs and Ups
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Topic Subject:The Eagle and the Wolf Part III- Downs and Ups
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Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 02-22-10 01:49 AM EDT (US)         
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Excerpt from The Eagle and the Wolf Part III- Downs and Ups:

Palla was busy as well. He had a stack of tablets in his arms as he struggled to lead a small parade of centurions to see the governor that very evening. It was late, the sun was down, and the small procession was moving slowly as if to a funeral. Each of the twelve senior centurions behind him was likewise burdened. Only the four Aquilifers, bearing their Eagles, and the four optios bearing torches to light the way were unburdened by stacks upon stacks of wooden tablets.

Vibulus escorted the centurions in once the governor heard of their arrival. Palla put his two stacks upon the floor before the governor’s couch, followed by the next centurion and the next until all were deposited before him. Then he stood with his peers at attention.

“What is all this?” the governor wheezed as he tried to sit up. The movement aggravated his injury, making him wince with pain. “Is this a mutiny?”

“No sir,” Palla said, speaking for all. “These are transfer requests.”

“Transfer requests?”

“Aye, lord,” Palla continued. “The men signing these request transfers to Britannia, Germania Superior, Gallia Comata, Hispana, Greece, Moesia, Pannonia, Raetia, Noricum, Syria, Aegyptus, and anyplace else that isn’t here.”

The governor looked over the stacks. There were dozens upon dozens of them. “Give me a summary, if you will, primus pilus.”

Palla looked the governor straight in the eye. “About every centurion in this army, every single one of the tribuni- except one- and all three remaining legates, sir. Most of the optios and all four Aquilifers as well. None of us want to serve in Germania Inferior any more...

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

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|||||||||||||||| 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 02-22-10 01:53 AM EDT (US)     1 / 74       
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Four guards in glimmering silver-chased mail entered the command tent of the X Gemina unannounced. They had the courtesy to rap on the tent pole first, but not to wait for the call to enter before barging in.

“Legate Marcus Rutilius, the governor has sent us to bring you to him,” their leader announced. When the others in the tent- Cadorus, the second-in-command, Lucius Palla the primus pilus, Gnaeus Milus, the praefectus camporum and Dieter Straightback, the commander of his guard, rose with their legate, the guardsman waved them down. “Only the legate, he said.”

That got their attention. The four guardsmen did not like the stares they were getting and sensing hostility, and placed their hands upon the hilts of their gladii. This could get rough any moment now, and they did not want to be here in the first place, not for this reason.

“This is not a request for a report from a man just coming out of a coma, is it?” Rutilius asked with a glimmer of hope in his voice.

The guard officer shrugged. “We were sent to bring you- alone- to the governor. We did not ask why.”

“I see,” said the legate. He turned to his officers. “Finish fortifying the camp. We may be here longer before he sends us home to Noviomagus, or again across the river. When in doubt, fortify. Cadorus, you are in command until I return. Palla, I want the casualties replaced- make the report and requisition. Promotion and awards lists ready when I return. And Milus- dig new latrines. The current ones are poorly-sited. Their stink permeates the camp and they are overfilled after only a week. We may be here longer, as I just said.” He turned back to the guards. “Lead on. Our governor awaits.”

The guards led him into the castrum of the XXII Primigenia. Like most Roman castra, it was built to a standard plan, adjusted only for the terrain. The guards led him through the ring of outer buildings used for storage and stables through the barracks buildings to where the praetorium stood. Decius Paullus met him outside.

“Stand aside, legate,” the guards commanded. “We have our orders.”

“Foolish orders,” the legate of the XXII replied.

“Do you know what is going on?” Rutilius asked of Paullus.

The Primigenia commander nodded. “You are to be arrested and tried for treason. The Old Man woke up out of his coma a few days ago, angry and confused. This is the aftermath of that.”

“Idiot,” muttered Rutilius under his breath. Then, louder, he added, “tell the other legates before this governor of ours stabs himself in the foot so badly that he will need amputation.”

“Will do,” Paullus acknowledged. “And Marcus- you did the right thing, given the circumstances.” And then he stepped aside.

“I know,” the Gemina legate replied honestly.

Quintus Julius Cordinus Caius Rutilius Gallicus awaited his namesake cousin inside the praetorium’s inner sanctum. He was couch-bound, but had managed to prop himself up to somewhat of a sitting position without too much interference from the medicus that attended him. Four other ex-gladiators stood in the corners.

Rutilius noted the presence of the guards with a smile. “I see you take security seriously now,” he said. “Better late than never. I hear I am to be arrested?”

Cordinus coughed once, hard, then nodded. “You knew our mission- to recover the Eagles- yet withdrew without said Eagles. From Papius and Galenus here, I heard you ordered the withdrawal even before offering battle. It took the Germans catching up to our fleeing forces to bring on a battle- one in which you stomped them hard then continued the retreat anyway. For failing to adhere to the Imperial orders, Marcus Rutilius, you are hereby charged with treason. How do you plea?”

“I plea absolvo, as you know I must, governor,” Rutilius replied flatly and evenly. “This is a really stupid idea, lord. We were outnumbered, cut off, and lured into a trap. I extricated our legions from that. Trying me for treason for acting in Rome’s best interest is ludicrous- and will only hurt you, not me. But feel free to proceed, if that is indeed your wish.”

“My wish, and that of Imperial Caesar Vespasianus, was the recovery of the Eagles. I failed, having been struck down by a German dagger. That is a plausible reason for failing. You failed, having retreated before mere barbarians when you had three legions. That is not a plausible reason. The charges remain. Galenus, take him to the prison until I hold the trial.”

The guardsman reached for the legate, who shrugged off the hand. “I know the way,” he replied bitterly. “I’ve been in it before. Lupercus sent me there when I told him the Batavians were planning to revolt. You remember his fate, do you not, lord? He too ignored my words.”

“Get him out of here!” Rutilius Gallicus croaked, before collapsing into another fit of heavy coughing.

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“The bloody fool wants a trial?” Gnaeus Vipsanius Messala complained to his fellow legate Lucius Amensius. “Does he not realize what he is asking? No man in this army will convict Marcus Rutilius of anything other being a hero!”

“He must see Marcus as a threat,” Amensius replied after a moment. “You saw how he was before he was stabbed by the spy. Always on his ass, chewing and berating. While he himself followed the word of spies as if they were handed to him on golden tablets from Jupiter Optimus Maximus himself. Now, when Rutilius leads us out of the trap he led us into, he feels he has totally lost his grip over the province. He knows Marcus has the power. So to regain his own power, he has to break Marcus. Simple.”

“Stupid,” Messala said with a shake of his head. “Rutilius is one of the most loyal men to serve in the legions I have ever seen. He is not loyal to a man or an emperor- he is loyal to Rome. Do you know I faced him once over the battlefield? Well, almost. He kicked Arrius Varus’s ass all across the field at Bedriacum before that fool Fabullus relieved him on the spot for having the nerve to tell him to close up his ranks before proceeding onward.”

Amensius nodded. “I was there too, a tribune in the vexillatio of the V Alaudae. Fabullus was an idiot. He got what he deserved. But it might have turned out differently had he listened to Marcus. By the way, your move there was brilliant, Gnaeus. Too bad you were not as brilliant against the Germans here a few years back.”

“Touché,” Messala said with a grin. “But that does not stop Cordinus from being a Fabullus. And since we elected Marcus as commander when he was stabbed, he won’t listen to our words either. We are as guilty as he is, in his eyes.”

“I heard he was scrounging up every knight and senator currently in the province, as well as that of Germania Superior,” Amensius added. “Now I know why. He is really serious.”

“Then he is really a fool,” Messala stated. “And we cannot tell the men, either.”

Amensius shook his head. “They would lynch the governor. No, honor and duty demand we keep this to ourselves until he himself announces his own stupidity. And then we have to prevent our men from storming the castrum and killing the governor.”

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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 02-22-10 08:58 AM EDT (US)     2 / 74       
So Rutillus is under arrest for treason?

Well Cordinus can do this because he has been given imperium for that province. The real test is if he can make the charge stick. I wonder why you wrote that little excerpt at the start though. A sign of things to come.

Keep it up!

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 02-22-10 09:29 AM EDT (US)     3 / 74       
LoH, you could have put as spoiler alert!

Great start, Terikel. I think I may start worshipping you. I like the excerpt particularly, it really makes me wonder why. I think this is going to be good AWESOME!!!

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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

(dis ma house)
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 02-22-10 11:27 AM EDT (US)     4 / 74       
Excellent, nothing like a little charge of treason to put our hero in a bind.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 02-22-10 11:42 AM EDT (US)     5 / 74       
Ah.......sorry, Edorix.

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.
BastWorshiper
Sensei
posted 02-22-10 02:09 PM EDT (US)     6 / 74       
Yay!!!

I've been waiting for this. I was hoping for a longer entry after the break, though.

When the Community Awards came up, I went back and read the original series (which was excellent, by the way). This new series has been very good. You develop your characters well and write good dialogue. Keep it up!

"It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do.
Wasting time is merely an occupation then, and a most exhausting one. Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen." -- Jerome K. Jerome

"Some people become so expert at reading between the lines they don't read the lines." -- Margaret Millar

ERADICATE CONDESCENSION! (That means don't talk down to people.)
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 02-25-10 01:42 AM EDT (US)     7 / 74       
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In the praetorium, others were giving similar sound advice to the governor.

“Lord, we guard your life,” a guardsman pleaded. “Your decision to prosecute the legate... It makes that incredibly harder to do. Please reconsider this decision.”

“I am lying in this bed due to your efficient work, Vibulus,” the governor retorted angrily. “And your plea has the ring of popularism to it. Are you begging me to cease trial proceedings due to your lack of ability to perform the simple task of guarding the governor, or because you actually feel it is in the interest of Rome to let mere legates defy the Imperator?”

“That is unfair, lord,” Vibulus replied with a twinge of hurt in his voice, mixed with anger. “You yourself bid us leave you alone with those two spies.”

“Enough!” roared Cordinus in a weak voice. “Out!”

When he was alone again, except for his standing guards in their respective corners, he coughed again then reached for his post. He too doubted the wisdom of arresting a man for treason who was loved by the entire army, but he had his reasons. And his orders.

He re-read the tablet again, in case he had misinterpreted in his haste to rid himself of his powerful legate. He had not. It was right there, etched into the wax. “Your orders were clear. It is Caesar’s Will to have them carried out. Any and all who disapprove of this are in treasonous violation of Caesar’s Will. Any and all who do not do their utmost to accomplish the tasks set out for you are likewise to be treated as traitors to Caesar Vespasianus.” And the tablet was sealed with Caesar’s signet. There was no doubt.

Rutilius had dug his own grave, and now must lie in it.

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In Rome, the dispatches from Germania were read with a pervasive feeling of dread. The empire had narrowly missed losing another three legions in those accursed woods, something which rankled the man responsible for the orders which sent them there.

“I cannot understand this, my son,” Titus Flavius Vespasianus said to his son as he read again the dispatch. The owl-face of the Imperator looked more stressed and tired than usual. “I saw this plan myself. I know Rutilius Gallicus well, though you know him better. He is a good general, and had a good plan, and three veteran legions. Of course he should have been successful- that is why I approved his venture. How could he then have failed so utterly?”

His co-consul, his son Titus Flavius Domitianus, simply looked at the dispatches held in his father’s hand. “According to those, the plan was working, father,” he summarized. “It did not go awry until Rutilius Gallicus was struck down. Then his legates took over and things went astray.”

Vespasian looked out to where masons were moving and re-setting stones from Nero’s imperial residence the Domus Aurea into a new project for all of Rome to enjoy. One day his Flavian Amphitheatre, capable of seating fifty thousand Romans, will be considered a marvel of Rome.

“It is not as simple as breaking down one stone wall to rebuild another,” he said distantly. “From the dispatches, it seems the legates saved the army. But how did the army get into trouble to begin with? Did the legates in fact save the army, or are those dispatches some cautious man covering his own faults? No, son, sometimes one must dig further than merely scratching the surface.”

He turned to the young man, his eyes hardening into stone. “Have somebody good check into this. Someone good, who knows the army. Gaius Mucianus would do.”

Domitianus cringed a bit at the name. Mucianus was his father’s crony, a staunch Flavian supporter, and a powerful man in the Senate. He was not a good choice to be sent to Germania as an investigator of a campaign gone wrong, even with all his experience as a general. He was needed in Rome, and his father knew it. Mentioning his name was his father’s way of showing him the seriousness of the matter.

“Gaius Licinius Mucianus is indeed a good choice, father,” Domitianus agreed, then explained in political detail why it would not be such a good idea to remove such a bastion of Flavian support from Rome at this time. “A better choice would be Antonius Primus, who is no longer in Rome, or Quintus Volusius Saturninus who is recently returned from Germania and knows the people and the area, or even Aulus Caecina Alienus, a former legate from Germania, who was also a consul under your predecessor.”

Vespasian sneered a the mention of the man whose treachery allowed Primus reach Rome ahead of the legions of Mucianus. “I would not send that snake back to where he came from- he still has much support there. And Saturninus has returned from Germania because of health- it would kill that frail old man to go again. Find Primus, and send him. I want to know everything before I authorize a continuation of this endeavor.”

“Caecina would be the better choice,” Domitianus insisted. “He only had the support of his legion, and that died with that legion. He would be going as an Imperial legate, not a legatus legionis, so he will have no way to do anything other than your will. He has been consul, so he outranks the propraetor governor and can thus appear unbiased. And entrusting him with this task would show him Imperial favor, which would go a long way to reconciling the other former Vitellian leaders of your amnesty and generosity.”

“You argue well, my son,” the Imperator acknowledged with a nod. “But no. I still hate that man. Send Primus.”

“But father, you forget something,” the young consul said, switching the subject back to the original problem. “We did not lose three legions, and the overall plan, of which punishing the Bructeri was but a part, is still working. In fact, the retreat of the legions may even have enhanced that. The Chatti and the Suevii have seen the legions cross the river this year, and retire back across the Rhenus with the tribes on their tail. It looked like a failed invasion, driven off by German valor. They know from our histories that such things are avenged. They will be ready and waiting next year when we cross again.”

“The Mosa is a good defense line, but not as good as the Rhenus,” the Imperator determined. “We can afford to lose Germania Inferior for a short time, if our summer plans are successful. I know Rutilius Gallicus is a friend of yours, son. He is a friend of mine as well. But sometimes, we need to sacrifice someone we love for a greater good. If the gods are kind, he will have a glorious battle and emerge victorious.”

“And if they are not?”

Vespasian shrugged. “Then our friend goes down fighting, his legions with him, and our recruiters will have to work overtime. Prepare a contingency order, consul. Two legions from Britannia and the Gallic legion ought to be sufficient. Instruct them to be prepared to move to Germania and arrive within three weeks of receipt of orders.”

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“He wants to send Primus?!” Caecina shouted as he heard the news. The man was a snake with the face of a hawk, but had a smile soldiers loved when they saw it. Now that broad smile was twisted into a scowl of rage. “He wants to send that drunken ape north?”

“Calm down, Aulus,” replied the young man from the couch as he removed his goblet from his host’s reach. “He wanted to send Mucianus, and when that was debated away, your name was bandied about. But alas, the Imperator does not like you.”

Caecina sneered. “He offers amnesty to Vitellian supporters. Amnesty- but nothing else. I am a senator of Rome, by the gods. Special commissions and public office are our life’s blood.”

“Primus left Rome for good reason,” the young man reminded him. He had tight curls - the latest fashion- adorning a face marred by a weak-looking chin. He was careful to move his head as little as possible lest he shake a curl loose. “He will not likely return as long as Romans remember his day-long rule as consul after he killed Vitellius in the streets, or his allowing his soldiers to burn Cremona.”

“A Roman general allowing Roman soldiers to pillage and burn a Roman town,” Caecina laughed with a derisive snort. “Then doing the same to Rome herself and slaughtering her emperor upon the Steps of Shame as if he were a common criminal. Aye, lad, he is wise not to show his face in this city. Yet this is the man your father wishes to send to investigate the Army of the Rhenus? He chooses this man over me, who is willing do anything to return to imperial favor?”

“Relax, Aulus,” Domitianus replied as he refilled his goblet from Caecina’s carafe. “Primus will not be found. Saturninus is too frail, Mucianus too valuable. You will be chosen. It just takes time. You will have your imperium- and your war- soon enough. My father does not have many generals left. He will need more. Patience, my friend, patience. You shall return to imperial favor.”

“How do you know Primus will not be found? Are you hiding him?”

Domitianus laughed as he emptied his goblet. “No, Aulus, I am not hiding him. I am, however, the consul assigned to look for him.” He turned his head gently to the left, then the right. “I looked, but did not see him. Do you?”

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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 02-25-10 03:17 AM EDT (US)     8 / 74       
Oh, how I love Roman politics.
...roared Cordinus in a weak voice...
Love that too.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 02-25-10 10:28 AM EDT (US)     9 / 74       
Pretty good chapter Terikel. I applaud you!

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.
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 02-25-10 04:12 PM EDT (US)     10 / 74       
Indeed, Vespasianus should take care of his own house before worrying about Germania.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 02-26-10 06:04 AM EDT (US)     11 / 74       
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Cordinus Rutilius Gallicus did not have the time to wait for an imperial agent to come investigate the matter. He did not even have the time to get the message concerning the dispatching of an imperial legate to investigate. He barely had time to get together his jury before the rumors of the arrest of Rutilius hit the legions. The ire of four legions descended upon him like a ton of stone. He would have to move fast to avoid it crushing him.

He had three senators, counting himself, and seven knights. There were another six members of the First Class looking into trading rights and lands. Sixteen was a bit small for a jury, but it was feasible- and he dare not add the legionary tribuni.

“Vibulus!” he cried, calling forth the shift commander of his guard detail. “Bring me my scribes. Now, you impudent Samnite.”

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“No advocates?” Amensius said in sheer surprise. “A fifteen man jury and no advocates? Is he out of his mind?”

“One would think so,” Messala agreed.

“I’ve seen the man,” Paullus said. “He is not taking this lightly, but neither does he seem to like it. I think he considers it his duty to crucify Marcus.”

“I understand little of this judicial nonsense,” Cadorus replied as he refilled his wine goblet. Unlike the Romans, the Briton took his wine unwatered- though he drank it half again as slow as them. Nobody in the legate’s quarters wanted to dull their wits when such a serious matter is being discussed. “Our general leads us into a trap, gets stabbed, and Marcus brings us out of it. Therefore he should be punished. It makes sense only to fools and nitwits.”

“Cordinus is many things,” Paullus admitted, “but he is neither foolish nor dim-witted. He is gullible, as with those spies, but not entirely stupid.”

“He is the prosecutor tomorrow? Or has he chosen another while he sits in the jury?” asked Messala.

“A very good question,” Paullus admitted. “If he really wanted to hurt Marcus, he would make you or me the prosecutor. But he has not, at lest not yet. We will know tomorrow.”

“He holds the trial tomorrow? On the fourteenth day before the Kalends of Augustus?” Messala cried in despair. “Does he know nothing at all?”

“Shut up,” grumbled Amensius. “If he wants to hold a trial on a public feriae, especially one that coincides with the day of ill omens, let him. We can use that later to refute the verdict, should it fall not in our favor.”

Messala shook a finger at the Raptor legate. “You are sneaky, Lucius. I like that.”

“So no matter what the outcome, Marcus wins?” Cadorus asked.

“No matter what the outcome, Marcus lives,” Messala corrected. “Whether he wins or not is dependent on the jury, and juries can be bribed.”

“Shall we not start handing out sacks of silver then?” asked the tribunus in all seriousness. If that was the Roman way, then it must be done.

Messala laughed. “If we get caught bribing a jury, Marcus will go down for sure- and us as well. Likewise, if we catch Cordinus bribing the jury, then his career is over. ”

“Cordinus will not bribe, at least not with cash,” Paullus said with determination. “He is determined to do this the honest way.”

“With no advocates?” laughed Messala. “Right!”

“No advocates, simply man against man,” Paullus explained. “It does not get much fairer than that. Why bring in expensive mouthpieces and engage in a battle of who can hire the best orator when simple facts will do the job quicker and cleaner?”

“Marcus is a soldier, Decius,” Amensius explained. “He talks like one and walks like one. Cordinus is a political animal. He will eat a soldier alive. It is not fair to Marcus.”

Paullus smiled. “I think you underestimate our friend. I have heard tales of the oratory of Marcus Rutilius. He does not speak much publicly, but when he does, he is direct and to the point. This will not be lost on jurors who wish to have this farce over with as quickly as possible so they can go back to the serious business of making money.”

Paullus leaned back and sipped his goblet dry. Then he smiled broadly. “And I know one other thing about this trial,” he added as he placed his drained goblet on the low table. “I was appointed the iudex by Cordinus himself. Marcus will definitely win.”

“He knows Marcus will win, but goes ahead anyway?” Amensius asked. “That makes no sense.”

“Like you said,” quoted Amensius. “He is stupid.”

“Or plotting something,” Cadorus added.

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Palla was busy as well. He had a stack of tablets in his arms as he struggled to lead a small parade of centurions to see the governor that very evening. It was late, the sun was down, and the small procession was moving slowly as if to a funeral. Each of the twelve senior centurions behind him was likewise burdened. Only the four Aquilifers, bearing their Eagles, and the four optios bearing torches to light the way were unburdened by stacks upon stacks of wooden tablets.

Vibulus escorted the centurions in once the governor heard of their arrival. Palla put his two stacks upon the floor before the governor’s couch, followed by the next centurion and the next until all were deposited before him. Then he stood with his peers at attention.

“What is all this?” the governor wheezed as he tried to sit up. The movement aggravated his injury, making him wince with pain. “Is this a mutiny?”

“No sir,” Palla said, speaking for all. “These are transfer requests.”

“Transfer requests?”

“Aye, lord,” Palla continued. “The men signing these request transfers to Britannia, Germania Superior, Gallia Comata, Hispana, Greece, Moesia, Pannonia, Raetia, Noricum, Syria, Aegyptus, and anyplace else that isn’t here.”

The governor looked over the stacks. There were dozens upon dozens of them. “Give me a summary, if you will, primus pilus.”

Palla looked the governor straight in the eye. “About every centurion in this army, every single one of the tribuni- except one- and all three remaining legates, sir. Most of the optios and all four Aquilifers as well. None of us want to serve in Germania Inferior any more, not when heroes are put on trial for doing what is right.”

Cordinus looked over the stacks again. “Get out, all of you. Request denied. You, Palla, stay.”

The centurions left, leaving Palla alone with the governor.

“You do realize this could be taken as mutiny, or even treason.”

Palla nodded. “It could, but it won’t. If news of this hits Rome, you are finished, no matter what. Either as a general who was abandoned by his entire army, or a politician who could not command his way out of a rotted sack.”

“It is no secret I despised your legate,” Cordinus said flatly, ignoring the choices and the insult hidden in them. “I belong to a circle of men in Rome who have had the displeasure of serving with your legate, and have now seen with my own eyes how he manipulates his way around those in power to fail in missions, yet come out looking like a hero.”

He sat up further, ignoring the pain. “I do not like Marcus Rutilius, but I owe him my life. This trial is repayment of that debt- a life for a life. Trust me on this, centurion. I may well be ending my own career to repay it. Now get out, and take those tablets with you. Melt them down, and I will do my best to forget this matter. It never existed.”

“You puzzle me, lord,” the centurion admitted. “I will leave these tablets here, though. If what you say is true, then you can have your bully-boys melt them flat again. But if you lie to me, general, those and a lot more will come back to haunt you. Those forests over there, and these here, are dangerous. Lots of bad things can happen in dangerous places.”

“Get out.”

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 02-26-2010 @ 01:45 PM).]

CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 02-26-10 12:47 PM EDT (US)     12 / 74       
Noticed a small typo:
Unlike the Romans, the Briton took his win unwatered-
Should be "wine" I think. Else we have a completely different sentence I think.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 02-26-10 01:27 PM EDT (US)     13 / 74       
I love the way Palla threatened Cordinus. Awesome. My thanks for the unexpected pleasure of this update!
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 02-26-10 01:55 PM EDT (US)     14 / 74       
Unlike the Romans, the Briton took his win unwatered
Fixed. Thanks.

I am glad you all liked it.

Next update Monday, as usual.

By the way, Parts IV and V are now considered done, and part VI might turn into VI and VII, maybe VIII as well. This story seems to be writing itself- it is already much longer and more detailed than originally sketched out!

|||||||||||||||| 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 02-26-10 04:52 PM EDT (US)     15 / 74       
Good!
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 02-27-10 05:01 AM EDT (US)     16 / 74       
Yay!

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 03-01-10 02:37 AM EDT (US)     17 / 74       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Decius Paullus called the parade ground to order and sat down behind the oaken plank serving him as his podium. Before him was the governor, still bedridden but brought to the castrum square on a stretcher. To his left sat Marcus Rutilius, clad in his armor but devoid of weapons or awards, adorned only with a single set of shackles chaining his wrists together. Fifteen men in togas sat in a fenced-in enclosure representing the jury box. Surrounding them were the assembled officers of the four legions. Nobody was in a particularly happy mood.

“Marcus Rutilius, legate of the X Gemina, you are charged with treason,” the iudex Decius Paullus announced to a roar of disbelief from the men. When the hooting and hollering ceased, he continued, “What say you to this charge?”

Rutilius looked up at the iudex, who winked. He smiled. “I say this charge is a crock of manure,” he said loudly, his strong voice carrying through the castrum. Everywhere it rang, men cheered and applauded.

Cordinus frowned, but gritted his teeth. He waited for the crowd to quiet, then waved a guard over and spoke to him. The guard turned to the iudex and said, “if the public cannot control itself and let the trial proceed, we will be forced to clear the square and hold this trial privately.”

A hush fell over as the orders were passed.

The guard listened to the governor, then nodded. “I shall speak the words of Quintus Julius Cordinus Caius Rutilius Gallicus, since his injury prevents him from speaking publicly. I must stress that I shall not embellish, nor orate for him. I shall merely speak his own words, if the court allows.”

Messala whispered to Amensius, “Nice trick- no advocates, yet he uses a Samnite gladiator as a mouthpiece.”

“Shut up, Gnaeus,” Amensius retorted. “The man survived a punctured lung. Most people with that, die. It is only fair someone speak for him whose voice can reach the crowd.”

“Our mission to Germania was threefold,” the Voice of Cordinus began. “Chief among these was the return of the Eagles of the murdered V Alaudae and XV Primigenia. Those precious Eagles had been located in Bructeri territory, and guides acquired to bring us to them. We were ordered by Caesar Vespasianus himself to take three legions and liberate our Eagles. This we did- or at least began.”

“I followed the orders. I took three of my legions and followed the word of our guides, until they struck me down. Here ends my involvement in this mission from the Imperator in Rome.”

Cordinus paused to let the information sink in, before continuing to speak through his guard. “Marcus Rutilius was elected by the legates to take command. My mission became his mission, yet he refused to follow those Imperial instructions, instead embarking upon a retreat – without the Eagles, or even offering battle. Thus he willfully ignored the Command of Caesar, and that is the charge he faces here today. Ignoring the Command of Caesar is treason.”

Cordinus looked to the iudex, and then to Rutilius. “Do I really need to call forth witnesses, or does the defendant admit these actions?”

Rutilius rose and faced the iudex. “I admit these actions of retreating,” he said, to a cry of despair from the crowd. “But not the treason. It was Caesar’s Command to retrieve the Eagles, but as commander of the army in that situation, continuing to follow Caesar’s Command would result in the loss of three legions. I chose my actions based upon what was good for Rome, and losing another three legions in that forest was definitely not good for Rome. Nor for Caesar. There was no treason.”

Decius Paullus shouted for order amid a rising hum of discontent in the stands. When he had it, he turned to Cordinus. “Has the prosecution anything to add?”

Cordinus shook his head. “He has already admitted he retreated against orders. That is enough to convict him. The prosecution rests.”

“Marcus Rutilius, you may begin your defense.”

Rutilius looked crossly at Cordinus. Was that it? He proceeded to call his witnesses. Gnaeus Messala, Lucius Amensisus, Lucius Palla, Decimus Faenius, Dieter Straightback, Quintus Petillius Cadorus, and Amalric Thinbeard. Each said basically the same thing- the guides led us into a trap, Cordinus followed their words as they alone knew where the Eagles were. Rutilius figured out that they were spies and stationed one of his Batavians outside the tent of Cordinus to eavesdrop on the spies in an effort to gain evidence. The testimony of Amalric the Silent was crucial- he was the only one near the tent who could understand the spies and their plot to kill the governor. The sheer weight of the testimonies given, and their utter support to the legate, made the jury quake with anger at this farce of a trial. This should never have gone to trial!

Further, Lucius Albius and Dieter testified to the reports of Germans gathering, their numbers and dispositions, and the commands of the acting general to stay put- even after it was known that the German warbands had linked up and were ahead, waiting for the legions to come.

And then Gnaeus Milus came forward.

“I found the army patrolling its base deep in Bructeri lands, almost to the Chauci,” he said. “They were not moving, because doing so would have killed the governor for sure. Our guides were dead- they were spies, not guides, so we had no longer a clear destination. We knew not where the Eagles were. And in coming, I informed the acting general that the outpost serving as our logistics base had been hit by a large group of Germans. We were in danger of being cut off weeks-deep in hostile territory seeking two silver icons that could be anywhere. Only then did he order us to begin the retreat.” He shot a mean glance to the bed-ridden governor. “And you knew that before this trial began.”

Rutilius nodded, and summoned Messala back to the stand. “What is Roman doctrine when in hostile lands with no clear objective and your logistics are threatened? What says Caesar’s Will to that?”

Messala grinned. “In such a situation, it is the call of the general whether he can continue or must retreat. Given the large and growing enemy forces in the area, the doctrinal response is to retreat until such a time that the logistics are restored. The German pressure and subsequent burning of the supply post meant that we must retreat all the way to Castra Vetera.”

“Is it Caesar’s Will to risk three entire legions and throw the province into disarray?”

“No.”

“Is it in Roman interests to risk three legions from this province?” Rutilius asked.

“No.”

Rutilius turned to the jury. “It is in neither Rome’s nor Vespasianus’s interest to risk this province or its legions. I retreated when our logistics were threatened, as is my call as acting general and what our doctrine says is a valid reason. I did not ignore imperial commands- I had to adjust to a new situation not covered by imperial orders. I acted solely in the interest of Rome and the Roman people. That, members of the jury, is never treason.”

“I have one thing to add, iudex, if I may,” Messala continued. “Marcus Rutilius fails to mention this out of some strange form of honor, as he was our commander. But it must be said, so I say it now. This decision to retreat when cut off- Marcus Rutilius did not make it alone. He waited a full week in that position, deep in enemy territory, to allow Cordinus Rutilius to heal enough to be moved. Then, when we were cut off as Milus reported, Rutilius called a council.”

Cordinus’s eyes opened wide at that.

“Rutilius gathered all senior centurions and above to his praetorium,” Messala continued. “There he explained our situation and options, then held a poll. Every man there voted to return to base, given the circumstances.” He turned to the jury, and the crowd beyond. “When you try Marcus Rutilius for treason, you try us all. The entire army.”

Paullus quieted the crowd while Cordinus sat shocked by this revelation. Then the iudex turned to the jury. “Those of you who have served in the legions can make up your own minds. Those of you who have not are not really capable of second-guessing command decisions made under enemy pressure, so I would instruct you to return a verdict of ‘Absolvo’ in this matter. As always, the verdict must reflect your own conscience, not instructions from the iudex.”

The jury members looked at each other, then nodded in agreement. Decimus Licinius stood as the foreman. “Iudex, we unanimously absolve Marcus Rutilius of these charges.”

Decius Paullus called forward a smith bearing a hammer. He pointed to Rutilius and ordered the smith to strike off the shackles. “Marcus Rutilius, this court absolves you of treason. Though the records of this trial must remain, your service record will be amended to expunge it of all charges. You are free to resume your duties with the X Gemina.”

The last bit was hardly heard as the castrum exploded in joy.

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 03-01-10 09:31 AM EDT (US)     18 / 74       
No surprises there; I liked it nonetheless.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 03-01-10 10:03 AM EDT (US)     19 / 74       
It would have been funny if one of the legates jumped for joy and knocked over someone.

Good chapter!!!

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 03-01-10 02:11 PM EDT (US)     20 / 74       
And Cordinus realizes how much of a fool he is.

BTW, this line
“Shut up, Gnaeus,” Amensius retorted. “The man survived a punctured lung. Most people with that, die. It is only fair someone speak for him whose voice can reach the crowd.”
There shouldn't be a comma after "that".

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Aftermath
HG Alumnus
posted 03-01-10 06:15 PM EDT (US)     21 / 74       
Gripping as ever

A f t y

A A R S

:: The Sun always rises in the East :: Flawless Crowns :: Dancing Days ::

"We kissed the Sun, and it smiled down upon us."
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 03-02-10 02:51 AM EDT (US)     22 / 74       
Most people with that, die.
I agonized over that. I ran through many different ways:

Most people die with that injury.
Most die when their lungs are punctured.
It is most often a fatal wound.
Most people die from that.

etc

I settled on "Most people with that, die." - with comma- as Amensius is speaking, and at that moment, the comma gives the dramatic pause.

without the comma it looks like this:

"Most people with that die."

To me, a die is an object- its plural is dice. A die is also a tool to make screw threads in and on piping. Using 'that' in that sentence gives it a sense that something is missing, and that the 'die' is a noun (due to the 'with'). Truly, I did think about it! I settled on the comma for the dramatic pause, and to emphasize that it is a verb.

|||||||||||||||| 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 03-02-10 08:41 AM EDT (US)     23 / 74       
How about: The majority of those who suffer that type of wound rarely survive?

But I can understand why you are agonizing over 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.
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 03-02-10 11:21 AM EDT (US)     24 / 74       
I see. Of course, it is your choice. I was only basing my opinion on traditional English grammar rules and I am the first to say that many of those are bupkis.

Actually, if you want a dramatic pause, a dash might be better, as I'm sure you know - dashes, more dramatic than commas.


Or you could do something like, "Most people with that - they die." Amensius said slowly shaking his head.
Forgive my dramatic license

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 03-02-10 11:55 AM EDT (US)     25 / 74       
I think it's fine the way it is. It needs to be short, or it loses the effect.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 03-04-10 02:53 AM EDT (US)     26 / 74       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Rutilius was greeted with cheers when he entered the camp of the X Gemina that evening. He had spent the rest of the afternoon talking with Decimus Licinius, and learned from him that the jury had indeed been tampered with- by Cordinus himself, personally, in his hospice quarters.

“It was strange, that,” Decimus had told him. “We were to listen to any and all evidence and testimony with an open mind to both sides, then vote ‘absolvo’ anyway. His exact words.”

This puzzled Rutilius as well. Why go through the motions of a trial he knew would result in acquittal? He vowed to ponder this as he left Decimus to talk trade with his peers while he himself returned to his camp.

Palla greeted him with a smile and a handshake. “Every swinging pecker in this camp was ready to storm the castrum should you have been found guilty,” he said, then pulled the legate in close. “Something is odd about this. We’ll talk later.”

He released the legate. Rutilius reminded him about the promotions and awards, to which the primus pilus replied, “They’re already in your tent, with a surprise.”

Cadorus intercepted him as he made his way through the throng of happy legionaries.

“I am glad to see you exonerated,” the tribune informed him. “I would not want command of your legion had you not been.”

“We’ll talk later,” Rutilius said. “As for right now, I want a tub and my bed. Prison life sucks.”

Cadorus laughed, and escorted him to the tent. “Salvius should have your bath and bed about ready, legate. Enjoy.”

“Thanks,” Rutilius replied, a bit confused at that last word.

When he entered his tent, everything fell into place. Salvius had indeed drawn him a hot bath, and had two Gallic-looking slave girls topless and ready to scrub the prison grit from his body. He glanced over the girls- they were indeed attractive- and then again at the bath. He sighed heavily, then gave in to his men’s wishes. He was too worn from the chase and distasteful experience of the trial to argue with what his body truly needed.

He began to undress. From behind him came another pair of hands and helped him remove the armor. At first he thought the hands to be of Salvius, his aide, but the hands were long and slender- not legionary hands. He spun about to gaze into the liquid green eyes of Licinia.

“Shhhh,” she whispered as she opened his cuirass and let it fall gently to the floor. “First your bath, Marcus.” She let her robe part a bit, revealing she wore no other garb underneath. “Then bed.”

Rutilius felt a stirring in his body as he took in the trader’s daughter. Her red hair was hanging free from pins and combs she habitually wore, framing her face in a halo of red that contrasted perfectly with her pink complexion and emerald eyes. She removed his tunic, then his breeches while he stood stone-still, her hands gliding over his body as they freed it from the clothes it had occupied for days now. She pulled him close once and kissed him, then laughed and pushed him toward the tub where the girls immersed him in the hot water.

“First clean, then me,” she said as she left the front chamber to enter the bed chamber beyond. She stopped at the door flap and let her robe fall away without turning to face him. He admired her tall, lithe body for only a moment before she let the flap fall, concealing her long legs and trim waist. Then the slave girls giggled and pushed him under, attacking him with the brushes and rubbing him with soap. He ceased his struggles and let the girls clean his body as he relaxed in the steaming bath. Why not? he thought to himself, this is well-deserved. I wonder if Decimus knows what his daughter is up to? Then he thought nothing else as the water soaked into his tired muscles.

The bath finished, he let the girls towel him dry. Both bowed to him, then dressed and backed out of the tent, leaving him alone with the Roman redhead and the second half of the evening’s present.

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

Rutilius opened his eyes in the morning to see a halo of red surrounding his pillow. That red was formed by waves flowing down the sheets to cover the lithe body of his bedmate in tendrils of fine hair. A gentle snore pierced the silence, telling him Licinia was still deep asleep.

He rolled onto his back and clasped his hands behind his head. What am I doing? The night was a blur. Licinia was an avid lover, gentle when he needed her to be, rough when she wanted, playful and thorough. There was nothing the girl did not know or refuse to try. It had been a romp of the most enjoyable kind, yet he felt guilty for enjoying her pleasures. True, he had dreamed of her often, and they had hinted that they were a pair meant to be, but that had been while he was the deputy governor. He had hardly seen her since he took over the X Gemina, and had met Froydis for whom he had developed strong yet unknown feelings.

The snores ceased abruptly. Licinia rolled over to cuddle against her lover, her eyes opening just enough to see him. She placed a gentle hand against his cheek and pulled his head towards hers. She kissed him deeply, then ran her hand down his muscled chest towards his navel. Rutilius froze, considered stopping her, but his body was already betraying him. Again. With a small sigh he rolled towards her and kissed her. The kiss was actively and energetically answered, and the two began the night’s activities all over again.

Finally they lay back, each utterly exhausted and thoroughly content. Licinia curled up into his arm and hugged him fiercely as they enjoyed the afterglow of the morning session.

Afterwards, she looked up into her lover’s eyes. “This will be the last time we meet, Marcus,” she said lowly. “I know you were planning on asking my father for my hand- Titus Sabinus told me. But he did not tell Father, and Father has a friend in Rome with a lot of money but no wife. He betrothed me to that man, Marcus, despite my objections. He did, however, grant me this night with you against a sacred vow to marry Gaius Valerius Flaccus and be faithful evermore to him.”

She laid back and sighed. “Had I known it would be like this, Marcus, I never would have made that promise. I would rather live dirt poor here in the boondocks of the Empire with the man I love than live like an Oriental Queen in the heart of Rome with a man who adores me and dotes on me but does not possess my heart. But I did not know, and seized the one chance of being together- if but fleeting and for only one night. I am so sorry, Marcus, but I do not think I could live without having had you.”

Marcus sighed heavily. To her, a sign of true love and understanding of the pain she felt. To him, blessed relief. Though Licinia was a good friend, an excellent lover, and he would truly miss her smile and her easy humor, he did not love her as she wished to be loved. He liked her tremendously, but that was not the same. She was more of a sister than a wife. Maybe in time he would have grown to love her as she wished, but now they would never know. She was going off to Rome to be a trophy bride to some old knight, while he remained here, a soldier defending Rome.

“You could not know,” he said finally. “Nor I. But you promised a sacred vow. I would not have you break it. Our honor, Licinia, it is all we truly have.”

“I know, lover,” she whispered. “Know this, Marcus Rutilius. I love you now, and always will. Think of me often, whenever you need a friend. I cannot always be there, but my memory, and this memory we made together, shall be with you always. As it is with me.”

Marcus kissed her deeply, and held her close long afterwards. He was going to miss this vivacious daughter of a merchant knight. He would give her later the ruby ring he found in the tower as a memento, as a token of what they shared this night, but would never share again. It was fitting. A trophy of their love, stolen from the lair of the Witch who brought war to the province. He squeezed her tight and kissed her again. Whoever this Gaius guy was, he was going to be one lucky man.

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

Later that afternoon, the guardsmen came again to the tent of Rutilius to summon him to the general. This time Salvius was allowed to escort his legate, and two others were carrying waxen tablets for the general. These he would most likely approve of seeing.

Cordinus groaned when he saw the stacks of tablets. “I thought we were done with this yesterday,” he said.

“These are the awards recommendations for the legions, lord,” Rutilius replied. “I was not aware that you had seen them already.”

“Oh, those. No, I had not.”

Rutilius laid them on the low table for the governor, within reach. “Recommendations for phalerae and torcs for the most part. No major crowns, though. And a couple of unit citations.”

“Do you think they were earned?”

“I do,” the legate replied. “We took on a Germanic warhost over twice our number and thrashed it soundly. Lucius Amensius and Petillius Cadorus led isolated cohorts onto an attack of the Germanic flanks- shattering their resolve and breaking their spirit. Without them, this army would have died in those forests. Died fighting, but dead just the same. I think these two should be awarded both gold phalerae and torcs.”

“Agreed,” the governor said with a cough. He was starting to sound better, but recovery was still a long way off. As most lung injuries result in death, Cordinus was not averse to spending such a long time healing. “I have been doing some research on you, Rutilius. The gods know I have the ability to do little else than read and write. Your defense in the trial proved most of it true. While you hinted that I was gullible in following the spies blindly, you did not bring up my obvious antagonism toward you at the trial, nor did your defense slam me as an incompetent general. You treated me fairly, despite the travesty of a trial. Interesting.”

“It does not serve Rome to disgrace her governors,” Rutilius replied. “You feelings toward me are personal. Personal must give way to Rome. One day you will see that, lord. Though you despise me as a Third-Class buffoon acting way above his station, I do not look upon you as a simple senatorial ape who thinks his long line of ancestors guarantees him the right of command. I look upon you as a Roman governor, a magistrate serving Eternal Rome as do I, and one day you will look at me as a man who simply serves Rome to the best of his ability.”

“That day has come, Marcus Rutilius,” Rutilius Gallicus said in a sincere tone. “I am bed-ridden, and will be so for months. At least that is what the medici say. I can no longer effectively govern the province with which Rome has entrusted me. I need a deputy, and the fool of a quaestor I brought here will not leave Novaesium. He can remain there, the coward. I want you to assume the same duties as deputy governor you had before Saturninus made you a legion legate. I need eyes and ears and a good brain out in the province, and I can no longer supply those with this weakened chest. But you have done so before, and can again.”

“And the X Gemina?”

“I would be lynched, drawn, and quartered by those wild animals you call legionaries should I again take you from them,” Cordinus said with a weak laugh. “You will remain as legate, but serve as deputy governor at the same time. We will not be going to war again this year unless the Germans cross the Rhein, so you can function as both.”

Rutilius considered the offer. It was strange, coming a day after this self-same man had tried him for treason in a travesty of Roman justice. Cadorus and Palla were right- there was something very odd about this whole affair. But what?

“Well?”

Rutilius coughed. “Sorry, lord, I was thinking over your offer.”

“Amazing,” Cordinus laughed with a bit of a sneer. “I offer you veritable command of the province, and you do not leap at it with arms outstretched. You actually take the time to think things out. I do like that, Rutilius, though I do not understand it.”

Two are in that boat, lord. “I would require scrolls authorizing me as your deputy, of course, and detailed instructions as to what you wish done. I would not want to end up in front of a iudex again. I would also need access to whatever post comes from Rome, and we two would need to communicate often and thoroughly. I can do that quite well- I did so under Saturninus. You are a different sort, lord, one who is willful and knows exactly what he wants but cannot stand for any who disagree- no matter how correct or good the reason. It is that last part that I must consider.”

“Fair point,” Cordinus admitted. He really hadn’t thought out the whole equation. To him, it was a simple offer- do my job until I am well enough to do it myself. All the legality issues, paperwork, and communication- the stuff to make that happen- had escaped his attention. And then there was the personal issue- the two obviously did not get along, while old Saturninus and Rutilius got along splendidly.

That last part he could change. “How about this? You run the province as you see fit, as acting governor. I will approve your actions, of course, and handle the drudgery of the post, while you refit our legions and handle the courts and disputes.”

“Free reign? That is quite a turnabout for a man who just yesterday tried me for treason.”

Cordinus smiled. “You will thank me later. Free reign within reason, though. You did well with the army without my interference, and from all accounts did well with this province before I came. I ask nothing more of you than to serve Rome, since that assassin’s dagger prevents me from serving as directed.”

Rutilius nodded. “If Rome needs me as a deputy governor, lord, then I must accept.”

“Good. First order of business is refitting our legions. Issue the orders to return them to their winter quarters and collect their requisitions for personnel and equipment. Do not forget your own legion! Then you can make a sweep of the towns and civitas within our province and bring the results- and whatever decisions you make- to me here. Understood, deputy?”

Rutilius nodded. Cordinus had just ordered him to do what he himself had already thought of doing. Maybe the two were not so different after all. One thing was for sure- this was going to be an interesting tour of duty.

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 03-04-2010 @ 10:33 AM).]

Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 03-04-10 03:26 AM EDT (US)     27 / 74       
Nice.

No typos, but there is this:
Maybe in time he would grow to love her as she wished, but now they would never know.
It should be: "Maybe in time he would have grown to love her as she wished, but now they would never know". You need the past, not present, subjunctive.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 03-04-10 03:54 AM EDT (US)     28 / 74       
Good chapter and a good love 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.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 03-08-10 01:31 AM EDT (US)     29 / 74       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

“Marcus Antonius Primus has still not been found, Father,” the twenty-two year old consul Domitianus reported to the Emperor. “Gaius Licinius Mucianus is needed here, and Quintus Volusius Saturninus is too frail. Aulus Caecina is the last former consul we have left. We must send him, unless Primus magically reappears sometime soon.”

“Caecina is a worm,” Vespasian muttered. His face looked even more owlish when he spoke of that particular senator. “He talked Aulus Vitellius into revolting and becoming emperor, then offered up his army to Mucianus when I did the same. His own soldiers threw him in jail and fought the good fight. How can I trust a man who abandons the emperor of his own making?”

“The soldiers fought for their favorite,” Domitian replied. “Caecina tried to spare them death and Rome another civil war. Can you blame him for seeing Flavian rule as superior to Vitellian?”

“Aulus Vitellius could be a blithering idiot sometimes,” Vespasian continued. “Especially if he had no time to think things through. And he could also appear to be a foolish glutton- a chariot accident left his leg damaged and he could no longer exercise. But he was a man’s man for that. His soldiers loved him- not just his Army of the Rhenus, but the soldiers here as well. Roman citizens- civilians!- fought Primus’s legions in the streets for him. I knew him. A jovial man, never taken seriously, but he survived Nero’s reign intact because of it and even passed a few good laws in his short reign.”

The emperor paused, then looked over his son. The boy was a man; it was time he knew one must also respect one’s foes. “Between you and me, son, I must admit that Aulus Vitellius would have made a good Imperator. He was larger than life, true, but the people loved him. He served Nero well, then when Nero suicided, he supported Galba. He avenged Galba when Otho murdered him by defeating him near Cremona. I can find things about him to criticize, but cannot find anything he did worth damnation.”

No worries, Father, I will find some. It will be my legacy- the justification of our family’s seizure of the throne for the good of all Rome. The thought remained, though the words he spoke carried a different message. “Yet you rose against him, defeated him, and now you are Imperator. And Rome is the better for it. You rose against an usurper, as is your right, your duty. And Caecina tried to help you. You gave the followers of Vitellius amnesty, father, which is wise. Yet you give them nothing else. Vitellian senators are like senators everywhere- they thrive on action and special commissions.”

Vespasian shook his owlish head. “You miss the point, son. I did not seek the throne for the good of Rome, or to rid her of a tyrant, or to avenge her fallen master as did Vitellius. I did it because I had the opportunity. I took the throne over the bodies of those who fought for good reasons like loyalty to Rome and the emperor, not my selfish ones. It would be a terrible dishonor to those brave men, and to my predecessor, to show that two-faced snake any imperial favor.”

Sorry, Aulus, the man will not budge. ”I see your point, Father, and must concede. But who else do we have? Primus is disappeared.”

“Go to the Senate,” the emperor commanded. “Listen. Find a stern and upright man among them. There must be some left after Galba and Otho cleaned out Nero’s cronies. I would prefer your choice not be connected to our faction or the former Vitellians, but do not exclude someone based on that. It must be someone who has served in the legions. Bring me that name.”

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

“He approved the promotions and awards, Top,” Rutilius announced as he entered the command tent. “Milus, have our smiths made the awards yet?”

“Aye,” the prefect replied. “More than enough.”

“Good,” the legate replied. “I will need a Corona Civica, three armbands, two sets of gold phalerae and a torc. I want a full assembly of the men in parade formation before sunset, and cannot present their decorations without my own on. Tradition.“

“We don’t have to make any of that sir,” Palla interrupted. “We had your awards chest picked up while you were in the brig. Sorta figured you’d want them on for your performance in the circus, but Cordinus vetoed that.”

“It was a trial, not a circus, though the opinions about that are divided,” Rutilius said with a laugh. Then he continued the orders. ”We hold the awards ceremony tonight. Tomorrow, we break down the camp.”

“Going back across the river, sir? Not bright,” commented the primus pilus.

“Not across the river, but down it,” Rutilius corrected. “We’re going home. Most of us, anyway. I will take Cadorus and our two weakest cohorts to Novaesium to pick up replacements. You two will take the legion home to Noviomagus.”

“I take it your two cohorts will be marching with the VI Victrix,” Palla added. “Or are you using them as bait to incite a Bructeri crossing?”

Rutilius laughed. “We killed almost thirty thousand of them all told. I doubt they have the strength or desire left to cross here where their fellow tribes are not around to help them. But just in case, we will be marching with the VI Victrix. Which is why the awards and promotions ceremony must be tonight.”

“Aye, lord,” replied the men in unison.


Milus did indeed have his immunes make good decorations. They even polished and burnished the legate’s own decorations.

“A formal presentation requires you to be wearing yours, and we don’t want a legate looking like a dirtbag, sir,” Milus said, handing the shining awards to his legate.

Rutilius stood with his silvered cuirass already on, his best red tunic under. Salvius had polished everything to a high gloss. He took the awards from his camp prefect and began donning them. Palla came by with his phalerae, armillae, and torcs already on, too- he had so many his neck and arms looked to be made of gold, while his already thick chest was buried in phalerae.

“Are we ready?” he asked. When the legate nodded, he added, “let’s do it. These things are killing me.”

The three exited the command tent, walked to the front of the legions and stood by the Aquilifer.

“Men of the X Gemina,” he shouted, “Today Rome honors those of you who have shown incredible valor in her service. This is a proud tradition that dates far back to the founding of our city, and one which has taken place after almost every battle in which Romans have ever fought. We of the Xth can do no less. Centurion Titus Fulvus Niger, come forward and receive this set of gold phalerae for your heroism in leading the point of your cohortal wedge into the Bructeri flank. Your actions inspired the entire cohort to follow, and carved a great swath into the enemy. Legionary Publius Gallus of the II cohort, come forward...” And so it went on until each and every decoration had been duly awarded.

“There is another tradition we of the X Gemina have that must now be performed,” the legate continued. “We call it ‘the tightening of the ranks’ and it means that no century should be without its complement of officers. Primus Pilus Lucius Palla shall now call forward those men accepted by the Centuriate to fill the six posts the Germans emptied on the field of battle.”

Palla read off five names. The men came forward- the Aquilifer, a signifer, and three optios.

Primus Pilus Lucius Palla,” Rutilius shouted. “There are six posts, but you have only read off five names.”

“I cannot read off the last name, legatus,” he replied in his parade-ground voice. “That name belongs to a man who has been broken and returned to the ranks for insubordination. The Centuriate cannot accept him!”

“If not for that trivial fact then, Primus Pilus Lucius Palla, would that man be qualified?”

“Aye!” shouted the top centurion. “Many times over!”

“Who is this man, Primus Pilus?”

“He is Marcus Salvius, legate. An excellent legionary and a top optio before being broken by the previous legate.”

Rutilius winked at his aide, who stood stunned, then turned to the legion to continue the scripted play he and Top Palla had come up with. “Men of the X Gemina, you know this man. You know my predecessor. You know the crime for which he had been broken. I know none of these. So you must inform me! Be my court, his jury. What say ye?”

There was a deafening roar from the legion. Birds perched on the camp walls took off in sudden frenzy at the unexpected storm, and what fish were by the river swam quickly away for deeper waters. The shout of ‘Absolvo!’ could be heard clear up in the castrum, hard enough to shake the watered wine in the governor’s goblet.

Primus Pilus, the legion has spoken. This man has been exonerated by his peers!”

“Then the Centuriate has no further objections!” Palla shouted in reply, to another chorus of loud cheering from the Xth. “Marcus Salvius, come forward!”

The legate’s aide joined the five men before the legate, to the joyful cheers of the legion. The legate himself, and the Primus Pilus, walked to the men. They stopped at each one, where the Primus Pilus smacked the man hard with a vinewood wand then handed it to the man with the words, “Remember that feeling. Use this only when needed.” When they came to Salvius, those same words were repeated, though Rutilius added with a wink, “I told you that was a silly rule.”

“Who will be your aide now?” Salvius asked. “I kind of liked doing that.”

“Not your concern,” Rutilius replied. “Enjoy your stick, use it only when necessary, and never to excess. Take care of your boys, and they’ll take care of you.”

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 03-09-2010 @ 09:39 AM).]

CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 03-08-10 01:56 AM EDT (US)     30 / 74       
Things are definitely looking up.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 03-08-10 02:22 PM EDT (US)     31 / 74       
Very good chapter, Terikel.

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 03-08-10 03:38 PM EDT (US)     32 / 74       
Looking good!
[...] his already thick chest was buried in phalerae..
You've got two periods on the end. Then there is this:
Nero suicided
You can't say it that way. You can in French and Italian (and I guess most every other language, I know a lot of second language speakers who say that), but in English suicide is a crime which you commit. You can't just "suicide", it's not a verb.

Little things, obviously, as usual. Great work!
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 03-09-10 01:51 AM EDT (US)     33 / 74       
Fixed.

(We used the term in the army as a verb as well, by the way.)

EDIT: Fixed back. Both Merriam Webster and Your Dictionary.com say it can be a verb too- especially when used in the past tense.

I learn something new every day, 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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 03-09-2010 @ 09:42 AM).]

Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 03-09-10 12:06 PM EDT (US)     34 / 74       
No way! Every remotely formal context has it down as a noun only. I have heard it used as a verb, but never by a native speaker. Tricky issue... my dictionary has it down as a verb too, but screw that.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 03-11-10 01:59 AM EDT (US)     35 / 74       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

The next morning the X Gemina broke camp and went home under the joint command of Lucius Palla and Gnaeus Milus, minus three cohorts. One had been disbanded to fill the others, while the two weakest headed south with the VI Victrix. Those two cohorts marched under the command of Marcus Rutilius and Quintus Cadorus, and never had two understrength cohorts of fresh veterans ever felt so strong. They were happy and proud, and though the legate loved to march them into the ground, they kept up with him this time- and in ranks.

The XXI Rapax passed the legions on the second day, heading to Bonna. Unlike the VI and the vexillation of the X, the XXI Rapax was taking the easy way home- Amensius and his men were being freighted by the fleet all the way up to Bonna in three lifts. Rutilius knew that the fleet would continue on to Mogontiacum after delivering the XXI, and wished he could have gone there with them. But alas, Mogontiacum now lay in another province. He needed go no further than Novaesium, where the VI Victrix had her home and any replacements coming into the province would be assembled. Rutilius wanted first pick, plus he had other duties to attend.

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

Three Germanic kings watched the Romans depart. Their concealment behind the bushes lining the Rhein, at least those not flattened by that horrendous bombardment which initiated the crossing, was enough that no Roman eyes spied them watching the legions march.

“The legions depart,” Udo said to Calor, the Marsic king standing next to him. “They will not be crossing again.”

“Not this year,” Calor agreed. “This year they learned how we fight. And they lost a lot of men. It will take time for them to heal, and then they will come again.”

“We too lost a lot of men,” Udo admitted with a wince. “Over half of my warriors are dead, and of the other half, scarcely two in three do not walk without wounds.” He winced at the losses, and even more so at the opportunity missed. Rome will have to await our conquering of her another day, as Veleda predicted. Damn it!

“We Chauci have also lost many,” Ricgard the Bold added. “But we have many, many more untouched in our forests and hills. If the Romans come against you next summer, Udo, we Chauci shall stand beside you again.”

“It may not be enough,” the Bructeri king hated saying it, but the truth could not be denied. “We had more than twice as many warriors upon the field of battle, yet they surrounded us and hacked our brave men down. Our forests are fecund, yet not even they can sustain such losses again. What is the point of victory, if we are too exhausted to exploit it?”

“At least your people survive,” Ricgard pointed out. “And mine do not have legions neighboring them. It is something of which to be proud.”

Udo nodded, then turned back to watch the legions fade into the distance. Silence reigned, until at last there was but a single legion infesting that overgrown rockpile across Father Rhein.

“We shall burn that bridge tonight,” Udo decided. “If they wish to come against us next year, let them construct another.”

Ricgard nodded, as did Calor. “And we shall build boats this winter,” the Marsi added. “Boats that can attack their fleet and prevent that bridge from ever being built.”

Ricgard shook his head. “No, my brother king, let them cross. Let them come deep within our lands again, toward where I shall hold my King’s Court. There, deep in our forest, there we pounce. All the tribes, from all directions. We shall do to them what they did to us this year.”

A ray of hope shot through Udo. The tribes united. Veleda’s prophecy. Maybe the Day of the Germani will happen in this lifetime.

“Aye, Ricgard,” the war king said. “If our brothers come, then we shall truly emerge victorious!”

That evening, in the quiet of the dark night hours, ropes were cut and wood doused in oil and set alight. The Bridge of Cordinus burned, and once again the two banks of the Rhein were severed by the River Father between them.

Udo watched it burn with spite in his heart, and a wistful tear fell from his eye. Ulfrich should be here, he thought. My twin should be here watching the Roman bridge burn, not laying in bed in our uncle’s hall swilling soup and moaning at the pain of his wounds. But soon, my brother, soon you shall be up and about, and when the Romans come again, you shall lead the Bructeri in battle once again.

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

Rutilius, being Rutilius, did get first pick- and the most- of the replacements. Bright-eyed and bushy-haired rascals from all over the Empire were sent north to Germania with the barest minimum of training. They had settled into groups by ethnic origin, some Aquitani hanging together, a couple of Vasconi, some Iberians, a few Sicilians, and not a few from Campania. There were even some Picentines. Rutilius scooped up four hundred of these raw recruits by selecting some from each clique, while Gnaeus Messala did the same to split the remaining seven hundred with the XXI Rapax.

“I’ll march them to Bonna,” Marcus said when the division of the replacements was complete. “I have business there anyway, so I can give these louts some training on the way.”

“You are always so bloody busy, Marcus,” Messala said, shaking his head with admiration. “No wonder you still have no woman.”

Rutilius smiled, thinking back upon Licinia. “I am always busy because I have devious scallywags like you to keep an eye on. Someone has to, since Rutilius Gallicus cannot yet walk.”

“But why must it be you? A sense of duty stronger than Rome?”

Rutilius laughed. “It is my job, legate. I am the deputy governor, commissioned such by Cordinus Rutilius Gallicus himself.”

Messala stood aghast. “There is no way in all of Pluto’s Realm he did that.”

“He did. He must, since he cannot move about by himself and his quaestor is bloody useless. The fool would not even leave this town of yours. He needs eyes and ears that roam, and since I have done this sort of thing before, I was chosen. The man is not the ass we thought, it seems.”

“You are his eyes and ears, eh?” Messala said with a grin. “I guess I must be careful with what I say and do. Come, Marcus, tonight we celebrate this promotion of yours. I have some fine Rhodian spiced wine for this very occasion in my collection that is begging to be consumed.”

“Soon, Gnaeus. First I must see that my men are accommodated and settled in for the night, and that Cadorus has done the same with the boys bound for Lucius. Then we three and Dieter shall drown our aches in that piss you call wine all day tomorrow while your centurions make true soldiers out of all of our tyros.”

“Have him try and pick up some bread from the castrum bakery while he is settling in the men,” Gnaeus added. “And maybe some better wine for his commander with the refined, deputy-governor palate.”

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

The third morning after arriving in Novaesium was also their last. The four hundred recruits were integrated into the two cohorts, making them overstrength, while the three hundred fifty lads bound for Bonna were loaned a pair of centurions and optios to manage them. Those Batavians of Rutilius’ Guard who had Roman military experience helped out, while those who didn’t acted as ‘opposing forces’ now and again. The old hands- who had done this very thing just the past winter- enjoyed the marching and action drills the legate called on their march, and laughed heartily as the new men made the same mistakes they once had.

They made it to Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippensi in two days, stayed the night, then moved off to Bonna and the rest of the XXI Rapax. By the time they reached the Raptors, the recruits could march well enough to keep their ranks, though it would be months before they were at the level of the veterans. Their reaction to commands, however, was very good. They had all the makings of good Roman soldiers. Rutilius was almost reluctant to turn them over to Amensius. But he had to, otherwise the Raptors would be far understrength.

Amensius was glad for the recruits, but appalled that there were only three and a half centuries.

“We are down six hundred, Marcus,” he complained. “And Rome sends us only three and a half hundred?”

“You know the army,” Rutilius replied. “Ask for twice what you need, and some months to a year later you get half of what you ordered. ”

“But we got all our auxilia and supplies easily enough for the summer,” Amensius retorted. “Everything, quickly and in the correct quantities.”

“Cordinus must have had priority of service for his operation,” Rutilius reasoned, “and has since lost it. Relax, my friend, this is a good thing- it means we will not be seeing the other side of the Rhenus anytime soon.”

“Will you be eating with your men, or will you and your officers dine with me and mine tonight?”

“We’ll dine with you,” Rutilius decided. “I’ve been on marching rations for three days straight now. Enough is enough.”

Amensius laughed. “I know how that is, Marcus. I’d rather eat my saddle than marching rations.”

During the dinner, Rutilius informed him of his new position, evoking much the same disbelief as Messala had shown. Cadorus swore to it being true, so Amensius was convinced. Further when Rutilius asked Lucius if his centurions to take a crack at the new guys for the following day- he had gubernatorial duties in the town to arrange. Amensius nodded, and the conversation drifted to other topics- including the superior quality of Raptor wine over that of the Victors.

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 03-11-2010 @ 03:24 AM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 03-11-10 08:41 AM EDT (US)     36 / 74       
Good chapter.

Although I'm surprised that they burned the bridge. Means they can't launch any raids.

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 03-11-10 08:46 AM EDT (US)     37 / 74       
They have boats.

Conducting a raid near a legionary castrum was not a good idea in those days, and the bridge starts right near Castra Vetera. The Romans had a fleet, but it was mostly based in Mogontiacum to the south, with some small vessels in the north. The Romans would not want to put small units to raiding the Germans across the river- they would want large units for that. Large units=fleet, or bridge.

Thus the Germans lose nothing by burning the bridge, but gain a modicum of security (no raids from Romans without fleet present).

|||||||||||||||| 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 03-11-10 01:31 PM EDT (US)     38 / 74       
Awesome update, as usual. Although it'll be a crying shame if there's no more bloodletting for a bit.
Bright-eyed and bushy-haired rascals from all over the Empire...
The phrase is "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed".
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 03-12-10 02:16 AM EDT (US)     39 / 74       
I know the phrase. I 'adjusted' it to military terms (soldiers, even Roman soldiers) have much shorter hair than civilians. It has more to do with combating infections from lice than preventing an enemy from grabbing your hair to move your head into a killing position (though beards were forbidden or at least cut short in those days for that reason).

Bushy-haired people are almost always civilians, especially in the days when tight ringlets of curls were coming into fashion.

The adjustment shows their transition from civilian to soldier, not schoolboys to adults.

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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 03-15-10 02:46 AM EDT (US)     40 / 74       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Titus Aurelius Fulvus was a young man, new to the senate, but already he had made a name for himself in the Forum as a stern and upright man- just the kind that the Imperator was searching for. His father, with the same name, was recently made consul for his destruction of nine thousand Roxolani tribesmen trying to invade Moesia, and him with but a single legion- the III Gallica. The younger Aurelius was a tribune in that same legion during the battle. His time in the legions was thus recent, and serving with his father the legate meant his grasp of the military aspects would be sound. His time in the Senate would allow him to understand those concepts in the context of Empire, which together made him an ideal candidate. And by selecting him for the imperial mission, he was assured a long and fruitful career.

“Sounds like a good man,” Domitianus agreed when his fellow consul Lucius Valerius Catullus Messallinus finished presenting the candidate. “An ideal man.”

Vespasianus wanted to agree, but his son’s obvious support of Aurelius tempered his decision. He has been seen with too many disreputable people of late. I would have thought his marrying and being father of his newborn son would have made him a man, but alas... “Is there nobody else, then?” The two consuls shook their heads. Damn. “All right then, we send Aurelius Fulvus.”

“Are you sure you need to send anyone at all, Father?” Domitianus asked straightforwardly. “I have read the reports and dispatches thoroughly now, and so have you. It is pretty cut-and-dried. The legates acted well within reason and probably saved the army.”

“They did not fulfill the mission given them,” Vespasian reminded the two consuls. “ That mission was crucial to next summer’s’ campaigns- and it failed. I want to know why, exactly why, and from someone impartial, not from a consul deep in his cups who is trying to protect his crony.”

That hurt. Domitian blushed faintly at the verbal jab. To deflect his father’s tongue, he signaled Catullus to move on to the happenings at the Senate House.

“Nothing much to report there, Imperator,” Catullus Messallinus recalled. “The normal bitching and moaning over trivial matters. There was an entertaining but nasty and scathing speech delivered by Helvidius Priscus against Eprius Marcellus. That one made even my well-weathered ears turn red!”

Vespasian looked up from his reverie over his son’s waste of talent at the name. “Titus Clodius is back? Titus Clodius Eprius Marcellus?”

“Yes,” Catullus said, then asked needlessly, “do you know him, Imperator?”

“He is an old friend. That prig Helvidius Priscus was hounding him in the Senate, so I sent him to Asia as governor for three years. Has it been so long already? And still in trouble with Helvidius, I see. Son,” he said, turning to Domitian. “Scratch the name of Aurelius Fulvus from the order. Enscribe Titus Clodius Eprius Marcellus in his place.”

“Father!” Domitian cried. “He is just returned from his province. He is out of touch, knows nothing of the situation!”

“All of which make him perfect for this- he is not tainted,” Vespasian replied sternly. “He has been proconsul three times. That makes him the better man.”

“He has been charged with misconduct twice,” the young consul reminded his father. “And he has tried many senators of corruption while he does worse- the man is a wolf.”

“He has been acquitted both times,” the older man retorted. “He has great rhetoric, he is experienced, witty, and a friend who is being hounded by senatorial wolves.”

“He is fat and arrogant and makes enemies faster than friends,” Domitian argued. “Aurelius Fulvus is by far the better man!”

“True, Aurelius’s relative lack of connections in the Senate would give him a clearer view of the matter,” Vespasian replied. “He too would be untainted, as would the investigation. But he lacks experience in such matters, and experience counts more. Eprius has it. We send Eprius.”

“Aurelius Fulvus had recently a similar experience on the Danube- outnumbered and alone,” Messallinus noted. ”He would give a credible report.”

Vespasian thought over both candidates. Eprius Marcellus was indeed a wolf, a rascal, and generally untrustworthy, while Aurelius Fulvus was relatively inexperienced at high command. Eprius had been governor thrice now, and consul. His report would carry the more weight, and Domitian knew it, which was strange that the boy did not mention it. He must truly be favoring Aurelius. That decided matters.

“We shall send Eprius,” Vespasian decided firmly. “Not only is he the more experienced, he was consul. His findings would carry more weight than those of Fulvus, plus the degenerate slug has gotten himself in trouble with Helvidius and his wolf pack again. Sending him eliminates two problems. Eprius is our man.”

“But Father,” Domitian pleaded, “Aurelius is the better choice, and you know it.”

“Aurelius is still young, and will have his day,” the elder Flavius acknowledged. “But today I need a proven legate. Eprius fits the bill, Aurelius not yet. I have made my decision, consul. The matter is closed.”

Domitian nodded, admitting defeat. “I shall cut the orders sending Eprius, father. Proconsular imperium.”

Vespasian nodded. His son was learning to deal with defeat gracefully. His eyes brimmed with pride. His son was becoming a man. About bloody time, too. “Good lad.”

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

Vespasianus was not the only ruler sending forth envoys. Far to the north and to the east of the Rhenus, Udo and Ricgard were doing the same. Chauci runners rode east to and past the Chatti and Cherusci, and south to the Tencteri, Usipi, and even to the Suevii, while Bructeri couriers traveled to the north towards the tribes of the coast and west toward the Frisii. Only the Roman-loving Cananefate, Batavi, Cugerni, and Ubii were omitted. All bore the same message, a plea from three kings.

“The Romans would come again versus the Bructeri, a brave tribe in the northern reaches of our dark forests. Three legions plus auxilia will come- a full army. Only the Chauci and Marsi stand by their fellow tribe, and all three suffered badly driving the Romans out this year. When the Romans return, the three tribes will go down fighting as is our fate, allowing Romeburg a presence on the German side, a base from which they could strike east and north- toward the sea and toward the Visurgis, or even further to the Elbe.

“By grinding the Bructeri- who stood with Hermann of the Cherusci in his victory over three legions, and again at his defeat against the Roman kinglet Germanicus, the Romans would be able to open all of Germania up to conquest. Help us, our brothers, help us to defeat these invaders of our forests.

“Alone we stand no chance, together we are invincible. They shall come in the spring, and we Bructeri, Chauci, and Marsi shall delay them as best we can. We shall shed our blood to give you time to come, that all our tribes survive. Or we shall die that day, and later, so shall you. The choice is simple- join and survive, remain aloof and be subjugated alone. Rome comes. Will you?”

Such was the message the couriers were to memorize. All three kings agreed to both the text and the content. If the Romans did come again, and the tribes did not unite, they were indeed doomed to Roman subjugation. The threat was credible, and it was real.

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

“You saw how we trained on the march here,” Rutilius was instructing Cadorus as the cohorts formed up for the march. One cohort of new veterans would be marching with the legate, the other and the recruits with Cadorus. “Do the same on the march back.” He handed the tribune a heavy sack. The clink of silver upon silver could be heard by those who knew the sound of many denarii rubbing together. “You will need this.”

“I can find our men lodging in CCAA and Novaesium on the army’s tab, lord,” Cadorus replied. “So why do I need this?”

“Because you are going to do some recruiting on your march- which does not take you to Double-C Double-A or Novaesium,” was the reply. “You are going to march to Augusta Trevorum and from there to Augusta Suessonium, then all of the other little veteran colonies our emperors planted in northern Gaul and Belgica. Those men are Roman citizens, and so are their children- many of whom are of age to serve. You are going to recruit among them, and show off our newbies as proof that six months under arms can make a man out of you.”

Cadorus nodded wisely. “Very clever, lord,” he said as the training dawned on him. “You train these pups up on the march, then display them as what the potential recruits could be. And of course, you want them wearing the awards and decorations they won this past summer.”

“Aye, Cadorus,” the legate agreed with a nod and a smile. “I and the Batavians will be doing the same with our cohort in CCAA on our way north- and we too will be hitting every town and village for recruits as well. We need four hundred more. Any excess we send to Novaesium and Bonna with Milus on his next supply march.”

“These coins, they are for our lodging?”

Rutilius nodded. “Lodging, food, and recruitment bonuses if needed. Bill the legion for anything else, and I’ll pay it out of my own accounts when I get back. We need soldiers, Cadorus, and I have the feeling we are going to need them soon.”

“You think the emperor is going to order us across again?”

The legate shrugged. “We don’t seem to have priority of supply anymore, so I doubt it. But Cordinus had a mission, and though the circumstances changed, the mission itself still stands. One can assume we will be crossing the Rhenus again in the spring, if the governor has his way. If that turns out to be true, I would rather prepare now than later be forced to scurry after replacements and train them in a rush.”

Cadorus thought it over. “I think you are right. It is far better to have and not need, than need and not have. I will do my best.” He paused, then looked to Rutilius with stern eyes narrowing at the thought. “One would think Severus or Minucius better at recruiting veteran’s offspring, they being of Italian Roman stock. Yet you chose me, and left the legion to Palla and Milus. Why?”

“Because for all your strict discipline and my fine words about every man in the legion being equal, you are still a bloody barbarian at heart,” Rutilius said flatly. “As am I. We rugged barbarians will do far better recruiting among the Gauls and Belgae than any man of pure Italian blood, and we need auxilia as well- auxilia that cannot serve in Gaul or Belgica, but can serve in nearby Germania. And as to the legionaries, my fine words about origins stand- and every Roman veteran knows it. We all bleed red. The battlefield is no place for horseshit ideas like Roman natural supremacy or barbarian inferiority.”

Cadorus nodded. “I thought it was simply because you did not trust Romans with your money,” he said with enough sincerity to confuse Rutilius as to whether it was serious or a joke. “But what you said makes better sense. I will see you in Noviomagus in a month.”

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

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 03-15-10 05:39 AM EDT (US)     41 / 74       
The Senate reminds me of the House of Commons if Senators do nothing but shout at each other.

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 03-15-10 12:05 PM EDT (US)     42 / 74       
I love the way Vespasian instantly suspects anything Domitian supports. Where's Titus in all this?
CCAA
Why not just call it Colonia?
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 03-15-10 12:36 PM EDT (US)     43 / 74       
There were several colonia in those days. I used CCAA in the beginning (there should be a reference to Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippensi somewhere earlier in the story, which CCAA refers back to. Later in the series (actually later in this part) when it is established that the Colonia referred to is CCAA, it will be referred to simply as Colonia.

You'll see.

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 03-18-10 05:58 AM EDT (US)     44 / 74       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

“You were correct, Aulus,” Domitian said, stretched out upon a comfortable sofa while sipping unwatered wine from a silver goblet. His tight curls were perfectly done this time- at least in his eyes. “He is trying to teach me to accept defeat with dignity, or things I cannot change, or some other malarkey. Whoever I appeared to support, he would deny.”

“Except for me,” Caecina conceded. “With me it is personal.”

“Aye,” Domitian admitted. He dared not nod lest the movement shake a curl loose. “He distrusts you, no matter how you tried to support him.”

“Blast that fool Vitellius!” Caecina cursed. “Even from beyond the grave that buffoon taints me.”

“Actually my father seemed quite remorseful about Vitellius,” the young consul said. “He even said the man would have made a good emperor had he been allowed to reign longer. But he stood in the way of my father’s chance, and that was the end of him.”

“Your father’s chance would have died on the field of Bedriacum had I not switched my allegiance to him,” Caecina sneered. “Primus was an idiot. Fabullus could have eaten him alive had he the patience, or even the mind to listen to that insolent tribune who told him to dress his lines before proceeding. Had he done so, Bedriacum would have been a much different battle. Had I been commanding, it would have been a crushing Flavian defeat.”

“Its that bit about you switching loyalty my father does not like,” Domitian reminded him, false sweetness dripping from his words. “Though you came over to his side, you still deserted your Imperator- and one you yourself made. If a traitor does it once, he could do it again.”

Caecina snarled at the truth. “And that bit of stupidity shall haunt me all my days,” he acknowledged. “Nevermore to be the general at which I excelled. Sometimes, lad, Life just sucks.”

“I must admit, though,” the young consul added in honest praise, “you are a political genius. Having Gaius Helvidius resume hounding Titus Clodius was brilliant. My father, verily, the entire Senate, is thoroughly convinced that they are blood enemies.”

“They are,” Caecina stated matter-of-factly. “Their feud goes back many years, to when Eprius prosecuted the father-in-law of Helvidius.”

“Still, the old bastard would make a wonderful imperial tool in our endeavor,” Domitian admitted.

“So you supported Aurelius for the post?” asked Caecina in wonder at the conniving young consul he tutored.

“Of course,” Domitian replied with a smile. “And Eprius was duly chosen. I am sorry you will not have your war and your command yet, Aulus, but as you said, with my father this is personal. There will be a war, though, maybe more than one. A wolfshead like Eprius would do very well in throwing the north into disarray, especially if he can be successfully recruited to our little club. Wars will come, and my father has only a few generals. He will need more, and a man of your military caliber will definitely be needed.”

“Eprius is indeed a good choice,” Caecina said with a knowing grin. “A thoroughly corrupt man, acting the part of a paragon. This will be quite entertaining!”

“There is still the matter of Rutilius,” Domitian added.

“Which one? Your crony, or the irritating one of whom Mucianus and your uncle are so fond?”

“Cordinus,” Domitian replied. “I do not want him disgraced. He will serve me well in the coming years, and trusted friends are hard to come by in this profession. Make sure whoever you send north with Eprius knows this. The other one, my uncle’s favorite can resume his life as a nobody easily enough. Frankly, I hope he does return to being a nobody.”

“You are wise beyond your years,” Caecina said with a nod. “I was indeed going to have a man inside the escort of Eprius. But this restriction, Domitianus, it may hinder our plans. Cordinus can be quite politically agile. He is a capable man, and can do much to thwart us. If it comes to it...”

“You reason well,” Domitianus admitted. Sometimes one must make sacrifices for the better good. That was so very true. “Do not kill him unless it becomes necessary. If he hinders this plan of ours too seriously, then he puts his own head in the noose.”

“And the other Rutilius, should he get in our way?”

Domitianus remembered the first and last times he encountered that particular Rutilius. The man was scarcely older than himself, yet carried an air of command and duty about him that was tangible- as well as a complete and utter disregard for nobility and the Flavians in general. He was dressed as a German, but his loyalties lay apparently with Vitellius. It was a harrowing time, one that the young consul would prefer to forget.

“I do not care what happens to him,” Domitian finally decided. “Toss him to the wolves for all I care- but Cordinus survives unscathed. Understood?”

Caecina nodded. “Agreed.”

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

Domitianus was gone but an hour, back to his cousin-turned-wife Domitia and their small son when other callers came by the home of Aulus Caecina. Aulus welcomed Gnaeus Mallius and Gaius Helvidius Priscus into his house and led them to his sitting room that was so recently vacated.

Mallius was the same fiery-tempered man he always was, with the hint of fire in his red hair and flashing green eyes- Gallic eyes, some say, but Mallius had a string of Latin ancestors going back to the days of the Picentines becoming a Roman tribe. His fiery temper and flaming hair contrasted greatly with the other guest. Gaius Helvidius Priscus had the dark hair of Marius combined with the light blue eyes of Sulla- and the determination of both. He was also an eloquent poet when he wanted to be, a philosopher when not. An altogether charming man, he was also a throwback to simpler times- the man was of firm Republican ideals.

“Hail, Aulus,” Helvidius said in greeting. “I was not able to avoid noticing that you are keeping strange company these days.” He laughed, and added, “besides us.”

Caecina poured two goblets with wine and set them before his guests with a carafe of water. Helvidius carefully topped off his glass with the water before settling back, while Mallius snatched the goblet as soon as it hit the table, to the disgust of his fellow guest.

“Seriously, Aulus,” Mallius said. “Afternoon visits from Vespasian’s boy? Either you are teaching him Greek ways, or something else odd is going on.”

“You are with us, are you not, former consul?” Helvidius asked gently, with a cross glare at Mallius.

Caecina smiled broadly, that winning smile which gained him so many supporters. “Of course I am with you,” he said sincerely. “And from whom better to learn the secrets of the Imperial Family than from its wayward son, who happens also to be consul this year?”

Helvidius nodded, but Mallius pressed on. “He is still the son of Vespasian! If the old man begins looking into his son’s dealings...”

“He will find that his son socializes with his senatorial peers,” Helvidius completed. He raised his goblet to Caecina. “You give the boy a modicum of class, to help dissipate the odium of his younger days. Well played, Aulus.”

“He will find that his son socializes with those who wish his downfall,” Mallius retorted. “And have us killed. Aulus will have led the Owl to our lair!”

“Oh calm down,” Helvidius Priscus demanded. “If wishing the downfall of the Imperial Dynasty was a crime, than all of Rome would be thrown from the Tarpeian Rock. It is no crime to discuss a return to the glory of our beloved Republic, one which served this city well for hundreds of years. The thousands who died in its fall, and at the hands of every ruler thereafter, would agree.”

“Rome grew too big for the Republic,” Caecina reminded him. “That’s why it fell.”

“Cowflops!” Helvidius Priscus snorted. “You are saying that Rome is too big for two men and a Senate of nine hundred to rule, but not for a single man? Outrageous, Aulus. Two can always do things better and more efficiently than one.”

“Our Republic fell because of Julius Caesar the Dictator,” Mallius added. “He destroyed it and installed his family as kings, just as the Liberators said. We have suffered tremendously under his family, and the Claudians. Galba showed the way- too bad the parsimonius old fart let himself be murdered by that usurper Otho. Vitellius put paid to Otho, yet another general came and threw out Vitellius. And instead of restoring the Republic, he installs himself as Emperor and makes his sons consul and prefect of the Praetorian Guard.”

“Not to mention that his heir is shacked up with that Judean woman,” Gaius Helvidius noted. “Most improper for a Roman nobleman, much less future king.”

“That is another reason we must abolish this dynasty,” Mallius cursed. “The future king would burden us with half-Roman Oriental kings- this must end!”

“And so it shall,” Helvidius promised. “All it takes is the masses rising up.”

“Which they will not do without a strong army marching to support them,” Caecina completed. “Which is why I need that province. Four legions! Add to that the four legions of Germania Superior currently in the hands of our very own Gnaeus Cornelius Clemens, and we shall be victorious. A third of Imperial strength marching down from Germania, abandoning Gaul to be overrun while isolating the four loyal Flavian legions of Britannia, cannot be stopped before we are banging on the gates of Rome relieving her of Oriental despots.”

“We know, we know,” Mallius muttered. “We have been working to gather you that support.”

“So have I,” Caecina said. “One of my staunchest supporters left this house an hour ago.”

Gaius Helvidius Priscus laughed. “The boy consul? Supporting you, who wish to overthrow his family? Ha, very well done, Aulus Caecina!”

“It is not such a reach,” Caecina replied, embittered by the jovial mood of his guest. “His father will hand over the reins of power to his brother, who will pass them on to his own mongrel children, leaving that boy consul with nothing. He stands more of a chance at being Ruler of Rome as a publicly-elected consul than he ever will as Imperator.”

Helvidius thought that over and nodded in agreement. “Very true. He will have to compete against others, but a young man like that could easily serve as consul again- legitimately elected, 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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 03-19-2010 @ 12:23 PM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 03-18-10 06:38 AM EDT (US)     45 / 74       
So the Emperor's son is plotting with a group of senators who are going to abandon the Emperor's son for a Republic.

Oooh intriguing. I hope Marcus Rutillus survives: all this senatorial backdealing like saving Cordinus and not Rutillis reminds me of Congress.

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 03-18-10 08:03 AM EDT (US)     46 / 74       
You almost have two independent stories going here, but they tie in together wonderfully. Roman power politics - it's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Absolutely brilliant, Grand Master Skald.
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 03-19-10 11:28 AM EDT (US)     47 / 74       
Goings on in Rome eh?

Very good, but:
He stands more of a chance at being Ruler of Rome as a publicly-elected consul that he ever will as Imperator.”
"than", I'm guessing.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 03-19-10 12:24 PM EDT (US)     48 / 74       
Fixed.

Thanks.

|||||||||||||||| 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 03-22-10 04:14 AM EDT (US)     49 / 74       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Colonia was a bustling river port and the civitas of the Ubii, a German tribe who came over to the Roman side of the Rhenus. They were devoted to Marcus Agrippa, so devoted in fact that they renamed their entire tribe after him- the Agrippensi. Claudius made the civitas a colony, complete with Latin Rights. It was those rights which allowed Ubian men to be recruited as legionaries, and why Marcus Rutilius wanted to recruit there himself. His German looks and language would do much better here than in Gaul, whereas the Britannic looks and language of Cadorus would do better among the Celtic Gauls. To each his own, and thus they were.

Colonia was also the city in which Quintus Cerealis recovered from his wounds sustained at Gelduba and after he tore those wounds open again at Vetera. And it was also the city where two young legates- Rutilius and Messala- journeyed to report to their commander the progress of their campaign against the Batavians three years ago. So Rutilius knew the city well, and knew its inhabitants- noble and common- quite well also. The Ubii were an offshoot of the Chatti, and though their nobles spoke Latin, everyone spoke Chatti. A Chatti-speaking legate would do well recruiting in this town.

He set up a table in the open market square and had some of his Batavians perform their drills while centurions ran his cohort through maneuvers. All, of course, had their armor burnished to a high shine and had their awards prominently and proudly displayed. All Rutilius had to do was man the desk, clad in his silvered cuirass, itself covered in three sets of phalerae, with a golden torc about his neck, and the corona civica upon his head and tell stories of the legions in actions. He did not even have to lie or embellish- the awards spoke for themselves.

It was not long before the Ubii came to the market to see what the ruckus was about. As more came, more were tempted, and by midday the market was filled with Ubii watching the cohort maneuver and the Batavians ride. Rutilius got many volunteers that day, but not all were for the legions.

“Welcome back among the Agrippensi, Marcus Rutilius,” a husky female voice said from his side. He turned to see a blonde Ubian noblewoman of about his age holding a small child in her arms. The dark hair and eyes of the child contrasted deeply against the fair hair and blue eyes of his mother.

“Thank you, Claudia Sacrate,” he replied, in the local Chatti. The language as well as the use of her name took her by surprise. “It is always a pleasure to visit this city.”

She blinked again. “Your German is very good, especially for a Roman,” she commented, then tossed her hair back with a flip of her head. “And you remembered me, though we barely spoke two words the first time you were here, and hardly saw each other since then when you were governor.”

“You are hard to forget,” the legate replied easily. Any woman who nearly caused Quintus Cerealis to be castrated by the Imperator for infidelity is hard to forget, much less one as classy and good-looking as this widow.

“As are you, Marcus Rutilius,” she said easily. “Handsome, strong, single. A half-German tribune who went south and returned a legate and then became governor. Very hard to forget.”

Claudia looked over his awards and decorations, then traced an golden oak leaf about his corona. “My Quintus gave you this, did he not?”

“Yes, my lady,” Rutilius replied evenly. “For saving his life in battle- where he earned the wounds that brought him to this city and your care.”

“Then we both owe you a debt of gratitude, Marcus Rutilius,” she said, then turned to her child and said in good Latin, “Little Quintus, this is the man who saved your daddy’s life, and brought us together to make you.”

She ought not to mention that fact too loudly, raced a desperate thought through his head. Cerealis is still married to Flavia, Vespasian’s sister, and she is every bit as dangerous as her brother could be. She needs to be warned.

As if she heard that last thought, she added, “Please do us the honor of dining with us tonight, Marcus. I must admit to having lost contact with Quintus, though I suspect he has kept in touch with you. I would like hear of his exploits since leaving you as governor here while he took charge of faraway Britannia.”

And why you should not brag too much about having shared him, he added mentally, but said instead, “it would be an honor, my lady.”

Claudia smiled wanly, muttered something about a servant coming to fetch him later, then took her child and disappeared into the masses. Marcus watched her leave, and shuddered. That is one dangerous woman. He broke his thoughts from the Ubian widow and turned to the more pleasant thoughts of acquiring more legionaries.

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

Sundown brought an end to the market display. The cohort’s commander, a senior centurion named Titus Nepius, marched the men out to the visitor’s quarters of the city walls while Dieter and the Batavians collected the scrolls of the volunteers and policed up the area. Over a hundred young Ubian men had decided to enroll in the legions that day, and another sixty in the less-regarded but better-paid auxilia. All in all, not a bad day’s work.

A well-dressed woman approached the legate while he was overseeing the clean-up. She was tall like her mistress, blonde like the Ubians favored, but had not the pride the Ubians seemed to exude. Nevertheless, she was a determined woman and did not hesitate to walk directly up to the man who commanded such martial ability as displayed that day.

“My lord,” she said humbly, “The widow Sacra requests your presence. I am Milika, her servant, and your escort for the evening. I will guide you to her home.”

“And I am Dieter, his bodyguard,” said the straight-spined warrior who interposed himself between his lord and the visitor. He had bad memories of people close to Rutilius in Germanic marketplaces. “I and two of my men will be accompanying the deputy governor. I hope your lady does not mind the extra guests.”

Milika blushed heavily, but bowed accordingly. “Three extra mouths are no problem, lords. Please, this way.” And with that, the maid led off toward the Merchant’s Quarter, whose gate led to the wealthy villas beyond the city walls. Amalric Thinbeard met them at the gate with horses ready. The entire Batavian contingent was with him.

“My lord, three extra mouths are no problem, but eighty is surely too many!” the maid said flabbergasted. Her hands flew like leaves in the wind, hither and yon, as she babbled rapidly onward, “We do not have that much food prepared. Oh, my lady will be so embarrassed! She wished to talk alone, of her long-missed lover and his tales, and we burden her with a warband of hungry Germans. Oh! This is not good!”

“Quiet, Miss Milika,” Dieter said with a laugh, cutting through her high-pitched stream of constant babble. “No worries- only three will escort my lord inside. The others follow him everywhere except inside. And we have our own food and bedding. If your lady has a comfortable barn we may use for the night, then we are happy.”

The relief was visible. “Oh yes, lord,” Milika chirped happily. “We have two of the finest barns in all of the Colonia! And I am sure the cook can scratch something together after the main meal to feed you some warm food with. And the cellars, well, they are not as full as they used to be, but I am sure I can scrape up and amphorae or two the lady would not mind parting with. And then-”

Dieter drew the woman close and kissed her. Milika resisted at first, then ceased and enjoyed. When Dieter finally released her, she was flushed, but silent. “Lead on, silly girl,” he commanded, then winked to Rutilius and whispered, “it works more often than not, lord.”

Rutilius smiled and enjoyed the ride in silence. He mentally commended the Batavian for his unique method of getting the maid to quit her incessant yammering. He hoped her mistress did not suffer from the same affliction of ‘diarrhea of the mouth’ as did her servant, or this was going to be a long night. Otherwise it might be a wise move to not to warn her and let Flavia deal with the problem.


Dinner was delicious, as one would expect from a noblewoman, but not as fancy as one would expect from a Roman. The meat was basted in its own juices, spiced just enough to highlight the nuances, and of course, the meat was beef. There were steaks and roasts and stews of beef, with a single dish of venison. Twenty six other nobles were gathered for the feast, in thirteen couples. Each asked and was told of the recent adventures of Cerealis and the II Adiutrix, and each told tales of their experiences during the recent unpleasantness versus the Frisian contingent which had garrisoned the town under Batavian rule. Dieter and his two comrades did not feel any hostility towards the Batavians who had conquered the city, though the dislike of the Frisians was tangible. During the conversations, Rutilius learned also the Claudia had recently shortened her name from Sacrate to Sacra. She felt it had a more Roman flavor.

After the dinner, musicians played for the guests, some of whom danced while others moved to the balconies to enjoy the view of the distant Rhenus in the moonlight, to alcoves to talk or conduct business, or made their gracious exits after thanking the hostess. Rutilius wanted to do the last himself, but ended up on the balcony. Claudia Sacra came up behind him, passing by two Batavians, and took up a position upon the railing of the balcony next to him.

“Do you know it was here, on this balcony, in this very spot, that I first spoke with Quintus,” she said with a longing in her voice. “It will be three years ago exactly in a month.”

“You do know he is married, do you not?” Rutilius asked suddenly and directly. “And that his wife is Flavia Sabina, sister to the Imperator?”

“I know,” she said softly. “I knew then, too. But my husband was dead, and I had been too long without a man. He was here. We clicked.”

“I do not care,” Rutilius said flatly. “It is none of my concern what happened between you and him, or why. It happened, it is over. But my lady, you and your son could also 'be over' if you continue to speak of it. Flavia is a stern and upright Roman woman- the kind that would kill you and your son if she thought them a threat to her marriage or her own children. Luckily her children are grown, and thus little Quintus is no threat as yet, but I would not put it past her to end any problem before it starts. Roman pragmatism. And my lady, your son’s very existence can be a problem.” He turned to face the Rhein. “And she might kill you anyway, for adultery with her husband. So I would be careful about your past, if you wish to have a future.”

Claudia gasped slightly, then shrugged. “We Agrippensi are proud of being Roman, Marcus. Our nobles enjoy much status because we have been given Roman names to go with our Roman citizenship. And for a noblewoman to have a son by a Roman senator... Very much status. But you are right. I should avoid twisting the knife into an adulterous sore. Bad things could happen.”

“I am glad you are as smart as you are beautiful,” Rutilius replied. Now why did I say that?

Claudia turned away from the river and rested her rump upon the railing and looked over her guest with a new light. He was about her age, handsome, a war hero, and by the corona, a senator himself. And according to all rumors, still unmarried- the most eligible bachelor in the province... “So tell me, Marcus,” she said evenly, locking her eyes onto his. “Have you a woman hiding in Rome while you serve on the edge of civilization?”

“No,” he replied honestly, adding, “but there were a few I was close to. One is getting married to another soon, while the other is a strange tale. Complicated. I have feelings, but am not sure they are returned. As I said, complicated. I’d rather not discuss it.”

“Children?” Claudia said, changing the subject. The answer surprised her, coming from a man who never married.

“I have a son near Rome. Little Publius. He should be almost ten now.”

“He is lucky to have you as a father. I have only little Quintus,” she said with a sigh, ”a boy whose father cannot acknowledge his existence. He has only a mother. A lonely mother. A lonely mother who has not held a man in her arms in three years.”

That might change tonight, Marcus thought evilly. Flashes of Froydis followed by memories of Licinia filled his mind with unbidden images. Froydis with her cute smile and large, clear eyes, followed by the long legs of Licinia and her rivers of red hair flowing across her naked breasts. Then back to the Kiss, as he called it, that moment he was in his quarters holding the Cugerni widow in his chambers, lips locked and souls merging. Then a pair of glowing green eyes above a broad smile of even, white teeth and a Latin laugh replaced the Kiss and flittered away.

Claudia sensed something was going on. Her clues, dropped subtly at first, then more obvious as the conversation went on, seemed to finally have penetrated the Roman’s mind. Yet something prevented him from acting. She wanted a good bedding with a Roman senator, nothing more. Primitive, primordial even. Lustful. Her desires were pure and unadulterated- simple coupling. But he seemed tangled in that Roman philosophical crap of honor, rules, and customs. Enough was enough!

Claudia leaned forward and kissed him. Lightly at first, and when she felt no resistance, deeper. Marcus, torn between his memories, his feelings, and his own body’s rising urges, felt his mind losing control of his body. He picked the widow up with her still locked to his lips, and turned back toward the atrium of the villa. His guards held the portal open, then followed him to her bedroom where they posted themselves outside and remained until the sun rose six hours later.

Both left with a new respect for the man whose life they guarded.

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

“This was wrong,” Marcus whispered to the woman in his arms when he awoke.

“Horseshit,” Claudia replied. “This was sooo right. I haven’t been this sated in years- if ever. Darling, this was right. It does not get righter than this.”

“Do you know why I wanted to come to Colonia?” he asked. “Not only to recruit, but because Colonia is the home of Karstein Haldor’s Son, the best jeweler in the province. I wanted to buy a necklace from him, one of those thin golden chains with that ingenious clasp he makes. It was to be a present to a woman I care about. I guess that won’t happen now.”

“Karstein does do wonderful work, lover,” Claudia admitted. Then she smiled, “and why can that not happen now?”

Marcus sighed. “I am not even betrothed to this woman, and I betray her physically. Twice now, in fact. How can love exist where a man cannot be trusted?”

Claudia laughed. Hard. “Oh lover, you Romans are so twisted!” She laughed a bit more, then gradually it stopped. “You are not betrothed to this woman, thus you are a free bachelor. You said yourself that you do not know if she returns your feelings. Marcus, dear, wonderful, Marcus, you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed about! And this,” she added, waving an arm about her bedroom and the scattered clothing and armor ornamenting it, “this was amazing. I would love to repeat it, oh by the gods I would! You have nothing to regret, lover.”

“And if I walk out that door,” Marcus said, “mounted my horse, and rode away, never to return? Is that also right?”

“It is not wrong,” she stated plainly. “What we had, what we enjoyed, that was right. Sooo right. If it is meant to be more, then it shall be. If it was meant to be but a single night, than so be it. We are both adults, and both unmarried- you never married, me a widow. We met, we shared, and we parted. Such is life.”

Marcus relaxed. “It still does not feel right, at least not to the Roman in me.”

Claudia grinned and slipped her arm lower until her hand began entering his hairy zone. “Then forget the Roman part, lover, and let me show the German in you how right this is.”

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

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 03-22-10 07:19 AM EDT (US)     50 / 74       
Good love scene. Not too explicit to get a visit from the Mod Brigade, but not too boring either.

That hairy zone phrase you wrote made me laugh though.

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

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

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