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

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

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

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

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

“Then kill them,” the legate ordered curtly.

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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 @ 01:04 AM).]

AuthorReplies:
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 01-15-10 04:23 PM EDT (US)     51 / 98       
The only thing is that doctores really isn't suited to this at all. Doctor comes from from the verb doceo, docere, docui, doctus meaning to teach - it really has no relation to medical practise at all for this period.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 01-15-10 04:28 PM EDT (US)     52 / 98       
How about physicians? I use it all the time in my story.

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-15-10 05:00 PM EDT (US)     53 / 98       
Physicians and surrgeons will work.
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 01-15-10 05:40 PM EDT (US)     54 / 98       
Part of what I was trying to get across was that medici are the higher level doctors. If you want to try to stay close to the Latin, accensi are "attendants" or "orderlies".

However, as long as medici aren't field medics, I'm more than happy. And I am more than willing to overlook a bit of semantic license in favor of an excellent tale.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-16-10 04:18 AM EDT (US)     55 / 98       
I have not thought about field medics, to be honest. Sorry for any confusion. I used medicus as a term for both stretcher-bearer and lower-lever medical doctor, like the interns at a hospital, and reserved doctore for the senior doctors. The latter I will switch out to physicians and surgeons, and when I need a term for the stretcher-bearer, I will use orderly or accensi (I like that one!).

Thanks for all the help, all of you.

EDIT: I have gone through and checked. Medicus and its forms were used as doctors, not field medics, as intended.

Where I had used Doctores as senior medici has been changed to physician or surgeon. Leeches, a term used in medieval days for doctors, I left in as 'military jargon' that the soldiers would use among themselves.

Thanks again for the input.

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 01-16-2010 @ 07:39 AM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-18-10 04:26 AM EDT (US)     56 / 98       
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Rutilius was proven a true prophet. Two days later, the VI Victrix ran into another fresh village. Messala had his cornicen blow three long blasts upon the horn. Minutes later, a courier from Cordinus arrived.

“The general orders you to dig in, legate,” the courier announced. “He issued the same orders to the X Gemina. He fears a trap.”

“Acknowledge the order as received,” Messala replied with a broad grin. “And inform the general that we shall prepare a proper welcome for the Bructeri we know are within those walls- as well as for those in the bushes across the stream beyond.”

The courier saluted and rode towards the X Gemina to pass on the order. He caught a glimpse of three cohorts moving quickly- but they were moving quickly northeast. He saw neither the rest of the legion, nor its legate, before deciding to return to the general. Someone was about to get sacked.

He passed the VI Victrix, and noticed they were not digging in, but preparing equipment for a storm- knotting ropes, cutting ladders, and the like. He sought out Messala.

“Lord, you are preparing an assault!” the courier cried. “The orders you acknowledged were to dig in!”

Messala grinned. “I acknowledged his order that we were going to prepare a proper welcome for these Bructeri. And we are going to. Now either go back and tattle on me, or do something useful like going forward and scout the village yourself.”

The courier looked about and saw the legionaries were almost ready. And he looked over the village and saw a hundred or so heads bobbing about. Then he looked to where the general was- far to the rear, and decided for once to be useful. He rode forward, and circled.

Arrows reached out toward him, but they were far and slow, giving him more than enough time to spur his horse out of range. He counted the fallen arrows- no more than twenty, and snorted.

“They have no more than twenty archers,” he reported to Messala. “And about eighty defenders, maybe forty more.”

“Do not go past the village,” Messala ordered. “I don’t want you spooking the several thousand that are waiting to ambush us there.”

“What?” roared the courier.

Messala sighed. “Like the last two villages. The Germani put up a token defense and then flee. This causes our young bucks to break formation giving chase, then those Germans hammer us while we are vulnerable. Only this time we are an anvil. Stick around, kid, you might learn something. Primus! Are the men ready?”

“Aye, legate,” came the shouted reply.

“And the word from the X Gemina?”

“They should be there in another ten minutes, sir,”

Messala nodded. “Tribunes, get the men into position. We storm this burg with four cohorts in ten minutes. I want the other six to bypass the village riverward and come up on the flank.”

The tribunes saluted and ran off to carry out the order. The courier shrugged and asked where the legate wanted him.

“You stick with me,” Messala ordered. “You can give a true account to the general afterwards.”

The II, III, V, and I cohorts of the VI Victrix assaulted the palisaded village ten minutes later. As at the previous village, the actual storm occurred so fast and so violently that there was hardly any resistance. Only ten men were found inside, and they were easily killed. The rest had vanished.

Then the fire storm began. Flaming arrows- dozens upon dozens of them- rained down among the dried thatch roofs, setting the village afire. The cohorts of the VI Victrix turtled up to weather the storm..

Then a horn blew.

The arrows ceased.

Abruptly.

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The X Gemina reached the streambed and charged right through it, cohorts in column. Rutilius halted his bodyguards and cornicen there and counted the cohorts. When seven had crossed, he signaled the cornicen who blew a single long blast upon the horn.

The notes carried through the forest. Like a machine, the cohorts halted and faced to the right, seven cohorts now on line, then charged forward.

“Come on,” Rutilius commanded his cavalry. “To the far flank, at the gallop!”

The bodyguards followed their commander to the far end of the charging legion.

The surprise was total. The Bructeri ambushers- intent on raining fiery death into what they thought was a milling mass of disorganized legionaries in the village- neither saw nor heard the approach of the X Gemina. Their first inkling that something was amiss was when pila tore into their exposed flanks, followed by sword-wielding legionaries shouting battle-cries and cutting down any fool stupid enough to look at them.

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On the riverward flank, the six cohorts of the VI Victrix plowed into a Bructeri contingent and annihilated it. Then they too turned north towards the center, combining with the X Gemina to form a gigantic vise.

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“Get out of here now, brother,” Ulfrich roared to his brother as he watched his flanks collapse under the unexpected Roman onslaught. “We are doomed!”

“Aye,” Udo agreed. “Bructeri, we are leaving! Flee! Every man for himself. Rally at the headwaters!”

With that, the Bructeri kings and their horsemen bolted from the failed ambush. Their men followed, those that could, but most could not escape the crushing jaws of the Roman pincers. Some did, but far more fell throwing themselves upon Roman scuta in a brave attempt to bash a way to freedom- and getting a gladius in the gut for their effort.

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Rutilius halted abruptly, sending his bodyguard into a frenzy of rearing horses and shouted curses. He ignored both, and whipped up his bow. He knocked an oaken arrow, aimed, and let it fly with a whispered “Seek.”

The arrow flew true, yet the speed of his target was more than he had accounted for. The arrow missed the broad back of the helmeted and armored warrior, in line with the ribcage but falling short. The target gave a yelp as the arrow penetrated his buttocks and nailed them to the saddle, to the amusement and laughter of the Batavians who witnessed this most insulting of wounds. Then the horsemen were gone from sight, and Rutilius returned his bow to its case, still strung.

“Every time I have the chance to kill the enemy commander, I screw it up,” he cursed to himself. First Arrius Varus at Bedriacum with my franscisca denting but then ricocheting from his helm, and now the Bructeri warlord with an arrow in his ass instead of his spine. Caca. He drew his sword as the Remi closed in around his Batavians, and pointed to the last serious pocket of Bructeri resistance.

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Horalth felt angry. Bitter and angry. His kings had deserted him, leaving him and two thousand others to face two legions alone. Another two thousand already lay dead before the kings fled, and more fell with every grain of sand through an hourglass. All that remained of a well-trained and disciplined Bructeri warhost were these two thousand- and they were already broken into pockets of several hundred.

He raised his axe and brought it crashing down upon a Roman helm. The axe skittered off the thick iron crest to glance from the bronze neckplate before wedging into the laminated steel defending the man’s shoulder. He felt a sharp pain in his belly for his effort, and his legs went numb.

He fell, and just as the short sword of the Roman he faced sank into his chest, he heard the thunder of horsemen at the charge. He died with a smile on his face, thinking the kings returned. He passed on before he could realize the charging horsemen were Remi and Batavians shattering the impromptu shield-walls of his brethren, bringing the Bructeri to their knees in defeat.

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|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 01-18-10 11:08 AM EDT (US)     57 / 98       
Excellent!

I like your sig by the way... except the Netherlands flag doesn't really look right on the right, however long you took to get it lined up perfectly.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 01-18-10 01:03 PM EDT (US)     58 / 98       
Looks like the Bructeri are undone!

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 01-18-10 01:44 PM EDT (US)     59 / 98       
Excellent, Rutilius and Messala know what's to be done; even though the generalis doesn't.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Aftermath
HG Alumnus
posted 01-19-10 05:39 AM EDT (US)     60 / 98       
Masterfully written, Terikel.

The way you wrote the battle was great, descriptive enough to paint a picture for me but without getting lost in the details as I often do.

As for the debate regarding the use of Latin I think you hit the nail on the head;
I'll stick with medici for lower-tier doctors and medical workers. For the more advanced medical personnel, doctores (teachers, masters) might still be fitting, but I will try to switch to surgeons where possible- I want the term and level of competence to be readily available to non-Latin speakers. Stretcher-bearers will no longer be referred to as medici.
I don't know more than a handful of Latin terms so for me this is indeed the best compromise, the last thing you would want to do it alienate the non-latin speakers.

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 01-21-10 03:24 AM EDT (US)     61 / 98       
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Palla gave his legate the casualty count as sunset began. The numbers were good- the X Gemina had lost very few. Next to him, Messala was also receiving his count- it too was low. And between the two legions, four thousand five hundred Bructeri warriors had perished. Not a bad total, considering the three hundred Roman losses- most of which were wounded and expected to recover.

Cordinus had yet to hear the numbers. He was busy searching the battlefield for his legates, and when he found them, he stormed up to them, angry as a swarm of bees whose nest was kicked over.

He went straight up to Rutilius when he spied him.

“You are sacked, Rutilius,” he shouted. Somehow he thought volume added emphasis and strength to his words. “You deliberately disobeyed my orders.”

“I did not,” Rutilius replied honestly and calmly.

“I did,” Messala shouted back. He had had about enough of this puffed-up baboon who could not general his way out of a rotten canvas sack. “Your courier came with the orders to halt and dig in- putting us in perfect position for these bastards to burn our camp around our ears in the night. I did what any decent legate ought to do- I seized the initiative and destroyed the enemy.”

“You are out of line!” Cordinus shouted back.

“Try sending me home in disgrace, general,” Messala laughed haughtily. “Go on. Do it. You dare not, for you know I am a well-respected and veteran legate of the senatorial class- your peers- and that my patrons in Rome- Mucianus, Cerealis, and even the Imperator himself- would take my combat-experienced battle savvy over your worthless word any day of the week and twice on the feriae.. My attack at Bedriacum put him on that throne, general, while you were still sucking down unwatered wine and wenching with the other lowlifes on the Aventine.”

He pointed to the dead lying in heaps where they fell. And at the burning village behind him. “Here is the proof that I was correct to do so. Look about, sir. Nine full cohorts of dead Bructeri warriors, many of them archers. You cannot argue with success. Your orders caused us losses with no return. Mine- and Rutilius, here, brought about this- a crushing victory, in your name, you ungrateful bastard. And you want to sack us? Ha!”

Cordinus reeled back from the tirade. Even more so by the shocking applause and raucous cheering erupting from the men of both legions at the words of the legate.

“These are words that are better exchanged in private, legate,” he finally managed to croak out after a long struggle against the overwhelming support his legate shared at his expense.

Messala had the general by the nuts now and was not about to let go. He squeezed harder. “I should show you respect by handling this in private? Where was the respect you showed Marcus here, who took on a Bructeri warband alone? Or got sent into that booby-trapped tower? Or almost got killed along with his entire legion because you wanted him to guard empty camps? Or even here, the site of a grand victory? You showed him none, and came here shouting publicly of his dismissal. So tell me, generalis, why should I show you any respect when you show more to your German spies than your own, veteran legates?”

That sank in. “What are you talking about, Messala?”

“Your Marsi and Tencteri guides,” Messala reminded him. “I am willing to bet they are actually Bructeri spies. The Germans knew we were coming even before you ordered it. They prepared and planned for it, you shit-for-brains, and built this wonderful path for us to follow. Then they send two ‘guides’ to you to ensure we stay on said path. You know nothing of Germania, yet you are their puppet, and the Bructeri king is pulling your strings.”

“That is enough, legate!” Cordinus roared. He found his balls again. “Those guides came with high recommendations from Rome! You levy baseless allegations against me, while you yourself are guilty of treason by your own mouth?”

“Courier!” Messala ordered. “Tell the general.”

The general’s courier came forward. “When word of this village reached us, lord, you conferred first with the guides before ordering the legate to halt and dig in. I relayed this order as you commanded, then went to find the X Gemina. They had evidently drifted north, and I was unable to reach them, so I returned to the VI Victrix where I was told that this was indeed a trap, and that the legate was going to handle it. And he did, lord! Look about you! Bructeri pride, lying dead upon the ground. Had they loosed their fire arrows against our camps, we might have been hurt bad. As it was, they were hurt bad.”

Cordinus could not argue against proof of this magnitude any longer. His eyes saw the dead Germani, saw their bows and unlit fire arrows, and their numbers. He saw how they were hidden in the brush, and only came out when confronted with cold steel. His imagination did the rest- he saw the burning camps and terrified men being mercilessly cut down by the crossfire of Bructeri arrows- all of which would have happened had his orders been obeyed.

But he could not bring himself to question his guides. Fredrik was a Marsi hunter, Nevel a Tencteri trader. Both had been recommended by senators who had served in this province. Neither had any love for the Bructeri who had slaughtered their families. He had dined with these men, shared bread and wine with them, heard their tales. They were good people, devoted to Rome. And his only source of information about this area.

Yet there were forty five hundred bodies of proof laying about that said otherwise.

“I will report your insubordination to Rome,” he threatened. He turned to Rutilius and added, “yours too. But for the time being you both are still my legates. Clean up this mess and encamp. We will be here for a time while I sort this out.”

With that, Cordinus returned to his staff with the XXI Rapax, leaving the two beaming legates and their cheering legionaries far, far behind.

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Amensius was about to leave the finished camp when the general came storming in, trailing a bodyguard that looked as if it had seen better days. Cordinus almost passed without noticing him, then turned his horse sharply and rode up to the legate.

“You were in on this too, weren’t you?” he asked sullenly.

Lucius Amensius looked up at the general in confusion at the tone and manner. And that saved his career.

“I guess not,” Cordinus realized. “It is nice to know that I have at least one loyal legate in this army.” And with that, he turned sharply again and rode for his tent. His guides would have some serious explaining to do concerning a dead warhost that had lain in wait.

“Bring me Nevel and Fredrik,” he ordered the blond guard at his tent, then went inside when the guard saluted. He poured himself a goblet of fine Falernian and downed it, then drained another. Slowly, the pent-up rage inside him began to ebb.

His guides were ushered in. Cordinus handed them each a goblet and filled it, then crashed back down on his couch as the guard exited. He waved his standing guards away to make the guides feel more secure. Maybe they would then open up, seeing him trust them more than his mutinous legates. Plus he did not want Romans eyes glaring down upon him.

“Tell me, my friends,” he commanded. “Tell me why there was a Bructeri ambush on the other side of the village, a village that is not on the map of Germanicus?”

He was expecting some chatter about the village not being known then, having been built since Germanicus was there sixty years before, or that the Bructeri just got lucky. Plausible excuses that made sense. He was not expecting the two to look at each other, shrug, and mumble in German, “Es ist vorbei. Töten ihn und wir verlassen hier.

Not understanding a word, he assumed they were discussing their answer, or concocting another tall tale to feed him. Messala was right- these two are not to be trusted. He expected them to blather and beg for his mercy. He definitely did not expect them to draw their daggers and come at him.

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Amalric was very uncomfortable in this Roman garbage he was forced to wear. He was also rather ticked at being forced to stand inside this stiff metal shirt outside of a tent. It was also rather boring listening to Latin babble all day long. And the general? Such a stupid man! Hard-headed, ambitious, glory-hungry, yet talentless. All he had to do for success was turn his legates loose. It was bloody obvious that he neither knew nor cared about Germania. He was just another Roman rich man on his way to somewhere else.

Then he heard words in his native Germanic, though the dialect was different.

Es ist vorbei. Töten ihn und wir verlassen hier.” It is over. Kill him and we go.

Scheisse! Amalric drew his short legionary sword and stormed inside.

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Nevel and Fredrik attacked. They had not taken two steps toward their target when the legionary came storming in, sword in hand. Nevel turned to face this unexpected intrusion, but Amalric was too quick and too ready. He cut the assassin down before that man’s turn to face him was half-completed.

Fredrik reacted to Nevel’s fall with a lunge toward Cordinus. Nevel’s falling corpse, with its head half severed, blocked the incoming legionary from physically coming between him and his target. But Amalric was a Batavian who lived on the border and fought the barbarians from across the river many times before. He saw immediately he could not reach the general- but his sword could reach the assassin. He was for once thankful he was armed with such a large knife in place of a proper sword. He threw it at Fredrik.

The was only enough room for the blade to tumble one before it covered the distance. Fredrik caught the gladius in his chest, just left of center, and fell forward that last step onto the general before rolling off the shrieking man to land lifeless upon the tent’s earthen floor. His sightless eyes saw nothing, but his dying brain felt drops of warm liquid caress his brow as he passed on.

Mediki!” Amalric roared, the term unfamiliar to his mouth. Verdamme! “Serjins!”

Other guards came barging in. Amalric was clamping a hand over a bloody patch on the general’s shirt. In barbarous Latin he explained the guide with the sword in his chest had just stabbed the general, despite his own efforts to slay them before they struck.

Cordinus, choking in his own blood, nodded a confirmation to the tale. His guards checked the guides- both were very dead. But the general still lived. One guard was dispatched to put a rather large boot up the butts of those slow medici. It worked. The doctors finally arrived after six long minutes. They immediately pulled the general to a seating position so as not to drown him in his own chest.

Cordinus looked to the guard who had saved him- or at least tried. He managed to wheeze out, “You ...are not ... Roman, are you?” before collapsing into a fit of coughing. Bloody Germans everywhere... Frothy blood dotted the mucus. Lung, he thought bluntly. Then he thought nothing at all as he slipped into unconsciousness, drowning inside his body.

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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 01-21-2010 @ 11:16 AM).]

Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 01-21-10 10:53 AM EDT (US)     62 / 98       
I don't like Cordinus and he is a total idiot, but I can't help hoping he makes it. You are an awe-inspiring tale-weaver, Terikel Masterskald. There's a little typo at the beginning, but otherwise nothing I could possibly complain about.

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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

(dis ma house)

[This message has been edited by Edorix (edited 01-21-2010 @ 10:58 AM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-21-10 11:07 AM EDT (US)     63 / 98       
The who-whose foutje (boo-boo)? Spellchecker missed it as 'who' is a real word. My Mk I Eyeball, which missed it on the first go around, found it on the second- thanks for the tip on where to search.

Cordinus has a lot in common with the man I modeled him off of- Varus. Both were successful governors elsewhere, came to the same province, acted the same way (distrusting legates, trusting spies), and both suffered for it. As to his fate... I say nothing. You will just have to wait.

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 01-21-2010 @ 11:16 AM).]

CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 01-21-10 11:11 AM EDT (US)     64 / 98       
You mean:
Bructeri warriors was perished.
Anyway, excellent chapter. Even though there wasn't a battle

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-21-10 11:17 AM EDT (US)     65 / 98       
Thanks. Fixed.

Battle coming soon.

Until then, relax with the striking down of a Roman governor in his own tent...
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 01-21-10 11:27 AM EDT (US)     66 / 98       
I couldn't stop laughing when I saw the two German spies look at each other and just try and kill him.

I hope Cordinus dies!

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 01-21-10 05:25 PM EDT (US)     67 / 98       
Yes, the rather nonchalant reaction of the "guides" was very amusing.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-25-10 02:25 AM EDT (US)     68 / 98       
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The general’s bodyguards pulled the Batavian rather roughly away from their charge. Two of them held the Batavian by his arms, to prevent further attacks on their charge while the surgeons worked feverishly to bind the wound.

“His lung is punctured,” the doctor announced to the guards. “I’ve done all I can do. Whether he lives or dies now is up to him, and you. If he moves now, he will die. If he stays immobile for a time, he may die, or may live.”

“If he dies, so do you, German spy,” the guard holding Amalric said bluntly. The Batavian looked at him with utter awe at such blatant stupidity.

“If I die, so will you all,” he replied. “For my death would be murder.”

“Spies should be killed,” was the low reply.

“And they are dead,” the Batavian retorted angrily. “I killed them both. You left your charge alone with two assassins. Who here is derelict in their oath to their lord?”

The guard drew his sword. Enough was enough.

Amalric broke free of the remaining man holding him- who was either not ready for such resistance, or if he was, wanted to see his comrade kill this assassin. The Batavian drew his dagger. He waved the guard with the bared blade on with a smile.

The other bodyguards backed away, leaving their comrade the room to fight this arrogant Germani.

“Stop this horseshit right now,” bellowed a stern voice. Lucius Amensius burst into the tent and stood between the two. Both men lowered their weapons, then began shouting to the legate their reports. Amensius shut them both up and took the tales one at a time.

He looked about while they reported. The bloodstains and patterns matched the Batavian’s tale, as did the spotless dagger he still held and empty scabbard on his right hip. The gladius that should have been there was lodged in the chest of a guide. The doctor’s report sealed the tale- the general had been stabbed with a dagger.

Amensius turned to the bodyguard. Icy fire shot from his eyes, boring into the hapless man before him. “You fools left your charge alone with two armed men of the enemy’s breed. I do not know why they chose this time to strike, but I have my suspicions. This man,” he said to the guards, indicating the Batavian, “was put here by me to watch over those guides. We legates do -did- not trust them, while your charge thought they spouted words from the fountain of wisdom. Do you know why I put this man here?”

“You did not trust us either,” the Samnite bodyguard replied sullenly.

Amensius shook his head. “No. I put him here because not a one of you can speak a bloody word of the devil’s tongue that is spoken here. How can you guard a man who associates with people you cannot understand? They were spies- assassins now- and only this man’s understanding of Germanic enabled him to even try to protect your lord- something which you yourselves failed miserably to do!”

He took a deep breath. “You, Batavian. Return to the camp of the Xth and inform your lord of these events. And you, Samnite, guard this tent with your life. Nobody but the general’s aide, yourselves, and we legates inside.” He paused, then laughed a bitter chuckle. “And the medici, of course.”

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“We have a problem,” Amensius reported to his fellow legates. “As you have heard, those guides we suspected were spies turned into assassins.”

“Cordinus is dead?” Messala gasped. “How the hell did that happen?”

“He was wounded, not killed outright,” Rutilius corrected. “My Batavian saved his ass. But the wound is dire; he may not pull through.”

“Leaving us here on the far side of the Rhenus, close to where Varus and his three legions perished,” Amensius concluded. “I for one do not want a repeat of that.”

“Nor do I,” Messala agreed. He turned to Rutilius. “Well, Marcus, what do we do now?”

Rutilius thought for a moment, though the answer to that silly question was blindingly obvious.

“We choose one of us as commander, and abandon this foolish expedition,” he declared. ”We know next to nothing about this area- our sole sources of intelligence are two dead spies we cannot trust and a sixty-year-old map. Three generations, that. A lot of babies can be born in three generations- and we know nothing as to where and how many.

“We have fought three warhosts already, and have no idea of how many more there are, or if the other tribes would join the Bructeri. So, we have no idea where we are, what lies about us, how many or from where the enemy is or will come. Our choice is obvious. We exit. Bring our boys back to our side of the Rhein and do it right- the Roman way.”

“Agreed,” Amensius replied. Messala joined him.

“So who is in command now?” asked Rutilius.

The other legates smiled. “You are, of course,” the said in unison.

“You were the governor before Saturninus and Cordinus, thus outrank me,” Messala added.

“Plus you commanded the eight legions at Vetera better than Messala did,” Amensius added. “No offence, Gnaeus, but I don’t want a repeat of that experience.”

Messala laughed. “Neither do I. Marcus, you are the commander. Your orders?”

Rutilius pondered, then decided. “We dig in. We have to, until the surgeons clear the governor for movement. It would be too ironic to survive German ambushes and battles only to be brought down by Roman justice for killing our governor by simply moving him. So we sit until he is stable enough to move, then we un-ass this area.”

“And if the Germani come before the governor is able to be moved?”

Rutilius shrugged. “Then we will need a new governor. Personally I would rather need a new governor than a new governor and three new legions. Now, legates, let’s see to our camps. Bring them in close where they can support each other, but ensure good water and latrine services. Then we patrol and wait.”

Messala groaned and rolled his eyes up into his head at the detail in the orders. “We’re not tyros, Marcus! Don’t you start down that path too.”

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Ulfrich entered his King’s Hall and sat down at the long table with an audible thump. A maiden hastened to bring him a horn of beer while another removed his cloak and boots. Udo, pacing to relieve the pain in his healing buttocks, watched his brother with some faint amusement at this unusual display of petty frustration.

“What is the word, my brother?” Udo finally asked of his twin.

Ulfrich shrugged. “The Romans destroyed most of my warhost, almost to the last man,” he grumbled. I have less than a thousand where once we were stronger than a legion. With Erhard’s destruction earlier, we have only one warband left. The Witch was right- we are doomed, despite our best efforts.”

Udo smiled. “I have news, brother, that may cheer you. The Marsi have been watching the river between us very closely. They have seen the Roman advance, and the battles we have fought. They are coming.”

“Great,” whined the lesser king. “More Germani to die upon Roman swords. Even if the entire Marsi nation comes with every warrior they have- and they won’t- their numbers are still less than the Romani.”

“And if a warhost of Chauci should magically appear? Say, ten thousand warriors?” Udo added.

Ulfrich bolted upright. “The Chauci come?”

“Aye,” Udo said warmly. “At least ten thousand and probably more, led by old Theo Longbeard, their king himself. Calor of the Marsi also comes, bringing six thousand Marsic warriors and two thousand Tencteri who have joined him. It is as we planned, brother,” he said with true joy lacing his voice. “The Romans come, and our Germanic brothers gather to our banners for battle! If we can hold them off for a fortnight alone, we will no longer be alone.”

Ulfrich sat back with relief. “Nevel has their king under his thumb. I must get word to him to hold the Romani in place- a red cloth tied to a tree on their line of march would suffice, or a fisher boat with a red streamer fluttering from its masthead. Afterward, when we are ready, we send another fisherman with a blue streamer, and Nevel leads those Roman dogs into that open plain north of the headwaters...”

“And three tribes crush them,” Udo finished. “Just like when Hermann the Cherusci crushed that pig Varus. But unlike Hermann, we intend to exploit such a victory. Seval showed us the way. The Rhein border will be opened at last. Rome herself may fall to our onslaught thereafter!”

“As the Witch also predicted,” Ulfrich noted. “She said so to Seval himself. Rome would fall at least three times to warriors of our blood.”

“First these three legions, then Gaul,” Udo agreed. “And finally Rome herself.” He paused briefly. “Brother, do you trust Nevel? These last two ambuscades of ours, and the fate of Erhard... They did not go as planned. Could Nevel have taken Roman gold and become one himself?”

Ulfrich snorted. “I stake my life on his loyalty, Udo. He has been there for almost a year, among those who had slain his father and brothers. He still hates them very much. His wife told me that no matter what the Romans offer, they cannot sway him from his loyalty to our tribe. He is Bructeri, through and through.”

“And can you trust her?” Udo retorted.

Ulfrich laughed. “She likes to talk after a bout of lovemaking. I have found that few women lie after experiencing the pleasures I bring them.”

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|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 01-25-10 04:58 AM EDT (US)     69 / 98       
Very nice Terikel!

I still wanted the legate to die though.

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 01-26-10 11:28 AM EDT (US)     70 / 98       
But if he does, Rutilius might have some explaining to do. The High Command doesn't trust him, after all.

An excellent update, Terikel. I'm looking forward to more BLOOD!

• EDORIX •
~ ancient briton ~

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

(dis ma house)
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-28-10 02:01 AM EDT (US)     71 / 98       
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The legions moved their camps to better positions, as ordered, and settled in. Cohort-sized patrols were set out, with three more cohorts ready to rush to their aid if needed. Other cohorts practiced weapons and maneuver drill in the grassy field between the camps.

The Remi and the Batavians ranged further afield. They discovered the remains of several more villages- true villages- and paths through the forest to fields that must originate by other villages. Their reports confirmed what the legates already knew- the Bructeri knew long in advance that the legions would march and had worked hard to prepare a fitting welcome to these unwanted visitors.

A week of this, plus foraging, found the legions in much better shape than before. Which was a good thing, for not a week later, the Remi returned with words of movement. A large warband had been spotted on the south bank of the Lupia, heading east, while another warband was spotted two days away from the north. It was just sitting there, but could move at any moment. Both were large, very large, but their true numbers hidden among the trees. If the Romans were lucky, the one warband would decide to battle the other.

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Ulfrich was hopping with joy when he saw his brother ride into his camp, even more so when he saw the look of approval on his brother’s face. He rushed to greet his twin.

“Udo, my brother, I see you are able to ride again!” he cried. “Now we are truly complete!”

“It still hurts,” the king replied, blushing at the mention of the insulting wound. “I would rather not talk about it.”

Ulfrich understood. It was shameful, that arrow. More shameful when it was extracted from his brother’s buttock- the arrow had Bructeri fletching. Erwin’s, to be exact. His brother king had been shot in the ass with an arrow made by a Bructeri spy, an arrow shot by a man they had tried twice to murder. Humiliating in the extreme. Yes, Ulfrich understood very well that his brother would no longer wish to talk about it.

“What do you think of our warhost?” he asked, changing the subject. “We have many warriors now, including horseborne. When it comes to battle, on ground of our choosing, we shall definitely end this matter once and for all.”

Udo ignored his brother’s idle boasting while he examined the warhost himself. True, they were many, and the ground was not ill-suited to an ambush the likes of which Hermann had pulled off. Plans began forming within his head. He looked down at his brother and asked, “Have we chosen a war-king yet?”

Ulfrich shook his head. “Calor wanted it. He is a good man, but has few warriors and has never faced Romans. Theo Longbeard has the most, but he is a warrior of the Old Guard- he would put us in a long line and charge. I was a contender, and still am, but my defeat in our last battle has hurt my reputation.”

“Nobody has proposed me?” Udo asked in surprise. “After all, it was my idea that got the Romans this far into our territory without suffering the horrendous losses Germanic tribes are used to taking from Roman incursions.”

“You were mentioned, until it became known about the wound of which we do not wish to speak,” Ulfrich muttered. “I for one am grateful Rutilius is such a poor archer. A little higher and I would have lost my brother.”

Udo nodded and clapped a hand upon his brother’s shoulder. “I am also grateful, though angered. Perhaps it is better if we let another rule the battle- an angry warlord makes mistakes. Mistakes kill good warriors.”

“There really is only one choice,” Ulfrich decided. “I must be war king. I am the only one among us who has faced Romans and drawn blood- our first and second battles with them. And with you as an advisor, Udo, we cannot fail to crush these beetles.”

Udo agreed. “We shall present this idea tonight at the council. An army this size needs unified leadership, or will become a simple mass of warriors easily trodden under.”

Night fell, and the kings gathered. All were solemn, dressed in their best armor, wit their weapons polished and helmets burnished. Calor wore a golden armband upon his left bicep, while Theo had a chain of thick gold marking him as the Chauci king. Udo and Ulfrich, standing tall and proud among this noble gathering, wore matching bracers of gold- the left on Udo, the right on Ulfrich. The warriors surrounding the kings stood in silent awe of their leaders.

“Warriors of the Tribes, we must now decide who among us is to be our war-king,” Udo announced in a loud voice. “Each king has been proposed, and each king has been rejected by another. We must end our bickering and choose- for the Romans come whether we are ready for them or not. It will go much better for us should we stand united, and that can only happen under a single war king.”

“You speak well,” Calor said in honest agreement. “We must have a single king as leader. I would serve, as I have the fewest warriors and thus can fight detached from my tribal loyalty. None other here can say the same- we have too many of our own dear warriors among us.”

“You disqualify yourself with those very words,” Theo Longbeard countered. “You have the least amount of warriors. You also have the least amount of battle experience. The Marsi sat still in the recent war across Father Rhein, while I have been leading warriors into battle for more than thirty summers now. I am thus the logical choice.”

“You have not faced Romans in most of those thirty summers,” Udo pointed out, “and lost heavily when you did. My brother, Ulfrich has faced them now three times this very summer- and has drawn more blood than he has lost in two of those battles. He is the proper choice.”

“Aye, he is good on the battlefield,” Calor noted. “But as a warrior, not a king. I have seen these battles. He fights like a lion, but lacks forethought. He would have died had it not been for your advice, Udo of the Bructeri.”

Ulfrich nodded at the truth spoken by the Marsic king. Udo noticed the nod with disdain, and his reaction was noted by the Chauci.

“I see you too have your doubts about your own brother,” Theo cried. “It is true then. Ulfrich fights well as a warrior, but not as a king. That leaves me as the best choice- I do both.”

“If I am king and my brother advises me, we shall be victorious,” Ulfrich shouted. “We have succeeded twice now. Three times is the lucky one. We shall win.”

“Your third battle ended in disaster,” Calor reminded him. “We saw the Romans slaughter your warband mercilessly upon the low bank.”

Udo saw it was time to play a trump. “Yes, that was unfortunate. The Romans did not follow our directions very well.”

“Ha!” laughed Theo Longbeard. “When do they ever?”

Well played, Udo. Ulfrich thought. Now slam him and I am king with you as my advisor.

Udo wasted no time. “Oh, they have been following our directions for some time now, ever since they crossed the Rhein, to be honest. Their king, Cordinus, trusts his legates not. Seedy rumors and innuendo do that, I am afraid. He trusts nobody, in fact, except for two men. Two Bructeri men, Nevel and Fredrik, who have been giving him the advice we had given them. Why do the Romans march in columns along the river, when our villages are higher up upon the banks? Why did they stop to assault those empty villages we built, only to be cut down by archers beyond? Why did they waste precious time losing men in the Witch’s Tower? Why? Because Nevel advised the Roman war king that he would meet success in such a manner. The Roman war king dances as a slave to our whim.”

He swept his eyes over the hushed crowd. He had them now. “We knew they would come- Veleda had seen it. We told you they would come. You ignored it. So we sent Nevel and Fredrik to the Romans, to offer themselves as guides. They made friends with the Roman war king, earned his trust through letters from his friends who had served here before- senators whom we Bructeri had befriended. And kept us informed of the Roman’s plans. We devised our own plans to counter his, and keep our people safe.”

He raised his arms to the night sky. “And by the gods it worked! The Romans follow our directions- mostly- and now sit still while we all come together. It is the judgment of the gods, my brothers, that they denude the border of legions and bring them here where we can slaughter them! It is fate, and we of the Bructeri, myself and Ulfrich, have made this happen.”

He shot a hawkish glare at Theo. “Always have we allowed Chauci warbands to cross our lands to raid and fight our common foe. Yet never could you think of such a triumph as this, or even attempted it. Three legions, as before under Hermann who destroyed three other legions not far from this very conclave. Three legions sit by the river, waiting for our signal to let them move towards us. Once we have chosen a war king, I shall send that signal, and then we shall destroy these armored beetles like our ancestors did.”

He lowered his arms. “Now my peers, we must chose. Shall we choose Calor, the weakest and most peaceful of us to lead us into this historic fray? Or shall we choose Theo Longbeard, a hoary veteran, who has yet to taste victory against our common foe? Or shall we choose Ulfrich, who has twice drawn more Roman blood than he has shed, and who also cut down two entire Roman legions with but a single warband?”

“What?” roared Theo and Calor in unison.

He had them now. “Aye, Ulfrich the Lion, slayer of legions. You have heard correctly. The legions had left their rockpile in Batavian hands and tried to slink away to the south unseen. Yet Bructeri eyes fell upon them, for in those days many of our warriors fought the beetles with the Batavians. Ulfrich heard, and swooped down upon them. He had captured their chieftains and slaughtered the warriors, and sacrificed the chieftains to Father Rhein.”

That pretty much decided the matter as far as Calor was concerned. Ulfrich had fought the legions and slaughtered two of them. He was the best choice, and with Udo the Spymaster as his advisor, the same success could be reached against three legions.

Theo jumped up in frustration. “Ulfrich slaughtered surrendered legions? Unarmed men? Ha! That makes him no hero in my eyes. Worse with an advisor who sits poorly due to an arrow in his ass.”

Udo placed his hand upon the hilt of his sword at the insult. “I am King of the Bructeri, Theo. My duty is to my entire people, not to a single warband. I gave the order for them to flee, and made sure they heard and obeyed before I too turned to retreat. I have gotten this insulting wound as honestly as a king may receive such a wound- leading my men from certain death.”

“You were shot in the ass fleeing like a scared rabbit,” Theo retorted angrily, and answered Udo’s hand on hilt gesture by drawing his own sword. “I will have no man as war king who claims the slaughter of unarmed men a grand victory and no advisor whose only claim to fame is a coward’s wound in his buttocks.”

Udo drew his sword in reaction, and the two men charged each other like rams in mating season- head on with no quarter. Theo was strong for his age, and Udo was not as quick as he normally was due to his injury. He still managed to parry away the Chauci slashing cut towards his head and lunge a riposte to draw a thin red line across the upper arm of his foe as they passed each other.

Theo whipped about like a snake and stabbed downward at the coward’s wound worn by his foe. He missed the injured buttock, but put a new nick into the unblemished one. Those seeing the stroke howled in laughter. They were stunned to silence a moment later when Udo, ignoring the biting yet minor wound, thrust his sword viciously backward to catch the Chauci king in the center of his chest with enough force to pierce the armor and the heart which lay under. Theo coughed once and fell to his knees, his bearded face in shock. Udo withdrew his sword from the deep chest. Theo, released from the only thing holding him upright, fell to the ground and rolled onto his back to watch for the Valkyries he knew were coming.

His fading eyesight saw only Udo as the Bructeri straddled the dying man. He could barely feel the hand tugging his hair, holding his head upright. Then he felt nothing at all when Udo beheaded him, with two powerful slashes.

Udo lifted the severed head to the council.

Holding it high and turning so all could see, he then lowered the head so that its vacant eyes were peering into the fresh wound upon his buttocks. “Theo, you now gaze upon a second insulting wound. Like the first, it too was gained in honorable combat.” He held the dripping head on high again. “As have you all,” he shouted. “Witness! Dishonorable wounds can indeed come from honorable battle. Now decide, damn you!”

Calor rose, and turned to the Chauci elders. “Your king drew steel first. There has been no cause for feud or vengeance,” he said, recounting the episode for those men who must now decide what the Chauci will do. “I think it best that you first decide on a new king, and then if the Chauci will remain in this alliance of tribes.”

A Chauci elder rose. “There was no cause for feud or vengeance,” he agreed. “Theo Longbeard chose his own fate. We do, however, feel gravely insulted by the actions of the Bructeri king upon Theo Longbeard after his fall.”

“He insulted my honor by assuming this coward’s wound was gained dishonorably,” Udo snarled. He breathed heavily for a moment, or two, letting the air fill his lungs deeply and expelling it slowly, so that it may take the anger with it. He began again, relaxed and again in control of his roaring temper. “Our brief duel proved him wrong. It would not be fair to let him accept Valhalla, where his spirit might find more troubles, without knowing the simple truth about wounds- it is not where they are, but how they are earned. It was in honor of him that I cut his head off and held it to my wound- the alternative was to sit bloodily upon his face- a terrible insult and a deed unworthy of any man here.”

It was a lame statement, but it contained just enough reason to make the claim that his actions were done in honor if without respect, and it was painfully obvious to all that the alternative stated was indeed a far greater insult. None could forget the joy upon the Bructeri’s face when his sword descended that second time into the neck of beloved Theo or the perverse pleasure he emanated as he held the head up to his wounds, then on high in display. This Bructeri enjoyed too much humiliating his opponent.

“We shall withdraw now,” the elder said, nodding slightly to Udo and the Bructeri. “And chose a new king. It is unknown if we shall return to fight with the Bructeri against the Romans, or come against the Bructeri. That is a decision for whomever we elect as king.”

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|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 01-28-10 10:44 AM EDT (US)     72 / 98       
So the Bructeri lose a potentially great ally... makes things too easy for Rutilius if you ask me.

Nice update. I like it when they focus on the barbarians.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 01-28-10 10:51 AM EDT (US)     73 / 98       
Good installment, Terikel.

I agree with Edorix. Diplomacy was never really one of the Bructeri's strong points.

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 02-01-10 06:38 AM EDT (US)     74 / 98       
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Lucius Albius dismounted inside the gates of the X Gemina camp and strode directly to the praetorium. The cavalry commander had news, and that news was not good.

“Hail, legate,” he said as he entered. He looked like he had not been out of the saddle for days- which he probably hadn’t. He was the only living tribunus of cavalry in the army. “That warband we had been tracking crossed the river upstream. Looks like seven to nine thousand, give or take. They are heading directly toward where the remnants of our last battle have gathered.”

“And that warband to the north?” Rutilius asked.

Lucius shrugged. “They moved beyond the scope of our patrols. They might be there lurking, or might have moved off. We are still keeping eyes in that area, and its environs, but so far nothing. I don’t want to risk a turma trying to find them yet.”

“Neither would I,” Rutilius agreed. He looked to Dieter, his Batavian guardsman. “Any ideas?”

Dieter shrugged, his damaged back making the gesture seem oddly puppet-like. “I have fought these monkeys many times on the other side of the Rhein, but never this deep into their home. If I were them, however, I would do as Seval did- scream bloody murder and call on my neighbors to help defeat the Romans. Most likely that warband is doing exactly that- moving to join the others. This bodes ill for our expedition.”

“So no chance they are going to fight each other, eh?”

Dieter shook his head. “Not while there are Romans to kill.”

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“Damn you, brother!” Ulfrich snarled to his twin. “You killed him. He was dead meat, growing cold. Then you ruin your victory with that tantrum of yours. What were you thinking?”

Udo recoiled, stunned at the vigor in his brother, and the power in his attack. Always it was Udo the Thinker, Ulfrich the Doer. This sudden trading of roles took him completely by surprise.

“You risk everything,” Ulfrich continued. “You risk our tribe! Without the Chauci, we stand no chance against these Romans, no matter how deep in our pocket their idiot general is. And for what? A wound on your ass? You are not stupid, brother, but this act of yours- it was very stupid indeed. It was worthy of my poorest moments after a half-barrel of ale.”

“You are correct,” Udo admitted. “It was a foolish thing to do, a petty moment of spite against a dead man. If I could fight that battle again, I would not do such. But I cannot, though my regret is stronger than the bear.”

Ulfrich calmed with the regret his brother now displayed. He knew Udo as a master actor, but the emotions he felt were real, and that made him smile inside. His brother was human.

“Your weak statements may have bought just enough favor from the Chauci to avoid having them fall upon us in the night, Udo,” Ulfrich continued. “But I doubt it will make them ever consider us as worthy allies again. You must do something, something bold and worthy of respect, to let the Chauci see your regret. You must, or our people die.”

Udo knew his brother spoke the truth. Three Roman legions were on his land, held only in check by the word of two men loyal to the tribe. Should that Roman king take his head from up his ass and look about, he would see how he was led to his position by Bructeri cunning, not Roman might. And then it would indeed be the end of his people. Very few tribes survived Roman vengeance.

“I shall give the Chauci our chest,” Udo decided. “Its silver should restore us to favor.”

“Forget that worthless metal!” Ulfrich shouted. “What good does silver do Chauci, who hunt and trade with other tribes goods made by honest hands? Offer them your sword, or first choice of all armor recovered on the field of battle. That will buy Chauci goodwill faster and stronger than mere money.”

Udo thought it over. By the gods, his brother was correct. Silver is useless to those who do not trade with the men of the South, but armor and weapons, aye, they speak to a warrior.

“It shall be done,” Udo decided. “We send an envoy to the Chauci camp. He will apologize for my hasty actions- though they were stupid, they were done in good faith- and offer the Chauci first pick of the battlefield spoils.”

“That will definitely infuriate them,” Ulfrich reminded him. “Go yourself. That will show them your sincerity, and honor.”

Udo nodded. It was time to face the lion. “It shall be done.”

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A Chauci elder approached the central fire two nights later. He was younger, about thirty, but both taller and stronger than Theo. His stride spoke of confidence, and his scars of battle, and his youth of prowess. He came into the firelight as Calor and the Bructeri kings discussed whether or not the Chauci would fight at their side, or return to their hilly homes and let the Romans punish the Bructeri for their king’s ire.

“It is not your place to decide the Chauci actions,” he announced. When he spoke, it was in a deep voice that carried- a voice of command. “As the new King of the Chauci, it is my place. And I say we fight alongside Calor and Ulfrich.”

His omission of Udo’s name was intentional. Though his trip to the Chauci camp the night before had smoothed over some ruffled feathers, not all favor had been restored.

“You mention my name first, young king,” Calor noted, though he remained silent upon the omission of Udo’s name. “Does that mean you choose me as our leader in this venture?”

The young king smiled. “No. I am Ricgard, and I choose myself as leader, for the same reasons my father chose himself- we Chauci are the most numerous, and I have the most battle experience of us all.”

“Ricgard the Bold?” asked Calor, his voice hushed with awe.

“So I have been called,” the young lion affirmed. “Since my beard started growing I have been leading men into battle- including a foray or two against the Romani in the late war, where my warband fought well.”

“As did we,” Udo countered. “And more recently we have tasted victory.” Then he smiled and abruptly changed tack as the quick biography of this new lion sank in. “You are a wonderful leader of men, it is said. The same has been said of Calor. You two make wonderful battlefield commanders, all agree. Ulfrich as well. On the battlefield, none can deny his prowess, or yours. You three are needed in the warhost, leading our men, encouraging them to valor, displaying your prowess.”

He smiled inside. “I am not bad on the battlefield either, but one does not want a war king on the front lines who is not bad. One wants a war king who is clever, and decisive, and above all not directly in the fray where he is blind to all else around him but the armored beetle before him, hiding behind his small wall. We need a thinking man as war king, not a fighting man. Thus I must change my vote, my brothers, and do as do ye- vote for myself.”

Calor and Ricgard sat back at this new thought, while Ulfrich sat utterly stunned. Udo wants himself to be war king, not I? Then the words sank in and reason argued with pride. It was a tough decision for the younger twin to make. Anguish twisted his features as he agonized over which was the better choice. In the end, he cast his vote as did the other two, the only real choice they had. Udo was the war king, the only one among them who could not fight as a true lion with the men he would be commanding, due to his wounds.

“Then it is decided,” Udo accepted with a nod. “We come together to kill Romans. Lets us now do so. Tomorrow we discuss how and where, and then I shall have my brother send the signal to Nevel to bring the Romans on.”

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

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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 02-02-2010 @ 02:13 AM).]

Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 02-01-10 11:05 AM EDT (US)     75 / 98       
Those poor Germans. They are doomed.

Little typo here:
...He came into the firelight was Calor and the Bructeri kings...
Something seems to be missing.
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 02-01-10 02:43 PM EDT (US)     76 / 98       
Actually, I believe a "w" was added so the line does not read as
...He came into the firelight as Calor and the Bructeri kings discussed...
Anyway, excellent chapter; Udo sees the error of his ways, but now wants to be war-king, interesting.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 02-01-10 04:09 PM EDT (US)     77 / 98       
I sense factional disputes.

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 02-02-10 05:02 AM EDT (US)     78 / 98       
Thanks for the tips. Corrected. It was indeed a 'w' that crept in unseen.

Thursday's chapter will be longer, but more focused on what's going on over by the Romans. Personally, I think it a rather good installment.

Until Thursday...

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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 02-02-2010 @ 07:10 AM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 02-04-10 02:05 AM EDT (US)     79 / 98       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Rutilius was walking the perimeter of his camp, peering into the forest for signs of activity, or gazing across the placid river as if trying to absorb its serenity into himself. Cordinus was still struggling for life, and his will was to continue the march to the Bructeri civitas and recapture those bloody eagles. Yet the man himself was comatose by a Bructeri assassin’s blade, and the situation changed since. Rutilius knew the expedition was doomed- the legions had been marching to the Bructeri tune, and in the face of unknown number of hostiles in an unknown land with unknown support, the wise thing was to retreat- directly against the commander’s orders.

If they moved, Cordinus might die. If they stayed, they might all die, leaving Germania defenseless but for a single legion at Vetera. The choice was obvious- retreat, yet the commander’s word was law. Thus the quandary. His fellow legates had elected him commander with the fall of Cordinus, but he himself was still bound by honor and the sacramentum to follow the will of his general.

Dieter joined him at the southeastern tower. “Your prefect has returned,” he reported. “Milus says there is trouble.”

When is there not? Rutilius wondered. But he nodded an acknowledgement anyway. “Bring him here, if possible.”

The Batavian saluted and carried out the order. A few minutes later he rejoined the legate, with the prefect in tow.

“Marcus, we have problems,” the camp prefect reported. “There are Germans on the south bank by the outpost. Just as I left there to bring our supplies, they started lofting arrows at the ships. I got our boys out of there with no casualties and moved quickly, but when the outpost was just at the edge of our sight, we saw them using fire arrows. I didn’t stick around to see how the marines fared as the XXI’s auxilia escorting the wagons had no bows.”

“You made the right decision,” the legate affirmed. “No reason to hang about when you have supplies we need and no way to defend them against missiles.” He breathed a sigh of relief. If the Germans were in the process of interfering with their supply chain, the textbook says secure your logistics first. There was no way Cordinus could bring action for abandoning this hopeless expedition when the regulations are clear.

“Do you notice anything about that fisherman?” Dieter asked suddenly.

All eyes turned to a small boat upon the river, where a single man was heaving a cast net into the water.

“Isn’t that the same guy that was fishing by the tower a few days ago?” Rutilius asked. “I think I remember him there, too.”

The Batavian nodded. “As do I. Only then his boat had a red streamer from its mast top. Now it is blue.”

“So?” asked Milus, as the fisherman hauled in his net and threw it again. “Maybe he thinks blue will bring him better luck. He certainly doesn’t seem to be catching much there.”

“Same guy, same actions, different color streamer,” Dieter mused aloud. “A spy?””

“Or a guy sending a message to a spy,” Rutilius deduced. A glint of long light in the boat as it rocked from the man’s casting sealed his doom. Fishermen do not carry swords. “Milus, tell Severus to have some swimmers ready to bring that fellow in. You, Arvernii, do you think you can hit him from here?”

The Arvernii archer who was manning the impromptu command center looked at the target and cocked his head. “Maybe, sir. To be honest, I have never shot at a single man before.”

“Give me your bow, then,” Rutilius ordered. The tower sentry handed the bow over, and an arrow. Rutilius looked it over- it was a good bow, longer but thinner than his naval bow. The weight was different, but he hoped the power was the same. Below, he saw Manius Severus readying a century for recovery duty. Five of the men were unarmored for the swim. Good, he thought as he raised the bow and drew back the string. The pull was less than his own bow, so he aimed higher. He held the position for a moment, then released.

The arrow shot from the tower in a line with the boat, then plummeted. A surprised shriek filled the air, then Severus and his men were out the gate and the swimmers in the water. The man in the boat clasped his hands to the arrow that transfixed his thigh, noticing the Romans coming, but in too much pain to do much else than attempt to row his boat and fail miserably.

Merda,” Rutilius sighed. “I missed.”

“You hit him, sir!” the sentry exclaimed. “You got him fair!”

Rutilius shook his head. “True, but I was aiming to nail his hand to the mast. I want a prisoner, not a corpse. If he pulls that arrow out, he may bleed out before we can question him.”

The swimmers reached the boat and boarded. Two of the men secured the prisoner while a third saw to the wound. The other two began towing the boat to the Roman shore.

“Make sure the medici bind that wound,” Rutilius ordered Milus. “Then let me know when we can question him.”

Rutilius went to examine the boat while the doctors worked on the prisoner. He would live, if he was careful, but could easily tear it open, or let his wound get infected. Knowing the standard of cleanliness prevalent among the tribes on this side of the Rhein, the medicus gave him two weeks or less before infection would set in and begin to slowly kill him. Within two months, unless he was strong and lucky, this man would be dead.

Rutilius found no fish in the boat, nor did he expect to find any. He did find a sword- a decent blade with its edge along the straight bottom with a top that curved down to meet it. In the hilt of the sword, wedged between the handgrip and the crosshilt, was blood. Not exactly fresh blood, but not ages old either. This was no fisherman.

“Dominus, the prisoner is ready for you,” a medicus reported. The legate nodded and gestured Dieter to come with him. Along the way Rutilius discussed an idea.

The prisoner was struggling against his captors, but the legionaries held him firmly. Rutilius spoke first in Latin, “Do not struggle so, or you would tear your wounds and he would be lucky to live out the week.” When the prisoner showed no signs of comprehension, he added, “I am going to draw my dagger and cut your manhood off. We shall feed it to the warhounds tomorrow night.”

Again there was no response. Good, the man spoke no Latin. He looked to Dieter, and repeated the first sentence, asking the Batavian to translate for him. The Batavian looked to the legate, nodded, and did as commanded. The prisoner ceased his struggles.

“You are one of us, in their warhost?” the prisoner replied in the Bructeri dialect. “May the gods strike you down, traitor.”

“What did he say?” asked Rutilius, who knew damned well what the man had said. But his face reflected total ignorance spiced with haughtiness, just the effect he wished.

“That does not exactly sound like a fisherman talking,” Rutilius replied, and again Dieter translated.

“Garm and Fenris will feast on your guts,” spat the prisoner. “In less than a week, you and all about you will be dead. And then, you treacherous bastard, I shall be standing at the gates of Hel’s Realm to welcome you personally.”

“A week?” laughed Rutilius when Dieter translated. “In a week we shall be far away, deep within your lands, seeking your women and children for our slave markets.”

Dieter translated again, adding on his own words as he caught on to the Roman’s play. “The Romans will be marching north now, fool. I have seen your blue ribbon.”

The prisoner sagged in relief. “You are the one? I apologize, Nevel. Our king speaks highly of you. An officer in the legion? No wonder the fools follow your words so readily. You even had me fooled.”

Dieter spoke some gibberish to Rutilius about the Germanic gods, then turned back to the fisherman. “I shall say you are indeed but a fisherman, who feared the Romans- with good reason as it turned out. You shall tell your king to prepare a proper welcome for these men.”

“It is already prepared, Nevel,” the fisherman boasted, but used a tone of submission so the Roman fools knew not what he said. “Our neighbors have come in their thousands, if not tens of thousands. They await you delivering this warhost to them, as agreed.”

Dieter looked to Rutilius, as if expecting him to react to this confirmation of what he suspected, but the legate had a blank, impatient look upon his face. Dieter spoke more of the gods and the river, to which Rutilius replied that he was sorry he shot the man and he was free to go.

Severus and Strabo, who had joined the interrogation, stood shocked.

“Let him go?” they cried in unison. Severus knew enough to stop, but Strabo continued, “he is a German, a slave worth at least a hundred denarii once properly broken!”

“Let him go, with my apologies,” Rutilius ordered curtly. “And you, tribune, shall not dispute my orders again! Now cut him loose, put him in his boat, and let him go. We do not war upon simple men trying to feed their families.”

This time the order was obeyed. Instantly. Dieter escorted the freed man to his boat, and even helped him shove off. Then he returned to his lord.

“You were right, Marcus, this is indeed a massive ambush. These monkeys are very clever indeed.”

Rutilius nodded. Then he ordered his tribune, “Gather the legates and senior officers. I’ll check on the general, then meet them in my tent. We have a lot to discuss. Oh, and Strabo- well played!”

Aulus Strabo wondered briefly about what the legate meant but not for long. He had an order, and orders must be obeyed.

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

Hein was in a lot of pain, but he ignored it as best he could. He had to get word to his kings- the Romans would be marching. Soon. Then he grinned as he remembered the reactions of the subchieftains to the king’s order to release him. The Romani were already fragmenting. This would be much easier than even the cunning Udo could imagine.

He winced as a small wave threw him against the side of his boat, where the net pressed against his wound. Damn, that hurt!

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

“Cordinus is still unconscious,” Rutilius reported. “So we are still free to decide the best course of action. Our situation has changed somewhat.” And with that, he ran down the information brought by Milus about the logistics and what was gleaned from the fisherman. “So our logistics are threatened, and our foes awaiting our advance so they can butcher us.”

“Cordinus would press forward,” Amensius stated flatly. “Twenty or twenty five thousand barbarians are still no match for three legions.”

“As would I, normally,” Rutilius agreed. “But against barbarians who have cut our supplies, or threatened to cut them? And if there are thirty thousand, or forty? In a land of which we have almost no knowledge? These things bear consideration. As well as the fact that half of my legion has only seen battle twice, a few weeks ago. They did well for green troops, but they are far from being veterans.”

“The choice is clear,” Messala said with a snort. “Unknown forces, unknown area, and unknown logistics? We fall back and rectify this first- classic basic tenets of warfare.”

“I agree,” Lucius Amensius added. “If we knew what we faced it would be one thing, but we do not know. Nor can we risk being cut off deep in enemy territory. We must retreat.”

“We cannot,” said the camp prefect of the XXI Rapax. “The senior surgeons say that the general is still fighting for his life. Any movement might tear his wound further and kill him.”

“Any German coming will kill him too, and us,” a senior centurion of the Victrix replied. “Upwards of twenty five thousand of them, and us with half a legion and three days of supplies? They could starve us out like they did Lupercus and Numisius, only much quicker.”

“And with no legions to attempt a rescue left in the province, except the XXII Primigenia,” added another. “We’d die if they besieged us. Better to meet them in battle where we have a chance.”

“Would you willingly march into a horde of Germans who have days if not weeks to prepare a proper battlefield?” asked a tribunus of the VI Victrix. “And this with no sure means of supply?”

“Soldiers do have to eat,” muttered another.

“Soldiers with empty bellies fight, but are much weaker,” replied a centurion. “The only recourse we have is retreat until our logistics are restored.”

A murmur of agreement rippled through the assembled officers. Rutilius nodded in approval and asked those who agreed to raise their hands. Almost every officer had a hand on high, only a few- junior or green tribunes for the most part, kept their hands by their side. The decision was clear.

“Legates, can your legions tear down your camps in the dark?” he asked. When they nodded, he added, “We start packing now, and halfway between midnight and sunrise, we tear down the camps. I want this army on the trail and moving to the outpost at first light. From there we can discuss the best course of action again.”

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

The legates had stayed after the rest were dismissed to spread the word and begin preparations. Messala looked at Rutilius and shook his head.

“What was all that about?” he asked, his voice strife with confusion. “Were we not already in agreement that we should pull out as soon as Cordinus is able to be moved?”

“We were,” Amensius added, then nodded in praise to Rutilius. “This was just a wonderful show for the governor when he finally resumes office. He cannot come after Marcus alone for mutiny or disobedience, when the whole of the senior staff made the decision. Very wise, Marcus, given his evident feelings toward you.”

“And I wanted no problems with the senior staff either,” Rutilius added. “Some might consider a retreat without a battle cowardice, and cause trouble. Given the situation, even those die-hard veterans chose to retreat. We have a unified army that will follow orders, not one which would fragment at first contact into those who retreat and those who stand and fight.”

“Aye,” Messala said, smacking his forehead. “I had not considered that. How long, do you think, it will be before the Germans discover we are marching out and not further in?”

Rutilius shrugged. “It depends if they have eyes on us, or trust their scout. If they have eyes, rather quickly- three, four days maybe. They move quicker in these woods than do we. If they rely on their spying fisherman, then we might make it to the outpost before they catch on.”

“Then we had better move fast,” Amensius said.

Rutilius nodded. “Forced marches. Camp walls only- no towers or gates- up at sundown and down at sunrise. At least to where we can re-establish our logistics chain.”

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

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 02-04-10 08:24 AM EDT (US)     80 / 98       
Good chapter although I'm confused on whether Dieter is a traitor or was he spinning a lie to the Bructeri scout?

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 02-04-10 09:28 AM EDT (US)     81 / 98       
Here's a clue:

Nevel is the traitor. Nevel is dead, killed by Amalric. The Bructeri do not know this, and many do not know Nevel by sight.

And the main give away:
“Dominus, the prisoner is ready for you,” a medicus reported. The legate nodded and gestured for Dieter to come with him. Along the way Rutilius discussed an idea.
And remember, Rutilius can speak Germanic. He would not need Dieter to translate for him.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 02-04-10 12:00 PM EDT (US)     82 / 98       
You have a way of spinning out the tale so we have towait even longer for the climax. Great work!
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 02-04-10 01:56 PM EDT (US)     83 / 98       
Excellent, I loved the classic deception Rutilius and Dieter played.

BTW, I learned that rutilus is reddish color in Latin. Perhaps Rutilius's ancestors took their name from that. A neat fact, I think.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 02-04-10 01:59 PM EDT (US)     84 / 98       
Oh yeah, I love Vicipaedia.

But nobody has hair like that!
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 02-08-10 03:51 AM EDT (US)     85 / 98       
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

The Germans were restless. They had gathered for war, to destroy three Roman legions and break open the great barrier formed by Roman legions behind Father Rhein. Those legions were on the march, coming into the jaws of a trap, but the Germans had been hearing that for days now. Two days after the return of the wounded messenger there was still no sign of the Roman advance.

Thirty five thousand warriors could not gather and sit still. It was a physical impossibility. The Bructeri were good hosts and had food saved up for this, but those supplies were running out. Soon the warhost would have to fight on empty bellies- never a good thing- or disperse- something even worse. And every day their numbers grew as villages finished their planting and sent their men off to war.

“Well, war king?” asked Ricgard the Bold. “Where are these Romans we await?”

Udo did not know. They should have been here by now, with Bructeri horsemen shadowing them and herding them into the killing field. But no scout had seen anything. All they had was the word of the messenger who had spoken to Nevel.

“I shall find them, brother,” Ulfrich announced. “Even if I have to go into their camps myself.”

Two days later Ulfrich returned upon a horse soaked in sweat and heaving in rapid breating.

“They are gone!” he shouted as he dismounted before his brother and the other kings. “Disappeared. And we found Nevel and Fredrik- both had been killed.”

“They are running,” Udo decided. “If Nevel had been discovered and exposed, the Romans know their predicament and are fleeing. It is the only thing that makes sense. Calor, ready your Marsi. Ricgard, your Chauci. If the Romans are running, we shall give chase. We might not have such an opportunity again.”

“If they are running, so must we,” Ricgard noted. “Romans move fast when they flee.”

“They do not move so fast in our woods,” Udo retorted. “We know the paths and clearings to move through them easily, while they march along the rumpled and tangled ground along the river. If we run towards the setting sun, then a bit toward the Marsi, we should be able to catch them just past the Witch’s Tower.”

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

The race was on. Cordinus and his legions had marched less than ten miles per day along the river marching in. Rutilius and his legions were doubling that on the way out- the route was known and for the most part somewhat cleared, and of course there was the threat of being caught by the Germans giving them a bit of encouragement to keep up the pace.

Udo and his warriors gained every day, though. Moving across the flatter, more open, and less tangled terrain north of the river, they marched farther and faster than their prey. They rested less than six hours before moving on. By the fourth day, however, the pace was taking its toll. Men were dropping from exhaustion, and the horses acting sluggish and weary. But the killing pace paid off as the first horsemen came back to the German warhost- the Romans had been spotted. They were well past the Witch’s Tower, and almost to their wooden palace. Another day of chase, and the prey will be brought to bay.

“We cannot go into battle exhausted,” Ulfrich warned his brother. Ricgard and Calor agreed.

“We rest the men today, resume the chase tomorrow,” Calor advised.

“Rest today, then move at a normal pace and rest again,” Ricgard advised. “The Romans will reach their wooden palace before us. Nothing we do can stop that. They will stop there, and that will allow us to catch up- fresh and ready for battle. Or at least as fresh as a single night’s sleep will allow men who have been chasing fleeing Romans for almost a week.”

“And if they do not stop there?” Udo asked. “Shall we let them escape simply because we cannot keep up?”

“It is better than breaking our strength to meet them in battle, already exhausted,” Calor answered. “Besides, is not the whole purpose of our coming together to drive the Romani from your lands? If they flee, we have won- and without bloodshed.”

Tell that to Erhard, and the warband of my brother, Udo thought. His temper flared at the thought of his wonderful plans- and all the sacrifice- going to naught simply because the Roman rabbits outran the German wolves chasing them. He wanted them dead, not fled, but Calor and Ricgard had good points- their men could not kill if they were worn, and if brought to battle in this shape, they would perish- a worse outcome. Udo was stubborn, but not stupid.

“Rest the day,” he ordered. “But tomorrow we run, and then we catch them. And when we catch them, we exterminate them.”

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

Dried blood spattered the walls of the outpost, and the churned up field before it, complete with smoldering scorches of blackened earth and ash, displayed for all told a battle had been fought here, and recently. One did not need the marine on the walls waving them in to tell them, but it helped.

“Tribunus Decimus Nigidius,” a marine officer said, introducing himself as he greeted the returning army. “By Mars am I glad to see you! The Germans hit us from across the river four days ago. Luckily somebody had installed scorpions on the rooftops of some buildings, or it would have gotten really hairy here.”

“Do you not have bows?” asked Rutilius. He pulled his own naval bow from its case as an example. Nigidius nodded his head.

“Yes sir,” the marine informed him. “We just ran out of arrows mighty fast. The fort was well-stocked with pila, though, and that helped. But it still came to swords. Leather armor is better than no armor, so they say, and the scorpions killed their nobles like a frog picking off sleeping flies.”

Rutilius nodded, and looked about the fort while the general’s bodyguards installed the general in the hospice. He noticed a cohort- but not more before turning back to the marine.

“You defended this place with but a cohort?” he said. “Impressive.”

Nigidius dropped his head. “We were three cohorts when the attack began. I had never seen the Germans so intent on battle. We killed over fifteen hundred before they broke. We ourselves were down to half our strength.”

“Where is the rest of the garrison?” Rutilius asked coldly.

Nigidius pointed to the river. “The fleet evacuated them two days ago. I was to hold on until they came back, which should be today. If the admiral manages to scrounge up so troops, we stay. If not, then we do not sacrifice a cohort, marines or not.”

“But you would leave the legions alone deep within enemy lands?”

“Did the lighter not reach you?” the marine asked suddenly. “We sent a boat upriver to inform you of the battle. Ten men on the oars, a lookout, and a tesserarius commanding. They went upriver three days ago. Is that not why you came?”

Rutilius shook his head. “We were much farther away than that, Decimus. I think your boat and its crew met a foul end.” He looked over the post, then the docks outside. Both seemed in good shape despite the signs of battle.

“Our general is wounded, as are some of the men. When the fleet arrives, inform me at once. I want the wounded shipped out- with you guarding them- and I will need to discuss plans with him.”

Nigidius saluted. “It shall be done, legate.”

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

There was a knock on the doorframe a moment before Nigidius entered. “The fleet is here, lord,” he announced. “Sixteen riverboats, single bankers.”

Rutilius rose. “How many troops can they carry, Decimus?” he asked. “My knowledge of the fleet is rather limited to those vessels used during the war.”

“Sorry, sir,” the tribune blushed. “I thought with your bow and all, that you knew.”

“My first legion was of former marines,” the legate replied with a smile. “They loved the bow, and so do I. But we never got near a boat.”

“Understood, sir,” the tribune said. “Sixteen single-bankers can carry about five hundred passengers, sir- thirty or so per boat, and that is tight.”

“We’ve got some wounded. Including the general. I want them shipped first. Can your men march?”

Decimus Nigidius swallowed. Hard. “We can, if need be, but we are not very good at it. We’re river rats, sir, not line troops.”

“Then you will have a wonderful opportunity to learn,” Rutilius finished. “Now, lets meet that fleet captain.”


The fleet captain was a small man with a large aura about him. Titus Piscius was his name, and he had served aboard boats plowing the Rhenus for almost sixteen years now. If anybody knew these waters better than him, it was Father Rhenus himself.

The introductions were short and simple, as both men wanted them.

“I’ve got wounded I need shipped out,” Rutilius began. His eyes glanced over the boats- he saw marines and space, but damned few supplies for his legions. “About four hundred, most of whom can walk, fifty or so who were carried, and one comatose general who could not be moved, but could not be left behind. He also has a bunch of ex-gladiator guards- about a hundred fifty. Can you take them aboard?”

“Four hundred- can do, legate, as long as most can walk,” the fleet captain replied. “Laying men take up more space, but if you only have fifty or so needing such, four hundred will fit. I won’t be able to take my marines, though.”

“You didn’t bring us any supplies, I noticed,” Rutilius replied.

“No sir, and I wasn’t planning to,” the fleet captain retorted. “This post is fully stocked- a week’s worth of grub for three legions, and another month’s supply for the garrison. The next supply run is scheduled for the six days before the Kalends of June- a week from now. Governor’s orders- don’t leave more food laying about than the legions can eat in a week.”

“Makes sense,” Rutilius agreed. “Next question- how many boats does the fleet have? More to the point, can you arrange for transport to meet us in a week's time by the Bridge of Cordinus? There’s a pack of Germans coming- exactly how many is unsure, but the warriors of at least three tribes from what we are told. We’ll be abandoning this place in the morning and heading for the bridge. If the Germans get to us before we can cross, it is going to get hairy.”

Titus Piscius whistled smoothly. “Three tribes, eh? That’s more than the old man bargained for, I’ll bet. I’ll talk to the admiral- he and the governor are good friends. If he shakes the waves, we can scrounge up enough to move five cohorts in a single lift. Six lifts and you boys are across, less if some of you use the bridge.”

“It’s still up?”

“Oh yes,” replied the sailor. “The XXII Primigenia has been patrolling the bridgehead with auxilia since its construction. And those engineers, well, they make things strong, ya know.”

Rutilius nodded. “Sounds like a plan, fleet captain. Have the ships meet us at the bridgehead in a week’s time. I’ll need a resupply of naval arrows for the marines- they’ll be marching with us. And make sure the admiral has some scorpions mounted on his ships- we might need their help.”

“You got it, legate.”

A horn blew, drawing attention to beyond the gates of the outpost. A horseman was approaching at the gallop, the rest of his turma trailing behind in a wedge. Rutilius recognized Lucius Albius, and excused himself from the fleet captain and went to the gate to greet him..

“Hail, legate!” the cavalry tribune said in greeting. “The Germans are coming- many of them- more than twice our number, according to the Remi decurion who spotted them. We have maybe a day before they are here.”

“Then we ought not to be here,” Rutilius replied earnestly. Albius agreed- the fort was a wonderful defensive position, but it was a dead end for its inhabitants- especially if the fleet could not supply them adequately. From the sixteen small boats he saw lining up by the single quay, they couldn’t.

“Milus! Get the baggage trains loaded and moving! Amensius- get your auxilia to screen them forward! Lucius Albius, I hope you have good decurions. Put three turmae in front of the auxilia as eyes, with another screening the flank.”

“And the rest?” asked the cavalryman.

Rutilius looked to his legions. “The rest, my friend, will keep eyes on that horde and give us ample warning before they hit us. If anybody finds some good ground before those bastards hit us, let me know.”

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

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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 02-08-2010 @ 10:48 AM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 02-08-10 05:17 AM EDT (US)     86 / 98       
Looks like it's going to be a tight race.

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 02-08-10 02:27 PM EDT (US)     87 / 98       
Hoo boy, it will be close.
I think the Germans will give battle before the Romans make it across the Rhein.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 02-11-10 02:14 AM EDT (US)     88 / 98       
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The Germans were closing. They would be within sight within the hour. Rutilius cursed and looked over the ground upon which the legions stood. It was surprisingly open for the most part, with a gentle rise toward the west. The north part of the clearing was densely wooded, and the southern edge dropped steeply off in a bramble of bushes before reaching the water of the Lupia. It was here, or nowhere. It was time to make a stand.

The ground got him thinking. He sent for his legates, then dismounted to sketch a plan into the dirt. It could work.

“The Germans are about an hour away, maybe less,” he informed them. He showed them his sketch, explaining the details, then asked, “Does anybody have any better ideas?”

Cadorus shook his head, but said, “This part here will be tricky.”

“And if the Germans do not follow your plan, I am dead,” Amensius added. “And without my eagle.”

“That is why it will be critical that Gnaeus, the four cohorts you give him, and I catch and hold their attention,” Rutilius said, ”and that the rest of your legion- disciplined veterans all- follow orders explicitly.”

“It is still risky, but there is no alternative,” Amensius said.

“It is good ground for it,” Gnaeus Messala added. “The peeling off of the rear cohorts will be difficult under pressure.”

“Then we begin the dance before they are under pressure,” Rutilius said bitterly. “We do not have to engage them to get their attention. Our mere presence will do that.”

Messala nodded. “You are right. And I hope we hear the signals.”

“So do I. Let’s get into position.”

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The hunters were reporting to the kings.

“We have them, lord,” the chief hunter exclaimed. “Just ahead, in the clearing. Three legions, in deep battle formation with at least three rows of troops.”

“That will make it hard,” Ricgard noted. “If we try to flank them, those other ranks will block.”

“We cannot simply bull through,” Calor said. “No German warhost has ever bulled through a Roman one.”

“The river is shallow here,” Ulfrich said suddenly. “We can flank them through what they think is impassable water.”

“They are at least two hundred paces from the river, lord,” the hunter said. “Your flankers do nothing except get wet then come upon the plain where the others will already be at swords’ points.”

“Then we grind them down,” Udo commanded. He looked back over the German warhost. “ We let our Bructeri hit them first, since we are in the lead, while the Marsi swing around their northern flank. Ricgard, your Chauci are the true hammer. While we others grab and hold the Romans by their long noses, you hammer them wherever they are breaking.”

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“Here they come,” Rutilius said unnecessarily. Every man in the legion could see the German warhost exiting the far treeline. They were in files but quickly assumed a sort of line formation. “Let them come halfway here,” he ordered the cornicen, “Then blow the signal.”

The Germans came forward in a mass, their columns through the forest widening and forming a solid front as the sun greeted them. It was a thin but solid line that approached the legions. They came closer, then closer still until they were half again as far as they could throw their franciscas and javelins.

“Now!” the acting general ordered. “One long blast.”

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The horn rang out across the field. The Germans froze, wondering what it meant. Were there more Romans about, of whom they knew nothing? Then they saw the Romans before them turn and march smartly toward the setting sun, though a bit farther north towards the corner of the meadow. The mystery was solved.

“They flee!” Ulfrich cried from the van. “Shall we charge them?”

Udo looked about. He did not trust that horn. Better to play it safe. “Continue forward, my brother,” he shouted. He turned to see Calor beginning his flanking movement. The northerly drift of the legion’s retreat made that unnecessary, and the lateral movement would leave his brother facing the Romans alone until Calor could fall upon that. Six thousand Bructeri against three legions? He could not let that happen. He accosted a horseman and issued new orders. “Tell Calor to follow Ulfrich.”

The horn blew again, and the legions stopped. Udo could count three Eagles among his prey, along with dozens upon dozens of standards. He smiled. He had them now. All three legions- the entire expeditionary force.

The horns blew again, and again the Romans withdrew ahead of the advancing Germans. Udo was confused now- his prey would halt to let his warhost catch up, but always seemed to march away before they could get into range to charge. What game was this Roman playing?

It mattered not. He was retreating to a corner- after which the trees would break up his precious formations. Unit on unit, the Romans were the best in the world due to their formations and discipline. Those trees would strip away the formations, leaving a disciplined mob. And mob on mob, the Germans were the best in the world. Let the Roman retreat.

“Follow the Romans,” he commanded. “They will be ours soon enough.”

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“It is working, legate,” Cadorus reported. “Severus has the first three cohorts hidden behind that ridge. Minucius is emplacing his three as we speak.”

The horn blew again, signaling the next phase of the movement.

“And Lucanus Strabo will follow the orders of Messala,” the Briton concluded. “He seems very pleased to have the Eagle in his charge.”

“Good,” Rutilius acknowledged. “Let us hope he does not lose it. Now go to your cohorts, Cadorus. They will be needed soon.”

A few minutes later, Rutilius had the cornicen blow two blasts. They were in the corner. The cohorts halted, and readied their pila. It was now do or die.

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“See!” hollered Udo with joy. “He has realized he is trapped! They turn to fight. Now, my people, we shall watch them die! Runner! Spread the word- attack when ready!”

He settled back to watch his proud warriors charge the thin Roman ranks. He laughed. Foolish Rutilius, putting your second and third ranks in the forest where the trees shall block your pila and disrupt your tight blocks of men, while our warriors are at their best. You were a worthy opponent but now your hide shall be mine.

The thought of the chase- and its effects on the chasers, was forgotten as the prey was brought to bay.

The tired Germans surged forward in a renewed wave of eagerness to come to battle.

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“Wait for their axes,” echoed a dozen centurions along the Roman line. “Hold your pila ready.... Raise! Aim! Throw!”

A ripple of pila left the Roman lines reaching for German blood. Some caught the Germans in the process of throwing their own axes, while others were absorbed by shields. The Germans came on in a rush.

“Throw!” commanded the centurions, and again a volley of pila left the Roman ranks. These were heavier, and the targets closer. Many Germans tasted death in this volley. Then the Germans launched their wave of axes while the centurions bellowed frantically “Shields!”

The axes stuck in shields or bounced off for the most part, but enough found flesh to rip ragged holes in the Roman lines. They were followed by the warriors themselves, who charged bravely in against the armored men of Rome.

“Close ranks!” came the orders, and the Romans tightened their formations. The first German hit the shield wall with a tremendous impact, driving many of the men in the first rank back into the second. Yet the impact fell away as the small gladii darted forward to sink into German bellies. Those who had caused the Roman recoil now lay dead or dying, and the Romans worked swiftly and surely to reform their lines.

The Germans worked just as hard to break those lines. They pushed into the gaps between shields, and if stabbed, tried to hold onto the arm holding the sword that killed them. Sometimes a Roman was pulled from the ranks in this manner, to have only his head returned to his fellows. Many Germans fell for every Roman, yet many Romans were falling as well.

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“Messala reports the Germani almost broke through,” cried a runner through his panting. “He’s had to commit half of the reserve.”

“Already?” Rutilius muttered. Mars, but these Germani were hard men!

“Have the Arvernii and the marines lay a few barrages onto the men pressuring Messala,” he ordered. “Come on, you bastards, hold the line!”

He saw the Germanic press, and it was beginning to curve around the flanks of his line- both flanks. Thank Saturn he did not make men with eyes in the back of their heads, he thought, as he pointed the northern flanking to Dieter. Those men were his target, and it was almost time.

“Cornicen!” he ordered. ”Now, three long blasts! Repeat five times, as loud as you can or we are all dead!”

With that, he led Dieter and the Batavians toward the northern flank at the gallop.

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Cadorus heard the blasts. Three long blasts, repeated. He rose from his prone position and had the Cornicen of the X Gemina blow the signal for the wedge. Bless you and damn you, Gaius Suetonius, he thought as his men rose about him and assumed the strange formation.

“Forward, cohorts of the X Gemina!” he cried, and led his hidden cohorts over the low ridgeline of the northern edge of the forest and into deep into the flanks and rear of the German warhost.

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To the south, Lucius Amensius also heard the signal. His cornicen, laying beside him in the mud and bushes of the river bank, rose with him and blew three short blasts. Six cohorts of the XXI Rapax rose from the bushes and mud and charged up the slope onto the field of battle from the south.

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The X Gemina wedges hit the Germans hard, crushing men into one another as they funneled them into the pockets between the wedges, where they were struck down and killed mercilessly. As the Chauci turned to face this unexpected menace, they left the Bructeri and Marsi alone in their fight against the defending cohorts.

Across the warhost, the XXI Rapax carved into the German rear like a jaguar into an antelope caught napping. Hundreds of men were struck down from behind, many with no inkling of a foe behind them. When they realized there were Romans there, and to the north, and devastating the men to the west, many turned and fled back to the east.

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Udo was stunned, watching helplessly as his warhost disintegrated around him. One minute he was king of the forest chasing fleeing Roman deer, the next Roman lions were erupting from the ground and dining upon his men. Some stood and fought- these died where they stood, taking far too few Romans with them. Others jackrabbited out of there as if their tails were on fire.

Ricgard ran to him, pointing at the Romans from the north and south. “Bloody clever!” he screamed. “Our men think themselves surrounded, our worst nightmare. They fight where they stand in sheer anger, or flee like rabbits, as should we. There is nothing more to do here but die.”

Udo nodded in agreement. Rutilius had bested him, there was no doubt of it. Somehow he had displaced his rear and middle ranks to the flanks without them being seen. The man was a magician, or one who had used the woods and front ranks to shield the lateral movements. Udo could see him plainly, there upon his white horse with the silvered cuirass, directing his soldiers to killing his warhost. And it burned him.

“Come, we must retreat,” Ricgard the Bold advised.

“I must rescue my brother,” Udo retorted, “lest he suffer a fate far worse than mere death upon the battlefield. Go, Ricgard, reform the warhost away from the Romans. You shall lead if I do not return.”

With that, Udo rode against the tide of fleeing men, towards his brother and his hated foe. The battle was already past its climax, though was far from over. There was still much dying to do, and maybe, if the gods smiled, at least one life to save.

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The casualty reports were not pretty. The VI Victrix and X Gemina took the most, as was only proper since they were in the battle longest. Six to seven hundred or so in each legion perished, with another three hundred fifty Raptors joining them. There were half again as many wounded as killed, but about half of those were simple wounds and their bearers expected to return to duty within a few days.

The Germans, however, lost far more, including many nobles but alas no kings. Their bodies littered the battlefield, in clumps where the wedges hit them, scattered like debris from a storm where they met cohorts in block formation. Here and there the carcass of a horse lay on its side, its dead rider still in the saddle or laying nearby. In that final frenzy before they broke, the Germans were as caged animals smelling meat for the first time in weeks.

Neither side showed quarter. When the Germans finally broke, they fled like a dam breaking. Though the legions pursued, the lightly-armored to unarmored men were faster, and many escaped. Albius and Dieter estimated half their strength escaped the final cauldron. Twenty one thousand souls departed this world there, but not enough. Not nearly enough. They would lick their wounds like the wolves of the forest, then come again. And if they get reinforced, it could spell the end of the legions. Rutilius had far more to worry about than his own skin or his own legion- if the legions went down, all of Germania and beyond was open to invasion. He doubted the solitary legion assigned to Gallia Comata would stop the flood before it washed the shores of Italia with Roman blood.

So it became a race to the Rhein, once the Roman dead were burned. The legions marched in a tight group, their wounded on stretchers made of poles and cloaks in the center, the Remi and Batavians covering the rear. Any man who fell out of the line of march would be killed, or suffer a worse fate- being captured. That made keeping ranks and supporting each other take on that much more importance. Lucius Palla was now very happy his legate had thought to teach the men this skill above all others.

“They are trailing us, waiting,” Albius reported. “They know we are going to hit the river soon, and when we are there, they know we will be trapped. So they wait, biding their time, and then they will pounce.”

“We do not call them wolves for nothing,” Amensius quipped seriously.

“We need a distraction, a diversion,” Messala said. “Something to get their minds off of us.”

“My army, my call,” Rutilius said as he started pacing again. The other legates groaned; they hated when he did that. But they did not groan loudly, for they knew he did his best thinking while moving. “The Remi reported a village north of here, on the outskirts of their patrol. I’ll take the marine cohort and my legion and hit it. We’ll let some survivors escape- they’ll flee to the warhost screaming bloody murder, bringing them up towards us. The moment we move out north, then, eyes will follow us. You two get to the river and get across fast, because after I hit that village, I am going to run all the way to the bridge and hope my legion gets there before the Germans.”

“Too risky,” Dieter Straightback noted. He had begun to attend these discussions as they discussed German actions- and he was the only German officer present. “If we get trapped, or stalled, they’ll catch us. Our entire legion, plus the marines, against a minimum of twenty thousand? It will not even be close, lord.”

“Less,” Rutilius corrected. “I am taking only five cohorts- my veterans. The recruits have done well so far, but most of the casualties we soaked up came from them. I don’t want to push the luck of the rest. Besides, five cohorts should be able to hit a village- even one with walls- and clean it out rather quickly. And less men means faster movement. We’ll stay ahead of the Germans. And by bringing them to the Xth, you will have a respite to get our wounded and your legions across to safety.”

“What makes you even think they’ll bite at this baited hook?” Lucius Amensius countered.

Rutilius shrugged, but Dieter smiled. “They will follow us,” he said with conviction in his voice. “Two reasons, at least. The first is that we will be striking off away from the course they had determined for us. When we were in this wooden palace last time, our Remi ranged a bit north. The Bructeri saw that, and came up with that elaborate chase which separated our strength and left us open to attack.”

“That is true,” Messala said, shaking a finger. “I remember that, and how stupid they were to do so. Not so stupid after all- they almost suckered a legion to its death.”

“And the second?” asked Amensius.

Dieter pointed out how columns also cover tracks. “If you travel four or eight abreast, they see many tracks- four or eight wide. They have no idea how many walked in those same steps. We, however, will travel with cohorts on line- making many more tracks on a wider area. The Bructeri monkeys will see we divided our forces, but unevenly- and with many more tracks they can count heading north than west. They will assume our five cohorts are the army, not your two legions.”

“Thus giving you the respite you need to get across,” Rutilius completed. “Dieter, you are pretty bloody clever sometimes!”

“I learned from a master,” he admitted modestly. “A great student of deception and strategy.”

“Suetonius?” Cadorus asked. He and Dieter had both fought in Britannia during the Iceni Revolt, though on different sides.

“Corbulo?” asked Amensius. “Cerealis?”

The Batavian shook his head to all three. “Julius Civilis.”

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|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 02-11-10 11:23 AM EDT (US)     89 / 98       
Once again you leave us without a doubt of your status as a Master Storyteller. That battle scene was brilliant. Gwaith ardderchog!
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 02-11-10 01:02 PM EDT (US)     90 / 98       
Very good. I enjoyed it. I bet the Bructeri hate Rutillus now.

But the Romans have to give him the highest honour available after the things he has achieved.

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 02-11-10 03:59 PM EDT (US)     91 / 98       
Unfortunately, I feel that our Rutilius will be severely disciplined when the other Rutilius recovers.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 02-15-10 04:18 AM EDT (US)     92 / 98       
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Not long after the Roman army marched, four hunters were gathered at the spot where the legates and senior tribunes decided their course of action. Three were in agreement that the main force of the Romans went north, while the fourth was convinced the northern departure was a feint, or at worst a flanking move for the warhost they knew must be following them.

Udo and the kings rode forward. The hunters told their beliefs.

“Why do you think the main force went east, while your fellows say north?” he asked of the stubborn one.

“It makes no sense, lord,” the hunter replied. “They must know we trail them. They must know we will catch them. Yet they break their forces in twain. Many, many go off to the north, while this narrow, but very deep trail, heads west. Methinks more went west than north, lord. The depth of the tracks tells me this.”

Udo scoffed. “Maybe you are right, hunter, but it makes no difference. Those going west threaten none, while those striking off north do. There is a village not too far from there, to the north.”

Udo looked to his fellow kings, who nodded at the wisdom. Those heading west may be caught later- they bring no harm. Better to catch and flay those who can hurt the Bructeri.

“We go north.”

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“The village is there, lord,” a Batavian reported. “And it has people inside. Two men stand by the gates, another patrols the walls. And the rest, with women, move about.”

“Is the gate open or shut?” Nigidius asked. When the Batavian said they were open, he added, “I’ve got a few men who can put an arrow through an apple at a hundred paces. If you wish, legate, I can have them kill those guards before they close the gate.”

“And I can lead the horsemen inside to prevent others from taking over their duties,” Dieter added. “Leaving you with the task of getting the cohorts up and in to support us.”

“A good plan,” Rutilius agreed. “Execute it. Nigidius, give your experts to Dieter, who will bring them close. I will follow with the infantry. When we hear the thunder of your charge, Dieter, we will begin our run.”

“Understood,” the Batavian acknowledged. He picked up the marines and rode quietly forward while the legate briefed his centurions. Then the cohorts followed the cavalry.

Nigidius was neither kidding nor bragging about the abilities of his sharpshooters. Three archers shot two arrows at each target from just inside the woodline, two hundred paces away. Each of the sentries died with at least three arrows in them. As the last volley was loosed, the Batavians kicked their horses to the gallop, signaling the infantry to begin their run.

It was over before it began. The Bructeri had not been expecting an assault, though they had been ready for an eventual siege. The men were cut down as they bolted from their homes and shops with weapons in hand, and any who approached the gates found himself trampled or slashed down. Then the cohorts were entering, sealing their doom. Within the space of ten short minutes, the village of Low Meadow was in Roman hands.

“Search it,” the legate ordered. “Minucius, gather up the villagers. We will take any men with us, but release the women and children when we leave. So bind the men well, and have somebody fix a small supply of food for the survivors.”

“Can our men enjoy the women before we release them?” he asked hopefully.

Rutilius shook his head. “I don’t want them coming back and selling their own spawn into slavery. Besides, I don’t want to be here that long. Smash and grab, then bolt. We have a warhost on our tail, remember.”

The tribune nodded. How could he have forgotten that? “I’ll tell the men.”

Dieter rode up. “We suffered a few cuts, but the surprise and speed of the assault kept us from losing anyone. I count twenty Bructeri dead, another thirty three men being bound as we speak.”

Ten minutes later Minucius reported back. It was indeed a small village. “It is a small haul, sixty hovels and a few workplaces. We recovered some trinkets, some hacksilver, and a few decorated weapons, but nothing making this place worth our while.”

“It will serve,” Rutilius retorted. “The loot is not much, but it will not slow us down. We’ll take it with us.”

“A lot of grain though, legate,” Minucius added. “Too much for such a small village. One would think they were hoarding.”

“Have the cohorts start moving out,” Rutilius ordered, ”Circle past the village gate three times, then head north for a mile before sweeping west to rejoin our comrades. Last centurion out the gate will be Lampranius. He is to release the female captives then set this place on fire. I don’t want that grain feeding the warhost chasing us.”

“Aye lord,” Municius acknowledged. “Circle three times, head north one mile, then west. Lampranius and his century last, they release and burn. The circling I assume is to mislead the survivors?”

Rutilius nodded. “They may be prisoners, but they can still count. I want them to see at least fifteen cohorts march by.”

“And have someone who speaks our tongue tell them Nevel got them freed before we go to the river,” Dieter added. He turned to Rutilius and added, “Maybe if they think their spy is with us, it will give them some caution.”

“But you would tell them our destination,” Rutilius countered. “That might not be such a good idea.”

“Doubtless they have found their spy dead in the ruins of that camp,” Dieter reminded him. “Thus the name and destination. They will hear the one and deny the other as a false lead. It may buy us some extra time while they figure it out. If they do not, then, well, they will follow us anyway.”

“Good idea,” the legate agreed. He turned his horse toward the gate and signaled the marines to start their move.

An hour later, a black plume feathered the green canopy of the forest.

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

The pillar of smoke was seen through the trees at a clearing.

“They are several miles ahead,” Ulfrich noted. “If we hurry, we can catch them.”

Udo, by his side, shook his head. “If we hurry, they will kill us, like last time. We have almost caught them, and they are still far from Father Rhein. Patience, my brother, patience.”

Ricgard rode up, pointing to the plume of black in the evening sky. “One of your villages?”

Udo nodded. “Low Meadow, about seventy families. Half of the men who live there are in this warhost. The rest were there, in their homes.”

“Condolences,” Ricgard offered. “Shall we hurry?”

Ulfrich explained why they should be patient, as Udo had explained it to him. The Chauci nodded at the wisdom, then looked back to the angry plume. And saw movement.

“Women,” he said, identifying the movement. “It looks like somebody got away.”

Horsemen were dispatched and the survivors brought to the kings. Each told the same tale, and as more survivors were found and brought, they too repeated the tale. The Romans came with eighteen cohorts, three legions all told, and utterly destroyed Low Meadow. The commander wanted to murder them all, including the women, but a Germanic officer intervened and begged to spare them. They were told that Nevel had spared them, and to tell the kings the Romans were heading to the river.

“It looks like your three hunters were correct- the legions went north,” Calor said as he heard yet again a survivor repeat the same tale. “When do you think we will catch them?”

“Soon,” Udo said, looking at the ground. “We shall catch them soon, but not by the river. They are going north. The river is a ruse.”

“How so?” Ricgard asaked. “It makes the most sense, and your own man said so.”

“I do not see how that is possible,” Udo retorted, “since Ulfrich found him dead in the ruins of a Roman camp days before our last battle. Fredrik was with him. No, this Roman is clever. He brings his legions north, knowing we must follow, then lets valuable female slaves ‘escape’ to bring us the word of Nevel that he goes west? I do not think so.”

“Nor do I,” Ricgard said with a nod. “It is a ruse indeed. They intend to go north, but wish us to believe they go west.”

“The waters of the Yssel are low,“ Ulfrich added. ”They might be able to simply march across it back to Batavi territory, or construct rafts and float across. Batavians would know this, and Batavians have been seen in the Roman warhost.”

“It makes sense,” Calor agreed. Ricgard nodded as well.

Udo completed the vote. “We go north. In two days we should catch them just before the banks of the Yssel come into sight. There we kill them, all three legions.”

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

Gnaeus Messala was never so glad to see a rickety bridge as he was to see the Bridge of Cordinus. Nor was he particularly saddened to see a fleet of river vessels on each side of the bridge, ready to begin ferrying the legions across.

The lack of German pressure made the evacuation a mere exercise in logistics. The wounded were put in the ships, while the VI Victrix took up a simple defense around the bridgehead. The green cohorts of the X Gemina passed through them to stand upon the other side of the bridge, while the baggage mules under Milus went across and passed through them. Then the XXI Rapax passed through, and finally the VI Victrix.

“Shall we leave the bridge up for Rutilius?” asked Amensius. “Or do we cut it loose and let the fleet bring him over.”

Messala looked to the bridge and thought hard. Both courses of action had their advantages and disadvantages. In the end, the advantages of leaving it standing won out.

“We leave it up,” he said. “Let Marcus make the decision to destroy it or not. His Batavians and marines can swim the river, but any wounded could not. Let’s leave him the option.”

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

The appearance of the five cohorts of the X Gemina and one of marines six miles north of the bridge two days later was a bit of an anti-climax. They came out of the deep woods, saw the river, spied Castra Vetera upriver, and began moving toward it. The sentries at Vetera saw the movement, and reported to the legates. Ships were dispatched, and the marines, the prisoners, and two cohorts were duly picked up. The rest marched quietly to the bridgehead, their caligae still soggy from the hour spent marching through the cold stream north of the village, and crossed back into Roman territory.

Rutilius and his Batavians took one last glance at the deep, dark, and placid forest before they too crossed back to Roman lands.

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

A day’s travel north of the bridge, Udo was cursing as his hunters once again reported no sign of the Roman legions. It was as if they crossed the muddy stream north of Low Meadow and simply disappeared into the water.

“They got away,” he cursed to his brother. “That bastard got away from us again.”

Ulfrich had other things running through his mind. The Witch. She was wrong. Rutilius came, two Rutilii came, yet both were driven back across the Rhein like whipped curs. Their coming had hurt the Bructeri, true, but the remainder were stronger than before. Both he and his brother lived. He looked out across the open clearing toward where Father Rhein flowed toward the sea. A cold shiver ran down his spine. The Witch was never wrong. “He’ll be back, brother. We humiliated him. He will most definitely be back.”

Ricgard nodded, as did Calor of the Marsi. “And when they come, my brothers, we shall be here with you, waiting.”

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

Here ends Part II- Tyroes in the Forest.
Part III- Downs and Ups- will commence in about a week. Enjoy.

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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 02-16-2010 @ 06:21 AM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 02-15-10 08:27 AM EDT (US)     93 / 98       
Very good.

So the Romans outwit the Bructeri once again!

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 02-15-10 01:37 PM EDT (US)     94 / 98       
An excellent end to this section. A tad anti-climatic, but the misdirection and previous battle make up for that.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Edorix
High King of Britain
posted 02-16-10 04:35 AM EDT (US)     95 / 98       
Very good. I liked the way you conveyed the speed with which the Romans got relief as soon as they saw the Rhine, and the way the tale seems to come full circle. Awesome stuff, I look forward to the next part.
The Romans came with eighteen cohorts, three legions all told, and utterly destroyed Low Meadow.
Tut tut. Six centuries of 80 men in a standard cohort of 480 men, but ten cohorts including the first at double strength in a legion of 5280, plus 4 turmae of cavalry scouts of thirty horsemen each.
caligulae
The "-ul" diminutive was only used for the emperor; military sandals were simply caligae, I've been meaning to point that out for a while.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 02-16-10 04:56 AM EDT (US)     96 / 98       
Tut tut. Six centuries of 80 men in a standard cohort of 480 men, but ten cohorts including the first at double strength in a legion of 5280, plus 4 turmae of cavalry scouts of thirty horsemen each.
Tut tut yourself. Your numbers are correct for a full legion; mine more in passing with a legion that had been in a major battle and suffered heavy casualties as reported in the story earlier.

Thanks for the tip about the sandals. I'll go back and fix it soon.

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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 02-16-2010 @ 06:21 AM).]

CaesarVincens
Ashigaru
posted 02-16-10 05:47 PM EDT (US)     97 / 98       
Yes, the Emperor "Little Boots".

That 'ul' diminutive is quite productive, and there are a couple other diminutive suffices which can be found.

Veni, Vidi, well... you know.

Extended Cultures, A modification of RTW.

Si hoc legere posses, Latinam linguam scis.
ɪf ju kæn ɹid ðɪs, ju noʊ liŋgwɪstɪks.
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 02-16-10 07:05 PM EDT (US)     98 / 98       
Loved the story. Can't wait until Part III comes.

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
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