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Total War: Shogun 2 Heaven » Forums » Bardic Circle - War Stories & AAR forum » The Mercenary War
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Topic Subject:The Mercenary War
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 02-03-14 04:20 PM EDT (US)         
I am back! After a long hiatus my batteries are recharged and is ready to contribute to the Bardic Circle. I will try to update as regularly as I can but I am determined to go through with this to the end.

Enjoy!

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

The Mercenary War

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



Hamilcar Barca rode his horse past his soldiers who rested upon the rocky hills to the south of Eryx in Sicily - northwest of the island. The commander of the Carthaginian armies in Sicily sighed when seeing his ragged soldiers rest wearingly on a cloudy mid March morning. His army had been fighting doggedly against the Romans ever since Hamilcar took command of the armies in Sicily six years ago. Despite the raids against Rome on the island his ability to hold the enemy on land with little help had not been matched by his compatriots in the sea.

“May Ba’al curse them for their incompetence!” he snarled to himself causing the horse to neigh while Hamilcar ruefully remembered the punishing naval defeats his people had suffered against Rome. He shuddered what at happened at Economus when the Romans smashed the vast Carthaginian fleet – a people with a navy Hamilcar had dismissed all those years ago when the war started. How wrong would I be!

These naval defeats strangled the supply and communication lines between Hamilcar's forces in Sicily and his masters at Carthage. To make things worse the port of Drepana to the west of Hamilcar’s position at Eryx had recently fallen merely worsening their supply situation.

“Now all our hopes rest on Hanno,” Hamilcar sighed. He was aware a relief force, laden with supplies and men, was enroute to the besieged city of Lilybaeum - still held out under Hamilcar’s subordinate officer Gesco. If they could get past the Roman blockade and land in Sicily then Barca could relieve Lilybaeum and counter attack with his army of 20,000 men. Combined with Hanno’s relief force he felt he could drive the Romans away and turn the war around. With that knowledge Hamilcar throughout the last few days motivated his soldiers with words of encouragement.

“Do not worry, men! Carthage will help us drive these accursed Romans across Sicily!” he told his soldiers with his words translated into several languages for his men who ranged from across the world - conscripted Libyans along with mercenaries who heralded from Iberia including fierce Celt-Iberians, Balearic Islanders with their slingers, tough Ligurians, Greeks, runaway slaves formally under Roman masters and deserters who fled from the rigorous armies of the Roman Republic.

As Barca hoped his words would ring true he could see his soldiers looked in the direction behind the general. More of his men stood up and pointed. Hamilcar turned around to see what the fuss was about. Approaching from the south was a man on horseback, his horse kicking up dust trails, as the soldier spurred his horse forward. As the horseman reached the pickets that guarded where the Carthaginians rested he slowed his horse down.

“State your business!” the guard harshly addressed the horseman. The rider looked at the guard and pulled back his cape to indicate he was a officer.

“Speak to me like that, guard,” the horseman hissed menacingly. “And your head will be nailed onto the face of your children where I will take delight in hearing their cries of anguish while I nail the spike into them!”

“So-Sorry sir!” the guard mumbled, as he realized from the officer’s dark eyes through his helmet, indicate he truly meant it.

“My business is with Hamilcar Barca,” the rider explained. “I seek him urgently,”

“He is up the road at the foot of the valley,” the guard pointed. “You cannot miss him,” The rider kicked his horse forward and galloped towards the valley. Hamilcar saw the rider approach towards him and in turn rode out to meet him. The men under his command saw how immaculate the horseman’s armour and helmet was. The difference when comparing the rider’s appearance to Hamilcar's men was stark, as they were ragged and unkempt clearly showing the effects of fighting Rome for several years. When the two men on horseback met each other Hamlicar’s eyes widened in shock at seeing who the rider was.

“Hannibal, son of Azar!” he cried out surprisingly, as they saluted each other before shaking hands. “What is it that brings you here? I thought you were still in Carthage?” Hannibal’s face turned to sadness at his question. He sighed and reached into his pouch slowly in trepidation. Hannibal then brandished a scroll that bore the seal of Carthage and gave it to Hamilcar. He opened it and began to read it aloud:

Hamilcar Barca, I regret to inform that a great battle has been lost upon the sea.

Half of Hanno’s fleet – 120 warships - lie at the bottom of the sea or captured. The Romans spotted the convoy off the Aegates Islands and engaged the fleet. We had no chance. Our ships were heavily encumbered with men, equipment and provisions. Our crews were conscripted from the bottom of the barrel, hastily trained and inexperienced in battle. Most of the supplies lie beneath the ocean and lost forever while what remains of our fleet is scattered.



We have also received word that Lilybaeum has capitulated as well.

Simply put we have had enough. Our resources are scant to construct another fleet or send an expedition to reinforce your men in Sicily, Hamilcar. The suffetts and Tribunal of the Hundred have decided to surrender and sue for peace with Rome.

As sole commander of the armies in Sicily you are to be given full authority to discuss terms for a peace treaty with Rome.

May Ba’al give you strength in these dark times.


Hamilcar dropped the scroll onto the ground with tears streaming down his face, as the cold realization hit him that after over 20 years of war it was all for nothing.

“I am sorry,” Hannibal said consolingly. “You fought well. Were it not for your efforts here in Sicily the war would have ended much sooner,”

“But it was not enough!” the general growled. “The efforts of our generals and admirals were not enough! That fool Hanno butchered our best soldiers when we needed them the most and as a result we now bend our knees to Rome! What honour is that to the mothers of our people who have lost sons and loved ones?”

“Mistakes were made but that is in the past,” Hannibal replied sympathetically. “All we can hope is to negotiate a just peace,” Hamilcar shook his head.

“I will not take part in these negotiations with Rome. I will give it to my second in command Gesgo. Such is my hate for Rome I will likely disgrace myself by striking those flatfooted oafs. Gesgo is a good negotiator and I trust him,” Hannibal nodded.

“As you wish,” he replied. “You are after all been given full powers to conduct the peace treaty in any way that you see fit,”

“Thank you for understanding,” Hamilcar said. The general was nearly overcome with emotion before managing to get his emotions in check. “I will get a guard to show you somewhere you can rest,”

“Where are you going?” Hannibal asked as Hamilcar turned his horse around.

“To tell my men face to face what has happened,” he replied back depressingly. “They deserve that at the very least after all they have been through. As Hannibal watched Barca walk drudgingly towards his men the son of Azar could not help but feel sorry for him.

"Though our hearts may be heavy with defeat," Hannibal said to himself. "At least we can now live in peace after decades of war."

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

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

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

[This message has been edited by Legion Of Hell (edited 02-04-2014 @ 01:05 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 02-04-14 06:55 AM EDT (US)     1 / 16       
An auspicious start. I am looking very forward to more of this.

One nit:
“Speak to me like that, guard,” the horseman spoke menacingly. “And your head will be nailed onto the face of your children where I will take delight in hearing their cries of anguish while I nail the spike into them!”
This was grammatically very confusing. The words conveyed the message quite well despite the lack of grammatical sense. Something like this is less a syntaxical mess:

“Speak to me like that again, guard,” the horseman hissed menacingly, “and your head will be cut off and nailed onto the faces of your children, while I shall take great delight in listening to their cries of anguish as I hammer the spike into them!”

Also bugging me was the spelling. Hamlicar looks cool, but the man's name was Hamilcar. (Ham il car, not Ham lic ar)

Otherwise an intriguing tale.

Any chance of seeing an end to thy Julian the Apostate tale in the near future? or will you pick that back up after completing this one?

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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 02-04-2014 @ 12:16 PM).]

DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 02-04-14 12:10 PM EDT (US)     2 / 16       
I agree with Terikel. A wonderful start, but there were some sentences and bits of dialogue where the structure and wording made me cringe.

This part:
“Now all our hopes rest on Hanno,” Hamlicar sighed. Barca was aware a relief force had been sent carrying supplies and men for the besieged city of Lilybaeum, which still held out under Hamlicar’s subordinate officer Gesco.
Using Hamilcar's last name to refer to him is a little out of place because the Romans were the only people in this time period in the Mediterranean to use family(gens) names when referring to each other. I think it would also be better if you used possessive terms in parts like this.

How I would rewrite the sentence quoted above:
"Now all our hopes rest on Hanno." Hamilcar sighed. He was aware of the relief force, swollen with men and fresh supplies, en route to the besieged city of Lilybaeum. A city that continued to stubbornly hold out against the Romans thanks to his able subordinate Gesco.
In spite of these and other errors, it is a very interesting story. I've only read one other tale covering the Mercenary War so I'm truly looking forward to more updates and reading more of this!

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
Cherub of Total War: Rome II Heaven and the Total War: Attila Forums
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 02-04-14 12:59 PM EDT (US)     3 / 16       
Thanks for the advice.

Will amend it. In future I will look to finish Julian The Apostate but I was so interested in the Mercenary War I wanted to explore it.

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 02-05-14 01:31 PM EDT (US)     4 / 16       
Oh, by all means follow your heart!

The best tales come from those told through the writer by the source of the inspiration. When you have the writing bug up your butt, you put out some incredibly entertaining tales. I do not want to interfere with that at all.

My comments were more in line with curiosity and reminders, not directions to follow.

|||||||||||||||| 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
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 02-08-14 07:47 PM EDT (US)     5 / 16       
I will be following this with MUCH interest

I am the Carthaginian who became an angel, and surrendered his wings for a life on the sea of battle.

My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel the Deflowerer
Awesome Eagle
Spear of Mars
(id: awesomated88)
posted 02-13-14 05:47 AM EDT (US)     6 / 16       
I will be following this with MUCH interest
*cough*Understatement*cough*

Looks great. I will also be following the is MUCH interest.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it- George Santayana
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are- David C. McCullough
Wars not make one great- Yoda
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 02-13-14 03:42 PM EDT (US)     7 / 16       
This story looks very interesting. I'll certainly follow it closely...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Hannibal the Conqueror
Ashigaru
(id: HannibalBarcaXXI)
posted 02-14-14 04:52 AM EDT (US)     8 / 16       
Very interesting. I'll definitely be following this.

"I long for Darkness."
- Cormac McCarthy, The Sunset Limited.

"We are a species that ravages, plunders, kills, destroys, rapes and enslaves in the name of progress."
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 02-15-14 11:43 AM EDT (US)     9 / 16       
I knew you would be interested, Punic.

Glad everyone else is looking forward to this story. For a new chapter is what you shall receive!

*****

When Hamilcar told his army of the surrender to Rome the general grimly looked on, as the men despaired in shock at what happened. The mood was tense among the men, as for most of the soldiers had fought for several years away, enticed from their homes by the coin of Carthage. Despite the ill feeling felt towards the council and suffets in Carthage the conscripted Libyans and mercenaries stayed calm – purely because they knew Carthage owed them money and rioting would jeopardize receiving their entitled pay. As Hamilcar sat in his tent within the camp he chuckled at the apparent calm among his soldiers; a far cry from the poisonous atmosphere a week ago when telling his army of Carthage’s capitulation.

“It is surprising how copious amounts of coin can even calm the tempers of men who would happily rip you apart if you even look at them the wrong way,” he chuckled at the thought. As Hamilcar walked inside his tent he looked at the amphora of wine placed at the back of the tent. He sighed – on campaign he made sure to instil discipline among his men by banning the drinking of wine while on the march. But Hamilcar felt now was a perfect time than any to drink it. It was a fine wine, given to him by Greeks led by the Spartan Xanthippus, who had come to Carthage in the early stages of the war to train the Carthaginian army.

“Now’s a fine time to drown my sorrows,” he said despondently. But as he was about to collect the amphora a man walked into the tent. It was a dispatch rider whose markings on his insignia intrigued the general, as he knew the courier’s unit was at Lilybaeum during the siege.

“What news do you bring?” Hamilcar asked while the courier saluted.

“I bring news from Gesgo,” he spoke after getting his breath back after his long horse ride. The courier revealed a scroll from his pouch and gave it to Hamilcar. The general opened it and looked at its contents:

Hamilcar, I have managed to strike terms with the Roman delegation led by Gaius Lutatius Catulus – he led the fleet that destroyed Hanno’s convoy at the Aegates Islands. But by Ba’al it was not easy to negotiate terms – the man is a hard negotiator.

The only concession that I managed to wring out of these sandal wearers is the mercenaries will leave Sicily as a army and not to be turned over to Rome – notably deserters from Rome and their Italian allies. In regards to trying to get a favourable peace deal it was hard – these Romans are tenacious and made it clear that we were not equals after being defeated in battle. Pending ratification by their Senate the terms of the peace treaty is as follows:

I – Carthage and her armies is to evacuate all of Sicily.

II- Neither Carthage or Rome will make war on the other’s allies nor seek to subvert their allegiance by allying or become involved in their internal affairs. Neither Carthage or Rome can both sides recruit soldiers or raise money for the construction of public buildings in the territory of the other.

III – Carthage are to give up all Roman prisoners freely while paying a ransom for their own prisoners.

IV – Carthage is to pay an indemnity to the Roman state of 3,200 Euobean talents – 1,000 upfront with the rest to be paid over the next ten years.


What choice do we have but to accept the treaty? If not I fear what Rome will do and no doubt would inflict a punitive treaty than the one currently on offer. I have sent riders back to Carthage with details of the treaty and await the council’s decision. But it is likely they will pass it. I have done what I can, Hamilcar.


The general sighed as he gave the parchment back to the courier who saluted and left the tent to go about his daily task. Hamilcar sat down on his wooden chair, as he dissected what the scroll said.

“An indemnity of 3,200 talents,” Hamilcar spoke to himself, shaking his head at the amount. “A lot of money. It will deplete our treasury trying to pay that vast sum to the Romans. We should have fought on instead of surrendering meekly. My army was still intact!” The general looked at the amphora and smiled.

“When you feel nothing but gloom ale and wine are your best friends,” he chuckled. As he stood up to pick the amphora up Hamilcar planned his next move. While he did so the Carthaginian decided to drink till he passed out. He had waited seven years to drink it and now took his chance.

*****

A week had passed and during that time Gesgo had sat in his quarters looking at reports given to him by messengers about news back home. Gesgo had learned the government in Carthage had passed the treaty. He knew Carthage had no choice and could not fight on. The fleet bearing arms, men and provisions was their last chance to carry on the war in Sicily under Hamilcar. But when Gesgo had heard of the rout at the Aegates Islands he knew it was over.

The task that Hamilcar had given him was tough but tried his best to carry out a peace treaty as favourable to Carthage as he could negotiate. Gesgo was well aware Hamilcar was aghast at people surrendering to Rome especially after so much blood had been spilt for over twenty years. Sacrificing soldiers in vain can deeply hurt a general. Gesgo’s thoughts were then interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Come,” he said. The door opened to reveal a soldier who entered the room before saluting Gesgo promptly.

“Sir, Hamilcar Barca with a party of his soldiers have entered the city,” the guard spoke. “He is heading this way,” Gesgo nodded.

“Once he reaches my quarters inform to wait and I will meet with him immediately,” he instructed the soldier. The guard nodded and saluted once again before leaving the room. As the door was closed Gesgo pondered. No doubt he has received my scroll and has come to discuss the peace treaty. I hope I won’t feel his wrath!

While Gesgo readied himself Hamilcar, with six of his soldiers on horseback, waited for him outside the battered stone house in the centre of city. The general looked around and saw what war had done to the settlement. His heart sank knowing within a few months the city would be ceded to Rome and Sicily would be rid of Carthaginians. As the doors of the stone house opened Hamilcar dismounted from his house when seeing Gesgo approach him and saluted each other before shaking hands.

“My friend, it is good to see you,” Gesgo spoke warmly. “I only wish we met under happier times,”

“I wish that too,” Hamilcar replied curtly, as they walked inside the house towards Gesgo’s quarters. The escort of soldiers protecting Barca were ushered to the barracks to rest and refit. As Hamilcar sat down on a chair he looked wearily at the lush quarters Gesgo enjoyed - a sharp contrast to the landscape of Lilybaeum.

“I guess you are here to talk about the peace treaty agreed in Carthage – pending ratification by Rome,” Gesgo said grimly to Hamilcar who bit his lip.

“You know my thoughts about it,” the Carthaginian spoke irritably. “It is an unnecessary peace. We have capitulated when there was little need to. However, that is not the reason why I am here, Gesgo. You have carried out your task as I ordered you too. The council back home will be content with your performance. No, I have come to give you instructions on what to do once the peace is ratified at Rome. You are to take over command of the army in Sicily,”

“Take over?” Gesgo gasped in shock. “Have you been recalled back to Carthage?” Hamilcar shook his head.

“No. I have decided to resign my command and head for home to Carthage,” he explained. “With the war over I feel now is the time to enjoy the comforts of a private citizen after years of military service given to Carthage. My men know of what I plan to do and have said my goodbyes to them,”

“You deserve the rest after what you have done for Carthage during the war,” Gesgo replied, understanding of Hamilcar’s reasons. “What are my orders?”

“My army is encamped a few miles east of the city. 20,000 strong - all of them are mercenaries. Ensure they are paid the wages owed to them that will be backdated to the day they joined the service of Carthage,” the general replied. “It is entirely your choice how you go about it,”

“I think I might know a way,” Gesgo said briskly.

“What do you have in mind?” Hamilcar asked, his voice shrouded in intrigue.

“Divide the 20,000 mercenaries into small detachments of 2,000 each,” the officer suggested. “Then one at a time we send each contingent to Carthage to collect years of backpay in owed wages they are entitled to. When each contingent receive their pay they are sent back to their country of origin and their service to Carthage ended,”

“Brilliant!” Hamilcar exclaimed happily at the well thought out idea. “It kills two birds with one stone. It quells the huge burden paying the mercenaries will have on the state treasury while paying the indemnity to Rome. Instead of one lump sum to a huge block of mercenaries if we spread the payments out in instalments to each contingent it means the mercenaries will stay at Lilybaeum till they are paid,”

“Exactly,” Gesgo nodded. “No large band of mercenaries will be in Carthage with each detachment of mercenaries only leaving Sicily once the previous contingent have been paid by Carthage and sent back home. It stops any chance of packs of unruly mercenaries violently running amok in Carthage while waiting to get paid,”

“Write out the orders and have the officers address the mercenaries of the plans. Also send a rider to Carthage so to inform the council,” Hamilcar ordered. “The morale of the soldiers will rise now they know their pay will come sooner than they thought,”

As Gesgo said his goodbyes the orders were written out and sent to Carthage. Later on in the day Hamilcar left the city of Lilybaeum and with his escort boarded a galley that set out for Carthage. As the general looked across the stern towards Lilybaeum that faded away in the distance he turned around in the direction of the prow and brandished a wide smile.

“The beautiful city of Carthage awaits,” he smiled. “How I have missed you!”

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 02-16-14 05:04 PM EDT (US)     10 / 16       
Very, very well done chapter. Sets up beautifully the coming storm, without hinting at such.

Bravo!

I am the Carthaginian who became an angel, and surrendered his wings for a life on the sea of battle.

My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel the Deflowerer
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 02-17-14 06:26 AM EDT (US)     11 / 16       
Ah, intrigue and circumstance are beginning to emerge. But who is doing the intriguing, and who is to be trusted?

well done.

A few grammatical nits, but otherwise well done.

Example:
“Once he reaches my quarters inform to wait and I will meet with him immediately,”

“Once he reaches my quarters ask him politely to wait and inform him I will meet with him immediately,”

Little shit like that. But exciting stuff. tension builds, though the words echo calm. Nice stuff!

|||||||||||||||| 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
DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 03-02-14 06:20 PM EDT (US)     12 / 16       
A good chapter LoH. Men plan and the gods laugh

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
Cherub of Total War: Rome II Heaven and the Total War: Attila Forums
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 03-09-14 06:59 PM EDT (US)     13 / 16       
Thanks for the kind replies and advice, guys. Here is another chapter to enjoy!

*****

Daylight shone upon the magnificent city of Carthage, as its people went about their daily business. Though they lost the war their determination not to let it ruin them was the reason why their backs were straight and not cowered. They did not want to bring shame to the illustrious city and show that even in defeat Carthaginians will hold their heads high and never bow down in submission.

But while its people enjoyed their day under the bright sun, despite the sufferings their armies suffered at the hands of Rome, inside the assembly where the great nobles and elites of Carthage debated the day-to-day matters of the city the talk was one of reflection. The hubbub within the assembly talked of the peace treaty conducted by Gesgo and how the nobles hoped Carthage could move on from years of destructive warfare that had claimed thousands of its men. However, the hubbub soon died down, as the two suffetes stood up from their seats at the head of the assembly to face the nobles of Carthage.

“Honourable Carthaginians from the noblest of families among our land,” the first suffet spoke loudly so to be heard within the assembly. “Peace with Rome may be at hand, thanks to the noble efforts of Gesgo to conduct a treaty, but there are still loose ends to tie up from Hamilcar’s valiant campaign in Sicily,” Murmurs ran across the assembly eager to know what they were – yet more demands from the Romans? The second suffet stood up so to answer the questions that lay on the tongues of the Carthaginian nobles. He produced a piece of parchment from within his tunic and brandished it for the whole assembly to see.

“I have here a letter from Gesgo who now commands the forces in Sicily after Hamilcar resigned from the army and transferred power to him,” he explained before reading out aloud what the piece of parchment entailed.

To the assembly of Carthage,

I write to you so to give news of our current situation in Sicily. The peace treaty that was ratified by our assembly means it is merely a formality the Roman Senate will agree to the terms within the treaty. Peace will come to a world that has known nothing but war these last twenty years or so. For that I am grateful.

But another problem has arisen as a result of the war with Rome ending. That is what to do with the twenty thousand mercenaries under Carthaginian command that are still in Sicily. It has been seven long years since they landed in Sicily under the command of Hamilcar. Seven long years since they have waited to been paid the money they are owed. Now war has ended it is time they are given the wages owed to them.

The problem that I, but also Hamilcar had ever since the end of the war, has been how to pay the mercenaries. Twenty thousand men is quite a significant amount of men to command let alone feed and billet if need be. As of late the mercenaries have been restless wondering when they will be paid now the war has ended. Thankfully, I have come up with an idea that could solve this problem.

We simply divide the twenty thousand mercenaries into small detachments of two thousand men each. One at a time we send each contingent of mercenaries to Carthage where they will collect the years of backpay in owed wages that they are entitled to. When each contingent has received their pay they will be sent back to the country of origin hence ending their service to Carthage. It will solve two potential problems with one thrust. It would quell the huge burden that paying the mercenaries would have on the state treasury while trying to pay the indemnity to Rome.

I feel the proposed plan is sound and will rid twenty thousand mercenaries in a single stroke. I await the assembly’s reply.

Gesgo


Whispers swept through the assembly during and after the second suffet read the letter. It was only after the whispers died down did the assembly reply to Gesgo’s recommendations.

“I agree to what Gesgo has said!” one noble exclaimed. “By giving what the mercenaries owe we will demobilize them and have them rid. In a time of peace we have no need of them. This is the best way and I say heed Gesgo’s words,” Nods of agreement spread across the lavish arena of debate. In turn another noble stood up that led to other to turn to him in anticipation. He was not like the other aristocrats within the room – for he was Hanno the Great.

“I disagree to these recommendations,” he spoke, stroking his beard in the process. “How can we afford to pay these mercenaries when under the stipulations of the treaty to Rome we have to give Rome a thousand Euboean talents? The long war with the Romans has exhausted our treasury. By succumbing to these mercenaries we will merely bankrupt our treasury and ruin our city. I’d rather spend money to better things such as the widows and orphans of our fallen soldiers than mercenaries from blasphemous lands that enjoy the protection of Carthage!” Loud shouts of approval reverberated within the assembly, as men pounded their hands onto the stone seats in agreement at what Hanno said.

“Let us spend the money onto far important things like the city and rebuilding our great people!” shouted another.

“What have the mercenaries ever done for us? They don’t warrant not one year of backpay let alone seven! If they did then Rome would be defeated and they would be the ones suing for peace,” added a noble, whose anger towards the mercenaries masked his sorrow at losing two of his sons at the bloody sea battle of Ecnomus. While this hostility to the mercenaries continued within the rear of the assembly was a hooded man who looked on with disdain etched on his face.

“Fools,” Hamilcar hissed to himself. “Hanno and these pitiful excuses of nobles will bring ruin on us all,” As Hamilcar stood up and quietly walked away the clamour within the assembly died down when one of the nobles stood up so to address the crowd.

“I can see our views here differ when it comes to whether we should pay the mercenaries that have fought for us,” he stated to his fellow nobles. “However, I have a proposal that will hopefully cater to both sides of the argument. Instead of paying the seven years backpay to the mercenaries, which has been recommended by Gesgo, we pay them but less than the recommendation?”

“How will that be done?” asked a noble eager to test out the durability of the plan.

“Delay payment,” came the reply. “Make them settle for less than what they were to be paid and instead of paying each contingent have them housed in Carthage so to delay payment and make them accept less money. Besides, it is unfeasible to pay them what with the state of the treasury. If we can make the mercenaries accept less money then it will be a success,” The suffetes looked at the assembly to see what their felt to the proposal put forward. Quite a few seemed positive while others were unsure. The suffetes would soon force them to show their hand.

“The proposal is put to the vote,” cried out the first suffet. “All those in favour?” Three quarters of the assembly raised their hand.

“All against?” said the second suffet. A quarter raised their hand.

“The proposal is passed,” confirmed the first suffet. “It shall be enacted at once without delay. Have orders written out to Gesgo with orders to bring the first detachment to Carthage as soon as the seas are favourable for ships to set sail. As soon as the first detachment lands in Carthage then have the mercenaries come into the city in greater numbers. Regular and citizenry soldiers will patrol the area they are to be billeted in so to make sure public order is maintained. Are there any questions?”

The assembly stayed silent confirming the agreement of the policy just voted through. With no questions given the suffetes decided to end the gathering of the assembly for the day, as the Carthaginians dispersed to their homes or to carry out their daily tasks. But though the nobles and aristocrats of Carthage felt content they had no idea of the repercussions it would bring to their homeland. As Hamilcar within a secluded alley saw the nobles leave the assembly he shook his head ruefully.

“I pray the mercenaries do not revolt,” he spoke to himself. “If they do then let us hope Carthage does not burn under the murderous revenge of these mercenaries. Praise be to Ba’al that I will be away from all this,” As Hamilcar sighed to himself the now private citizen walked away and headed out of the city to his residence to the east of the city. The ex-general hoped now he could enjoy the comforts of being a citizen and not the rigors of military life within the Carthaginian army.

But little did he know how wrong he would be.

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 03-11-14 10:47 AM EDT (US)     14 / 16       
A nice development of the plot, tarnished by only a few sentences of confusion.

Still, I love the way you grow the story and bring it to life.

Well done, my friend!

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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
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Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 03-16-14 02:48 PM EDT (US)     15 / 16       
Another excellent update carefully building up the tension that is to follow... Well done!

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 04-01-14 10:53 PM EDT (US)     16 / 16       
As always, politicians procrastinate and choose a quick and short-term solution instead of the longer and far-sighted one. Can't wait for the next update LoH

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
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