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Total War: Shogun 2 Heaven » Forums » Bardic Circle - War Stories & AAR forum » The Eagle and the Wolf Pt VI- Doom and Darkness
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Topic Subject:The Eagle and the Wolf Pt VI- Doom and Darkness
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Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-14-10 08:15 AM EDT (US)         
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Excerpt from The Eagle and the Wolf Pt VI- Doom and Darkness:

“You can’t go in there, quaestor,” a Samnite bodyguard told Rutilius two days later when he tried to go into the governor’s office. “The governor is quite busy.”

“I know, Papius,” Rutilius replied. “That is why he needs me. Now stand aside.”

“You know I cannot take orders from you, quaestor,” the Samnite decurion replied.

“Tell him I used force,” Rutilius said sweetly to the Samnite ex-gladiator who stood two inches taller than him and outweighed him by at least fifty pounds- all of it muscle. “Now stand aside. Or Dieter here will cut your tonkers off.”

Dieter grinned, and fingered his knife. Papius remembered the last time he got into it with a Batavian, a nobody-trooper at that. He had come off second-best. And Dieter was supposedly the best of them.

Papius stepped aside.

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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

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 @ 01:05 AM).]

AuthorReplies:
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-14-10 08:21 AM EDT (US)     1 / 87       
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“Marcus!”

The wail of a woman in pain shot through the house. Marcus Rutilius knew that painful wail. He had been expecting it. He rolled together the scrolls littering his desk and stood up to answer it.

The door to his chamber opened. Dieter Straightback stood there, the commander of his Guard.

“The midwife says it is time, lord,” the Batavian said. “Come quick.”

“Guard this chamber,” Rutilius ordered. Then he was out of the door and bolting down the hall to where his wife lay panting and wailing with pain.

He arrived moments later. His wife was on her back off to the right of their bed, while their two little boys- her Quintus and his Publius- each held one of her hands. The midwife looked up from her station at the foot of the bed, between his wife’s legs, and nodded.

“Any moment now, lord,” she reported. “She is widening to where I can almost see the crown.” A moment and a gasp later, she cried out, “There! The crown. Now, my lady, once more. Push!”

Claudia wailed once again and pushed with all her might. A mighty pain pierced her body, then blessed relief. Another voice joined hers in screaming- a tiny voice emerging from a tiny body. The midwife worked furiously, then stood proudly, bearing a tiny human in her arms. This she presented to the panting mother a few minutes later, after she cleaned and wrapped it. It quieted once it was inside the warm swaddling cloth.

“Your son, lord,” she said to Rutilius, then turned and placed the baby by his mother’s breast. “A good delivery. Quick, and not too painful. Both mother and son will be fine.”

Claudia Sacra nodded, though she was still panting. “Aye, Eadwina, this one went much smoother than with Quintus.” She looked up to her husband. “Our son, Marcus. What shall his name be?”

This question ran through his mind countless times over the last six hours, ever since the first pains hit his wife. Six hours! That was unbelievably quick, even by second-birth standards. His father was Lucius. He was Marcus, his first son Publius, and that meant his second son would be Decius or Sextus, by the family standard. Yet he saw himself as more than a simple Roman. He might have been that once, but his time in Germania has changed him. He was now a bridge between two worlds, one Roman and the other German. Thus the dilemma. “I want to name him Aelric, after the Guard who died freeing me from the barbarians across the river.”

She groaned. “You know how I feel about barbarian names,” said the woman who was descended from Germans herself. But she was a noblewoman of the Ubii, who called themselves Agrippensi after a Roman warlord, and was herself a Roman citizen, despite her blood. “Aelric Rutilius sounds bloody silly. Can we not name him Marcus, after yourself? Marcus Rutilius Junior- it suits him well.”

“It will be confusing later to those with whom I have dealings,” Rutilius replied. “We shall name him Decius. Decius Rutilius.”

“Decius,” she moaned softly. “A good name.”

The midwife finished her chores as little Decius began suckling. Claudia was already half-asleep, and would be fully asleep within minutes. The midwife gathered her things and quietly departed, making room for Milika, the head maid of the household, to take her place beside her friend’s bed.

“He is adorable,” she whispered to Claudia.

“Yours will be too,” Claudia whispered back, reminding Milika of her own child soon to be born. “Just after the autumn equinox. I look forward to taking care of you, Milika, as repayment for the kindness you show me now.”

“Then I shall try extra-hard not to make any mistakes!” the maid laughed, “else they shall come back to haunt me!”

Rutilius exited the room quietly. It was time for girl talk then rest- and his wife needed both right now. He, on the other hand, had his own work to finish.

Dieter was still outside the door to his chamber. A simple gesture from the Batavian ensured Rutilius that nobody had entered the room since he had left. He entered, and went back to work. Dieter, standing in the doorway, marveled at the way this Roman watches the birth of his son then goes back to work as if nothing special had just happened.

“Do you mind?” Rutilius said, noticing his Guard captain out of the corner of his eye.

“May I ask what is so important that only the birth of your son could interrupt it?” Dieter asked, then added, “And what draws you back to it so soon thereafter?”

Rutilius sighed and pushed the scrolls away. He beckoned the German in, and bade him close the door.

“Plans for the summer offensive,” he explained. “I have not heard anything yet, mind you, but the Bructeri are very convinced that we are going. And as they have a friend in Rome while I do not, I think they might be right. So I am preparing some plans for the governor.”

Dieter nodded at the wisdom, then looked over the four large scrolls upon the table. “That is an awful big plan, Marcus. I think I should let you in on a secret: The more complicated a thing is, the easier it breaks. This applies to plans as well- the bigger and more complex it is, the easier it is to wreck. Or in the Batavian way, keep it short and simple, and you will find success more often than not.”

“Good advice,” Marcus agreed. “But this is not one big plan. It is four sets of guidelines- each to a separate plan.” To his Guard captain’s confused look, he added, “I am creating four very feasible, very believable, and very different plans for the summer. We choose one to follow, and from the other three, one to send to Rome.”

Dieter smiled, then laughed heartily. “Very well done, lord. Are you sure you are not Batavian?”

“Chatti on my mother’s side, pure Roman on my father’s.”

“You must have some Batavian,” Dieter insisted. “I have seen you ride, and this... This, lord is pure Civilis. Sending a plan to Rome so that it can be stolen and sent to the enemy, who will plan their best to counter it, leaving them open to the true plan. Devious!”

Rutilius shrugged. “They started it. I simply intend to finish it. And them.”

Dieter nodded. “You are indeed Batavi, lord, in spirit if not by blood. A worthy reason to continue so soon after your little one came into the world.”

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Gnaeus Cornelius Clemens cursed when he read again the letter from his colleague in the lower province. Cordinus wrote sorrowfully of the losses incurred by the Thracian ala Cornelius had lent him, but also fairly bragged about the glowing report he had received from the survivors and his quaestor. He had numbers, he had locations, he had routes. He even had the location of the missing legionary eagle of the V Alaudae- and had recovered the other! If ordered across this summer, he would have it very easy indeed.

Cornelius crumpled the letter and threw it away in disgust.

“Problems, Gnaeus?” asked his quaestor, Quintus Lutatius Catullus.

“Bad news for our legions,” Clemens admitted. “Worse news for me personally. It seems Cordinus managed to get his intelligence report confirmed. He has a new map, updated, and all the information an expert arcanus could give him.”

“So?” asked Catullus. “He is still the buffoon that got his sorry ass kicked hard last year. Thirty slaves, for three thousand casualties! The man is not going across again this year. That is for sure.”

“You are wrong, Quintus,” Clemens cursed. “He will go across. He got thrashed last year due to poor intelligence. His quaestor solved that problem.”

“He had his chance and blew it,” Catullus snorted. “We have our troops in peak condition, with lots of cavalry, infantry auxilia, and even some of those Pannonian irregulars that were so effective in Moesia. We have nineteen more auxilia cohorts than when we came here. Of course we are going across. It is in the stars- and the deployment of the auxilia.”

“He is definitely going,” Clemens snarled. “Look at that scroll there, the one with Vespasian’s seal. From the Imperator himself! It orders us to send eight auxilia cohorts to Vetera- four cavalry, four infantry. The only argument I had to prevent that transfer was that he would lose it as he had those worthless Thracians because the bloody fool did not know a damned thing about Germania across the Rhenus. Now he does- in brilliant detail. Damn it!”

“We have to send him eight cohorts?” Catullus gasped. “You are correct, lord. He will be going across.”

“I intend to send him more Thracian cavalry, and those petulant Spaniards as well- useless horsemen! For the infantry, three cohorts of the Raetian auxilia, coupled with those worthless Britons we have been saddled with,” Clemens replied. “At least then I will no longer have to deal with their problems, or their poor discipline, or their useless whining.”

“You might want to keep the Spaniards and those Raetians, lord,” Catullus said suddenly. “The Spanish are wild and light- useless in open battle, but perfect for the forests. If you give him those, he will have a better chance at success than without, whereas if we are to rescue him, we will need just those kind of horsemen. And the Raetians, lord, are forest-dwellers- you give him what he needs because they are barbarians too.”

“You have a point, Catullus,” Clemens agreed after a moment’s contemplation. “We’ll send that rowdy Galatian cavalry cohort in place of the one of the Spaniards, though those Thracians are still going! For the third, maybe the Moesian horsemen. Their prefect can’t seem to keep his men in line, and he himself is the worst offender. Our army is better of without them.”

“And the fourth cavalry unit?”

Clemen cursed lowly. He had not others except his beloved Gauls, and the Spaniards who might be excellent in the words. He did have a cohort of heavy Gallic cavalry- the Tauriana. Heavy Cavalry in the forests? Ha! That decided him.

“We’ll send them the I Gallorum Tauriana,” he decided.

“Excellent!” laughed Catullus. ”Horsemen he cannot use. Now, who do you intend to send as infantry in place of the Raetian auxilia?”

Clemens thought it over. He could never part with his Gauls- he had worked quite long with them now and understood them well. They were very close. That left him with the Italian auxilia- too close to his own legionaries and of Roman citizens, so they stay. And the Raetians, his forest experts as Catullus pointed out. The Britons can go- disloyal, argumentative, poorly equipped- they were simply not meant for his army. That left him with a cohort of Dalmatians, two of Illyrians, the Greek Sagitarii, and the Moesian irregulars to choose between.

“I think I will send the Greeks and the Illyrians with the Britons,” he finally decided. “The Greeks lose their advantage in the woods- the ranges are too short by far. I want to keep the Moesians for their agility and flexibility, and the Dalmatians for their solidity. Did you know that their tribune taught them the ancient phalanx? Just for show, of course, but still. Remarkable.”

“So you would send him half-civilized British auxilia,” Catullus concluded, “Greek archers who cannot see what to aim at, and then two cohorts of Illyrians known to be light troops from forested hills, and have trained and worked together for almost a year now. These you send to a colleague you do not wish to see succeed?”

Merda,” Clemens said bitterly. “When you put it like that, it does seem contradictory. Let’s keep the Illyrians for our own use, and replace them with the Dalmatians. Really, what use is a phalanx in the woods? So the Dalmatians, the troublesome Britons and useless Greeks will go. And I’ll even throw in the wildly irregular Moesian bandits. Thank you, Quintus.”

“Moesians... Bandits or worse, but good in the woods. We might need them ourselves, lord.”

“What are you planning?” Cornelius Clemens said, gaining a sudden insight into the depths of his quaestor. Cordinus is not the only one with a rising star. “Surely you do not intend to send my Gauls, or my Romans. And breaking up the winning team of the twin Illyrian cohorts does not sound like a good idea.”

“We have other infantry, lord. I suggest sending a cohort of them. Classiani. Several of them have been asking to be transferred to Germania Inferior. Well, let’s do just that.”

Clemens roared in laughter. “Classiani? River rats? Oh Quintus, that is brilliant.”

“When does the Old Owl say they have to report for duty?”

“They are to be at Vetera ready for duty on the Kalends of Junius. Why do you ask?”

Quintus Catullus grinned cruelly. “They are based near Augusta Trevorum now. If you send them up the Rhenus Road, they will be seen, expected, and give your colleague time to plan them into his attack. If you send them first to Bibracte, then up the back road, they arrive literally out of the forest. Your colleague will then have to evaluate them before working them into his plan, or simply adapt. And you saw how well he can do that.”

Cornelius Clemens laughed heartily. “So true, Quintus, so true. Cut the orders. Give him our troublemakers- and little time to do anything with them.”

The best part of that idea, my little worm, is that those forces come nowhere near Colonia. Rutilius will not be able to save his namesake lord this time.

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

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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-15-2010 @ 01:50 AM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-14-10 10:51 AM EDT (US)     2 / 87       
So fellow Roman generals are conspiring to send bad reinforcements in an effort to discredit their rival?

Typically Roman. But it is good to see you start on a new part. I await the next chapter eagerly!

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 10-14-10 11:19 AM EDT (US)     3 / 87       
Yay!

But.

A Roman would not watch his wife give birth. That would have been improper. And Decius is not a Roman praenomen - there were only about fifteen praenomina, the closest is Decimus.

"Germania Transrhenae" - we discussed this for the old swap story, didn't we? Bad Latin. Germania Magna, or Germania Transrhenana if you must.

"Worthless Britons"? I am glad you're casting those two as bad guys.

Glad to see the next part up though.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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

(dis ma house)
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-14-10 01:44 PM EDT (US)     4 / 87       
A Roman would not watch his wife give birth.
Would a German?

"Germania Transrhenae" - we discussed this for the old swap story, didn't we? Bad Latin. Germania Magna, or Germania Transrhenana if you must. (Fixed. Thanks)

About Decius (Besides Publius Decius Mus being one of my favorite Romans) did you know this? :
Oscan and Umbrian Praenomina
Many Oscan praenomina appear throughout Roman history, as the Romans encountered both friendly and hostile tribes, and slowly absorbed the peoples of Italy into their sphere of influence. Umbrian praenomina are less well-known, but appear to have been similar to those of the Oscans. Although it is widely believed that the Latin praenomen Mamercus was of Oscan origin, since Mamers was a Sabine form of Mars, it is not clear to what extent the two cultures (which sprang from the same origin) borrowed praenomina from one another, and to what extent they shared names based on roots common to each language.[49]

It is impossible to provide a complete list of Oscan praenomina, but these names are clearly identifiable in extant histories and inscriptions. Abbreviations do exist for some of them, but they were less regular, and less regularly-employed, than the Latin abbreviations.[50][51][52]

Ancus
Attius
Decius
Herius
Marius
Mettius
Minatus
Minius
Nerius
Novius
Numa
Numerius
Ovius
Paccius
Pompo
Salvius
Seppius
Statius
Taurus
Trebius
Vibius
Vettius
I rest my case.

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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-15-2010 @ 01:53 AM).]

Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-15-10 12:29 PM EDT (US)     5 / 87       
Would a German?
I'm assuming that's rhetorical, but still - You tell me. I would have thought not.

How is Rutilius Oscan or Umbrian? And I Imagine such names would have largely died out along with their parent-languages when Italy became romanised. *grumble until fade* - but I admit I didn't know that. Fine. Your example of P Decius Mus is still wrong though - the Decius in that case is clearly a nomen, not a praenomen.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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

(dis ma house)

[This message has been edited by Edorix (edited 10-15-2010 @ 12:34 PM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-15-10 01:39 PM EDT (US)     6 / 87       
Of course Decius is a nomen there. I still like it, though.

|||||||||||||||| 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 10-18-10 03:43 AM EDT (US)     7 / 87       
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The woman standing by the gates saw a group of horsemen approaching. She left her fellow watch to grab spears in case of attack while she ran to warn the lord, who came with his household warriors to see for himself. When he did, he scolded the woman for her ignorance.

“Better safe that sorry,” Udo wheezed. His wounds was healed well enough for his to ride, but only the scarf pressing the bandage into his wound allowed him to have a voice. “Had we been the Romans we expect, her actions would have gained her a commendation instead of a scolding.”

“True enough, my king,” Lord Artjan replied, with a small scowl. “But I scold her for not recognizing the king as he approached, not for her actions otherwise.”

“Using women as sentries,” Udo nodded. That was painful. “Smart, Artjan of High Heather Fields. Rather clever, actually.”

“No choice, King Udo,” Artjan retorted. “We fulfilled our obligation to your levy. These twenty men you see by my side are all the men remaining in High Heather Fields, meaning all other tasks- including sentry duty- must be performed by the women, or not at all.”

“And ‘not at all’ is the same as death or enslavement,” the king completed. “Much wiser this way.”

“Do you know when the Romans come?” Artjan asked.

Udo did not shrug, for to do so would grind the compress into his wound- which was still tender. But his voice shrugged for him. “We have not heard anything other than that they will come, and soon.”

“Do we evacuate like last time, my king?” Artjan asked respectfully, hoping for a positive answer. “Will we get the warning in time?”

Udo looked about. The village was pitifully undermanned. He could see why Artjan was so worried. He had twenty men and six hundred women in this village, where once over three thousand lived and farmed. Another such summer and High Heather Fields would be but a fading memory to its neighbors. That decided him to be merciful, this once. “Plant your crops, Artjan, then you may send half of your womenfolk and three of every four cows to the northern reaches as you did last year.”

“And the rest, my king?”

“The rest will stay and fight,” he whispered harshly. He meant it as a shout, but the pressure of shouting forced the air out under the compress, reducing the volume. “You only have to hold out for a fortnight from when the Romans cross. It will take them at least a week to reach here, fumbling about in the woods. You will have plenty of warning, and our warhost will be hounding them in the woods. After that two weeks, you need fear nothing more- help will have arrived.”

“So fortify, damn you,” one of Udo’s guards shouted. This scene was repeated in a dozen villages now, so he knew the script by heart. When the king’s voice failed, his would rise, as it did now. “Gather food, clear your wells. Strengthen your defenses. Hold out, and the tribes will rally. These are the words of Udo.”

“Then we shall do our best,” Artjan spoke in a voice heavy with fatalistic devotion. They were doomed should the Romans come, and all knew it. Their only chance was to flee, and flee faster than Romans could march. “Women can fight, viciously at times, lord, but to expect them to hold off armored soldiers for seven days is not realistic.”

Udo whispered, and his guard replied in a loud voice, “It is the tribe, Artjan. The tribe dies if we do not fight. Fight not for your lives alone, but for the tribe as well.”

Artjan nodded in defeat. Udo was right. He had been thinking of his lands, his village, while Udo had an entire tribe on the brink of extinction. If holding the Romans at High Heather Fields saved two other villages from the same fate, then the tribe would survive. The tribe was paramount.

“We shall do our best,” Artjan said. This time his voice was laced with pride and fierce determination.

Udo was pleased.

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Amalric the Silent rode past the outer sentries and up to the main house with hardly a sound. He handed his horse to a farmhand who came running, then picked a saddlebag from the horse before it moved out of reach. With the bag over his shoulder, he entered the house in search of his lord. He found him in his chamber, studiously ignoring the sound of his newborn son squealing for attention.

“Your son has strong lungs,” Amalric said upon entering.

Rutilius did not even look up. “For a month now. I even gave him my trophy- that jeweled sword I took from Udo- to no avail. It hangs on his wall where it can spin in the starlight. He reaches for it- a true warrior, that one!- yet bawls all the same. Claudia is sleeping- exhausted. And Gerta- Glam’s wife and the young one's wet-nurse- is on her way from their cottage. She is expected in four minutes. The nurse has her hands very full changing his diapers. And I am going slightly crazy from the wailing- every six hours for the last thirty days! One can use an hourglass with less accuracy!”

Rutilius looked up from his hands, where they had been rubbing his face. Now he recognized who had entered. “You! Here?”

Amalric smiled. “Claudia is not the only one your son wears out. Yes lord, I am back.”

“That was bloody fast! You were gone less than a month.”

Amalric nodded. “Fortuna favors you, Marcus. I have what you seek.”

Dieter Straightback chose this moment to enter the chamber as well.

“I heard you were back. That was bloody fast.”

Amalric smiled. Dieter and Marcus often thought alike. It was always amusing to hear one say what the other had so recently said- knowing, of course, that the one did not hear the other. Now that both were here, he opened the saddlebag.

“You owe me one hundred thirty denarii, lord,” he began. “Expenses.”

“A hundred thirty denarii?” bellowed Dieter. “That is almost a half-year’s pay.”

“I had to acquire a cottage, some tools... and bribe a civil servant to spend time with a slavegirl I bought for that cottage. Neither he, nor she, was cheap,” Amalric explained. “Then while he was enjoying the pleasures of the girl, I was riding his segment of the postal route between Vindonissa and Mogontiacum.”

He looked up at Rutilius. “I used to ride the post. I know it well. And I tell you this, Marcus- I did not open anything signed with an official seal, be it from Rome or a governor. Private seals, however, I did open for inspection, then sealed them again.”

“You broke seals?” Rutilius sputtered in shock.

“They will never know,” Amalric assured him. “Old postal trick. You simply slice the seal gently from the scroll’s body with a razor, so that it hangs like a tag from the edge. Then read as you will, then pour a second, very tiny layer of wax into the break and press. You reseal the seal. Anyway,” he said as he handed his lord a sealed scroll, “See for yourself.”

Rutilus examined the scroll, noting to whom it was addressed, and the weight of the thing.

“That is what caught my eye, too,” Amalric noted. “Check the seal.”

Rutilius did so. There was a prancing horse with a crown, but otherwise he saw nothing out of the ordinary. His gaze, when lifted to the Batavian, said the same.

Amalric grinned. “I thought so. See? My handiwork went unnoticed.” He then produced a fine razor and gently slid the blade into the seal’s underside. It parted soundlessly, intact yet open. “Now read.”

Rutilius did so. Within the scroll was another, this one sealed with a dolphin that had a fish in its teeth. Now that he was looking, he could see where Amalric’s tiny blade had pierced the seal. He handed the sealed scroll to the Batavian while he read the first one.

Amalric popped the seal and handed the scroll to Dieter, who opened it and began reading.

“Holy Jupiter’s Lightning!” “Wotan’s One Eye!” both he and Rutilius exclaimed at the same time. Rutilius took the scroll from Dieter and handed him the first one. “Juno’s Formidable Breasts!” “Frigg’s Fabulous Tits!” they shouted.

“Exactly,” Amalric replied. “I thought you would want to see that. This is from one Tullius fellow in Mediolanium, who was forwarding the scroll to one Caius Laurentius Catullus of Germania Superior. You can see the name of Laurentius clearly on the inner scroll. There is also a note inside the inner scroll saying ‘for your northern friends.’ I don’t think he means us or Cordinus.”

“Cordinus has no need to be informed of his own plan,” Marcus agreed. “This was meant for the Germani. Tullius was telling Laurentius what Cordinus was planning, so that he could inform the Bructeri. We have caught our spy, it seems. Nicely done, Amalric.”

“What now, lord?” the Batavian ex-postman asked.

“Reseal the scrolls. I will hand them to Cordinus.”

“That is not wise,” Dieter said. “You give to an unstable man the only proof of complicity of his peers?”

“He will need proof before he acts,” Rutilius reminded him. “And again in court when it goes to trial.”

“And if he chooses not to act at all?” Amalric asked.

”If he does not act upon this evidence,” Rutilius considered, ”then I will. I have already seen the proof- I need nothing else.” That last he said while fingering the dagger of Ulfrich still in his belt.

Dieter grinned. Whoever this Laurentius Catullus in Mogontiacum was, he would die before the end of the summer. This Tullius from Mediolanium as well. Either at the hands of Roman authorities, or in the proper way- at the hands of those he wronged.

“Get ready to ride, Dieter. Twenty man escort,” Rutilius commanded. ”We are going to see the governor, since he is already planning this war without us. Have someone inform Caius Avitus that we are on the road again and he is to mind the store.”

“A nice excuse to get out of the house,” Dieter replied, just as baby Decius began another round of wailing. His diapers were now clean, but Gerta had yet to arrive for his feeding.

“Any excuse is a good excuse,” Rutilius added bitterly, though the pride in his eyes belied the tiredness in his voice. “Any excuse at all.”

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 10-18-10 04:53 AM EDT (US)     8 / 87       
So they know who the traitor is? They are not going to have a good summer that is for sure!

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 10-18-10 11:18 AM EDT (US)     9 / 87       
Something tells me all is not going to be so simple... we shall see. Great update Old One!

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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(dis ma house)
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-21-10 09:20 AM EDT (US)     10 / 87       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

“You can’t go in there, quaestor,” a Samnite bodyguard told Rutilius two days later when he tried to go into the governor’s office. “The governor is quite busy.”

“I know, Papius,” Rutilius replied. “That is why he needs me. Now stand aside.”

“You know I cannot take orders from you, quaestor,” the Samnite decurion replied.

“Tell him I used force,” Rutilius said sweetly to the Samnite ex-gladiator who stood two inches taller than him and outweighed him by at least fifty pounds- all of it muscle. “Now stand aside. Or Dieter here will cut your tonkers off.”

Dieter grinned, and fingered his knife. Papius remembered the last time he got into it with a Batavian, a nobody-trooper at that. He had come off second-best. And Dieter was supposedly the best of them.

Papius stepped aside.

Rutilius entered the room and closed the door behind him.

“Thanks for the invitation,” he said sarcastically as he faced the four legates surrounding the table, where the governor was pointing out details on the map. Messala and Amensius looked horrified at learning that Rutilius had not been invited, while Cadorus and Paullus were furious. Cordinus himself quickly rolled the map up as Rutilius approached. “You’ve gotten orders you did not care to share with me?”

“You were on leave with your newborn,” Cordinus said. His voice reflected nothing- not ire at the invasion, nor hurt at the implication. “I was going to personally travel to Colonia to inform you before we left, and to hand you the province to run while I am away.”

“You no longer have to,” Rutilius said. He pointed to the rolled-up map. “I saw that, you know. I was the one who led the expedition to map it out. Here, these are for you, lord,” he said as Dieter handed him a bucket of scrolls. He choose two at random and unrolled them upon the table. “Here are two sets of plans for the invasion this summer. In the bucket are two more. All four are decent enough, though these two are the best. Pick one.”

“I have already made my plans, Marcus,” Cordinus replied. “They are already on their way to Rome.”

“I know,” Marcus said. “The VI Victrix will march to establish a base camp here. The XXI Rapax will travel by ship to here, overnight on in the camp Messala and his VI Victrix vacate to march north to the first ford, joined by Paullus and the XXII Primigenia. Messala and Paullus cross on foot, while Amensius and the XXI Rapax make an assault crossing with fleet support here, catching and holding the Bructeri attention so that the other two legions can fall upon them from the north and destroy the entire host.”

“I must admit, lord, your plan reeks of genius, though given the relatively wide fording points and bridges we found on the Nabalia, it would be better to strike on three axes from there instead of one there and one from here- and use the amphibious legion to attract and hold their attention along the Lupia- or land behind them once we pin a sufficient force against it.”

“How could you know my plan?” Cordinus wailed in wonder. He knew every detail!“I worked on it alone, and in private, once the order came to resume our mission! I began it while you were away, and sent it to Rome before you returned!”

“I know,” Rutilius retorted. He extracted a fifth scroll from his belt. “This was intercepted on its way to the Bructeri. A nice plan, like I said.” Then his voice hardened into steel. ”I told you there was a spy!”

Cordinus sat down heavily on the couch and held his hands to his temples. He felt a massive headache coming on. Betrayed again! And saved yet again by this Third-Class senator. “What will you have me do?”

“Take this scroll, and use it to crucify the spy,” Rutilius recommended. “I’ll get the legions and auxilia ready while you build your case.”

“Of course,” Cordinus Gallicus muttered. His whole plan, ruined. “But I still have my orders.”

“Your orders were given in ignorance of a spy in Rome with ties to the enemy here,” Rutilius reminded him. “It is not Caesar’s Will to jeopardize the legions guarding the northern flank of his empire. It is Caesar’s Will to punish the Bructeri and retrieve the remaining Eagle, and in his interest to expose a traitor in his inner circle.”

“Remaining Eagle?” Messala exclaimed. “We recovered one?”

“I scouted the target in March,” Rutilius informed the legates. “That was the secret mission I was on, and why I could not be reached. On that mission, I managed to recover Numisius’s Eagle, and locate the Eagle of Lupercus.”

“By the Spear of Mars, Marcus!” Messala exclaimed. “You went over there, alone?”

“I had help,” Rutilius said modestly. He turned to the governor. “Lord, you are an outstanding administrator and a high-flying legal eagle. Your plan is compromised, and a traitor with high connections in Rome must be caught. I suggest you tend to the latter, as you have the better connections in Rome, more access to senators willing to aid you, and a better overall knowledge of the law and courts. I am a warhawk. I know the land, the legions, and the enemy. Let me lead the expedition, while you expose the more serious threat of a traitor within the circles of power of Rome herself.”

Ah, the opportunist emerges. “You would dearly love to have your military victory inscribed in the Annals of Rome, while my name goes forgotten as the mere prosecutor of a traitor, eh?”

“I would be commanding in your name,” Rutilius reminded him. ”If we succeed, which we shall, it goes under your name as Sulla’s capture of Jugurtha was credited to Marius. If we fail, you blame me and remain unsullied yourself. I don’t even need three legions- two and some auxilia are enough to smash the Bructeri hard and get the Eagle before their help can arrive.”

So you would steal my army and lead it to glory in my name, and thereafter keep it to yourself? I think not. Your attempt is too blatant, Marcus. I had expected better of you. “Exactly. Sulla’s capture of Jugurtha was indeed accredited to Marius, yet we still refer to it as Sulla’s capture of Jugurtha. Do you think I will fail, with three legions under my command?”

“No sir,” Rutilius replied. “Three veteran legions, each with its auxilia and veteran legates? That is a tough combination to beat. If you led, and listened to the advice of your legates, you would do extremely well- at least for a while. The key to the operation is speed- do them in, get the Eagle, then get out before the other tribes can rally.”

The legates around the table nodded fiercely in agreement. The Bructeri were no match for three legions. Three legions would have a hell of a time against a united Germania Magna.

“I can do it quickly,” Rutilius continued. “I know the land, as I said. You, lord, are a planner and consider everything before making a move- despite the fiasco with the spies last time. You would take your time making the perfect decision- and that would get you into trouble. You do not have the time for that in battle- often a good decision implemented immediately will most often achieve better results than the perfect decision applied too late.”

Again the legates bobbed their heads in agreement.

“It all boils down to this,” Rutilius concluded. “We have two tasks, one of which came from Rome and the other to save Rome from a traitor. I am the warhawk, you the legal eagle. We each do what we are best in to accomplish both tasks.”

That is a good point, Cordinus admitted to himself. He could see by the reactions of the silent legates that they whole-heartedly agreed with his quaestor. They had served under him before, and knew and trusted him as he did them. But it is still my army, and my friends I avenge. I will do this myself, damn him! The traitor can wait.

“One final thing,” Rutilius said. He pointed to the scroll from Tullius of Mediolanium to Catullus in Mogontiacum. “Have one of your lictors make a copy of that. I will have it delivered to Laurentius for the Bructeri. Then you choose Plan C- where we cross the Nabalia with two legions at three points and sweep south, using the third legion as a river-borne reserve. That one will take best advantage of the Bructeri deployment versus the plan you told Rome.”

Cordinus looked over Plan C and then his own plan. By the gods, it set the Bructeri up wonderfully! Maybe his quaestor’s motives were pure after all. “Aye, Marcus. That I will do. Acilius! I need your quill in here!”

The lictor came in, received his orders, and departed. He smiled to Rutilius on his way past. Cordinus caught that, and it decided him.

“But I will command the army, Marcus,” he said firmly. “You shall administer the province while I am away.”

The legates groaned almost imperceptibly. Then Cordinus added, “But I have an idea that will guarantee success, which you do not yet know. I will have four veteran legions and four able legates with me across the river, Marcus. Four, not three. We cannot fail.”

Rutilius had to agree- never had a full consular army met defeat north of the Alps. He had forgotten that in the aftermath of the Cananefate destruction of the off-the-books consular army of Vorenus. But they were Germanic auxilia trained as legionaries. Cordinus would have the real thing. But four legions! The entire garrison....

“The province will be denuded!” Rutilius gasped, in conjunction with the legates.

“That is why I am leaving you in charge here, with as much auxilia as I can spare,” Cordinus replied easily. “You are the warhawk, remember? If the Frisii or other tribe try to take advantage of our destruction of the Bructeri, I will need a good commander here to ward them off. I can think of none better than you.”

That was very true. Rutilius relaxed, for what seemed the first time since his son was born. I really need to stop worrying, Rutilius thought to himself. Cordinus had his reasons for doing things his way, and now he saw the wisdom in it and agreed. That brought the other legates around as well, creating a unified command structure for the first time. By Mars those bastards across the river were in for a rough time! Four legions!

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

Imperial post was very fast.

A day later quaestor Quintus Lutatius Catullus received the scroll marked for Caius Laurentius Catullus. He opened it without noticing the forged seal. The immunes of the XXII Primigenia had crafted a magnificent duplicate of the signet of Tullius’s prancing horse and the dolphin inside. The only complaint he had about it was the delay in receiving it. Had it shown up a mere one day later, it would have been too late. As it was, it was just in time to dispatch it with Otto Son of Knute who was departing Mogontiacum for the lands of his partner Horobard of the Chatti. Horobard would ensure the information within was received by his fellow king Udo of the Bructeri before a fortnight had passed.

Catullus sent the scroll, then settled in to perform his own tasks. Rome had sent quite a few tablets and scrolls. He and Gnaeus Clemens were going to be very busy while Cordinus was away chasing ghosts.

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

Rutilius had wasted little time. He knew the plan by heart, being its creator, and where everyone had to be and when. The legates, being veterans and good legates, had already prepared their legions for deployment- only when and where was left undone. That was now corrected, and the legates accepted their orders. By the third day before the Kalends of June, the legions would be in position. No sign was given that they were on the move. This was a movement to be unseen by the men across the river. They would depart their castra at night, and head away from the river before turning north on back trails to their rally points. Vigiles in legionary armor would be seen walking posts on the walls of the vacated castra to give the illusion that the legions were still in residence. The auxilia which would accompany them would likewise disappear, with those left behind performing extended and highly-visible patrols along the river. Every detail was considered, and executed to give the full and fully-credible illusion that the forces were still in their bases.

Eager eyes watched their every footstep from across the river. They missed nothing. During the day the Eagle warriors marched out and practiced before their rock piles, then went inside where they would have men walking the walls. Some days the Eagles would not move at all, just their sentries. There was no pattern that they could see. The Eagles were at home in their nests, preparing to do battle, but nothing more.

Those eyes could not see in the dark. Nor did they realize they were watching vigiles perform their daily drills. The legions were gone for a week before Chatti watchers noticed the river fleet sail up to the quays of Bonna. It would take six days before their kings could use the information, while the fleet could move into striking position in less than two.

The race was on.

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

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-21-10 11:18 AM EDT (US)     11 / 87       
Nice!
The legions were gone for a week before Chatti watchers noticed the river fleet sail up to the quays of Bonna.
I'm afraid I missed the significance of this? My brain isn't working properly today - late night and early start to study for a biology test, you know...

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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(dis ma house)
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-21-10 11:49 AM EDT (US)     12 / 87       
If the fleet came to Bonna to pick up the warriors there, then the invasion was going to start soon. So the Germani would race at breakneck speed to spread the word that the Romans were moving into striking position.

Little did the watchers know the legions were already in striking position...

Somebody is going to get caught with their pantaloons about their ankles.

Make sense now?

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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-21-2010 @ 11:52 AM).]

Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 10-21-10 12:00 PM EDT (US)     13 / 87       
Ahhhh... yes. Thank you.
Aftermath
HG Alumnus
posted 10-22-10 07:12 AM EDT (US)     14 / 87       
Though I have only read post 1 of this thread thus far it has been excellent as usual. I actually copy and paste it into word so I can read it over lunch without my boss thinking it looks like something other than work! The tale drips of Roman atmosphere and the depth of characters is as fantastic 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 10-25-10 02:20 AM EDT (US)     15 / 87       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

“They come,” gasped the Marsic rider as he approached the Bructeri king. “The Romans, King Udo, they come as you predicted.”

Udo sighed. It has begun. And his ‘friends’ in Romeburg had let him down.

The rider pulled forth a scroll from his belt. “Here, lord,” he said, handing it over. “The markings read, and I quote the man who quoted them to me, that the boats will pick up one legion and drop it by Vetera, where Seval had his greatest victory and greatest defeat. The next day the legion shall be ferried across, and a second legion brought alongside it. They will then move east along the river separating your lands from those of ours, but stay north of it until reaching the Witch’s Tower. There they shall strike north, to here, where your hall once stood. Whilst those two Eagles do that, a third Eagle will have crossed the Yssel at the southern ford and moved due east. Your warhost is to be trapped and squashed like a beetle here, defending your hall.”

His friends had not failed him after all! He looked over the scroll. He recognized the signet of his friend, but not the hand that drew the markings upon the scroll. He did see the lines of the rivers, and could make out the lands of the Bructeri. Barely. If pressed. And the lines and arrows, of course, were the intended routes the Eagles would take. He smiled. “Well done, Marsic warrior,” the king whispered harshly. “So, he comes again, this Rutilius kinglet, in the same numbers as before. We lost many men then. This time he shall taste of that bitter fruit.”

The Marsic panted still, having not yet fully recovered from his long ride or mad dash to the king. But he held up a hand to the king in warning. Then he caught his breath, and continued.

“Halla also has a message for Udo, brother of Ulfrich,” the Marsic continued. “She says not to trust Roman runes- following them shall lead only to death and destruction. Ulfrich will awaken on the morrow, and rise from his bed on the first full moon thereafter. The Romans will come when Ulfrich draws his sword, and not a day before or later. This the gods have decreed. So has Halla spoken.”

“I do not know if I trust this message of Halla, the great Marsic seeress,” Udo wheezed angrily. “These runes comes straight from the hand of a true friend in Rome, who gains nothing by our defeat, but much by our victory. Him I can trust. Halla I cannot.”

“Ulfrich has asked her for visions this past winter,” the rider retorted. “And she gave them freely. It cost her, though. Heavily. But she paid the price asked of her gladly.”

“Ulfrich paid a price for those visions,” Udo retorted. “Halla is not as pretty as was Veleda. Far from it. Yet he slept with her and pleasured her none the same. And now he lies still, with his spirit far away, while your seeress gave no warning that the man who would strike him down was in our realm, or that both he and I should fall that night.”

The Marsic rider shrugged. “I cannot say why she has given you no visions concerning your foe before now. I do know that she has been deep asleep these past two months- struck down by the gods on a moonlit night. Only this past week has she risen, and that to give you her words.”

Even a cynical bastard like Udo could see the hand of the gods in her silence- they had said nothing to their vessel, as if knowing already that their vessel had tied her life through love to his brother. When he fell, so did she. It is indeed in the hands of the gods. “The gods had blinded her, then made her pay for helping the Bructeri,” he reasoned. “And she risks their wrath now to do so again. Maybe I can trust these words of Halla after all. What else had she to say?”

”The Chatti will see the Roman ships and begin coming north. They shall bring with them the Tencteri- the best footwarriors of the tribes bringing the best horsemen of Free Germania. She sees these, and the Cherusci, driving the Eagles from the field of battle. But she did not see a Bructeri standard on the field, or if she did, it was covered and hidden. This tells her much- the Fate of the Bructeri is not yet decided by the gods. Thus it rests with you, Udo, and your brother. This Halla would have you know.”

It matched with his own thoughts. The Romans would come, and the tribes will rally. The only thing left unknown was would the tribes rally in time? Not even this vision of Halla could answer that. It was as if the gods themselves did not know. All was truly in his own hands- his fate, that of his brother, and that of his tribe.

“Return to your lands, noble rider,” he wheezed. “Tell Calor what we have discussed, and to gather his men for battle. I will consider the words of Halla, and weigh them on the scales of truth against those of my friend.”

The rider bowed his head only, then mounted. He was barely out of sight when Udo summoned another rider.

“Send forth the messengers,” he commanded. “To every tribe, regardless of their commitment to us or not. Repeat to them what Halla has said- Ulfrich will awaken, and the Romans will come when he draws his sword. Ask them to come quickly.”

To a second rider, he commanded, “Send out the word. Ragnar is to gather the warhost near the ruins of Low Meadow, destroyed this summer past. Those riders are also to have the villagers ready their walls and weapons. We shall stand and fight. The longer we delay the cockroaches, the better the chances of our tribe surviving.”

Damn that witch! She sows doubt in my friend when I need faith more than ever. Both witches! How could he forget Veleda? The one sees our tribe shattered but surviving, another says the gods place the fate of my tribe in my hands. My hands were made for battle. We Bructeri shall make our own fate. To hell with the witches!

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

The legions were on the march, their auxiia with them. The VI Victrix from Novaesium was in the forest by now, heading for the Roman road between Bibracte and Vetera, unseen by blue Germanic eyes. The X Gemina would be leaving its station four days from now heading to Arenicum, together with Messala’s VI Victrix. In six days the river fleet will bring the XXI Rapax to Vetera, and unload it at night to move into the castrum Paullus and the XXII Primigenia will be vacating. The next day all four legions hit the Bructeri. A week of peace remained, and a lot of movement to be screened and hidden.

All was planned. All orders issued. Rutilius had done all he was to do, leaving only monitoring events as his remaining unresolved assigned task. In order to perform this, he had to be in Vetera, where the governor held is court and all provincial matters were settled. Thus here he was, deep behind the forest, trailing the VI Victrix on its way to Vetera.

He had other tasks, likewise unresolved, but they were not precisely his. Still, he needed them done. One of them was relatively easy. He summoned one of his guards.

“Jorgen,” he said to the Cananefate bodyguard, “Your six months of exile for the killing of that fool Ataulf are over. You are free to go home.”

“I think I will stay,” the Cananefate prince replied with a shake of his head. “It is so boring at home, living in the dunes, dreading a flood, and watching the grass grow. Here it is exciting- battle and danger keep one alert. I like it.”

Kids, Rutilius laughed. “I would gladly keep you, my friend. But you are going home anyway, whether you like it or not. I have a letter here for your father, and I trust only you to read it for him and convey its seriousness.”

“Ach,” spat Jorgen. “You send me away to keep me safe!”

“As I promised your father I would do,” Rutilius reminded him. Then he grinned. “Once you return to your father, my promise is fulfilled. You can then return here of your own free will- but that is up to you. But regardless, Jorgen- your father needs to know the contents of that letter!”

Jorgen understood the seriousness, and guessed its contents. Rutilius was giving the Cananefate warning of the upcoming invasion- that they may be prepared if the Frisii try to take advantage. Rutilius was right- Niall did need to know that.

“I shall bear your message, lord,” he said solemnly. Then added with a grin, “And afterward I will come back here to guard your reckless ass once again. You are the only person I know who can get in more trouble than me.”

Rutilius grinned. Already the young man was one of the best troopers in his Guard, despite his youth. But then again, few men of eighteen summers can say they had been veterans for five years.

“I see more scrolls,” the Cananefate prince noted. “More tribes needing warning?”

“There are no other tribes with a warhost left in the province,” Rutilius replied grimly. “The Batavi and the Cugerni were bled white as the battles happened over their lands, and the Ubians, while still somewhat numerous, have their militia garrison of Colonia but little else. The safety and security of this whole province rests in my hands, those few auxilia that will be left, and your father’s warhost. That’s it.”

“You could request more troops from Rome,” Jorgen said. “Rome has always had an endless river of men they send north.”

“It is not so endless,” Rutilius replied. He did not mention how so many had fallen in the civil wars, or how wrecked the empire south of the Alps had been. Some things were better left unsaid, even to men who guarded his life. “But your deduction is correct. I shall be writing to Romans, to see if I can pry some troops out of them.”

“Then I shall ride to my father to deliver your words.” With that, Jorgen took the scroll and departed. Rutilius sighed once then smiled. He would miss the youth, but he knew his friend- he would try to come back, and his father would try to stop him. It was the same everywhere- boys want to go off to war, while the fathers wish them to stay and learn the family business. In the case of Niall, the Fate of the Cananefate was the family business.

He picked up his quill and began to write.

Hail Quintus Petillius,

I hope this letter finds you well. I have heard much of your exploits from Cadorus, who hears much from his kin, who keep in touch far better than we Roman warriors. We tend only to put pen to papyrus when danger looms, as it does now.

Your brother-in-law has given the Word again. Four. Yes, four. You have served here, before you went off to become consul and then consular governor in Britannia. You know what four means, even for a little while. I would prevent that. Anything you can spare, anything at all, would be welcome.

On the other hand, my wife has a son from a previous relationship, as you may know. Little Quintus is doing just fine. He and my son from a previous relationship, Publius, get along smashingly. Now we have a son together- Decius Rutilius was born five days before the Nones of April. As you know, Decius is an Oscan praenomen, but one that has since the day Publius Decius Mus saved the Republic with his sacrifice in battle has become a Roman one in his honor. As one of my grandfather’s maternal lineage claims him as an ancestor, the name has entered our family naming cycle. I like it, personally- the tradition, the meaning, and above all the rarity of the name- little Decius will be one who stands out in a crowd...


Then it was the letter southwards, to another man he called friend.

Hail Titus,

I hope this letter finds you well. Life here is as normal, though the wailing of the small one tends to disrupt my concentration.

You should already know the plans your uncle has made. For this I ask a favor, my former tribune now made legate on his own merit. I would have you keep your eyes and ears open. Nothing more. I am mainly interested in the goings-on near the raptor nest, and within the walls of the thrice-sieged city. I have heard rumors of a rat infestation, and would know the truth of that.


He crumpled the letter and tossed it into the fireplace. It made it seem that he did not trust Amensius, whom he trusted with his life. No, there must be another way to get word to Sabinus to keep his eyes open. Piscius! The fleet captain. He would be bringing the Raptors north. He could just as easily take a message south- to his home port where also Titus Sabinus held his legion. And better still, river rats do not have the postal workers’ skills at opening letters. At least they should not, which meant his warning would be received with nobody else the wise. He went to sleep that night a happy man.

He was less happy the following night. He had broken camp and moved swiftly- his Batavians really were masters of the saddle. Fifty miles they made that day, and caught up to the tail end of the VI Victrix before sunset. The legion was setting up its camp on the left side of the road, by a small knoll. Beyond it he could see seven other camps, smaller ones. And one very pissed-off legate in the middle of the road.

He detailed Glam to see to their own camp- maybe they could bed down with the VIth, then headed over to Messala.

“You look upset, Gnaeus,” Rutilius noted.

“I am bloody pissed off,” Messala replied. “These buggers here were blocking the road, asking for tolls, until we came along. Then they moved smartly back into their camps and let the wagons through. I lost three hours of daylight due to them.”

“You are still on time,” Rutilius reminded him. “And these men will be decorating the trees by noon tomorrow. Robbing travelers on my roads? I will hang the lot of them!”

Then he looked up at the encampments. They were Roman in style and design, though shoddy. Probably auxilia. “Any idea who they are or what they are doing here?”

“No,” Messala replied. “I don’t recognize their standards either. As to what they are doing here, that bastard from over there says he is waiting on the Kalends of Junius.”

This made no sense. Seven cohorts of auxilia, awaiting Invasion day? Something was going on. “You say the commander of that hovel over there is the head goat?”

“Yea, that’s him,” Messala said, pointing to the boar standard flying over the gate of the camp nearest the forest. He’s a Gaulish nobleman, but acts like gutter-swine. Name’s Daric or Darix. Something like that.”

“With me,” Rutilius said lowly to his Guards. “Full company.” To Messala, he added, “I will sort this out.”

“I’m coming too,” Messala replied. “I want to see that bastard’s face when you chew him out. He’ll earn it, too, the boor.”

“Complete with whiskers?” Rutilius added lightly, remembering the joke about Eprius.

Messala did not even react. He was that upset.

The camp was shoddily built, though surprisingly it had a sort of palisade around where the praetorium should be. Rutilius and his escort walked unmolested through the haphazardly-placed tents to reach what appeared to be the praetorium gate. He knocked twice.

“Open the gate!” Rutilius commanded upon arrival. “I need to see your commander immediately.”

“He’s not available,” an accented voice replied. “Come back tomorrow, when he is ready for more entertainment.”

“Open the gates, now!” Rutilius growled.

“I told you No, you deaf fellator,” was the reply. “Come back tomorrow after sunrise, or don’t come back at all. I don’t care either way, but I am not getting off my happy ass to open that gate after hours. Commander’s orders.”

Calling a Roman magistrate a fellator was never a good idea. It was a worse mistake when one is a non-citizen auxilia and the man you are insulting a decorated war hero who rose to the Senate over the bones of warriors slain in battle.

“We’ll see,” Rutilius remarked. And withdrew. Once out of easy pilum range, he ordered his guards to try the other camps. Commanders only to him, and that right quick. Note who is insolent, and who obeys instantly.

“He get your goat, too?” Messala asked.

“Yes,” Marcus replied. “But I will laugh last. Gnaeus, you have a new mission. Night action training, that those idiots in there are the training aids. Set up for a night assault using eight cohorts.”

A few minutes later, the Batavians returned. They had seven men with them from the six camps. Wolf explained that one camp had two cohorts inside. Rutilius recognized Decimus Nigidius from the Outpost. To him, he issued the order to inform his fellow commanders who had summoned them. Nigidius did as ordered, identifying Rutilius as the quaestor of Germania Inferior, deputy governor, and Commander of the Auxilia.

“Now, each of you will tell me your unit, where you came from, and what you are doing here in the backwoods of my province.” His tone and stance relayed his anger adequately; he did not need to raise his voice at all.

In short order he knew what he asked. There were four infantry cohorts, the Greek-speaking III Sagitarii- archers, the VI Breucorum- Dalmatian spearmen trained also on swords, the VI Britorum- Coritani and Brigante swordsmen trained also on spears, and the I Classica- marines assigned land duties. There were four cavalry ala as well- the I Gallorum et Thracum- light horsemen, the I Moesica- also light, and the I [Tauriana- heavy cavalry. The headstrong fools who refused to open the gates or send out their commander was the I Galatorum- Galatians who had served in Armenia before Corbulo expelled them, then Pannonia until Mucianus evicted them, then Raetia until a year ago, and now they had been bounced out of Germania Superior. All eight cohorts had come from all over the empire to be assigned to Germania Superior, but had recently received new orders.

Nigidius explained. “We were in our barracks when a runner from Gnaeus Cornelius Clemens-the governor- came. He had new orders. We were to march to Bibracte, rest a few days, then move toward Vetera. We were ordered not to arrive in Vetera before the Kalends of Junius, nor later. Precisely on that date.”

Rutilius could see what was done. Cordinus had requested troops, then heard nothing. So he made his plans without them, using legionaries to fill the gaps his missing auxilia left. Only his auxilia would arrive in time, barely, forcing a change in plans. Worse, the make up of the auxilia was a guarantee of sabotage- marines in leather armor as assault troops, Greek archers who spoke little Latin, Brigante swordsmen given spears, and Dalmatian spearmen learning swords. And then there were the insolent Galatian brigands masquerading as auxilia... Cornelius Clemens was sabotaging his colleague. Well. He had expected no less- and can give as good as he got.

“Nigidius, have you ever been to a trial?” When the tribune nodded, Rutilius continued, “Good. You are the prosecutor. Didius, you are the defending counsel. Gnaeus will be the iudex., and the rest of you are the jury. I will be the presiding magistrate. The charge is robbery, banditry, extortion, and dereliction of duty. The defendants are these Galatians. Begin.”

The auxilia were amazed at the speed of it, though Gnaeus had heard rumors of such lightning trials, and Dieter remembered well the episode with Burnix and Nelda. Within minutes, the Galatians were convicted as charged- and did not even know it.

“Now for the sentence,” Rutilius continued, having covered his ass legally. “Kaeso, I want your Greeks in a line here, with torches and arrows prepared for lighting in half an hour. I think one or two volleys should be sufficient, then switch to normal arrows. Do not loose until I give the command. Didius, your Dalmatians form a line here, before the gate but out of pilum range. Can you hold a line against cavalry?”

Didius smiled broadly. Payback for the last two weeks was finally due. “My lord, we can form a phalanx should you so desire. Gaius here can form his swordsmen centuries on our flank, while Lucius and his Moesians ready themselves to counter-charge.”

“That will not be necessary,” Rutilius countered. “The Moesians and the Thracian light cavalry will chase down any who try to flee. The Tauriana can serve as witnesses. Nigidius, your marines will provide archery for the army. Have your men in position in half an hour. Gnaeus Messala here will then proceed to demonstrate how a Roman legion assaults an enemy encampment at night.”

When the commanders acknowledged the orders, Rutilius dismissed them. Within half an hour, the camp of the Galatians was surrounded by a ring of legionary cohorts interspersed with auxilia. Rutilius walked up to the center of his formation to give the Galatians one last chance. He called for their commander once again.

After a few minutes, a groggy voice could be heard from the praetorium. “Go away,” it said. “Are your ears filled with merda, or is that what you use for brains?”

“As you wish,” Rutilius replied. “Your gang has been accused of robbery and extortion of travelers along this road. I am the quaestor of this province, and have authorized no tolls. You are hereby found guilty of said robbery and extortion.”

“Bugger off,” said the voice. Others came and joined him in taunting those making all that bloody noise in the camp.

Rutilius walked away from the camp and back to his cohorts. He said nothing, but gave Messala a single nod. Soundlessly, the legionaries crept forward towards the tents of the Galatians and took up tortoise formations beside them. When all was still, Rutilius raised a torch ominously, and when the archers lit their arrows and raised them to the sky, let his torch fall. The arrows rose high into the night sky before tipping over to fall flame-first among the men and horses of the Galatians. Screams and sudden shouts came as a reply. A single volley had been enough. The tents burst open as angered men issued forth, only to be clubbed down by the legionaries awaiting them. In a few minutes it was all over. The legionaries dragged the humbled Galatians to the quaestor and threw them down in a heap. There was no resistance, for any who even thought of resisting was fiercely pummeled into submission.

“Your commander,” Rutilius ordered, “Now.”

“He is in the praetorium, with a slave girl,” answered one of the men. “He ordered us not to disturb him.”

Rutilius turned to face Messala. “Go. Disturb him.”

Messala grinned and peeled off two contuberia. The rest kept the cowed Galatians under guard. He returned a few minutes later and thrust a disheveled and rather naked man into the forefront.

“What kind of horseshit is this?” the prefect shouted. “How dare you animals launch fire-arrows into our camp! I will personally flay the ass who ordered it. Personally!”

Rutilius sized up the Gaul before him. Galatians had a reputation as being rough troops, but rough was far from undisciplined and insolent. This blonde Gaul commanding them had the scars of a dozen battles upon his strong arms and face, telling that he came up through the ranks the hard way. His blood and features, being Gallic, made him acceptable to the Galatians, as well as his obvious physical strength and power. But his lack of common sense made him a liability to Rome. This man was not fit to lead an ala.

“You must be Prefect Darix,” he finally said.

“I am,” the naked Gaul replied. ”Who the hell are you?”

“I am the quaestor of this province, prefect,” Rutilius replied in that cold voice he used when he was furious. “I ordered the fire arrows. And I am relieving you of duty and placing you under arrest for robbery and extortion.”

“Ha!” laughed the big Gaul. “You and what army?”

“The army of seventeen cohorts surrounding yours, prefect,” Rutilius replied just as calmly as before. “You are relieved of duty, effective immediately. For openly conducting extortion on public roads, and robbery of those who refuse to pay, I can order your immediate flogging and beheading. But I will not, not yet. The tesserarius in charge of your gate is not so lucky. I am arresting him as well- insubordination and misconduct. Ten lashes.”

“You cannot relieve me!” Darix yelled. “I am not in your province! You have no power over me!”

“You crossed into my province twelve miles back,” Rutilius reminded him. “And your orders assigned you to Germania Inferior. Your bully-boy ass is mine, Darix.”

Darix replied to the comment as Rutilius knew he would. He looked to his men, and one of them threw him a sword. He caught it deftly and reared back for the slash with which he intended to part the quaestor’s uncovered head like a melon. It was a cavalryman’s stroke, and one which was expected. Rutilius did not bother drawing his own sword. He did not need to, as Dieter was directly behind him to his left, and he had his sword in hand. Rutilius merely stepped quickly forward under the arc of the Gaul while Dieter blocked the heavy Galatian blade away over his head. Once inside the arc of the sword, Rutilius smashed the Gaul across the chin with his elbow. It was the short, hard strike of an infantry infighter. There was a crack as the Gaul’s jaw broke and then Darix was laying on the ground, groaning.

“Kneel before Rome!” Rutilius shouted to the Galatians, who had risen to watch their prefect teach this Roman pretty-boy a lesson. Instead, they would be on the receiving end of a lesson. The prefect’s resort to physical violence upon his superior had dissolved the last of Rutilius’s patience. “All still standing in ten seconds will be considered in revolt!”

Most knelt, stunned by the dropping of their armed commander by an unarmed man. A few still stood, though, hold-outs who thought the whole thing an act. They paid for their folly a moment later when Rutilius ordered the archers to kill those rebels. Five men fell as the rest knelt.

Rutilius stepped forward, calling on the ala to identify the tesserarius who had insulted him. Bullies facing real power almost always caved. These Galatians were no exception. They gave up the sergeant, and Rutilius had two Dalmatians take him away, strip him to the waist, and tie him to a nearby wagon. Then he selected ten men at random.

“You ten will give the lashes,” he commanded. “One each. Any of you not doing it in proper Roman fashion will receive five correct lashes himself.”

The men lined up, and Wolf came forward with a whip. This he handed to Rutilius, who handed it to the first man in line.

The man approached his sergeant, and hesitated. The sergeant was silent, but his eyes pleaded for mercy. Suck on this, bastard, Rutilius thought as he nodded to the soldier with the whip. The man, knowing full well his fate should he fail to do this task properly, snaked out the whip behind him and laid on a powerful lash. The sergeant screamed.

“Next!” Rutilius shouted coldly. The second man came forward, and repeated the lash. Then the next man, and the next, until all ten had laid a good one on.

They passed the first test, Rutilius thought coldly. They do know discipline. Or they simply really hated that sergeant.

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

|||||||||||||||| 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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-27-2010 @ 04:26 AM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-25-10 08:56 AM EDT (US)     16 / 87       
Ouch those Galatians really were taken out. That sergeant must have wished he didn't disobey those Romans!

Great chapter showing Rutillus' darker side.

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-28-10 01:43 AM EDT (US)     17 / 87       
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“Dieter!” Rutilius shouted, summoning his guard captain. The Batavian came forward smartly at the summons. Rutilius whispered in his ear, giving orders and tidbits of Galatian history his subordinate might find handy, then stepped back and said loudly, “Have the ex-prefect bound and delivered to the Dalmatians until his sentence can be executed. I will see to that in the morning. “ He paused, to let that sink in. Crimes had punishments, and that right swiftly.

“That boar’s head standard there,” he continued, noticing the standard of the cohort. ”It insults me. It makes it seem as if those committing these felonies did so under orders as if they were soldiers of Rome. They have no such order, nor are they soldiers. Thus they have lost the right to it. Have it brought to my tent until such a time as they can earn it back by becoming soldiers. In the meanwhile, take command of this mob of bandits and brigands. Make them soldiers worthy of the title. Let us see if they have it in them to earn that standard back.”

Then Rutilius departed, taking the standard and the rest of the Batavians with him, leaving Dieter to his own devices. He knew what might happen, but Dieter had to make his point his own way, on his own merits, or these cavalrymen would never have a chance to be useful again. This was their one shot at redemption- if they do not buckle under, he would have no choice but to crucify the officers and send the rest to the mines of Greece as slaves. The discipline of the army must be solid, or it falls apart. With the legions leaving the province on campaign, those behind had to present a solid front or invite disaster.

Dieter knew it as well, and appreciated the retreat of the quaestor. He knew what it meant- he was given a free hand to make this mob a cohort again. He had no intention of failing.

“Useless scum!” he shouted. “Unruly mobsters, unworthy of serving Rome. This is what you have become. This is the path Darix led you down. I intend to change that, and right quick, blast your insolent hides! You think you are matchless warriors? Think you are to be feared? Think again!

“I am Dieter Straightback. I have served Rome for over fourteen years, many of them as a tribune of cavalry. Yes, I was an auxilia prefect. See those Britons over there? I knew them well when I served with Suetonius who crushed them with four legions. Those Gauls over there earned their spurs in battles over all of Europa. Thracians were with me two moons ago when an ala of them escorted me across the river for a little raid. They have all earned my respect. But you monkeys? Bah!

”I am Batavian. It took eight legions to crush us when we revolted a few years back. Eight legions! After we and our brothers destroyed three others and forced another two to submit to us. Five legions we defeated before another eight brought us down off of our high perch.

“You people are transplanted Gauls from years ago- enough said. You do not have my respect! Your whole nation fell to a foreign power after a dinner party gone bad. You call yourselves warriors? Not in my book. Acting the bully to merchants and unarmed travelers on our roads? Pathetic! I wish the quaestor here- who commanded the final battle against us and won, who brought peace to an unruly region, who had just recently spent five weeks alone scouting the enemy in their own back yards- I wish he had crucified the lot of you!

“Yet he is wise, and saw some glimmer of hope in you measly fools. Maybe you are not brigands, not bandits, merely led astray by a foolish bully. Now is your chance to redeem yourselves. Tonight, before I let any of you crawl off into whatever heaps you call your beds, you will tear down this rat-infested pile you call a camp and build it up proper. Nobody sleeps unless they do it in a properly-built camp! Now move, damn you, and show me that you at least know that much of military life.”

“And if we don’t want to?” asked a wag.

“Front and center, along with your decurion!”

“I am a decurion,” the wag replied, standing. “Call off your archers and meet me man-to-man and I’ll show you just how much of a decurion I am.”

Dieter gestured to the archers to lower their bows, his eyes never leaving the man slowly standing. “Bring it on, decurion, and your best colleague as well. With weapons, or bare hands?”

“You are crippled, Straightback,” the decurion replied. “Your choice.”

Dieter gave the man no chance. He waded in between the officer and his rising comrade and flattened them both by the expedient of picking up the rising man by his collar and belt and hurling him at the other as if a ragdoll. His back might be locked straight, but it was still a strong back, and had stronger arms attached to it. Both men fell in a heap, and Dieter was upon them, his fists pistoning them into oblivion.

“Anybody else wish to dispute my leadership? No? Then get to work, monkeys! Worthless criminals! Tear this wreck down and build a proper camp!”

The men jumped at the tents. Within minutes the braces and lines were undone and the tents collapsing. He turned the cohort over to the Dalmatians then went to report to Rutilius.

“I only had to flatten two of them,” he reported. Then he noticed the ex-prefect laying on the ground, trussed as a pig before dinner. “What do you intend to do with him?”

“He will seal your work on the cohort,” Rutilius said calmly, though his deep breathing belied the anger he still felt at the dereliction of duty this man had displayed. “I am going to have him flogged and beheaded in the morning.”

“You might want to wait with that,” Dieter replied. “They are rebuilding the camp. They are far out of practice, so I will check on them in two hours. Most likely they will have to do it again. It will probably be sunrise before they are done. By then they will be too tired to resist any more, and too worn to care what happens to this moron.”

“Be hard,” Rutilius agreed, “but be fair. If it is done right, acknowledge that. I will hold off the execution until tomorrow evening, after our march toward Vetera. You are correct- they will be too tired in the morning to resist, and after our march, too worn. Tomorrow evening then. And two of them can carry this. On a pole.”

Dieter woke twice in the night to check on his new cohort. The first time the camp was much better, but there were still ropes in the lanes and no sentries patrolling. At least nobody mouthed off about not needing sentries with the three cohorts guarding them. That was a start. Dieter made them do it again, this time unsupervised as he sent the other auxilia back to their camps, then returned to his own bedding for two hours. When he came back, the camp was perfect-including patrolling sentries. Satisfied, he allowed them to retire for the remaining hour and a half of night time.

In the morning, the camp was torn down again, and the men made to march- not ride- along with the infantry. Any man falling out of formation would receive a crack on his helmet from a spearbutt. Any man showing any sign of rebellion would be dealt with severely. The Galatians did not resist. None of them had any doubts their new commander meant every word he said. It was worse than being in the army.

Tired, worn, and under the scrutiny of a Batavian who missed nothing, the cohort began to turn into soldiers again. That night, when they had made a proper camp correctly the first time, they were assembled to watch their former commander be flogged and beheaded for robbery, extortion, and striking at a superior officer in wartime. None grumbled at the sentence, nor showed any outward signs of compassion. The corner was turning.

Their transformation from unruly mob to trained soldier was almost complete by the end of the next day. The following few days were spent on horseback, exercising and training. Dieter was picky, but fair. He pointed out their mistakes, drilled into them the proper way, and made them repeat until it was flawless. Many grumbled, but none resisted, even after the VI Victrix peeled off toward Noviomagus to continue on their mission. And all improved. When Vetera came into view, Dieter turned the ala over to the bruised decurion he had chosen as his second in command and reported to Rutilius that the men were now almost as good as Batavians- high praise that, coming from him.

“Good,” Rutilius said. “Make camp here. I will ride in to see the governor. The Kalends are in two days. He will have that much time to integrate these into his forces. One other thing, Dieter.”

“Yes, lord?”

“Your choice, of course,” Rutilius said. “Do you want command of that ala for this expedition, or do you want to remain at my side over here?”

“You pose a difficult question, Marcus,” Dieter replied candidly. “I am sworn to protect you, but the other Guards can do that well enough. My child will soon be born- I would not want to miss that. Yet these Galatian puppies... They are good lads, Marcus. They just need a firm and steady hand.”

“Is your top decurion good enough to take over?”

“Ragus? No,” Dieter answered. “He is the one I threw Clovis into to establish my dominance. He’s a good subordinate, but a poor commander. Maybe in time.”

“Then part two- who is good enough to take over your position in the Guard for the duration of the campaign?”

“Glam, Wolf, Amalric- all are good. Jorgen might have the chops, but he is too cocky and too young. Glam is settled, Wolf is too bloodthirsty. So that leaves Amalric. Or Glam. Your choice.”

“That means you have made your decision,” Rutilius noted. “I will write the orders out personally. I will also ensure that Cordinus takes your ala with him. Heavy cavalry might come in handy over there, and he already knows and respects your counsel.”

Dieter laughed. “You framed the questions to illuminate the answer. Well done, Marcus. But you do not fool me. Since you yourself cannot go, you wish to send along one who thinks as you do. Also well played.”

“He can hardly refuse the punch of five hundred Galatian Heavy horsemen now, can he?”

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 10-28-10 05:36 AM EDT (US)     18 / 87       
Good chapter and Dieter showed just how tough and badass he is.

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 11-01-10 03:38 AM EDT (US)     19 / 87       
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Rome was experiencing a very hot day, warmer than the typical May day of the past few years. It was still early, yet the heat was oppressive. Even on the Aventine, exposed to the cooling breezes blowing off the sea, it was still stifling hot.

Titus Clodius Eprius Marcellus reached for yet another flagon of water. Unlike the first, which he simply drained into his gullet to kill the raging cottonmouth of his hangover, this one he sloshed about over his bare belly to wash away the sweat and help cool his bloated body a bit.

A slave came in, bringing yet more water cooled by its storage in the cellar, as well as a bucket of scrolls for his lord to peruse. Eprius nodded, and retired to his terrace where the breeze could hit him better.

The first two scrolls were from clients, asking favors. These he threw aside for later. Sometimes being a patron had its down side, though he knew he must support his clients or they would find themselves another patron who would- and having many, many clients was what made one a big man in Rome.

The third scroll caught his eye. It was larger than the others, seemingly three scrolls wrapped in one. He did not recognize the seal, but saw that it was intact. He broke it and unraveled the scroll, letting the two other nested scrolls fall to his moist lap.

Hail, Titus Clodius Eprius Marcellus,

I know this is unexpected, and unwelcome, seeing as how you loathe me so. That feeling is somewhat mutual. Yet there is nobody better than yourself when it comes to sniffing out a rat. Thus I turn to you in a professional capacity. I do not ask you as a friend, but as a loyal Roman, to investigate this nefarious matter to the utmost of your considerable talent.

The two scrolls nesting within were intercepted between Vindonissa and Mogontiacum. They are my battle plans for the summer campaigns. I sent these to Rome in Martius. Now, in May, they are intercepted heading north- to the Germans.

There is a traitor in Rome, Titus Clodius. That traitor tried to send this to our foes.
Maiestas. And a rather big fish at that since the pool of people seeing these plans is quite limited.

I embarrassed you in Germania, unintentionally. I am now giving you the evidence of a fairly high-placed traitor, whose prosecution will undoubtedly raise your already considerable reputation even higher. I trust this will erase the bad blood between us, at least until I return to Rome with the coming of January.

I am,

Quintus Julius Cordinus Caius Rutilius Gallicus,
Propraetor governor of Germania Inferior


Eprius let the scroll fall, then quickly scooped up the other two from his wet lap. The outer one had absorbed some of his cooled water- and smudged the recipient’s name quite badly, though the other was still dry. He carefully opened it to see indeed the plans of Cordinus.

“Chrysos!” he shouted to his chief slave. “Get me some clothes- and dry this wetness from me. There is evil afoot, and I am just the man to sniff it out!”

He looked back at the scroll of Cordinus. You may have just earned a reprieve from my vengeance, little man. If this works out, I will spare you and yours my wrath.


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The X Gemina was encamped outside the castrum, banners flying proudly from the ramparts and towers and sentries could be seen walking patrols along the walls. Before the camp there were three cohorts exercising- practicing their weapons drills and maneuvers. They looked good. Cadorus had done excellent work with them.

Inside the castrum, however, was a different story. Though there were guards patrolling the stone walls, the castrum was otherwise empty. Rutilius chuckled. The X Gemina was not outside playing soldier- they were up by north by the bridge. The legionaries outside were Decius Paullus’s XXII Primigenia and were doing a good enough job to fool even him. The pieces were in place. All that was missing was the XXI Rapax coming down river with the fleet- something he knew was already underway.

The meeting with the governor went as planned. Cordinus accepted the Galatians as both men knew he would. He also accepted the Moesians. But the rest he handed over to his deputy.

“You have been bitching and wailing about me taking all four legions and half of the auxilia,” Cordinus reminded him. “Denuding the province, you called it, I believe. Well, now you have two thousand more infantry and eight hundred more horsemen with which to discourage temptations and encourage law and order.”

Rutilius grinned. He began to see peeks of the grand plan driving his governor. Each legion had its usual auxilia attached to it, so there would be no last-minute changes to teams that work well together. The Aedui cavalry was replaced with the reconstituted I Thracum, and the Moesians would be his forward scouts. His army was stronger and better-equipped for this incursion that the previous- and he had far better intelligence this time around.

“And no assassins,” Cordinus added. “If I need a translator, your Batavian will be nearby with my heavy hammer.”

Rutilius nodded. Everything seemed in order. “One thing, lord. I have a letter for Quintus Cerealis, my former commander. In it I request whatever legionaries he could send me. Could you put it in the post with your dispatches?”

Cordinus laughed viciously. “I give you two thousand soldiers and eight hundred horse you did not count upon, and you want me to forward a request for legionaries as well? Are you never satisfied?”

“I am a soldier,” Rutilius replied with a small shrug. “You can never have enough. But this is different. I would like true legionaries to guard our castra while you are away. The vigiles may appear real, but they are paper soldiers. The reinforcing auxilia will be on the road or garrisoning the castella of your auxilia, leaving no true warriors in the Eagle Nests. Some could be tempted.”

“Who is left to be tempted?” Cordinus laughed. “We go to crush the Bructeri. Their neighbors- the Marsi, and the Chauci you reported, will come to their aid. All the tribes will be occupied over there. None remain to bother you, my deputy.”

Rutilius sighed. Even after a year, Cordinus had little idea of this province. “There are plenty remaining. This province stretches from the sea up the river to past Bonna. Along that border we have the Cananefate securing our western flank- on both sides of the border. Then there are the Frisii, then the Bructeri against whom you are campaigning, then the Marsi, who were not involved in the last war so are relatively untouched, though they have always been a small tribe. South of them are the Tencteri- the best archers and cavalry in all of Germania Magna. South of them are the Chatti- the best and most disciplined infantry of all the tribes, the Usipi, and then the Quadii. South of them, facing Germania Superior you have the Suevi- the largest tribe. If the Chatti or Usipi decide to exploit your absence, I would be hard pressed to deal with them with only scattered auxilia putting on a dog-and-pony show over here.”

“You have a point,” Cordinus agreed. He accepted the letter, noting it was sealed with the lion signet Rutilius favored. “I shall send it out with the orders granting you powers as acting governor for the campaign.”

“Fair enough.” He turned to go, but faced about. “One more thing, lord. Remember- the key to victory is speed. Hit them, hit them hard, get the Eagle and trash the place, then get out. There are an awful lot of Germans over there. We do not know how many. Do not give them the chance to assemble so that we find out how many the hard way.”

“Speed and Power, aye,” Cordinus repeated. “I shall not forget.”

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 11-01-10 05:26 AM EDT (US)     20 / 87       
A short yet sweet 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.
GeneralKickAss
Ashigaru
posted 11-01-10 08:12 AM EDT (US)     21 / 87       
Out of curiosity and courtesy I have read this latest chapter. A pretty interesting read. You obviously have a knack for drawing one to read on and on.

However, I have no intention of starting from Chapter 1 at all, and shall simply read all new chapters from now on. Perhaps some kind fellow would spare a few words and round up the plot so far?

It's sometime in Imperial Rome, and it's about German campaigns. That's all I know.

"The difficulty is not so great to die for a friend, as to find a friend worth dying for." -Homer
"You see, this is what happens when you don't follow instructions, GKA..." -Edorix
Guild of the Skalds, Order of the Silver Quill, Apprentice Storyteller
Battle of Ilipa, 206BC - XI TWH Egil Skallagrimson Award

The word dyslexia was invented by Nazis to piss off kids with dyslexia.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-01-10 09:44 AM EDT (US)     22 / 87       
GKA- Check your email.

|||||||||||||||| 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
Ischenous
Ashigaru
posted 11-01-10 03:39 PM EDT (US)     23 / 87       
It's well worth reading the whole lot some time.

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

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOM(Itcame)
"TWH Guild Award (Best Duo/Trio) -Ischenous/IJ"- Tryhard. Why he chose that nomination, I don't know...
GeneralKickAss
Ashigaru
posted 11-02-10 07:13 AM EDT (US)     24 / 87       
When I said "no intention of starting from Chapter 1 at all", I meant to add "not until I got time to"

"The difficulty is not so great to die for a friend, as to find a friend worth dying for." -Homer
"You see, this is what happens when you don't follow instructions, GKA..." -Edorix
Guild of the Skalds, Order of the Silver Quill, Apprentice Storyteller
Battle of Ilipa, 206BC - XI TWH Egil Skallagrimson Award

The word dyslexia was invented by Nazis to piss off kids with dyslexia.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-04-10 02:54 AM EDT (US)     25 / 87       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Gaius Mallius burst into the home of Aulus Caecina in a panic.

“Aulus! We are undone!” he cried. “Woe of woes, I told you that you were playing with fire. We are doomed!”

Caecina smiled broadly and clapped his arms around his hysterical friend. “There, there,” he said calmly. He waved a servant over with wine. “Here, drink. Calm down, and tell me what you are blabbering about.”

Mallius sucked down the wine as a sponge does water. “That old boar you befriended after Gaius Priscus withdrew. Eprius. He received a letter a few days ago from Cordinus Gallicus.”

“So?”

Mallius cursed and gripped Caecina’s broad face with both hands. “Inside that letter was the letter I sent north to my man Tullius to stir up some trouble for Cordinus. Do you not see, Aulus? Our enemies have proof of our betrayal! Evidence!”

“So they have evidence that we plot and connive to discredit an imperial governor,” Caecina said with an offhand wave. “Or to have a mushroom-cooking opportunist killed, as the Imperator so clearly desired? Who cares?”

“The letter Eprius is waving is not a simple political ploy,” Mallius stated harshly. “It contains the plans Cordinus sent to Rome for his summer campaign. Military secrets, Aulus! That makes it maiestas- major treason. Not something small like getting an opportunistic quaestor killed- but something that could be used to destroy a Roman Army in the field. We are undone!”

“Idiot!” Caecina hissed. Summer plans to the Germani? They would destroy the army he needed! How could this fool be so stupid? That triggered another question- just how stupid was Mallius? “What exactly did you send?”

“I sent a note telling our spy that there were plans for a second invasion, and that it would please us greatly if he passed that along to the Bructeri,” Mallius gasped. His quick reply was too slow to be rehearsed, and too quick to be thoroughly thought out- thus Caecina accepted it as truth. “I swear, Aulus, I never sent any plans! Just word of plans.”

Caecina thought that over. It was still treason, but nothing that couldn’t be figured out by the Germanics watching our men train. So any plans were obvious forgeries. Now, how could these be connected to him? ”Did you deliver it personally, or through a courier?”

Mallius’s panicked eyes roved over his memory. “A slave delivered it,” he recalled. “I did not send it through my man Hostilis, but through Gaius Helvidius’s pet knight- Burrius as we had agreed.”

Caecina relaxed with a smile. “Then your Roman network is safe, for the time being at least. Much hangs on this next question, though.” His eyes narrowed. ”Did you seal the plans with a fake signet, or were you stupid enough to use your own?”

Mallius froze up in panic again. “I can’t recall! If I used my own, then I have led the Owl to us. Oh Aulus, I am so sorry!”

“Calm down,” Caecina commanded. By the gods it was hot today. What was it about temperature that always brings out the panic in people, he wondered briefly. Was it the heat reminded them of fire, and the fear of being burned? Then he returned to the situation at hand- the panicky Mallius. “If he has had it for a few days, then he is not onto you. Yet. Still, try to remember.”

It was useless. Mallius could not remember if he had used his own or another. Custom and habit said it should have been his own, but then again, one does not put one’s own mark on treasonous evidence.

“Never mind,” Caecina said. “I shall find out.”

And thus it was that Aulus Caecina met Titus Eprius outside the palace of the Imperator.

“You are looking a bit unhappy, Titus,” Caecina said as he approached. It was very true, too- Eprius was redder in the face than the heat warranted. He was also panting rapidly.

“Ah, Aulus,” Eprius replied. “Unhappy does not begin to describe my feelings right now.”

“Blast this hot sun,” Caecina cursed. “It is too hot today to stand here. Come to my home, Titus. We can relax in my fountain while slaves bring us wine, and you can unload your troubles onto me. Who knows? Maybe I can even help you.”

“Eprius took one look at the cloudless sky and agreed. ”Aye, Aulus, let us retire to your home. And bring your largest horse cart- I have a lot to unload!”


An hour later Eprius was feeling better. The water in the fountain was cooled by its constant movement, which in turn cooled the two men bathing. Eprius’s color began to return to normal, though the wine he draining did nothing to help. At last he began to open up.

“”It is scandalous, Aulus, just scandalous,” he began. “You remember how last autumn I was sent north on a fact-finding mission, yes?” When Caecina nodded, Eprius continued. “Well, I thought the problem was the governor there, a weasel but also a politically agile little ape named Cordinus Rutilius Gallicus. The man was a decent administrator, but a miserable general. He got himself foxed in Germania, causing quite a stir here. I was sent to find out why.”

Caecina nodded as the blubbery fool told him things he already knew. He listened attentively as Eprius recounted his mission, his findings, and how the legates had saved the army. And of course how Domitianus and Vespasianus guarded their crony.

“Well, I was wrong. It is true, and I admit it here,” Eprius continued. “Oh, the facts I presented were correct; it was the context that was wrong. The problem there was exasperated by a traitor here, one whose existence I had overlooked. That traitor fed the Germans military information concerning Cordinus, his plans, and his movements. And Aulus, that traitor is here!”

Caecina sat upright. “Here?”

“Aye, in Rome,” Eprius affirmed. “Cordinus had intercepted a letter on its way to the Germans. It contained things only known to himself and Vespasian. This letter he sent to me, of all people. Well, I checked it out, and I checked him out. Cordinus is a stickler and a prig- I loathe the man- but he is honest. What he sent was no forgery. There is indeed a traitor in the Imperial House.”

Caecina sat stunned. “And have you apprehended this culprit?”

“No,” Eprius cursed. “I cannot even get in to see my old friend. He is busy, say the praetorians. Of course he is busy- there is a traitor in his household. I have the proof! Yet I cannot see him.”

“I would like to see this proof, if I may,” Caecina said with only a hint of oiliness in his voice. “Maybe I can help.”


That evening, Eprius brought the scrolls to Caecina, who duly examined them. The prancing horse he recognized at once- Septimus Tullius forwarding the letter north, though Catullus’s familial name was badly smudged. On purpose? The other he recognized as well. It was not that of Gaius Mallius, whose dolphin signet had no fish in its mouth. This dolphin seal did have a fish- making it that of Gaius Helvidius Priscus. Mallius had used a forged seal after all. He was amazed at the quality of the forgery, though. It looked almost precisely like the forgery he himself had commissioned years ago.

Caecina smiled inside. Was it just that easy? Helvidius Priscus and Eprius were blood-enemies, ever since Eprius had indicted the father-in-law of Helvidius in the Senate. The old man had killed himself afterwards, a ruined man, and Helvidius- who knew his father-in-law was innocent, had been his bitter foe ever since. Now Helvidius was on his way to Armenia as a self-imposed exile, while Eprius- close to Vespasian- was an excellent choice to replace him in their little cabal. Decisions, decisions. And why had Eprius himself not noticed the seal of his great foe?

Maybe he had. Then Eprius would have to tie Helvidius in to someone in the Imperial House. A quick investigation would turn up that the wayward son often spent time at Caecina’s house, where among others Gaius Helvidius frequented. A connection would be made, and then the prophecy of Mallius would be fulfilled. Sorry, Gaius, Caecina thought rapidly, I cannot let that happen. Besides, you are far away and going further.

“I think I can indeed help you,” Caecina said. “Check out the handwriting here. See the loops? No educated Roman man writes like that. Whoever wrote this was copying- and doing a poor job of it. My guess would be a Greek or other Oriental- they write curvy.”

Eprius snatched the scroll and examined it. Caecina was right- the letters were somewhat rounded. He had thought it a slip of a quill, but now he noticed it repeated again and again. The conclusion he reached was the obvious one.

“A slave!” he exclaimed. “A slave wrote this! Someone has a slave spying on the Imperial Household!”

Much like Mallius has a slave spying on yours, Caecina thought cruelly. “This seal... It seems familiar. At first I thought it was that of my good friend Gaius Mallius. He too, has a dolphin seal- but his has no fish in its mouth.” He rustled through his desk to find some correspondence from Mallius when he was away on Sicilia. Finding it, he handed it to Eprius. “See? And the fact that this traitor has spies in the Imperial House stealing battle plans means he must be rich enough to sell slaves that the Imperial House would buy. And since you said this was intercepted by Cordinus in Germania, you seek a wealthy, trusted slaver with connections in Germania.”

Eprius thought that over. The words made sense. How could it be otherwise? He reached for the wine and drank it slowly, savoring the coming praise. Titus Flavius would be very grateful for his uncovering a plot so deep within his own house. Yes, very grateful.

“Thank you, Aulus,” he said at last, rising and dressing for the short trip back to his own house. He had some preparation to do for his investigation, for which he now had direction. “I shall mention your aid when Vespasianus rewards me for revealing this traitor within his house.”

“You would be better off not doing so,” Caecina said sadly. “The man hates me, and thinks I taint everything I touch. You would get farther without my name involved.”

“Alas, that is true. Maybe one day you will be redeemed. Until then, my friend, I thank you for your aid.”

Caecina had Eprius escorted to the door, then called over a fleet-footed slave.

“Go to Gnaeus Oppius Glaucia, on the Esquilinus,” he instructed the slave. “Tell him I wish him to hold a dinner tomorrow tonight. He is to invite his neighbors and their patrons to sample some wine newly received from Corsica. Especially the patrons! He is also to tell me who accepts.”

The slave nodded and repeated the message, then bolted out the door, heading for the Esquiline Hill. Caecina nodded, then returned to his study. Burrius would have his chance- should he come to the dinner. His client was the neighbor of Glaucia, and the dinner would be a very convenient event where he could slip Burrius the warning unnoticed.

And if he refused to come, well, Caecina knew more than one old veteran barely able to feed himself in the Subura. They would kill for a decently-paying job, and that was precisely what he would have to ask one of them to do.


Burrius came to the dinner. He had to- his own network informed him that there was something amiss. When he saw Caecina floating through the crowd, he knew it was nothing good. His own patron had disappeared into exile in the East, and his patron’s friend was now stalking toward him.

An hour later he was home. Burrius had a lot of stuff, but only one son. That made it easy. He wrote out a writ leaving his possessions to his son, took a sack full of aureas and two of denarii from his business, penned off urgent two letters, and disappeared into the night with but a pair of slaves.

Aulus Caecina heard of it the following morning and smiled. That night he went for a little walk. He had wandered across the Caelian Hill to gaze upon the Temple of the Divine Claudii, which he had always admired for its grace and elegance. The Claudii were good rulers, he felt- strong, secure, and powerful. Then he wandered towards the Forum Romanum, and paused to gaze at the Senate House where he would never again sit in the curule chair of a consul. He sighed at he loss of his future due to one bad decision, then wandered down to the Cloaca Maxima- Rome’s great sewer, to see if the fishermen were active. They were not. He gazed upon the starlight swimming on the river before taking from his near-full purse a small, copper bar. It was smooth, fairly new, and recently had been in the possession of Gaius Mallius. On the end was a carving- depicting a dolphin leaping from the sea with a fish in its mouth. He smashed the soft copper carving against the cobblestone once, then again, before heaving the thing into the night-blackened Tiber.

One down, one to go.

He walked toward his home by skirting the Forum Romanum. In its shadows hovered miscreants and men who had seen better days. Among them were a few veterans of his XV Primigenia. It did not take much more than the contents of his purse and the promise of fair employment to persuade one of them to tie up his last loose thread.

Neatly handled, old boy. Give the foxes fair warning, then set the bloodhounds on the spoor. It will be an interesting race.

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 11-04-10 02:56 AM EDT (US)     26 / 87       
This may be the last Thursday update for a while.

Monday postings will continue as normal, but be aware that Thursday postings will be determined by how busy I am in Real-Life, which for the next six weeks is very busy.

|||||||||||||||| 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 11-04-10 06:13 AM EDT (US)     27 / 87       
A great chapter written nonetheless.

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 11-06-10 04:00 AM EDT (US)     28 / 87       
Finally caught up on the last four chapters. You continue to outshine your reputation, Old One.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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

(dis ma house)
GeneralKickAss
Ashigaru
posted 11-07-10 01:14 AM EDT (US)     29 / 87       
This whole chapter just feels bad-ass, if you know what I mean... Villainous does not even come close to describing Caecina.

"The difficulty is not so great to die for a friend, as to find a friend worth dying for." -Homer
"You see, this is what happens when you don't follow instructions, GKA..." -Edorix
Guild of the Skalds, Order of the Silver Quill, Apprentice Storyteller
Battle of Ilipa, 206BC - XI TWH Egil Skallagrimson Award

The word dyslexia was invented by Nazis to piss off kids with dyslexia.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-08-10 02:25 AM EDT (US)     30 / 87       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Lucius Amensius unrolled his orders one last time as the confluence of the Lupia into the Rhenus came into view. The words had not changed, nor had he expected them to do so. Still, he had hoped. He showed the scroll to Piscius.

“Beach us here,” he shouted over the drums, pointing to the southern bank of the Lupia. He showed the fleet captain his orders stating so. His target was not the Bructeri, but rather the Marsi. At least for now... “Here!”

Piscius glanced at the orders, pretending to read. He did not care what those squiggles and lines meant. All that mattered to him was his fleet, and getting these heavy infantrymen off of it as soon as possible. A change of plans? Not a problem! He had dealt with the commanders of Germania Inferior before and found that they often changed their plans mid-operation- and always for the better. This would be no exception.

“Boatswain! Signal the fleet. Fleet flank to steerboard, prepare to beach!”

The sailor acknowledged and began signaling the other ships. Minutes later every ship in the column turned to the right and drove their prows into the soft earth of the east bank of the Rhenus, south of the Lupia in a line with text-book spacing between the ships.

“Good luck, legate!” the fleet captain cried. “And don’t forget to have your last centuries heave us back into the river. We still have another pick-up and delivery to make.”

“Aye, navarchos,” Amensius replied. “I don’t want to be alone here either! Men, shove the swabbies back out into the water!”

Six hours later, the XXII Primigenia joined them. By then Amensius had pushed out from the beachhead heading inland toward the river.

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

A fur-clad man came running out of the woodline. The bow in his hand and the quiver bouncing crazily upon his hip identified him to the village as one of their hunters. He was running as if his butt was on fire and screaming.

“They come!” he roared. “Romans! From the Rhein!”

His screams were met with disbelief by the Marsi in the village. Here? Heinz is drinking again. Surely the Romans were across the border, ravaging the Bructeri again as they had tried last year.

“Romans!” he shouted, nearer now. From the woodline could be seen glints and shimmers of sunlight on metal. His words were now heeded. The gates began closing, and those in the fields scurrying toward the shelter of the village. Horns blew, and a signal fire was sending up its pillar of warning as three cohorts of the XXI Rapax emerged into full view.

It was true. The Romans were coming- and not against the Bructeri. They were here, against the Marsi.

“Forget those stupid beasts,” the local lord shouted to a passing warrior who was dragging in the horses. “Send word to Calor. Now! He was wrong- the Romans are here. And hurry!”

Hurry indeed. There were four hundred souls in the village. They might be able to hold out for four to six days, depending on the Roman commander. The Marsic warhost would need at least six days- two for the horsemen to reach them, one to cross the river, and another three to reach here before they could drive out the Roman incursion. It will be close.

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

“Tribunus Fabianus reports a village ahead,” the scout reported to the Raptor legate. “A small one- about six hundred people. They are forting up now. Fabianus asks for permission to assault- he requests the Spanish horsemen, lord.”

Amensius halted. He looked about, seeing the trees about him and the clearing opening before him. In that clearing, far to his left and beyond the oxen left in the fields, was the village confronting his tribune and three of his cohorts. Six hundred was about right. Then he grinned.

“Halt the legion,” he ordered. He gave further instructions, and had the scout repeat them back before allowing him to proceed. The runner bolted off to the Spaniards, who began driving some of the oxen left in the fields by the fleeing farmers toward the waiting infantry.

The Marsic lord thought he could hold out for six days if he was lucky. He held out for less than six hours. The sun was setting, illuminating the village to the Romans while blinding the defenders. In that critical quarter hour, two cohorts rushed forward with their crude, home-made ladders while the cavalry ranged ahead to lasso some of the palisades on the north. Over their heads flew clouds of arrows from the supporting auxilia- some finding flesh, others forcing the defenders down lest those arrows also find flesh. Then the ropes were fastened to the oxen’s harnesses and the beasts driven forward until the ropes were pulled taut. The shouting of the Germans and the javelins hurled to slay the beasts infuriated them and drove them mad. The bound oxen tried in vain to flee the noise and pain. In doing so they put strength into their legs. Those palisades that were weak gave way under the strain. Whole sections were pulled down to allow both cavalry and the third cohort to pour in. These proceeded to clear the walls assaulted by the two assaulting cohorts of defenders from behind, then formed up to take on whatever resistance remained in the town commons.

Fabianus ordered his second cohort forward, while wheeling the third from a flank. The Marsi, pressed from two sides, realized the futility of continuing the battle. The outcome was already determined from the first sighting of Roman infantry near their village- they had no time to prepare a sturdy defense, or to mentally accept what they knew the result must be. Nobody was ready to die just yet- the whole thing happened too fast for their minds to accept. The lord gave the word, and his people lived. Weapons crashed to the ground, and the populace of the village of Morning Shore went stunned into their new lives as slaves of Rome.

Amensius was pleased at the action. Fabianus had taken the village with only fifteen men hurt- none killed, and the wounded were only lightly wounded. Three hundred ten captives were taken, one hundred twenty three of them strong men to be sold to the latifundia of senators, the rest women and children for sale to the general populace. A good day for Roman arms.

It was a very good day indeed. Paullus reported his legion had encountered two villages. The XXII Primigenia had captured over eight hundred slaves and two hundred horses, for a loss of ten men killed. The legions camped for the night, and both Amensius and Paullus put their men to bed fully armed and armored. Such would it be for the next few days.

The next day saw a repeat of the first. The Romans were on the march and crushing everything in sight. The Marsi were caught with their figurative pantaloons around their feet, and the legions were sodomizing them brutally for it.

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

North of the Lupia, Udo and Ricgard waited and fretted, wondering what had become of the feared Roman onslaught. Three days they had been waiting by Father Rhein, eyes trained westward for the slightest movement. But nothing. The warbands watching the fords and the bridge- the only landward crossing points- reported nothing. Nor was there any sign of the Roman fleet. The eyes upon Father Rhein saw only the one Eagle parading about its rockpile, with the second camped outside. The only difference they noticed was that the camped legion no longer went outside to do its weapons dances, but remained inside as if dreading what they must soon do.

“They must come,” Udo said flatly to Ricgard. The Chauci had been making noise of late- was their support wavering?

“We have been over this before, Udo,” the Chauci replied. “One cannot dictate what the enemy will do and expect them to follow it.”

“I do no such thing,” Udo grumbled. “I do not tell them what to do- not this time. Nevel and Fredrik are dead- my two infiltrators. This time I have friends in Rome who tell me what the Eagle kinglet himself said he would do. Therefore they must come! The Eagle king himself has spoken!”

“Bah!” snarled Ricgard. “You have fallen into the same trap as last year!” He turned to face the Bructeri king face to face. He looked deep into his eyes, ripping his own away from the awful wound bandaged on the Bructeri neck. “I tell you this again, brother king. Romans lie. Even to themselves.”

“Not to their king!” Udo wheezed hoarsely, angry and confused. “They lie to us, but not to their own kings. They will come!”

“If they do not,” Ricgard said menacingly, “Or if they do not come as bidden, then you will no longer be fit to be war king of our alliance. You have the post now because of your judgment and wisdom. Yet this winter, when the Roman senator paraded through your lands and even dined in your halls… It brings your judgment in question. If your judgment fails, so will your wisdom, and then there is no reason to for you to remain as war king.”

A rider came racing to where the kings stood, interrupting further discussion. “They come! The Romans come, my kings!”

Ricgard noticed the rider wore Chauci colors. Any doubt as to the words of the rider evaporated. Udo was correct- the Romans were marching.

“Where?” asked Ricgard.

“And to where are they marching?” Udo added. “In what strength?”

Ricgard nodded at those words- good questions, better than the one he posed. Udo regained his right to overall kingship.

“Two Eagles at least,” the rider said. “They landed south of the river in Marsic country, and are smashing the Marsi hard.”

“That cannot be!” Udo stammered. “My friend, a true friend, swore that they would come here, where we stand.”

“Romans lie!” Ricgard shouted. His support of Udo vanished in that instant. “And they suckered us once again, due to your belief in them! We stand here north of the river, while they crush the Marsi and enslave them all! Our allies, Udo! The Romans lied to you- again! Their lies brought us here, while they strike there! Fool! Idiot!”

Ricgard stormed off, rallying his nobles about him. Udo could hear him shouting, and giving his men orders. The Chauci were on the march. Gather the men- we head south, to rescue our Marsi brethren from Roman caligae.

Moments later the Marsic camp was in turmoil as well. Tents were struck, belongings packed. Calor left his encampment to confirm the report with Udo before it went any further.

“Is it true?” the Marsic king asked. “Do they strike my lands, while we wait in vain here in yours?”

Udo nodded. “It appears so, my friend. They have used us.”

Calor nodded. “I see you have finally lost faith in your Roman friends. That means ultimate Germanic victory, Udo. We will prevail, now that we no longer rely upon their twisted words issued from forked tongues. Now we rely upon ourselves.”

“You too, Calor?” he wheezed.

The Marsi was indignant. “I have always trusted my fellow tribesmen. Only you have listened to Roman lies. Now my people pay for that.”

He did not wait for Udo to dream up a response to that. There was none. Udo had erred, and it would cost Calor his people. There was nothing to be said.

The Chauci and Marsi departed the following morning, heading east and south, toward the Wooden Palace where a Marsic fleet could ferry them across. With any luck, they would arrive in time to save at least some of the Marsi from slavery.


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

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 11-08-10 03:03 AM EDT (US)     31 / 87       
May the luck of the wildcat be with them - they will need it every step of the way... I hope there are a few German victories down the road, Terikel. A Roman victory is fine, but it is painful to see proud Barbarians crushed over and over again...
The Marsi were caught with their figurative pantaloons around their feet, and the legions were sodomizing them brutally for it.
My favourite line. Great humorous use of an extended metaphor.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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

(dis ma house)
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 11-08-10 06:55 AM EDT (US)     32 / 87       
Looks like the Marsi were absolutely shafted in that 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.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-08-10 07:03 AM EDT (US)     33 / 87       
A Roman victory is fine, but it is painful to see proud Barbarians crushed over and over again
Then I humbly suggest you do not read any more Roman history covering the time prior to 378 CE.

|||||||||||||||| 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 11-08-10 07:11 AM EDT (US)     34 / 87       
Tacitus isn't so evocatively bloodthirsty and cruel as you though.

That bodes ill for this tale, anyway...

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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

(dis ma house)
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-15-10 02:04 AM EDT (US)     35 / 87       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

The smoke was thick in the main chamber, as if the chimney no longer led the waste of the fire up and out of the house. It was no mystery to the thickening woman occupying the chair across from the hearth. She breathed deep of the smoke, drawing it deep into her lungs. It did not choke her, nor did it burn. As she breathed, she stared into the hearth where the fire from the evening before had burned out hours ago.

Her maid noticed first the breathing, and then the trance, of her mistress. She saw nothing amiss in the clear room, but knew from the rhythm of the breathing that Halla was in her trance, in the Smoky Lands. She placed a goblet of water nearby for her mistress for when she awoke, then scurried from the room.

Halla shrieked. Her eyes flew open, and she gasped in real pain. Her arm flew outward, then came slowly back, grasping the goblet and bringing it to her lips where she drank deep.

“Start packing, now!” she ordered. “Food and blankets- nothing else. And be quick about it!”

“What is it, mistress?” asked one maid.

“Silly girl, move! The Romans come. Already we may be too late. We must flee, or spend the rest of our short lives in Roman houses, tending their men and making their food, or face the whip.”

“Calor is with the warhost to the north,” another said. “I can get there and bring help.”

“Go to him then, Katja. But move fast! Swim the river, then head north,” Halla muttered as she grabbed her few jewels and secreted them into her clothing. “Tell him Udo was right. The Romans will come from the north as well. All is lost if Calor comes south. So will we be, unless we leave now.”

Katja left immediately, the remaining two worked feverishly to pack. Halla took one look and grabbed them by their ears.

“Leave that! Come now!” she muttered, and threw the girls bodily out of the house. She pushed them further, towards the horse and donkeys in the pasture, and whistled once. The beasts came at her call, and the three threw first their bags and then themselves upon the beasts. All was ready. Halla led her girls down the lane that led to the main track. But she was too late. One of the girls screamed.

A quartet of horsemen were coming up the lane. There were armored in salmon-skin warshirts, and wore the same cloaks and helms. Halla did not need her sixth sense to identify Roman cavalrymen. They were too late. Her Vision had failed her.

“Say not a word, Inga,” she bade the one, then smacked the other. “Agneta- stop crying right now or you will kill us all. Now both, stay here. I will handle this.”

Halla rode forward. The four auxiliaries saw her approach. They had spears in their hands that they raised slightly, but otherwise said nothing and let the vala approach. This she understood as them accepting her as no threat, but were on their guard. Good.

“Hail, warriors,” she called out in Gallic, using their own tongue. “I am Halla, a hermitess and gifted by the gods. My daughters and I would pass in peace.”

“Why should we do that?” laughed one of the cavalrymen. “You are not worth much, hag, but your daughters are young and pretty. They will fetch a fair price at the markets.”

“Money that you will never see,” Halla replied evenly. “Slave sales are the property of the general. They rarely share. I would make you a trade though. A life for a life. Or in this case, three lives for three lives.”

“There are four of us,” the leading cavalryman reminded her. “What will you give the fourth?”

Halla smirked. “I told you I was gifted by the gods. I can see the future, and your fates. For free passage, I will give you the words to change that fate. The choice is yours.”

“I am listening,” the lead cavalryman said.

“Do we have a deal?” Halla insisted.

The man nodded. “You have my word.”

That was enough for Halla. She closed her eyes and peered once again into the Smoky Lands. Since the event was close by, she did not need to peer long. She blinked, then looked the cavalryman in the eye. “You will be involved in two battles soon...”

“We need no soothsayer to determine that,” laughed the arrogant one.

“After you cross the river,” Halla continued. “You will win the first, but lose the second. On that second battle, you and two of your companions will have a small opportunity to flee. Ask your decurion to station you on the southern flank. When the battle is lost, flee south following the sun. You will have about a half hour before the gap closes. If you do not make it through in that time, you will be trapped with the army and suffer its fate.”

“You mention three of us, witch. We are four.”

“This one will not leave my property alive,” Halla stated sternly, glaring at the arrogant one. ”He will try to break your word, Arturus, and you shall keep it intact the only way possible- by slaying him. You will be three by the battle which I saw.”

The arrogant one lifted his spear. “I shall kill you for that, witch,” he sputtered. He kicked his horse in the ribs. The beast lurched forward, then stopped as the dead weight on its back slid off to land head first on the dirt track. Arturus pulled his spear from the man’s back.

“A life for a life,” he muttered sadly. “And my word intact. Go, witch. Let me never see you again, for next time it will be your blood dripping down my spear.”

Halla closed her eyes and saw that was true. She opened her eyes, and led her daughters south. Neither Marsi nor Bructeri land was safe for her now. There was but one place she could go- to Horobard the Chatti, the man her prophecies had made king, and the father of the girl fleeing north. There she would be safe.

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

Katja ran like the wind. She was sure-footed in the forest, as good as any wolf. Her footsteps took her north, towards the water that separated Marsic land from Bructeri. She ran until she could run no more, then walked until she had her breath again. Then she ran some more.

She did not look back. She did not need to. All behind her was behind, past, gone. She was alone in the world, with but her mother’s message in her mind. Nothing else mattered.

She reached the river by nightfall. She glanced left, saw nothing, then right. There! There was a boat there, a fisherman by its build and the cast-nets laying inside. That would get her across. She moved to the boat, then reached out a hand to steady herself before climbing in. The instant her hand connected with the boat, she had a Vision.

Katja was a true daughter of Halla, not a servant like the other two the seeress called her daughters. She was born of a union twenty years ago, when Halla was a prominent vala and Horobard but a Chatti nobleman. His star rose- he was now a king among that populous tribe- while her mother was eclipsed by the rise of Veleda. That changed when Veleda disappeared, and the Bructeri came to pay homage to her powers, and once again kings asked her advice. Now Katja, daughter of Halla, felt what her mother felt.

The Vision ripped through her. She saw boats- many boats, boats filled with Marsic warriors. They were coming south, crossing back into Marsic lands to stop the Roman flood. But then other boats came, sleek, long boats of a type she had never seen. These boats were powered by oars, and had sharpened logs just beneath the water. These those sleek boats used to batter and crush the boats of warriors, sending the pride of the Marsi down into the water where they drowned.

She released the boat as if it had bitten her. That is what her mother had seen! Do not let Calor come south, she had said. Now she knew why. At least part of it.

Shivering from the experience, the young woman backed away from the boat. That fate shall not be mine! Instead, she slid into the cold waters of the Lupia and began swimming. The river was deep, but not too wide. A few hundred paces, maybe, and the current was weak. She pulled herself from the river on the other side, exhausted, but driven. She had to get her mother’s word out. With a tremendous sigh, she began walking, then running when she had her wind again.

More than just her life was counting on her. It was also her people, and the men of the warhost.

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

Aldric was seeing no movement. The British auxilia had been watching the opposite bank of the Nabalia for days now from his hidden post. Every day, often five times per day, there was movement along the opposite bank. A few times it was traders returning from Bructeri lands, but most of the time it was cavalry coming to check on the crossing point. The traders were allowed in, where they would be later met by auxilia and brought to the base camp four miles away and interrogated. Much was learned in this manner.

But today... Nothing.

His relief finally arrived. He had been standing watch for eight hours, now it was the turn of Haflan and his tentmates to watch the boring scenery. He was off to his centurion and then his bed.

The centurion was not bored by the report of inaction. In fact, totally against the expectations of his senior auxiliary, he was invigorated and enthusiastic. He grabbed the Iceni and took him directly to the legate- which scared the shit out of the auxiliary.

“No worries, Aldric,” the centurion muttered to calm his subordinate down a peg. “Just tell the legate what you saw on your shift.”

“But I saw nothing,” Aldric moaned. “The monkeys usually come four to five times a day to check on the site, but today... Nothing. No activity at all.”

Cadorus smiled at the report. “Well done, Aldric. And you too, Edric, for noticing the importance of that report. Two other watchposts reported the same. And you know what that means.”

Edric nodded. “The Bructeri have left the crossing. They have taken the bait.”

When Aldric’s bewildered gaze met that of the legate, he understood enough to know that the crossing was no longer guarded. That meant that the X Gemina would be crossing that unguarded site rather soon. The war was on, and the X Gemina was going to be a part of it after all.

“There is much you do not know, trooper,” the legate said. “So I will spell it out for you. The XXII Primigenia and the XXI Rapax crossed the river four days ago- hitting Marsi lands. We knew the Marsic warhost and that of the Chauci had joined with the Bructeri- our objective. Those three warhosts were in Bructeri lands, guarding these crossings, expecting our attack. Now, with news of the invasion of Marsic land, they are out of position. So they move to intercept Paullus and Amensius. Tomorrow, or the next day to let them get further away, we will cross the Nabalia and pin them against the Lupia.”

Aldric drank the information in and was impressed. But one thing bothered him. Three warhosts against two legions? He remembered the summer before. He did not like the odds, and it showed. That brought a grin to the legate’s face.

“You forgot the navy,” Cadorus reminded him. “Titus Piscius and forty galleys will be on-hand. Some of the galleys have been fitted with these clever bridges, the rest are to smash the Germanic boats to prevent their escape and guard the bridge-boats. These will link together to provide the legions in the south to cross to the north bank- and together four legions will pound those trapped Germani into dog food.”

Aldric grinned. He knew his place in this grand endeavor; now he knew the greater plan. It was indeed genius! He left a happy trooper.

Cadorus was not as happy. The plan was a good one, but there were far too many ‘ifs’ in it for him. If the Germani reacted according to the Roman plan, and if the navy was present on time, and if the navy brought the other two legions to the right place, and if they were on time and if the crossings were indeed unguarded, and if... Too many ifs.

Cadorus was not happy. He liked the plans of Rutilius much better- they were simple, hard to screw up, and relied on nothing. Move in, find the enemy, and smash him. That was how one fought a war, not this elegant move-and-feint bullshit. But the governor wanted it, and now he had his confirmation. The crossings were unguarded- as far as he knew. Time to report.

The generalis was in the camp of the VI Victrix, where he had set up his command tent. Cadorus knocked on the pole and was duly admitted. He found Gnaeus Messala inside with Cordinus, poring over the maps.

He edged closer. Peering over Messala’s shoulder, he saw the symbols meaning the Germani facing the VIth have retreated as well.

“By us, too,” he reported. “All day, no activity where once five times per day riders came sniffing about.”

“That settles it,” Cordinus announced. “The Bructeri have taken the bait. Tomorrow we attack.”

“It would be better to attack the day after tomorrow,” Cadorus said. “It gives them that much more time to go further away- making our entrance unhindered and unseen. They will have less time to react, and more time to put their heads in your noose.”

Cordinus shook his head. “It is also more time for them to figure out what we are doing and escape. No, we attack tomorrow. The order is given.”

Both Messala and Cadorus thumped a fist to their heart. “As you command,” they said.

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

A lone girl, running through the woods, was normally in danger from anything- beast, enemy, or fellow tribesman. Yet Katja stayed her course. She knew she would make it, and on time. She had the Second Sight. And she was right. She came upon her king just as he and the Chauci began turning south to the river.

“Calor!” she cried, identifying the king from his golden armband glittering in the setting sun. “I bring word from Halla.”

“Easy, girl,” the Marsic king said with a trace of sorrow in his voice. “We already know the Romans are ravaging our lands. Our warhost, and the Chauci, are going to expel them now.”

“No,” the girl panted. “Halla bade me tell you that the Romans will come from the north! And those in our lands will move north to meet them. She has seen this.” She noticed the warhost had no Bructeri colors, and knew instinctively what had happened. She now explained that to the two kings. “The attack on our lands was a feint, to break up the combined warhost. The true attack comes from the north- and now the Bructeri face it alone!”

Scheisse,” Calor muttered as he saw through the Roman plan. “Udo was right- and we left him alone- the weakest of us- to face the Romans alone.”

‘’We could not have known,” Ricgard said lowly. “We warriors follow the battle- and the battle was in your lands.”

“As the Romans wanted,” Calor reminded him. “A Roman calls the tune, and we Germani dance to it! All is lost now.”

“Not so, my king!” Katja interrupted. “The Romans close as a jaw upon Germanic meat. Flee east, and send a runner to Udo to do the same. The only way to avoid being bitten is not to be in the jaws.”

Ricgard thought it over. Flee, when battle approaches? Yet the girl spoke wisdom. The Roman jaws cannot bite what is not between their teeth. Besides, there were still too few Germani to face down the legions. They needed time to allow the other tribes to come. Fleeing buys that time.

“Aye, girl,” he said at last. “We must not get caught. Free Germania needs our warriors.”

“Eastward!” cried Calor. “Warhost! Head east!” Then softer, to the girl, he added, “Has Halla seen whether we will succeed or not?”

“There will be two battles, she told a auxiliary after I left,” Katja replied. “I saw her do so in my dreams that first night after crossing the river. The Romans would win the first one, she had said, but we shall win the second and encircle them. This my mother told the Roman, who spared her life.”

Ricgard grinned. “Who cares who wins the opening match?” he laughed. “As long as we win the showdown and trap those armored bastards!”

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

|||||||||||||||| 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 11-15-10 09:25 AM EDT (US)     36 / 87       
And so the invasion begins!

Good chapter and we shall see what will become of the Roman legions involved in the offensive.

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 11-15-10 11:06 AM EDT (US)     37 / 87       
Loved the episode with the Gaul and the vala. I'm also hoping that the son of the Cananefate king hooks up with this Katja.
“There will be two battles, she told a auxiliary after I left,” Katja replied. “I saw her do so in my dreams that first night after crossing the river. The Romans would win the first one, she had said, but we shall win the second and encircle them. This my mother told the Roman, who spared her life.”

Ricgard grinned. “Who cares who wins the opening match?” he laughed. “As long as we win the showdown and trap those armored bastards!”
Poor Ricgard. The nuance between secundus and alter... we shall see.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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

(dis ma house)
GeneralKickAss
Ashigaru
posted 11-16-10 07:20 AM EDT (US)     38 / 87       
Just caught up with the last chapter and this. Exciting to read. A lot of twists and turns. Imperial Rome and the Germans aren't exactly my favorites to read about, but this I like.

"The difficulty is not so great to die for a friend, as to find a friend worth dying for." -Homer
"You see, this is what happens when you don't follow instructions, GKA..." -Edorix
Guild of the Skalds, Order of the Silver Quill, Apprentice Storyteller
Battle of Ilipa, 206BC - XI TWH Egil Skallagrimson Award

The word dyslexia was invented by Nazis to piss off kids with dyslexia.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-18-10 01:46 AM EDT (US)     39 / 87       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Quintus Petillius Cerealis sat back in his comfortable couch. What a day! The power of the Brigante tribe, which had been harrying Roman presence here in Britannia, was now but a memory. At least their warhost was. He had taken their strongest fortress, then planted a legion here, in the heart of the Brigantian homeland. He then had ruthlessly and energetically pursued the Brigantes and finally ran them into the ground. That was last summer, and now as the Nones of Junius approach, the chieftains and nobles of that tribe had come to his new castrum at Eburacum. They had come alone, unarmed, and with members of their families to offer to the Romans as hostages. In a word, they were done and knew it.

Cerealis lifted a hand and snapped once. A slave came forward with a goblet and a decanter, and used the latter to fill the former. Another came forward with water with which to dilute the strong, thick wine, but this Cerealis waved away. He was in a celebratory mood- no need for watered wine this evening!

He settled into the couch and sipped the wine. Victory, at last! His campaign was over, and Britannia restored to peace. Better, all of the island south of the Damnonii was now Roman or Roman allies. He had wiped away the stain of Camulodunum in Brigante blood. Suetonius had settled the Iceni revolt, Classicianus the aftermath of that, and now Cerealis had pacified the Brigantes, at least for a while. He knew the bloody heathens would rise again- the Silures and Ordovices were already making noise- but for now, it was off to Rome for the triumph his brother-in-law had promised him.

Another slave came in with the bucket of post from Rome. He browsed lazily through the post, looking at the signet seals, determining they were from Vespasian, the Senate, or senators, or the administration. These he tossed casually back- work for later. A prancing lion seal caught his eye, though. This piqued his interest. A letter from Marcus! He broke the seal and unraveled the scroll.

The first thing that grabbed his attention was the lettering. Either Marcus was learning to write prettier, or he had himself a new scribe. The calligraphy was excellent, and the words separated by a tiny empty space. The first letters of each sentence were slightly larger than the others, as were the first letters of names. Cerealis grunted in surprise- it made deciphering the words much easier!

Hail Quintus, it read.
I hope this letter finds you well. I have heard much of your exploits from Cadorus, who hears much from his kin, who keep in touch far better than we Roman warriors. We tend only to put pen to papyrus when danger looms, as it does now.

I spent the late winter across the river. Lots of fun, though at times it hurt. I got a nice map of the area for my efforts.

Your brother-in-law has given the orders to use that map on the Kalends of Junius. Four. Yes, four. You have served here. You know what four at that time means, even for a little while. I would prevent that. Anything you can spare, anything at all, would be welcome.

On another note, my wife has a son from a previous relationship, as you may know. Little Quintus is doing just fine. He and my son from a previous relationship, Publius, get along quite well. Now we have a son together- Decius Rutilius was born five days before the Nones of April. Send some men, my friend, or Decius might not live long enough to meet the father of his half-brother.

I am,

Marcus


Cerealis sat up so fast some of the wine in his throat went down his lungs. He coughed mightily, then again. Then he shouted for his orderly to bring him Publius Arrius- on the double.

“Publius,” Cerealis said in greeting. He handed him the scroll. “Read this.”

Publius read quickly- the formatting made it easy. Then he whistled lowly. “Marcus has good reason to worry- there are more tribes over there than just the one. The Kalends of Junius? It is almost the Nones now!”

“Do you remember the orders from this winter? To be ready to support Germania Inferior with a legion?”

“We cannot spare a legion now, lord,” Arrius was forced to admit. “The peace today is too fresh, too fragile. Though the Brigantes today acknowledged their defeat, we must garrison or risk them rising again in our weakness- despite their current words of conciliation. The Ordovices are making rumblings again, and the Coritani are far from Romanized. To take a legion from anywhere risks a renewal of the rebellion.”

“I know,” Cerealis replied. “I know. Yet we must do something. Not just because my brother-in-law orders it, but because he ordered all four legions out of the German province. By the gods, how could he be so foolish? It took eight legions to bring the Batavi back into the fold. If they rise again, his conquests across the river are for naught.”

“If the Batavi rise, the legions are cut off,” Arrius said with more emphasis, “though I doubt they will.”

Cerealis sat back. “I doubt it too,” he agreed. “I do not know this Labeo so well, but he seems on good terms with Marcus, and Marcus will be left in command while the legions play in the forest across the river. I fear more opportunism from the other tribes- especially the Frisii who raid far and wide.”

“Marcus dealt them a hell of a besting just after the war,” Arrius reminded him. “Twice in fact. He outfoxed them, and did not have to lift a sword to do it. I doubt the Frisii will come against him again.”

“He had a legion behind him when he foxed them,” Cerealis pointed out. “They can avenge that foxing now- and him with but scattered auxilia. He is right, Publius, we must send him some solid legionaries.”

Arrius caught the subtle shift. Legionaries, not a legion. “That we can do,” he agreed. “I can peel off two cohorts from the II Augusta and another two from the XX Valeria Victrix. And from my own, three cohorts. We can have a rump legion ready within a week, and in place at Vetera a week later.”

“Do it. And take two cohorts from the IX Hispana as well,” Cerealis commanded. “You command. Will your Second-in-Command have any problems with your legion if you give him temporary command?” Cerealis was well aware of the tensions rising in that legion- the tribunus laticlavius was the son of a senator of long standing, and he hated the bow the men so loved.

Arrius laughed. “There will indeed be problems. I am going to be overwhelmed with volunteers, and those remaining will be irritated that they will not be able to serve under Marcus again. Publius Cornelius Cethegus will only have to remind them that Marcus is going nowhere, and they might be chosen next time- if they behave. They’ll fall in line.”

Cerealis laughed. It was true- Rutilius had taken the ex-marines and made a legion of them. A damned fine one, too- so good, in fact, that he took it with him to Britannia and left the rest of his army behind. The men loved their first legate, and hardly a day went by that the veterans could not be heard berating newcomers with the old army phrase, “You think that was tough? You should have been around when Rutilius commanded!”

“See if you can drum up an ala of cavalry as well,” Cerealis added. “Have the units converge on Londinium, and arrange for the fleet to be there.”

“We have some Batavian cavalry,” Arrius noted. “They’ll be damned glad to go home, if even for a little while.”

“No Batavians!” Cerealis said with a shudder. “Too many bad memories of what happened the last time Batavians went home and nobody was there to mind the store. No, send the Treveri.”

“Aye lord,” Arrius agreed.

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

Aldric was honored to be the first soldier to cross into Bructeri territory. He led the Iceni cohort forward, then upon command from Edric, led the century to the north. Two other centuries followed, while the other three moved forward before joining them. Behind them came the Noricans, who did the same to the south. Once the shoulders of the crossing point were secured, the Thracian cavalry who had replaced the Remi sent to the Raptors came forward to throw a screen before the crossing. Then came the legion, in column of cohorts.

Cadorus broke his legion into three groups, as had Amensius. Three cohorts under Severus formed his left group; three under Minucius his right. Behind them, under command of Strabo where the legate could keep an eye on him, were the remaining four cohorts.

The plan was simple, as Cadorus liked them. Both Left and Right would move forward with the Central group behind. Whoever reported a village would march past the village to secure the far side while the Central Group assaulted it. The prisoners would then be escorted by the auxilia back to the baggage trains, for further displacement back with the camp prefect to base. If it came to a battle, the engaged group would set up a blocking position to allow the other group to flank. Simple, effective, deadly.

To the south, the VI Victrix was doing the same. Messala had the added honor of having the generalis with him- second-guessing his every deployment and nervously questioning the veracity of the scouting reports. Every time a group of twenty or more natives was encountered, Cordinus would halt the legion and have the cavalry go check it out. If a village was encountered, the generalis would insist on bringing the entire legion together to reduce it before moving onward. Eventually, by the middle of the second day into the attack, Messala had enough.

“This is war, generalis, not an exercise,” he said with scything blades in his voice. “You do not know where the enemy is, ever, with any certainty. You take the scout’s report, you consider and evaluate it, and make the best call you can based on the information presented and where your cohorts are.”

“That got men killed in Armenia,” Cordinus replied heatedly. “Scouts would report a thousand hillmen gathering in one place, only to find a hundred there, with another few hundred harrying your flanks.”

“This is not Armenia, lord,” Messala repeated bitterly, for the thousandth time. “Our scouts here do not exaggerate. Or have you forgotten the lesson Marcus taught you last year? Good decisions are based on good intelligence, which is why our scouts- whose lives depend on good decisions- bring you only the correct information.”

“Those scouts do not go into those villages, Gnaeus,” Cordinus reminded him. “Thus they cannot know what is hiding inside, or how many. Therefore I insist on bringing the full force of the legion upon every collection of hovels we meet.”

“One does not need an entire legion to reduce a village of a few hundred, mostly women!” Messala cried. “Three to four cohorts are sufficient. If they get thrown back, then and only then do we bring the legion together. It takes time to do that, damn it, and time is of the essence. You heard what Marcus said about the Germans and how many there are. So no lord, it is not wise to use an entire legion against a single village!”

A courier from the X Gemina arrived. “Quintus Cadorus reports sixteen hundred prisoners and six villages taken, lord. He also begs to inform you that he is currently four miles ahead and ten miles to the east of your current location, approaching the large town on the map. He would like to know if you wish him to attack, to stop, or await the VI Victrix closing the gap?”

“See?” Messala cried, throwing his hands in the air. “Cadorus has taken six villages in three days, while we have only reduced two. Sixteen hundred prisoners! And though he was twenty miles north of us when we crossed the Nabalia, he is now ten miles east and four miles south of us. Proof, lord! It is proof that your way is wasting precious time in gaining the same result!”

Cordinus turned to the courier. “Tell Cadorus to halt until we catch up,” he ordered. “Gnaeus, assemble the legion for the assault. I will not have soldiers under my command be killed because their commander is in a hurry. We will continue to assault every village with overwhelming force- that saves Roman lives.”

Gnaeus Messala threw his hands in the air again. “As you command,” he said bitterly. “But every time you do this, lord, you give the enemy time to prepare. You do remember the last time you gave them time and space to prepare, do you not? We almost walked into a big bloody ambush. Do not make that mistake again. Please.”

“You have your orders, legate,” the general replied coldly. “I trust you to carry them out.”

Messala cursed under his breath and left the generalis to his own devices. He had a lot on his mind- things the general should be thinking of, like moving at a snail’s pace when one knew that every moment that passed gave the enemy time to call in allies. It was just not reasonable! He wondered briefly if there was another set of spies in the area that could lay that thick-skulled moron out again.

He giggled. That kind of thinking is bad for morale.

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

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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
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Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
GeneralKickAss
Ashigaru
posted 11-18-10 03:45 AM EDT (US)     40 / 87       
Interesting chapter, especially the argument at the end.

"The difficulty is not so great to die for a friend, as to find a friend worth dying for." -Homer
"You see, this is what happens when you don't follow instructions, GKA..." -Edorix
Guild of the Skalds, Order of the Silver Quill, Apprentice Storyteller
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The word dyslexia was invented by Nazis to piss off kids with dyslexia.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 11-18-10 11:02 AM EDT (US)     41 / 87       
It would be cool if Messala did get Cordinus assassinated...
The power of the Brigante tribe, which had been harrying Roman presence here in Britannia, was now but a memory.
I wouldn't say that. They'll be up in arms twice again before 117 CE - but Cerealis isn't to know that.
generalis
Is this term correct? I don't actually know, that is a genuine question. I think I would use dux - according to wiki, "In the Roman military, a Dux would be a general in charge of two or more legions. While the title of dux could refer to a Consul or Imperator, it usually refers to the Roman Governor of the provinces. As the governor, the dux was both the highest civil official as well as the commander-in-chief of the legions garrisoned within the province."

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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(dis ma house)
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-18-10 11:51 AM EDT (US)     42 / 87       
Until the 3rd century AD, dux was not a formal expression of rank within the Roman military or administrative hierarchy.
From your article.

This story is from 74-75 AD.

Also, I read the term 'generalis' somewhere, but I suspect it may be fictitious. The commander of a group of legions was usually a magistrate (praetors and consuls) being the most common in the Republic and propraetors and proconsuls afterward. When no magistrate was commanding, it was then the senior legate who took command. Military commands were tied directly to political offices such as governors.

I needed a term for a pure military commander who was not the governing magistrate. This fit. So I use it.

EDIT:

From British Ranks, general: Lat. generalis "something pertaining to a whole unit of anything rather than just to a part". It is also the stem of generalissimo.

But I could find nothing that confirms the rank existed. The term came into military use much later when specialized battalions began being formed. A general was an officer who commanded more than one type of battalion, a 'general officer' as opposed to an 'infantry officer', 'artillery officer,' or 'cavalry officer.'

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Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 11-18-2010 @ 12:01 PM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 11-18-10 02:13 PM EDT (US)     43 / 87       
A good chapter and it's interesting why Messala was thinking along those lines.

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 11-22-10 02:01 AM EDT (US)     44 / 87       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

The sentries in the tower were bored. It was the same shit, every day the same- stare out across the river, watch the trees, and await the replacements so the soldiers could return to the barracks and gamble away whatever money they still had against those of the other squads. Apart from the dice, nothing moved. Nothing ever moved. It was the most boring duty in the empire.

Until this day.

A grizzled man broke from the treeline upriver, dragging something behind him. As the sentry’s eyes focused on the distant event, he saw it was two somethings. The man alternated between dragging the one and the other. Further scrutiny revealed the longer object was some sort of boat, or at least something boat-like. The other was almost the same size, but smaller.

The sentry watched the man struggle to bring the boat into the water, then go back and load the other thing into the boat. Then he threw his spear into the boat, unbuckled his sword and put that in as well, then launched the boat into the water.

“Tesserarius Scato,” the sentry called. He pointed to the movement with one hand. “It looks like one of them is making a one-man invasion.”

“Game over,” Scato said, sweeping up his winnings and pitching the dice to a soldier. “Clean this mess up and ready yourselves to capture a man who would like to be a slave.” Then he bounded up the ladder to where his soldier was holding watch.

“There, sir,” the sentry pointed. The man was swimming alongside the boat, which was filled with what looked like a cloth-wrapped body. “Is the man stupid? He’s coming right for us!”

The watch sergeant looked in the direction and saw the little boat. The man was indeed swimming beside his load, pulling the craft across the Rhenus from the outside and not paddling from the inside. Then he smacked the sentry on the back of his helmet.

“Very few Germans swim,” he cursed. “They think the grime and filth protects them from getting sick.” He leaned out over the railing of the tower and called to his men below, “Change of plans. We’re still moving out, but not to capture a German. Bring some warm cloths and a blanket for our guest.” Then, to the sentry, “Stay here, and keep your eyes on that spot he came from. There might be a small warband after him.”

The sergeant slid easily down the ladder and joined his men. They had blankets and clothes, and one brought some of the bread still fresh from their little oven.

A few minutes later the squad was down on the bank of the Rhenus, a few minutes after that they had the man stripped and dressed in warm clothes with a blanket. A few others picked the makeshift boat out of the Rhenus. The sergeant ignored the cloth-wrapped body occupying the boat, but took the sword and spear.

“Keep the spear, but I want my sword back,” the man said in good Latin. “I might need it.”

“Tesserarius Scato, First Brittonum Auxilia Cohort,” the sergeant said by way of introduction. He was eying the man before him- tall, broad, light of hair and eye as a German, and even had his hair in the Suevi knot. He looked German, but his Latin was flawless except for the trace of an accent- the polyglot pronunciation of the Subura in Rome. The man was Roman.

“Gaius Roscius,” the man replied, confirming the sergeant’s suspicions. “But over there I was known as Roscoe. I need to send a message to Rome right away. Thanks for the clothes, Scato. That river was cold!”

“Don’t mention it, arcanus,” he added, testing the man’s position. Roscius neither confirmed nor denied the allegation- which in itself confirmed to the tesserarius that the man was indeed one of the ‘hidden scouts’. “May I ask your business on the other side?”

Roscius shrugged. “Might as well, since you’ll know soon enough. Its going to be a war.” He leaned over to the bundle and pulled a sack from the wrapped body. “My partner, Publius Sollus,” he said, nodding to the body within the wrappings. “Bury him well.” Then he opened the sack and brought out a severed head to hold it by the great knob of tangled hair on its top. “The Chatti are on the move, and these Suevi bastards are with them. Well, not this one any more, but his brothers are. Rome needs to know now tesserarius Scato, or the north will be going up in flames.”

“North?” Scato wondered. The Chatti lived directly across the river from here.

“North,” Roscius confirmed. “Sollus and I were keeping tabs on them. When they gathered the warhost and began moving north, we came to report. Ran into a group of Suevi heading north that we didn’t see in time. Sollus caught a spear, and I caught this before breaking free. Been running for three days now. Sollus finally died last night while I was building that boat. He was a good man, took him days to die with a spear in his gut. But he never complained or moaned or gave us away.”

“I have tablets among my stuff by the tower,” Scato said gently. “You can write your message, and I’ll send it with the post to Rome as soon as our relief arrives.” To the unspoken question, he added, “About six hours from now.”

“Bury Sollus deep,” Roscius requested, “and wake me when your relief comes.” He looked to the young sergeant with tired eyes. “I am going to rack out now- haven’t slept in three days. Then I will take the message myself when your relief arrives.” He hefted the head. “And this too- as proof.”

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

Udo listened to the report with dread. A Roman legion was moving slowly through the woods towards the abandoned outpost, which he did not mind. But a second was tearing through his realm with lightning speed, capturing and burning villages almost as soon as they were spotted, and was now only hours away from one of the larger towns. He knew the town would fall, and relatively quickly- there were less than three hundred men there, though there were over two thousand women who might help put up a fight. Still, he knew the town was doomed- especially with the Chauci and Marsi retreating to the south to face the two legions ravaging Marsi lands.

He knew what he had to do. He had to cut down the forces facing him, and do so without risking his own warhost. He had eight thousand all told, and they had to hold out until help from the other tribes arrived. If they would arrive at all- they might turn to help the Marsi instead. If he had a success in battle here, it might draw those legions from Marsic lands to help those here, and bring the tribes along with them. Thus he must fight.

He had two legions on his lands. One was conquering everything in sight, the other plodding along as if a turtle. This told him much. The flying legion was well-led, competent, and a huge danger to face with his raw farmers and half-trained hyrd. But the other... Slow, incompetent, a dawdler. And the two legions were too far apart to aid each other should one run into trouble.

“Ready the warhost,” he commanded. “It is time to bring the war to the enemy.”

Around him, the men cheered. Axes and swords were raised in salute.

Udo smiled. A fight this would be.

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

Titus Flavius Sabinus was not happy. Any other man in his situation would be ecstatic, but not him. He had command of his legion, six auxilia cohorts, and a free reign to do what he wanted- as long as he did it in Vindonissa, way up there in the southern tip of the province. True, it was closer to Rome where his uncle reigned as Imperator, and where supplies and the like would come first. But he was not happy.

The Germans were restless. He knew the boys of Germania Inferior- where his friend and mentor Marcus Rutilius was now quaestor- were already crossing the Rhenus to punish the tribe that had slaughtered two entire legions in the last war. Unarmed, surrendered legions, and legions that had been granted safe passage to Massilia. The Germans let them get out of their fort where they had been besieged for eight months before massacring them. Now they were going to pay for it, and he knew that the other Germani would not sit still and let that happen.

He thought through it again and again. What would he do if he were a German chieftain who knew the Romans were pillaging and plundering a tribe to the north? And every time, he came with the same result. He would cross the border in force and do to the depleted Roman forces left behind what the legions were doing to that northern tribe. Without fail, he would attack and do it hard- hit them where they were not.

This was the cause of his anger. The Germans were agitated- much activity had been noted across the way. The Germans were gathering for war. And he was being sent with a sizable force as far away from the coming action as was physically possible and still remain in the province.

Sometimes it just sucked being the Imperator’s nephew and youngest legate in the army.

Then he thought over the province’s disposition. Governor Gnaeus Pinarius Cornelius Clemens had two legions in Mogontiacum- his I Adiutrix and the veteran XIV Gemina formerly of Britannia. In Argentorate he had the VIII Augusta. Down in Vindonissa he had the XI Claudia, but he has since given orders for it to move to Argentorate. Now he sends one of the legions from Mogontiacum- his legion!- to that gods-forsaken post in the middle of nowhere far from where the action could occur. It made no sense.

It did make sense, he thought grimly. The I Adiutrix was composed of former marines- the lowest class of Roman soldier. Its commander was a young senator of barely 24 summers, six years under the age most men take command of a legion. Before that, he had served as a tribune for all of a year. And on top of that, he was the Imperator’s nephew. So what Clemens was doing was easily seen- he was sending his worst troops and the most inexperienced commander to the far end of the province- well away from harm’s way, and gave him six auxiliary cohorts under competent commanders to keep his wet-nosed legate out of trouble. That gave him free reign to take his veterans to handle any German incursions without imperial worries.

This thought was confirmed by a rider who passed the legion south of Argentorate. The rider was galloping- something not often seen- and alternating the killing pace with walking rests before galloping again. He passed the legion in this manner, then stopped at a post station to change horses before tearing off again. In that brief rest stop, while the station master was finding a new horse and switching loads from tired horse to fresh, Sabinus had a word with the rider.

“You are moving far too fast for a postal rider,” he said as he approached the rider. “And I expect you’ll be continuing that pace once the stationmaster finishes.”

The rider nodded. He had glanced up from his watered wine when the boy legate approached, reading rank and unit from the manner of the men around him and their shields. “As soon as I can, legate. I have word your uncle needs to know yesterday.”

“You know who I am then,” Sabinus noted. “You have thus the advantage.”

“Roscius, an arcanus,” the rider replied.

“Arcanus?” Sabinus wondered, then recognized the term. His mind leapt, and his mouth followed suit. “The Germans are coming.”

Roscius nodded. “Yes, but not for you or your boys. They are headed north- to fight the boys of Germania Inferior. Chatti and Suevi, in large numbers. It will not be pretty for the Lower Legions.”

“Does my governor know of this?” Sabinus said suddenly.

“He should, by now,” Roscius replied. He stood up and stretched. “I sent a tablet to him two days ago, when I passed Mogontiacum.” He nodded to the legate as the legion marched past. “Your boys are making good time, legate. It is a tribute to you, and your top dog. I had thought to pass you yesterday, but you were further than I thought.”

“Two days...” Sabinus muttered. He had been on the road for three- and traveling faster than normal. “Top!” he cried to his primus pilus. “Get the legion turned about. There’s war on the horizon, and I intend to be in on it, Imperator’s nephew or not!”

“Don’t get hasty, sonny,” Roscius said as he reached the door. “You’ll be seeing your fair share of action rather shortly, I would assume. Clemens is not an idiot, though I don’t like that man one iota. He would not shortchange his province by sending a full legion plus auxilia to the far end without some idea of why. He must have a reason, and you have your orders. Between the two, I would say it is best to do what you were told.”

“He’s right, sir,” the primus pilus said as he entered. “Your blood won’t save you from a hangman’s noose for disobedience, and Clemens is no fool. If this rider could catch us, so could a courier bearing orders to return to Mo-Go. No courier, no change of plans.”

Sabinus sat down, defeated and deflated. A war was coming, and he would not be in it. It was just that simple. He knew already what orders he would get in Vindonissa- march back and forth from Vindonissa to Argentorate and back, with emphasis on letting the Germans see legions on the road. Secure the southern reaches, and keep the bloody Via Mala -lifeline of the province- open. Do this while the rest of the army drives the Chatti and Suevi raiders back across the Rhenus. We’ll tell you about it afterward, kid.

The thought made him want to puke.

“Belay the order, Top,” he said at last. “We continue our march to boring, cold Vindonissa. As ordered.””

Damn it!

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

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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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 11-23-2010 @ 01:37 AM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 11-22-10 05:16 AM EDT (US)     45 / 87       
Poor Sabinus.

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 11-22-10 10:58 AM EDT (US)     46 / 87       
Scato
What an unfortunate name...
First Brittorum Auxilia Cohort
Brittia is a 4th century corruption of Britannia and one I absolutely despise. Please no Britti. Britannorum?

Oh, and great chapter, as always.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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

(dis ma house)
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-22-10 01:36 PM EDT (US)     47 / 87       
These sites list it as Brittorum:

http://www.hs-augsburg.de/~harsch/Chronologia/Lspost05/Notitia/not_doc3.html
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lista_delle_truppe_ausiliarie_romane

While the English Wiki says Brittonum.

The n and the r... they look alike to tired eyes. Brittorum sounds cooler, though. Let's stick with that.

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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 11-22-10 03:18 PM EDT (US)     48 / 87       
Your first site is late - the Notitia Dignitatum - when Brittia, a corrupted form of Britannia, came into use. It is not, I believe, attested before the third century. The Italian wiki article says "Cohors I Brittonum Flavia è creata ed inviata, subito, in Dalmazia dopo l'86 circa" ("Cohors Prima Brittonum Flavia was formed and immediately sent off in Dalmatia after around 86") - so these "Brittones" may have had little to do with the Britons of Britain and if so "Brittorum" is even more out of place. It's also better than Brittorum, since Brittonum was apparently their official name. If they were indeed Britons however, the word is still wrong. Then of course, remember it is wiki: it's good, but word for word accuracy is not something I'd generally go there for. The only correct classical Latin form is Britannorum.

Well, do as you please: your story - my people. I promise I'll stop contesting your Latin terminology if it annoys you, just say so.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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(dis ma house)

[This message has been edited by Edorix (edited 11-22-2010 @ 03:26 PM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-25-10 01:51 AM EDT (US)     49 / 87       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

“Another village ahead,” reported the cavalry scout to the general. “Just where the map said it would be.”

Cordinus smiled. “Bring the legion together, Gnaeus,” he ordered. “We shall attack in two hours. Standard plan- advance under cover of archery, assault the walls near the gates with three cohorts, and have the rest of the legion come in through the opened gates. Go.”

Messala groaned. Same old drill, yet an order was an order. He passed his own along, and the legion came together for the assault.

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

“They gather,” a Bructeri scout reported to his own king. “Near the Heather Fields. The whole legion- all ten iron hands and the Eagle. They are forming for the assault.”

“How many are guarding our direction?” Udo asked.

The scout shrugged. “I saw none posted away from the village.”

Udo grinned. He had them! He began to speak his orders, but fell into a fit of coughing. Damn this wound!. He adjusted his dressing, and the coughing fit ceased. “Prepare the warhost, Hugo. I want to concentrate your warhost against one or two cohorts, and use the horsemen to keep the others away. You will command. But mark my words! Do not let our men get involved in a slugfest with more than a few iron hands. Fight, slaughter, then flee to regroup. Hit and run, but do not get bogged! That would be the death of us.”

Hugo thought over the orders, and played it against what he knew of the village and the enemy. Udo was right- a stand-up fight with these half-baked warriors would be their annihilation- and the death of the tribe. Likewise, letting the tribe be led into slavery village by village had the same result. They had to fight, and the plan of Udo kept the warhost alive while bloodying the enemy. Help would come- we just had to live until it got here. And that meant slowing the Eagles down.

“Aye lord,” he agreed. “We hit, then run, then hit again. Like Labeo did to Seval.”

Udo nodded. “Just like Labeo.”

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Messala watched the futile exercise with dread. Two cohorts were lined up on either side of the village gate. The wall it was in was flimsy- it could probably be knocked over with some harsh language. The men had scaling ladders- but how will they get down from the other side? The archers- centered on the gates, were useless with no catwalk on the flimsy wall for the villagers to expose themselves upon. Four more cohorts stood in column, ready to storm inside. And his last two cohorts were to screen the archers should there be any cavalry inside. Fat chance.

Some of his cavalry was currently scouting forward- at least he got the generalis to allow that- while the rest were screening the flanks. His auxiliary spearmen were currently escorting the previous village’s occupants to the baggage trains for transport to base. In all, the legion was concentrated and focused on a single objective- when it ought to have been spread into groups of cohorts within supporting distance of each other and moving rapidly, not plodding.

It was a sad fact that Gnaeus Vipsanius Messala did not know of the Bructeri host descending upon him, or that his preferred deployment would have led to a decisive and crushing Bructeri defeat.

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Cordinus personally supervised the deployment,. He thoroughly enjoyed the way the soldiers responded to the orders- eagerly, and with discipline. No complaining, only reaction. The little blocks of men danced to his orders as if puppets upon his string. When he noticed the last cohort fall into formation, he raised his hand, then dropped it.

The cornicen beside him blew a long blast.

The signal rang out throughout the forest. The assaulting cohorts lifted their makeshift ladders and rushed to the wall. The archers raised their bows, but held their arrows as there were no targets. The ladders flew up along the wall, and the legionaries began to climb. Then those to the right of the gate began falling from the walls.

The long blast had signaled another warhost as well. Hugo’s men let fly another two volleys into the climbing cohorts before falling back.

“This is what I feared!” Cordinus exploded. “Messala! That is why I want the entire legion present at an assault! Now send some cohorts to drive those bastards away! The rest of the legion- assault!”

“Aye, lord!” Messala replied. “Cohorts II, III, V, VI, VII, VII with me. Cohorts I and IV, continue the assault, VIII and IX are the reserve.”

“Belay that order!” Cordinus shouted. “There are but three hundred of them! Two cohorts under the command of a tribune are sufficient. Messala, you are a legate. You stay here with your legion and conduct the assault. Send the archers and the two cohorts screening them to deal with those interlopers.”

Messala groaned at the order, yet he must obey it. He gestured to a tribune, Marcus Ceionius Albinus, to have the cohorts mentioned spin smartly about and begin giving chase. Moron! “Aye, lord! But we should at least have the cavalry get an estimate of their numbers before committing to a second attack.”

“They are there,” Cordinus roared. Gods how he hated insubordination! “Three hundred of them, in plain sight. And they are getting away! Get them! And do not come back until they are in chains!”

Messala rolled his eyes to the heavens, but found no solace there. True, there were only a few hundred Germans putting up a show of resistance; two cohorts of legionaries and some archers should make short work of them- if they can catch them. The Germans had already bolted, with the cohorts on their heels. Ceionius was a seasoned tribune, with a thousand men under his command, and the Germans but three-to-four hundred unarmored fools, yet he still felt apprehensive. How many more Germans were out there?

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

Messala put his pent-up anger into directing the ridiculous assault of eight cohorts against a village that could mass less than six hundred souls all told. Four thousand legionaries versus four hundred women. Pathetic!

Dieter saw the harassing Germani outside the walls and laughed. But he sobered up quickly when he saw two cohorts and the archers peel off to give chase. Scheisse! What was that idiot thinking! Now he understood why Marcus had given him command of the Galatians and sent him on this campaign.

“May I ask why you wish to send your archers and those two cohorts?” he asked of the generalis when he reached him. “You could have easily dispersed those nagging fools by ordering me to charge them.”

“There are three to four hundred of them, light troops,” Cordinus replied easily. “That is too few to waste my heavy hammer upon. Two cohorts with missile support is sufficient.”

“I see,” the Batavian said, who did not see at all. “So instead of having your hammer destroy them easily in the open with few losses, you wish to sacrifice two cohorts and your archers.”

“What are you talking about?” Cordinus wondered. “I have seen this hundreds of times. In North Africa, for example, the local rebels would make a showing like this to salve their pride at losing their home base to our forces. In Armenia, the show-of-force was an attempt to distract the main effort. Well, my temporary Germanic tribune, I shall not be swayed from taking this village!”

“This is not Armenia, lord,” Dieter replied easily. “And here things are different. If the monkeys here show themselves, it is because they wish to fight, not put on a pretty display. They were foolish to do so that far from the forest’s edge where they may have been safe. You should have put paid to that foolishness by ordering the Galatians to massacre them.”

“My choice, my call,” Cordinus reminded him.

“Your choice, your call,” Dieter repeated. “And that tribune and his little detachment may pay with their lives.”

“What do you mean?”

“This is Germania, not Armenia. I am sure you have been told this before. Learn it now,” Dieter admonished. “Here the monkeys want you to chase them. They probably have a few hundred more- or maybe a few thousand- deep in that forest. You see, they want you to follow them- especially with a small detachment.” Then he grinned evilly, parroting the words of Cordinus, “I have seen this hundreds of times. A small show of force to lure away a small number, which you can then annihilate. That cuts the large force which you have too few to fight by a margin. Repeat until you have whittled down the main force to where you can pound it. Very effective.”

The eyes of Cordinus widened at the thought and he sucked in a sharp breath. Then his experiences in battle came to the forefront and he dismissed the advice. “The Bructeri have no thousands remaining, unless they muster the entire tribe, which they cannot do without destroying themselves.”

“They fight for their survival,” Dieter reminded him, turning his horse to leave this ass to his own devices. “Of course they would muster the entire tribe. We did, and it took eight legions- led by such great warlords as Cerealis, Rutilius, and Messala here, to crush us. The Bructeri have it easier- they face but four legions, led by you.”

“Go away,” Cordinus ordered sharply.

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

Ceionius was indeed a seasoned tribune. He had his cohorts deployed laterally with the archers tucked in behind. His men were fresh, though armored and with scuta they were not as fast as their prey. They lumbered across the open field after the Germans until just inside the treeline bordering the village’s fields. Ahead he could see the Bructeri, fleeing, and disappearing into the distance.

“They got away, tribune,” a centurion reported, huffing slightly at the exertion.

Ceionius nodded. Now the legate will never hear the end of it.

“Do we continue?” the centurion asked.

“You heard His Mightiness,” Ceionius said tiredly. Behind him a great shout went up- evidence that the village had fallen and the legion was victorious. At least part of it. “Merda,” he whispered. “Now this will happen at every village.”

A low whoosh split the poignant silence, and an arrow or three went whistling past his head.

“Testudo!” he ordered, “Archers! Return missiles!”

The legionaries turtled up instantly, providing the archers with some protection while they lifted their bows to let loose their own missiles. They had nothing to aim at- but that did not matter in such a situation. The arrows shot forth, seeking flesh in bushes and other like hiding places that offered no real protection. Most sank into dirt or trees, but some elicited sharp yelps. It was enough for Ceionius- he now had a point upon which to orient his attack.

“Resume Close Ranks!” he ordered. “Cohorts, Forward! Quarter-Right Flank March!”

The cohorts rose in response to the order and moved forward, angling slightly to the right. Further they went, with some of the legionaries noticing dark splotches and drag marks on the ground- evidence of the enemy. Then others looked up and saw the Bructeri before them, three hundred paces away through the underbrush. There were less than four hundred- pitifully few against a thousand armored Romans.

“Continue the march,” Ceionius ordered, “Charge only upon my order.”

The Bructeri let the Romans come. Closer, they could see wounded and dead leaning up against trees, but the Bructeri did not retreat further.

“Either they are exhausted from the short sprint, or it is a trap,” the tribune noted. He glanced nervously about, seeing nothing standing above the waist-high underbrush. Waist-high!

“Cohorts HALT!” he cried. The men responded instantly, but so did the Bructeri. A hundred paces ahead, two ranks of warriors leapt up from the underbrush and charged forward. The halt gave the cohorts time for a volley of pila, but not enough for two.

It would not have made much difference. There were at least two thousand warriors charging- trying to bull through a Roman line. Never in recent years has that been successful- and Ceionius knew it. He ordered the pila volley, then to swords to repulse the stupid Germani charge. Then he fell with an axe lodged in his helmet.

With the war-shout and sudden appearance of two thousand Bructeri to their direct front, not a single set of Roman eyes deviated from that sight. Thus none saw the two smaller warbands slinking quietly up from the flanks until these men hurled their axes and charged into the back of the Roman formation.

The archers died first in that axe-wave. Whoever lived among them fell to Germanic axes and swords a few seconds later. Then the warbands impacted on the legionaries who were rapidly reforming to defend against this unexpected threat..

The formation was like crystal upon marble. It shattered, utterly and irrevocably. Where once two cohorts stood proud to repulse a charge, stood now small bands of men fighting and stabbing in a whirlwind of individual combats. Some managed to stab down those foes about him and break out, but most went down fighting and went down hard.

Only a few hundred managed to form a square inside the pocket. These pitifully few now faced the onslaught of several thousand enthusiastic Bructeri alone. But they were Roman, and disciplined, and in an unbreakable shieldwall. The bodies piled higher, and though some were pelted with the severed helmeted heads of their colleagues, the ranks held. For every man who fell, the square shrank, but held steady.

Eventually the Germani would fall back, rest, pelt them with spears, then surge forward again. And again. And again. And each time, the square of living Romans became smaller and smaller while the pile of dead grew and grew.

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|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 11-25-10 07:17 AM EDT (US)     50 / 87       
Loved the interchange between Dieter and Cordinus. Feel kinda sorry for those heroic Romans (oxymoron? ) in the woods fighting to the last, but... we'll see what happens.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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(dis ma house)
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