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Total War: Shogun 2 Heaven » Forums » Bardic Circle - War Stories & AAR forum » Julian The Apostate
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Topic Subject:Julian The Apostate
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Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 08-07-12 03:11 PM EDT (US)         
Hello, fellow forummers!

I am back from my long exile hiatus to which I enjoyed. But I am back and I hope you enjoy what I have to offer.

*****

Autumn, 355 AD

*****

Constantius sat inside his chamber in his palace at Constantinople, as the growing footsteps of sandals slapping onto the marble floor echoing ever louder, as the Roman officer stood before the emperor and saluted. Constantius looked up to the officer and acknowledged him.

“It is done, Augustus,” he said emotionlessly, addressing the emperor. “Silvanus is dead,” Constantius nodded in reply.

“Thank you, Ursicinus,” he replied, as he dismissed his obedient servant. As Ursicinus left the chamber Constantius sighed in relief. The emperor knew that a potential threat had been eradicated before it had gotten serious. He felt angry but also sad.

“Silvanus was a man whom I trusted and he did this to me!” he thought angrily to himself. Constantius now rued the decision to send his Master of Infantry magister peditum to Gaul, which had been wracked by deep incursions by barbarians, which some seems had decided to settle.

“With Silvanus dead it keeps my rule over the empire intact but I can’t solve all the empire’s problems,” he pondered to himself. “I need someone else to stamp out the trouble in Gaul while I maintain rule in the eastern provinces. But who do I choose?” Annoyingly for Constantius there were no main standouts that he could think of and that was largely to do with the civil war.

Constantius’ father, Constantine The Great, had spent thirteen years reuniting the western and eastern Roman Empire under the banner of Christianity. But when he died in 337 things changed. Imperial power was divided between his three sons: Constantius, Constantine II and Constans. However, it was not long before civil war broke out and thirteen years of hard fighting across the whole empire ensued before Constantius was the sole survivor out of the three sons by 350 AD. But there was only obstacle before he could be crowned Augustus: the usurper Magnentius who in 350 AD seized control of the western part of the Roman Empire.

“Of course!” Constantius exclaimed to himself, possibly coming up with a possible suitor to help his Gallic conundrum. “Julian could be the key!” He thought of when most of his extended family had been killed in the civil wars after Constantine’s death. Although he remembered all had died apart from the two sons of his half brother Julius Constantius: Gallus and Julian.

Constantius had decided to appoint Gallus Caesar so he could supervise the eastern provinces, while Constantius fought Magnentius in the west. However, the emperor's happiness soon soured after recollecting how after brutally suppressing Magnentius' revolt he had Gallus executed, as he suspected he held sinister motives with regards to the throne.

“Why on earth would Julian accept my offer to command the army in Gaul after what I did?” Constantius thought depressingly, as he thought back to why he had sent Silvanus in the first place. The emperor knew after being crowned Augustus he couldn’t attend every single flashpoint across the empire at once. So Constantius decided to send his trusted friend Silvanus to Gaul. He had no choice for it needed his best commander to solve an growing crisis.

The troubles in Gaul had gotten to breaking point after all of the belligerents in the civil wars had decided to strip the borders bare of all available manpower in their attempt to seize power. The only thing that did was prompt large scale barbarian raids, which penetrated deeper into Roman territory each time it wasn’t checked.

Constantius recollected telling Silvanus his objective: to go into Gaul and show them the might of Roman steel as Julius Caesar did. However, the emperor remembered getting the shock of his life when informed by couriers the army in Gaul had proclaimed his friend Augstutus to which Silvanus accepted.

"How could I have fallen into the trap of entrusting generals with so much power? It had been the downfall of many emperors in the past!" Constantius lamented to himself at being put into that position. However, he had Ursicinus to thank for he had bribed disgruntled soldiers within the rebelling army to have Silvanus killed and nip the problem in the bud. But the problem still arose: should he trust Julian with commanding his troops in Gaul?

“I have no choice,” he sighed to himself. “The troubles in Gaul still persist and if unchecked will merely undermine my power to the point of my downfall. Besides, a relative will be a bit more trustworthy than that snake Silvanus!”

So the emperor decided to entrust Julian the command of solving the troubles in Gaul. To make sure Julian would agree to head this dangerous expedition to Gaul, as well as strengthen the bond between him and Julian, the Augustus decided to give his sister Helena to Julian as a bride.

But there was just one problem: Julian had never held any public positions or even spent any time in the army.

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

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

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

[This message has been edited by Legion Of Hell (edited 08-09-2012 @ 09:42 AM).]

AuthorReplies:
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 08-08-12 01:29 AM EDT (US)     1 / 121       
Intriguing!

And off to a good start.

Question, though. Maybe I am misreading it but in this paragraph, fifth in the story:
“With Silvanus dead it keeps my rule over the empire intact but I can’t solve all the empire’s problems,” he pondered to himself. “I need someone else to stamp out the trouble in Gaul while I maintain rule in the eastern provinces. But who do I choose?” Annoyingly for Julian there were no main standouts that he could think of and that was largely to do with the civil war.
Should that not be Constantius who had no main standouts, and not Julian who had yet to be introduced?

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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 08-08-12 07:45 AM EDT (US)     2 / 121       
Edited and corrected!

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.
Zardozhotep
Ashigaru
(id: Kahotep)
posted 08-08-12 12:32 PM EDT (US)     3 / 121       
If I may offer another minor grammatical correction to an otherwise solid story:
which had been wracked by deep incursions by barbarians of which some it seems had decided to settle.
I would rewrite as:
which had been wracked by deep incursions by barbarians, some of whom apparently had decided to settle.

Everything is better with dinosaurs.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 08-09-12 09:44 AM EDT (US)     4 / 121       
Thanks Kahotep for your reply. I kind of listened to your suggestion and made some modifications to it.

The next chapter will be posted within a few days. Possibly the start of the next week.

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.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 08-10-12 04:27 PM EDT (US)     5 / 121       
*****

Julian looked out of his lavish quarters towards the Pnyx where the freed men of Athens debated the matters of the day that affected the democratic city-state. He sighed to himself, as the twenty three year old lamented his current state of affairs. Since Gallus’ death he had been under house arrest in Nicomedia and now Athens by the orders of Constantius. However, Julian had decided instead of seeking violent revenge by trying to overthrow the Augustus, he would merely follow a different yet original path that satisfied his dislike of Constantius.

“Why be a Christian when I can worship the old religions in the time of the Republic,” he proclaimed to himself when making the decision. When Constantine The Great came to power he enforced Christianity as the official religion of the empire yet wisely decided not to suppress the pagan religions so not to alienate the less educated masses. Julian decided this would be his rebellion against the emperor: by secretly embracing paganism. As he smiled at his plan Julian could see from the corner of his eye outside the window two horsemen enter his grounds. From the insignia he could see these were important men. Julian walked out of his quarters into the grounds of his compound and met the two riders.

“Ave, friend,” he saluted them appreciatively. “What brings you here?” Ursicinus and one of his subordinate staff looked at each other before addressing his question.

“I think I rather we discuss this inside,” Ursicinus replied to which Julian gave a suspicious look. “Don’t worry, Julian. We aren’t going to assassinate you. Rather the opposite,” Julian looked at them curiously before leading them inside his quarters and being told of why Ursicinus visited him.

“The emperor wants me to do WHAT?” he replied with incredulity.

“He simply wants you to quell a small external threat in Gaul,” Ursicinius explained. “They do not number that highly but have raided into Gaul on numerous occasions while the Augustus has dealt with problems in the eastern provinces and the civil war,” Julian quickly concluded that these raiders he would face should he accept the offer resided on both sides of the Rhine. He shuddered remembered tales of how these warriors against Rome in the time of Germancius were brave and ferocious in battle giving no quarter whatsoever.

“But I haven’t even held a term in public office or saw service in the army,” Julian pointed out. “I am a mere novice compared to the senior officers,”

“Which is why I will advise you,” Ursicnius reassured the young Roman. “An young novice charging into Gaul is foolish but not if he has an old hand like myself as counsel. I will help you become a general while you learn the ways of war,”

Julius mused it over in great detail as he went over the pros and cons. At first he wondered why Constantius selected him despite lacking experience in the military or public office. Moreover, he liked being in the hot climate of Athens even if he was under house arrest, than the wet climate of Gaul fighting raiding barbarians. However, he saw the positives in taking the command, as it would bring him glory and favour. In addition, Ursicnius was to advise him and he seemed a good ally.

“If I do take the command and defeat the Gauls who knows what might that do for my reputation. I can rise up through the ranks and enforce my true agenda,” he thought before turning to Ursicinius.

“Very well,” Julian answered. “I agree to the command. When do I set sail to Gaul?”

“You are to come with me to Constantinople at first light tomorrow,” replied Ursicinus’ subordinate officer. “There the emperor will officially proclaim you Caesar in front of the army and then afterwards will give your battle orders,” Julian nodded as he took it all in: appointed Caesar and a chance to claim glory for himself.

“Seeing that we leave for Constantinople you are welcome to sleep here for the night,” Julian offered to which Ursicinus gave his thanks. “Tonight you are my guests,” As Julian walked out of the room, so to find one of his slaves so they could cook dinner, the two men looked at each other.

“Do you think that was wise?” the officer asked Ursicinus.

“Of course,” he replied assertively.

“How can you possibly be so sure?” the officer shot back. “You know very well the “small external threat in Gaul” is a lie. What if Julian decides to flee back to the comforts of Athens when he finds out the truth? He would rather enjoy the warm Greek weather than the cold, harsh, wet lands of Gaul,”

”He won’t,” Ursicinus replied back. “Like I said to him before I will be there to advise him. “Besides, he seems like a man who fulfils his obligations once agreeing to them. As God is my witness I know that Julian will be able to cease the barbarians’ raiding and bring a sense of stability to the west not seen in a long time,”

“Let us hope so, Ursicinus,” the officer sighed hopefully. “Let us hope so,”

*****

Julian coughed uncomfortably in his cabin as the warship he was on sailed through the fierce storms of the Mediterranean. He recollected over the past few weeks, which had turned him from a man under house arrest to the second highest command of the empire. He smiled when remembering how when reaching Constantinople he was embraced by the emperor Constantius. A few days later on the sixth day of November 355AD Julian and Constantius addressed the army who were on parade. As Julian was proclaimed Caesar he saw the army show their approval by banging their shields onto their knees. However, Julian’s daydreaming was interrupted with a knock on the door.

“Enter,” he said. The door opened to reveal Ursicinus.

“May I come in, Caesar?” he asked. Julian nodded, as the general sat down on a chair.

“I thought I would come here so to brief you on our military, as you are a novice when it comes to the art of war,” he explained to Julian. “No doubt from the books you have read while in Athens you know of the legions that brought Rome its glory. But things have changed since the early days of the Principate,”

“How do you mean?” Julian asked.

“Nowadays in the Roman army there are two types of sections: the limetati and comitatenses,” Ursicinus pointed out. “The limetati are those who garrison and patrol the frontiers of the empire: so for example those along the Rhine and desert lands of Arabia. The comitatenses is the main field unit of the Roman army although in support they have the auxiliaries, whom you know, are soldiers from the empire who fight in the service of the emperor and be granted their freedom after seeing out their term of service. However, the comitatenses are not as large as what the legions used to be in the times of the Principate,”

“Oh?” Julian raised his eyebrow.

“As you know from the lessons I have given you in the Roman military system,” Ursicinus explained. “An average legion in the times of the Principate numbered up to five thousand men whereas a unit in the comitatenses is a thousand to twelve hundred men,”

“Why so small?” Julian enquired.

“Because the empire these days has never faced a large external threat,” Ursicinus suggested. “Rome under the republic faced several threats with the Carthaginians, the unruly Numidian kingdom led by Jurgutha, the invading Germanic tribes that were dealt with by Marius and the Gallic rebellions led by Vercingetorix.

These all required massive amounts of manpower, which was readily available by a levy or conscription, if men were hard to acquire, although sometimes that policy would prove quite unpopular with those living in Italia. Apart from the recent civil wars there hasn’t been a large scale pitch battle on the scale of the Punic Wars,” Julian sighed before looking at Ursicinus and asked the question he had been wondering since he had left Constantiople in November.

“How bad is it really?” he asked the old general. “And do not lie. I know I wouldn’t have been chosen if it was a minor problem a tribune or a prefect would have been sent there to handle it,” Ursicinus sighed realizing it would be pointless to withhold it any longer and realized Julian must have known the problems in Gaul wasn’t minor.

“It’s bad,” he confirmed to Julian. “Numerous barbarian tribes have raided into Gaul since the civil war after Constantine’s death. As more soldiers were diverted from garrison duties in forts and towns along the Rhine, so to fight for the emperor, it merely emboldened the barbarians. They took advantage of the civil wars that were weakening the empire and attacked in force across the Rhine and penetrated deep into Gaul with their raids. The limetani, who were meant to garrison the defensive lines of fortified towns across the Rhine have been decimated, as several towns along the western bank of the river have fallen into barbarian hands. Many are now settling along that bank although thankfully Colonia Agrippinensis, the main town along the Rhine, has managed to hold out.

However, Mogontiacum fell quite quickly and so has Argentoratum. The army in Gaul is not what it once was, as its best formations were destroyed in the civil wars and campaigns against the barbarian tribes, which were routed out of Raetia with heavy losses. The field army in Gaul consists of no more than fifteen thousand men. Sadly, that includes the reinforcement of twelve hundred men, which Constantius provided that are waiting in Italia for us,” Julian sighed depressingly at the tough job he faced. He knew of the reinforcements given to him: a regiment of cataphracts and a few turmae of mounted archers. Despite not being near as enough they were highly trained when compared to the army at Gaul he was to command.

“So who exactly are the tribes that have raided Rome’s lands?” Julian asked.

“Well, you are quite keen to get stuck in, aren’t you?” Ursicinus chuckled, which brought about a much-needed smile from Julian. “There are mainly two: the Franks and the Alamanni. The Franks only like to raid when they feel its right: an opportunistic bunch. However, it’s the Alamanni that you have to watch out for. They have been a thorn in our side for many years, as well as being mostly responsible for destroying the Rhine defensive line and raiding deep into Gaul. Defeat the Alamanni and you will hopefully much needed stability in the empire,” Julian certainly hoped so, as Ursicinus’ confession on what really was happening in Gaul was a rude awakening.

“Anyway I am going to sleep,” Ursicinus said as he stretched his arms and headed for the door. “I will get a guard to wake you up once we land in Italia,”

“Where exactly are the reinforcements that were promised to us?” Julian asked.

“In Mediolanum,” Ursicinus answered. “From there we’ll head to Gaul and link up with the main army,” Julian nodded in reply and wished Ursicinus a good night as he left his quarters. With Julian alone he pondered to his own thoughts. He was troubled at how easily the Alamanni and Franks had butchered the limetani along the western bank of the Rhine. But Julian hoped that by training the army of Gaul into shape, as well as trusting his own ability, he would be able to face the Alamanni and Franks.

“Because if I fail then Gaul could be lost and possibly my own life,”

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

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

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

[This message has been edited by Legion Of Hell (edited 08-10-2012 @ 04:28 PM).]

Zardozhotep
Ashigaru
(id: Kahotep)
posted 08-10-12 06:08 PM EDT (US)     6 / 121       
I am curious, who is this character named Julian? Is he a real historical figure or someone you made up?

Everything is better with dinosaurs.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 08-11-12 06:02 AM EDT (US)     7 / 121       
He's a real historical figure. Although Constantius was at the time based in Milan and not Constantiople.

So a slight modification on what really happened. I feel like Fox News.

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 08-11-12 12:11 PM EDT (US)     8 / 121       
Nice.

I like the hidden agenda. And Ursicinus comes across like an old bear of battle- just what a young pup like Julian needs.


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|||||||||||||||| 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 08-17-12 02:48 PM EDT (US)     9 / 121       
*****

A few days later in the cold winter of December Julian and Ursicinus landed in Italia. They wasted no time in linking up with the reinforcements at Mediolanum. As they headed through the snowy landscape of Northern Italy, Julian shivered uncomfortably, while riding his horse through the awful weather.

“Everywhere I look there is snow everywhere!” he shouted out to Ursicinus who kept watch at the vanguard of the column so to watch out for any possible danger. “It is times like these I wish I was back in Greece!”

“Be glad you are experiencing the worse of the winter!” he roared back to Julian. “Anyways we’re not far from Taurini where we shall stay for the night so you can rest yourself from the weather!” Julian chuckled at that veiled barb, as he simply grimaced while the column headed towards the gates of the city. However, as they reached Taurini there was a group of soldiers waiting by, who reacted when seeing the column by heading towards them. One of the men raised a stop sign that caused the column to halt. Julian headed to the front, as he and Ursicinus looked at the soldiers armed with long spears and rounded spears, which had prompted them to stop.

“State your business?” the guard asked.

“I am Ursicinius, representative of Emperor Constantius,” he proclaimed and then turned to Julian,” “This is Julian, commander of the army of Gaul,” The soldiers mumbled when hearing of their identities.

“I’m sorry, sir,” the lead soldier apologised. “But many of the men are jittery,”

“And why is that?” Ursicinus asked.

“You don’t know?” one of the Roman soldiers blurted out. Ursicinus and Julian shook their head. The lead soldier sighed.

“You better come inside and meet with the commander,” he said, as the city gates were opened and the column headed into Taurini.

*****

“Colonia Agrippinensis has fallen?” Ursicinus exclaimed in shock. The garrison commander Licinus nodded his head grimly.

“I’m afraid so,” he replied. “We received word from a messenger a few days ago. The Franks overran the defences, overwhelmed the limetati garrisoning the city and savaged those old veterans living in Colonia. There was no hope,” Ursicinus shook his head in sadness, as he knew many men at Colonia Agrippinensis, who had fought with him in the civil war and went to Colonia to live out their days as civilians in peace.

“So what will you do next?” Licinus asked. “You are welcome to stay here for the winter if you want,”

“No, thank you,” Julian replied politely. “We will probably head to Gaul and see for ourselves what really is happening there,”

“We are likely to head north to Vienne,” Ursicinus further added. “We don’t want to traverse the Alpine passes and will probably be in Vienne for the duration of the winter,”

“Very well,” Licinus nodded. “ I pray you have a safe journey,” Julian and Ursicinus nodded in reply as they headed outside Licinus’ quarters towards their horses where the column was waiting.

“So are we staying in Vienne till the snow thaws out?” Julian asked.

“Probably,” Ursicinus answered back, as he mounted his horse. “But don’t worry there is much to do in Vienne throughout the winter,”

“Such as?” Julian enquired, as he too got on his horse.

“Administrative duties!” the old man chuckled to which Julian scoffed. “I know it isn’t exciting as slaying barbarians but it is an important function of being Caesar of a large area such as Gaul. Moreover, you are likely to try and gain as much intelligence about the province as much as possible. You know little about the area; its settlements, strength of the units in the limetani and comitatenses. Moreover, you need to have good intelligence on the enemy before you could even plot or execute a campaign against the barbarians. But I have no doubt by the turn of the spring you will be ready to take the war to the Alamanni and Franks,”

“Thank you for the advice,” Julian acknowledged. “However, the army of Gaul also needs to be ready to fight the Alamanni and Franks. By summer we will find out,” Ursicinus nodded in agreement, as both officers gave the order to advance. The column headed out of Taurini’s gates north towards the Alpine passes where they headed to Gaul.

*****

As winter turned into spring, as well as a new year, Julian quickly began to understand more of the land he was in while encamped at Vienne. With Ursicinus and Marcellus, a senior officer in the Gallic army, Julian was able to gain intelligence on the enemy, as well as understand the severity of the barbarian incursions into Gaul.

While encamped at Vienne it also gave Julian the chance to carry out administrative duties, as he wrote letters to Constantius who was now in Italia, informing him of his arrival. In the spring Julian sent dispatches to the field army ordering them to concentrate at Reims, which was the main town of the Remi tribe, where they would be billeted. The young general knew it had sufficient provisions to feed the army for at least a month. Moreover, Julian knew Reims was not too far from Vienne, as it enabled him to quickly link up with the field army. The general was eager to launch a pre-emptive strike against the marauding barbarians.

However, unbeknownst to Julian, it would be the Alamanni who would react first.

*****

Barius walked across the parapet along the fortifications protecting the town of Augustodunum. The soldier whistled while walking along the battlements while holding his spear and rounded shield. Barius sighed, as he met up with his friend Maximus, who also looked bored. Neither appreciated guard duty.

“Sighted anything?” he asked Maximus.

“Not even a deer roaming in the wide open field ahead of us,” he replied.

“I don’t even understand why we are on guard duty,” Barius complained. “There isn’t even any alert of raiding barbarians or scouts locating the enemy. When I could be sitting in the tavern drinking ale I’m spending this evening on guard duty,”

To be fair I can see why most of the garrison is on guard duty,” Maximus pointed out before turning to the fortifications. “You can see from the state of the walls that they are in disrepair,” Barius looked at the walls and realized he had a valid point. Since the civil wars the walls of Augustodunum had been in a bad condition with large holes in certain places capable of two people storming it or even widening the hole.

“Be that as it may,” Barius reassured his friend. “Those holes aren’t a problem so long as you place strong willed soldiers there who are determined,”

“But that’s the problem,” Maximus said worryingly. “We are a small garrison of seven hundred men. In support there are at least five hundred retired veterans who are living here so they can see out the rest of their lives in peace. “Just because-”

“Shhhh!” Barius cut him off. “Did you hear that?” The guard had interrupted Maximus, as he thought he heard the sound of a drum.

“Hear what?” Maximus asked, as he looked across the battlement towards the field.

“Sounded like the faint sound of a drum,” Barius replied. Maximus was about to mock him for hearing things but then a far larger sound of a drum was heard that got the attention of all the soldiers on the battlement.

“It came from across the field!” cried out one of the other guards.

“What is it?” yelled another.

“Alert the garrison commander!” shouted one of the officers. As Barius and Maximus peered towards the field they saw where the drums, which were increasing in sound and number, were coming from. The line of sight from those on the battlement arced across the field ahead of them. But what they didn’t realize was a reverse slope, which hindered their view of what lay beyond the field that led into dense woodland.

Now they saw what was behind the reverse slope and woodland: the shape of thousands of barbarians letting out a monstrous cry. The standards of the Alamanni were raised, as the barbarians marched towards the town. The garrison of Augustodunum may not have anticipated the barbarians but the Alamanni had known for days how lacking the defences and manpower of Augustodunum were. The barbarians had been meticulous in their attempts to reach the town while making their way from the west bank of the Rhine.

They had used the forests of Gaul to transport soldiers, before resting in the nearby woodland, which lay next to the reverse slope near Augustodunum. While residing in the woods they made as little noise as possible, so not to attract any unwanted attention from the nearby garrison. In addition, the tribal chieftains leading the Alamanni warhost had taken care of the possibility of being scouted while their warriors marched to Augustodunum.

The chieftains sent their best soldiers to eliminate any scouting parties nearby so they could not tell the garrison commander at Augustodunum of what they saw. The roaming groups of Alamanni headed along the roads leading west to Besancon, as well as south to Lugdunum and Vienne, killing several scouts on foot or horse on patrol before dumping their bodies in forests. Not one scout was able to report back to the garrison commander, Flavius Barbatus at Augustodunum, with the garrison and its inhabitants having no idea of the oncoming Alamanni horde. Now the bewildered garrison could see in their own eyes the large barbarian army, which outnumbered the Roman force at least seven to one.

Meanwhile, the Alamanni looked on gleefully knowing they achieved complete surprise, as they saw the state of disrepair along the walls, along with the scattered positioning of the enemy garrison. The Romans on the other hand were eagerly trying to rush whatever soldiers available to man their hastily erected barricades, which had been thrown onto the breaches within the wall. The retired veterans quickly donned their armour and were given weapons before heading to the battlements and ordered to defend the vulnerable points of the damaged wall.

The five hundred regular soldiers were placed upon the weak points of the wall before being joined by the five hundred retired veterans: some who were well into their fifties. Barius, along with Maximus, shook their heads ruefully when seeing twelve of these veterans march towards their sector of a particularly vulnerable wall that had several breaches. These veterans may have been elite soldiers but some of these men had clearly put on weight and were short on fitness after spending many years idle

“Let us hope God saves us because these veterans sure won’t,” quipped Maximus.

“Well our group of eighty men has got little chance of stopping those barbarians breaching that shoddy wall” Barius replied mournfully. The soldier could see at least four gaps in the wall ahead of him that was big enough to fit a man. He knew all too well if the Alamanni got enough men in to widen just one breach then this defence would before it even began. But before the officer in charge of Barius’ detachment could issue words of encouragement there was a piercing roar from the barbarians.

The commanders of the Alamanni horde, who were at the vanguard on horseback and decked in splendid armour, turned to their army before pointing their long swords towards Augustodunum. At once the horns were sounded in harmonious unison, as the Alamanni began their descent towards the wall. Barius saw from the gaps in the wall the oncoming Alamanni, as with both hands tightly gripped his spear and shield.

“So now we see who lives among the dead and who dies among the living,”

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.
Kilos of Thermon
Ashigaru
posted 08-17-12 08:43 PM EDT (US)     10 / 121       
This is very interesting indeed! Quite nice reading some historical fiction worked into actual history.

One thing, I do have to say is that Julian never really was a Christian, and he always despised the religion. But nevertheless, carry on!

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII
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Cattle die, kinsmen die, the self must also die. I know one thing that never dies: the fate of the honored dead. Hávamál, Gestaþáttr, #77.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 08-18-12 04:06 AM EDT (US)     11 / 121       
He despised it but kept it under wraps. You'll see much later on in the story.

Glad that you like it 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.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 08-18-12 12:24 PM EDT (US)     12 / 121       
Nice installment, Legion. And a wonderfully addictive cliffhanger to boot.

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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 09-14-12 02:31 PM EDT (US)     13 / 121       
Was going to post this in late August but the servers denied me. But rejoice as now I can put up a new chapter!

*****

Flavius Barbatus rode on horseback behind the columns of the five hundred comitatenses and five hundred retired veterans, giving words of encouragement, while the first wave of Alamanni rushed towards the breached sections of the wall.

“Stand fast, men!” he shouted at the top of his voice, so to make himself heard, before turning to the comitatenses who were about to bear the brunt of the fierce Alamanni charge. “You are soldiers of Rome and now I expect you to show me why. Give these impotent fools no quarter and make them taste death. As one we will cast these heretics out of this fair city!” A rousing cheer went up from the soldiers, as they acknowledged Flavius’ motivating speech. The comitatenses at the front of the column waited patiently ahead of the breached wall. Barius was in the first line of the comitatenses, as he saw the Alamanni horde edge ever closer.

“May God watch over me,” he prayed to himself, knowing soon he could be killed. It did not take long for Barius to see if his prayer worked, as the barbarians swarmed towards the gates and wall. They started to hack at the vulnerable parts of the wall seeing if they could widen the breaches long enough for people to crawl through. Barius’ centurion, who was in charge of the makeshift column, was quick to act upon the Alamanni’s intentions.

“Forward!” he roared to his men. “Don’t let them get through the breaches in the wall!” With a blast of the cornicern the comitatenses marched forward to confront the enemy. Barius could see a soldier use his axe to pick at one of the breaches so he could widen the hole. Barius readied his spear and made a thrust inside the hole towards the other side of the hole. All he could hear under the din of battle was a loud scream, as Barius pulled his spear back to see his spearpoint covered in blood.

Across the wall the Alamanni flung their soldiers into the breaches trying to exploit any weak points. Barius could see out of the corner of his eye some of the other centuries engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the barbarians. Barius, as well as his fellow soldiers, tried their best to close the holes but the tenacious Alamanni were fanatical in the way they tried to enter the breaches.

To his left Barius could see a barbarian enter through one of the holes and brutally cut down one of his fellow comrades with his axe. In reply, the Alamanni warrior tried to attack Barius, but he reacted by blocking the blood stained axe with his spear. Barius then used his weapon to stab him in the thigh. The barbarian roared in pain, as Barius struggled to thrust the spear out of the man’s leg. So he simply drew his sword out of his sheath and finished him off with a stab to his heart before pulling the sword out.

While this duel occurred the Alamanni managed to funnel several of their soldiers into the breach and put certain parts of the Roman line under intense pressure. The fighting was fierce, as the Alamanni were able to use their axes and sword to full effect in the open instead of trying to scurry through the widened holes. Barius had to be quick to dodge an axe wildly slogged by a tall Alamanni. The Roman then managed to use his shield to absorb another blow of the barbarian’s axe, as it made a sickening thud and badly damaged his shield.

Barius was on one knee, as he held his bleeding left hand that he used to hold his shield. The Alamanni soldier smiled seeing pain upon his opponent’s face, as he prepared to give the final deathblow. But what he didn’t see was behind him was Barius’ centurion using his spear to stab him in the back. The axe-wielding barbarian gasped before falling face first onto the ground. Barius looked at his centurion in appreciation for saving his life.

“Thanks, Marcus,” he thanked the centurion.

“Much obliged,” he nodded in acknowledgement before seeing Barius’ wounds. “Head to the physicians down the road behind you so you can get that gash on your arm sorted out. Let someone else at the rear of the column have a go at these barbarians,” Before Barius could reply Marcus drifted off to inspect the rest of his soldiers trying to hold the Alamanni at bay. Barius stood up, as he hobbled towards the back of his own column, while the fighting raged behind him.

The Roman looked at his arm and grimaced at the large gash made on his forearm after the now dead barbarian shattered his round shield with the axe. Barius tried to move his injured arm but grimaced in pain while attempting it. He headed to the tavern, which had been converted to a makeshift aid station.

Barius was shocked when entering the tavern, as he was met with the cries and groans of the wounded that filled the tavern. Previously it had been a two-storey tavern, which had quickly been renovated in a short space of time into what was now a blood-splattered room, sadly filled with the dead and dying. Barius could see with horror some of the wounded bearing grievous injuries, which were the result of the axes and swords of the Alamanni. Barius came upon the hastily covered up dead, which meant Barius could see the horrific wounds they bore. A medical orderly walked up to him who could see the shocked look on his face.

“Are you alright?” he asked a startled Barius who hadn’t seen the orderly.

“My-my arm,” Barius stammered before pointing to his wound, as the orderly saw just how taken aback the Roman was at the dead and dying.

“War is indeed a horrible business,” he sadly lamented, while looking at a dead soldier lying atop a table, who had half his face ripped off due to a heavy blow of an axe. “But luckily for you that wound you have isn’t as serious as most of these soldiers here. Wait here and I shall fix your wound when I come back,” As the orderly left to get his medical tools Barius could finally relax, as he knew he was out of harm’s way. He just hoped Augustodunum could hold under the Alamanni horde.

*****

Flavius scanned the battle going on before him with increasing worry. The five hundred regular soldiers of the comitatenses had fought bravely and had been able to inflict hundreds upon hundreds of casualties upon the Alamanni. But slowly they were being pushed back with gaps starting to open up in the line. The barbarians had managed to form a small foothold into the town, which had been paid dearly with their high losses.

However, Flavius knew he had to do something to stabilise the weak points in the line and not cause a collapse that would result in the loss of Augustodunum. The commander then looked to his reserve: the few hundred retired veterans who had been hastily armed with weapons and held back while the comitatenses were sent forward to engage the Alamanni. Flavius used his horse to canter towards the veterans who quickly saluted their commander.

“Veterans!” he addressed the veterans. “For years I have watched you served your terms of service with honour and as a reward be given land so to live your days in peace. But now I must call upon you to take up arms once more. Out there is a murderous horde that wish to pillage your homes and kill your loved ones. What say you, veterans? Will you stand with me and fight?” The veterans cheered loudly in agreement, as Flavius turned to his signifier.

“Sound the advance!” he ordered at the top of his voice. The notes were played on the cornicern, as the veterans marched with gusto moving towards the stricken comitatenses. The veterans slammed into the Alamanni and were quick to shore up the faltering line the comitatenses had been trying to maintain. The veterans used all of their experience to full effect, as they cut down those who dared tried to test the mettle of the veterans. Within a short space of time the veterans had managed to cut a bloody swathe through the Alamanni line with their methodical killing. The barbarians were soon struggling to maintain their small foothold inside the city, as they had expended most of their energy earlier on against the comitatenses.

“Push forward!” came the cries of the officers leading the veterans, as they also gave encouragement to the now inspired comitatenses. The Alamanni began to waver before their demise was sealed, as cries of retreat were uttered in some sections of their line, which started a chain reaction that would turn into a rout. Soldiers of the Alamanni scampered through the bloodied breaches they had earlier made, as they left the dead and dying to be at the mercy of the Romans who were quick to end their suffering. Flavius looked on with satisfaction, as his soldiers cheered at repulsing a far larger Alamanni force. As Flavius looked on in relief, an officer from the comitatenses headed towards him and saluted the garrison commander.

“Sir, the Alamanni have been pushed out of the city and are headed to the forest,” he reported. “ Do I have permission to send scouts or patrols to pursue them?”

“No,” Flavius shook his head. “I do not know the full extent of our losses but I am sure that it is serious enough to the point where I cannot spare men to even send out scouting patrols,” The officer looked around and saw Flavius was right. The area surrounding the gate and walls were splattered with blood. Moreover, it was strewn with hundreds of bodies of which a good portion of them was Roman.

“What orders do I give to the men?” he asked Flavius.

“Clear the bodies and have the dead barbarians burned till their bones go to dust,” angrily replied Flavius whose hatred of the Alamanni simmered. “Make sure the fallen Roman soldiers will be dealt with accordingly and with respect. Once that is done put select groups of men on watch to keep a strict eye out for the enemy and have the whole garrison on alert. No doubt the Alamanni will again soon. Moreover, it is vital to send out dispatch riders, so the main army can know what has happened,”

“And what of the wounded?”

“They will stay under the care of the physicians,” Flavius replied. The officer nodded and proceeded to carry out Flavius’ orders. As the garrison commander looked around Augustodunum he sighed heavily. He knew that God was on his side this day and had spared him destruction in the midst of overwhelming odds. Flavius was well aware if not for his veterans Augustodunum would have been ransacked.

“Thank the Lord for sparing me,” he thought back in reflection of the day's events. “I hope that I can send word to the main army of our plight. Let us hope we are relieved before the Alamanni make another attack. If not then may God have mercy on the souls of Augustodunum,”

*****

“We could have taken the city if Alari’s warband hadn’t broke!” shouted Hrotha, one of the tribal chieftains of the Alamanni. “Now Alari and most of his men lie dead because of his incompetence and our army lie in the forest under the dark!”

“Hrotha is right,” nodded his cousin Dram. “We suffered heavy losses today and one of our best warriors in the Alamanni lies dead inside that burg. The Romans are probably burning our dead in a mass funeral pyre,” Serapio sighed in frustration. Damn Hrotha and Dram for daring to criticise me! He knew they had a nerve to even do so after they, along with other tribal kings, hounded him and his uncle Chnodomarius - one of the seven Alamanni kings and led the strongest warband among the Alamanni - to attack what they thought was a weak garrison instead of consolidating their hold on the west bank of the Rhine. Chnodomarius decided to send his nephew to lead the expedition against Augustodunum so not to lose face. Now the supposed weak garrison was actually a strong one that fiercely repulsed his assault.

“So what is the situation in regards to our position here?” enquired Serapio.

“Food is scarce even though our heavy losses today means there are significantly less bodies to feed,” Hrotha replied with an ironic tone. Serapio noted it but did not react.

“What do you recommend?” Serapio asked.

“Commence with the siege but we have to send men to forage or raid the surrounding area so to ease our dwindling supplies,” Dram suggested.

“In my view I think that is the right course of action,” Hrotha nodded. “We may not have siege equipment to impose a strict siege but we can at least blockade them.

“What if the Romans send reinforcements?” Serapio wondered.

“Then we withdraw,” Dram replied back. “We send scouts along the roads south of here so if the Romans send a relief force then we are able to head back home before the reinforcements arrive,” Serapio looked at the other two chieftains in the army, as he mused the pros and cons of their plan, before soon coming to a decision.

“Very well,” he agreed. “But let us pray to the gods that this plan works and we aren’t cut down where we stand now. For if that happens then the Alamanni is doomed,”

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

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

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

[This message has been edited by Legion Of Hell (edited 09-14-2012 @ 02:34 PM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 09-16-12 04:13 AM EDT (US)     14 / 121       
Excellent! Good description of the carnage of a battle, and the desperation of a surrounded defender. Loved the political aspect on the Germanic side- nice twist.

Two thumbs up!

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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 09-20-12 01:40 PM EDT (US)     15 / 121       
*****

It was the twenty fourth day of June when Julian rode his horse at the vanguard of the column and saw the city of Augustodunum come up in plain view. Julian’s eyes widened, as well as many of his men, in shock at what they saw.

“My God, what has happened here?” Ursicinus gasped in horror. As the column edged closer to the city Julian could see the desolation in more detail. It was clear that a bloody battle had been fought a few days ago. There were several piles of burned bodies along the field opposite Augustodunum where flies buzzed about the charred remains of the dead, which caused many of the people in the column to gag and cover their mouths. As the column neared the gates Julian could see just how fierce the fighting was. The walls were bloodstained, as well as several breaches upon the gates and walls that had been hastily covered up. Along the battlements soldiers of the garrison appeared and looked at the column with joy etched on their faces.

“The reinforcements are here!” shouted one soldier.

“So that’s why the Alamanni left!” cried out another. “They knew you were coming! Bless this day for our prayers have been answered!” Julian nodded in reply but felt slightly uncomfortable at the soldiers giving thanks to God. It was not ago that thanks would be given via a sacrifices to the temples of Apollo, Jupiter or Mars. More soldiers came up to the battlements and cheered at seeing the reinforcements. Before Julian could ask about their commanding officer they saw Flavius arrive. Julian and Ursicinus saw he was the garrison commander of Augustodunum by the way the soldiers reacted to his arrival. Flavius looked to the column and saluted.

“Ave, Caesar!” he cried out to Julian. “My thanks for your arrival!”

“It is I who should be thanking you for holding your position so tenaciously these past few weeks,” replied Julian. “We rode at haste when hearing of the siege by the Alamanni. But from what I see behind me it seems you managed to fend them off,”

“That is indeed the case,” Flavius chuckled. “But it was not easy by any means. The Alamanni attacked in force five times with each of their attacks more brutal than the last, as you saw from the blood splatter and breaches in our walls and gate behind you. Their losses were heavy but we also paid a price: when the siege started three weeks ago I had a garrison of a thousand men and now have less than three hundred fifty soldiers fit for duty. Thank heavens you came when you did. We repulsed their attack three days ago yet we saw no movement from them last night. I guess their scouts must have located you arriving from the south and decided to withdraw back to the Rhine under the cover of darkness before you arrived,”

“Then there is no point in sending scouts to catch them, as they are probably halfway to the west bank of the Rhine,” Julian replied. “My escort column will set up camp outside the walls while your garrison gets to grips with rebuilding Augustodunum,” Flavius acknowledged the order, as the soldiers upon the battlements dispersed to their posts. Julian then turned to Ursicinus who was impressed at the lessons he had given to the Caesar was now paying off.

“Ursicinus, pass the word among the senior officers to meet me by that hill in an hour,” he ordered pointing at the steep position overlooking the city. “A consilium is needed to decide what to do now Augustodunum is secured,”

“That will be wise,” Ursicinus nodded. “I shall do it right away.” In less than an hour the seven most senior officers in the column, which consisted of Ursicinus, as well as one of his aide de camp Mallus, Flavius Barbatus, the commander of the cataphracts and the regiment of ballistarii met at the top of the hill that overlooked Augustodunum from the east. When Julian was satisfied that everyone of importance was in attendance did he commence the meeting.

“Men, thank you for coming here at such short notice,” the young Caesar began. “I have brought you here seeing now Augustodunum is no longer under threat we are at a crossroads. I was sent here by order of the Augustus so to stabilise Gaul and the frontier along the Rhine that in previous years has deteriorated. I have decided that we shall use the rest of the summer to attack and punish the barbarians that reside along the west bank. To do so we must reach the town of Reims where our main field army is located. However, I do not know the area that well, so I ask you what is the quickest yet safest route to Reims?” There was a small pause before Flavius spoke.

“The main roads that lead north into Reims are traversable and will allow us to safely reach the main army,” he suggested. “However, it will take a while, for the roads have not been properly maintained due to heavy raiding,”

“I cannot use those roads if it takes too long. Time is not on our side,” Julius replied. “I want to reach Reims quick enough to launch a proper campaign on the Alamanni and Franks. Does anyone have any other plausible suggestions?” The senior officers put forward several suggestions of which were rejected. Julian looked aghast at not finding a suitable avenue that would allow the column to reach Reims quickly. The Caesar was ready to adjourn the meeting before one of the officers raised his hand.

“There is one path that could get us to Reims far quicker,” Mallus, one of Ursicinus’ aide de camp, pondered that brought about raised eyebrows.

“Why didn’t you suggest it earlier?” asked Ursicinus.

“I wasn’t sure if you would accept it,” Mallus replied.

“Very well,” Julius sighed. “Tell us of this path,”

“It is a unknown yet direct route that leads straight to Reims,” he explained. “The road leads through heavily wooded country but once you reach open fields then Reims is in plain view,”

“Heavily wooded country?” Flavius replied sceptically. “Taking that road is risky and riding through the forest leaves us highly vulnerable to an ambush. It is tantamount to suicide!”

“He’s right, Caesar,” Ursicinus nodded in agreement. “A small column in a forest could be easily outnumbered and will entice those to plan an ambush,”

“Caesar, I assure you that if you set off at sunrise you will reach Reims before sunset,” Mallus shot back, as he was unimpressed at Ursicinus and Flavius’ attempts to wreck his idea. “Besides, many generals in the past have taken the forest path. Even Silvanus managed to ride through the forest road with a smaller detachment than ours unhindered,” Julian thought about the arguments by both parties, as he pondered whether to take the long yet safe option of the open road or the short yet potentially risky forest path. It didn’t take long for the young general to make his decision.

“We take the forest path,” Julian decided. “In my mind it saves time and allows us to reach the main army, which gives time for a summer campaign long enough to subjugate the Alamanni and Franks,” Mallus nodded happily at the decision while Ursicinus and Flavius gave looks of worry at the decision made.

“We leave at first light tomorrow so pass word to the men that they are to get a good night’s sleep. Have those on watch duty to be vigilant even if there are no barbarians lurking nearby,” Julian ordered before dismissing the consilium. As the senior officers walked back to the half erected camp Julian turned to Ursicinus and Flavius.

“May I have a word with both of you?” the Caesar asked to which both men nodded and stayed behind.

“When I decided that we were to take the forest road you did not look pleased,” Julian spoke, as both officers realized the general had picked up their less than pleased reactions. “Do you have a problem with my decision?” Flavius sighed.

“Like I said before I feel to take the forest road is dangerous,” the garrison commander explained. “We have no idea what lurks in the woods,” Julian then turned towards his trusted advisor who nodded at Flavius’ assessment.

“I respect your opinions,” the Caesar replied. “But we also don’t know what lurks in the open roads too. That is why I decided to take the forest path because it is the shortest route to Reims. Flavius, while I take the column across the forest road, you will stay in your post here at Augustodunum and see to the reconstruction of this city,” Flavius wanted to argue back but knew Julian’s mind was set and would not change his mind. The garrison commander simply nodded and headed back to camp. Julian then turned to Ursicinus who had stayed quiet during Flavius’ protests.

“You think I am making the wrong decision,” Julian broodingly enquired.

“I do not think it is the worst avenue to take but neither do I feel it is the best,” he replied truthfully.

“Which is why I take the forest road!” Julian emphasised. “So to confuse the barbarians who think us Romans would take the open roads, as they feel by using the long straight roads our ancestors had built will be a boast of strength. But by doing so we could be leading into a trap hence why I want to surprise them and take a short cut. By the time they hear of our true intentions we will reach Reims,” Ursicinus could see Julian was a stubborn man who felt the plan was solid and had no flaws.

“Very well,” the advisor sighed. “Let us hope this is not the ruin of us all,”

*****

The small column set out for Reims the following day at the crack of dawn. The column was small: twelve hundred men, which consisted of a few hundred cataphracts, a regiment of ballistarii eight hundred strong. As noon arrived the column entered the large forest where the road led. The grass, which was basked in sunshine, soon darkened into shadow, as they saw the dense wooded forest that lay before them in all its view. The forest looked brooding and unwelcoming prompting Julian turning towards Mallus, who rode next to Ursicinus, behind the young Caesar.

“Now we shall see if your shortcut works out!” Julian teased.

“I assure you that it will, Caesar!” Mallus shouted back nervously. “It will take us a few hours at least to traverse the road,” Julian nodded and then turned around to give the hand signal to advance. One by one the column entered the dark forest, as the thick trees and branches blocked out the rays of the sun thereby entering into darkness. For two hours all was quiet, as the column stretched for over two thousand paces marching ever further towards Reims. As they did so Ursicinus turned to Julian.

“I am going to inspect the rest of the column,” he informed his superior. “See that there isn’t large gaps between the cataphracts and ballistarii,” The Caesar nodded, as the escort guard of twelve horsemen cantered ahead of their leader to the vanguard of the column, so to protect Julian while Ursicinus inspected the men.

As he rode his horse along the marching column he noticed the change of atmosphere in the men: particularly the ballistarii. Prior to reaching the forest the faces of the ballistarii were smiling, hopeful and upbeat. But now, as they marched deeper into the forest, Ursicinus could plainly see they looked apprehensive, worried and even fearful of the surroundings they now found themselves in. The general couldn’t see the facial expressions of the cataphracts, due to their heavy armour, but the horses they rode on sounded nervous and had to be cajoled to trot forward.

Ursicinus could understand their anxiety. Walking in a forest like this along a road would make even the battle hardened armies of Alexander nervous. The general turned his horse around and rode to the vanguard of the column. As he did so Ursicinus looked to his flanks where the forest was at its most dense unlike the path, which was clear of vegetation twenty paces either side of the road. He could see no movement but felt uneasy. Ursicinus’ nervousness proved correct for without any warning an arrow from within the forest glided towards the column and hit one of the cataphracts’ horses causing to throw the rider off his saddle. Suddenly loud horn blasts reverberated on both sides of the road that prompted hundreds of barbarians to appear out of the dense woodland on both sides of the column. Julian drew his sword.

“Form lines on both flanks!” he roared, as the column split into two groups so to the face the twin threat. Julian could see the barbarians forming up into their lines, as they prepared to attack. The Caesar turned to his men who soon reformed into a battle position before he gripped his sword and readied himself to fight his first battle.

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 09-21-12 01:04 AM EDT (US)     16 / 121       
Oeps!

Looks like Julian is in for a scrap. Why has no ancient commander ever heard of sending light cavalry to the flanks and fore of a moving army as reconnaissance and or scouts?

Nice write-up. Loving Urcinius so far!

Two nits:
It was not ago
It was not long ago
missing word

we could be leading into a trap
we could be leading (who?) into a trap
missing word

Good stuff, Legion!

|||||||||||||||| 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
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 09-21-12 06:45 AM EDT (US)     17 / 121       
I've just caught up with this warstory and I have to say it's very interesting so far. Your description of the battles is very intriguing, too . I like the fact that you write about a relatively unknown Roman saga, that of Julian...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 09-21-12 08:21 AM EDT (US)     18 / 121       
Terikel - Julian can't send scouts because he has no turmae of light cavarly. Cataphracts are heavy cavalry while he only has ballistarii as infantry, which I think are some sort of artillerymen (ballista), but can be soldiers if pressed. Plus his column is a small detachment when compared to the main field army at Reims.

I shall rectify the mistakes also.

Alex_the_bold - Thanks for the praise. I like writing stories that are original or have not been written about before. Hence by previous long war story on The Peloponnesian War. I am enjoying looking at the 4th century AD even if its different than the Roman Republic and the Principate.

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

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

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

[This message has been edited by Legion Of Hell (edited 09-21-2012 @ 08:22 AM).]

Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 09-28-12 04:50 PM EDT (US)     19 / 121       
*****

Julian could see his soldiers didn't take long to array themselves in battle formation on two sides. Two groups of nine hundred men each protruding outwards so to face the incoming twin threat.

“I’ll take the group of soldiers facing west and you command those facing east!” Julian ordered Ursicinus. The senior general nodded before heading to command his group of soldiers that had turned right to face the ambushers. Julian then rode his horse to the middle of the column so he could command his group that had turned left. By the time Julian got to his position he could see hundreds of barbarians spread out along the width of the Roman column come into view within the edges of the dense treeline.

Julian felt a tinge of nervousness, as he didn’t have Ursicinus to help him. He knew his only chance to keep his sector under control was to send runners to the commanders of the ballistarii and cataphracts. Suddenly, a blast of the horn prompted the barbarians to cheer, as they charged towards the Romans.

“Keep the line steady!” he screamed to the ballistarii, as the barbarians came ever closer. “No retreat under any circumstances. You must hold your ground!” The ballistarii braced their shields for the eventual impact, which came with the sickening thud, as both sectors engaged with their ambushers. A fierce cacophony of noise reverberated across the forest with battle commencing on both sides. The ballistarii held their ground nobly while their foe tried to hack their way through any gaps in the line. The artillerymen turned swordsmen fought back with sniping thrusts of their spear or sword, which found the unguarded flesh of a barbarian that was met with a scream of pain.

Julian surveyed the battlefield and was pleased at seeing his sector holding firm. He looked towards both flanks and could see the cataphracts also engaged in combat. He remembered Ursicinus’ advice back on the ship journey from Asia Minor to Italy. Cavalry fight best when on the gallop than stationary. From his mentor’s advice the young general quickly called for a runner that arrived within moments.

“Find the commander of the cataphracts called Mahar and tell him he is to use a flanking force to attack the barbarians from the side on both flanks!” he ordered the messenger. The runner nodded and headed to his intended target on foot. As he did so Julian rode on horseback to inspect the line and gave encouragement to those sectors hard pressed by the enemy. The Caesar could see the ballistarii had weathered the initial fierceness of the ambush and the barbarians were now pinned where they stood. As Julian turned to see what was happening behind him he could see the same thing was occurring at Ursicinus’ sector. When Julian heard the horns, which signalled a cavalry charge, he knew it was of the cataphracts and not of barbarian cavalry emerging out of the woods.

“Right on time,” Julian smiled happily. On both flanks two small groups of cataphracts had peeled away from the fighting and had manoeuvred to the flanks of the barbarians. The ambushers didn’t realize what the heavily armoured horsemen were up to because they had no one in reserve. Every single warrior was preoccupied with trying to annihilate the Romans. By the time they found out it was too late, as the cataphracts lowered their lances and charged towards their unaware targets. Carnage ensued as the barbarians were stampeded under the hooves of the many horses ridden by the cataphracts. Those who weren’t stampeded by the horses had to face the wrath of the lances wielded by the armoured horsemen. Several were impaled upon the sharpened wooden weapon while others had their faces ripped off and screamed in agony till they ceased breathing.

The cataphracts who lost their lances, as they tried to impale or gut their foes, decided to use their maces. It was a good weapon that allowed them to maintain their advantage after their initial charge had begun to peter out. These weapons were used to devastating effect with the cataphracts swung their deadly weapons in a bloodied frenzy and were eager to decapitate or mangle an opponent. It did not take long for maces to be stained in blood with some having bits of gore stuck onto them. The impact of the surprise cavalry charge was that a large hole on both flanks of the barbarians had opened up.

Julian could see the morale of the enemy had been shattered and did not take long for them to waver before finally breaking. The barbarians fighting in Ursicinus’ sector saw their fellow soldiers retreat and they too decided to withdraw deep into the forest. Julian could then see the figure of Ursicinus coming towards him on horseback.

“They are retreating!” he shouted triumphantly. “Whatever you did it has driven them back in droves. Shall we pursue them into the forest?” The young Caesar shook his head.

“No,” he replied. “Our cavalry will be vulnerable trying to chase them. It is better to move forward,” Ursicinus nodded and rode towards his men, as he tried to gather information on the losses sustained from the ambush. While Julian rode forward to inspect what had just happened he was relieved to see the men had suffered lightly. Most of the dead were barbarians and were strewn along the road. The Caesar looked at the dead, pondering whether the ambushers were remnants of the Alamanni army, which had lay siege to Augustodunum before withdrawing after sighting his column. But before Julian pondered further he was disturbed by the arrival of Mallus on horseback. The general gave the subordinate officer a scowling look.

“It seems the road is not as safe as you said it was,” the general spoke icily.

“So it has shown,” Mallus embarrassingly acknowledged. “And for that I am sorry, Caesar,”

“Count yourself lucky that we are still alive! Deciding to take the forest road weighed heavily upon your advice!” Julian exploded angrily before cooling down his tone when seeing Mallus looking ashamed. “However, I am sure in the future you will use today as a learning experience, as will I. There is no doubt your achievements under my command in the future will redeem yourself to me,”

“I will make sure that is so, Caesar!” Mallus proclaimed before Julian nodded in reply and dismissed him. In the background listening in was Ursicinus who had heard every word. The elderly soldier smiled at the way Julian had dealt with Mallus. You are learning now, my young Caesar. Reprimanding a subordinate officer but giving him a chance to win back favour with him in the future is a good way to get the best out of an officer. Constantius was right: Julian is the perfect choice to lead this army.

*****

After burying the dead, as well as resting for a short while, the Roman column marched again during the evening but did so under heightened alert. Due to the ambush taking up a lot of daylight Julian and his men were forced to spend the night in the forest. Much to the delight of the column there was no night attack by the barbarians. The following morning the column set out again with the rest of the journey resulting in no trouble whatsoever. As noon approached, Julian could see the dense forest lead into open ground that meant one thing: they had reached Reims.

As the column set eyes on the open plain the rays of sunlight beamed onto the weary soldiers, which had to endure the ordeal in the forest road. The column cheered loudly, as in the distance were a multitude of tents surrounding the settlement that was Reims. When they marched towards the city Julian could see the array of different units within the main field army of Gaul that were encamped outside the city. Several camps had been built outside Reims with each camp housing different units in the comitatenses.

When the field army saw the arrival of Julian’s column they burst into cheer realizing their new leader was here. In addition, they were relieved that there was now a sense of stability, along with purpose in Gaul after years of chaos. Julian entered the city before dismounting from his horse and walking with Ursicinus along with his advisors into his new headquarters. The young commander was pleased to finally enter his new quarters, which had been erected with haste once the commander had sent word of his arrival.

“Call all senior officers that command the units of the comitatenses to be summoned to my quarters at once,” Julian told Ursicinus. By the middle of the afternoon the quarters of the young general was brimmed to the hilt with the senior officers of the field army. Inside the room were commanders of the different units in the comitatenses, Ursicinus, Mallus and Ursicinus’ aide de camp by the name of Ammianus Marcellinus who had fought bravely with Ursicinus during the ambush and won the elderly general’s praise. The hubbub within the room soon died down when Julian entered the quarters, as the senior officers saluted their new commander, which many were seeing the young general for the first time. Julian nodded in reply and gave out pleasantries to those in attendance before turning to the business in hand.

“I am sure you are relieved that I have finally arrived after you’ve spent many days cooped up here in Reims,” Julian quipped to which light chuckles broke out across the room. “But thankfully we can move onto more serious matters and to the reason why I have bought you here this afternoon. Gaul was in a state of chaos where the frontier along the Rhine was breached in several places. The Alamanni and Franks have raided deep into these lands with impunity,” The senior officers listened intently yet bristled with shame when hearing of the many transgressions committed by the barbarian tribes.

“But no more will they raid these lands again!” said Julian defiantly. “I have brought you here today so to announce we are to go on the offensive. The objective will be to press north towards the Alamanni tribes, which reside along the west bank of the Rhine. These lands lost to the barbarians will be reclaimed under the banner of Roman steel. We shall use this summer to start a long process of eradicating the disease of these unkempt barbarians that plague the frontier and drive them across the Rhine!” Julian’s eyes scanned the room to see the reactions among the senior commanders of the army. The Caesar was happy to see the reaction among the officers were positive. Many in the room were relieved that they were to go on the attack and take the fight to the enemy.

“Are there any questions?” Julian asked.

“When do we move?” enquired Marcellus, the Magister Equitum, who was one of the most senior officers within the comitatenses.

“Tomorrow morning,” came the brisk reply. This brought about surprised looks among everyone within the room apart from Julian.

“If we stay any longer in Reims we eat up all of our supplies,” the general explained. “So far we are on schedule to embark on a hard summer of campaigning and if we idle about here then it will undermine our efforts to pacify the barbarians,”

“Why is the main focus of the campaign towards the Alamanni and not the Franks?” asked Severus who was one of the main officers in the legions.

“A good question,” Julian replied. “The Franks are a threat but the Alamanni are the source of the trouble. They have raided deep into Gaul on several occasions and recently tried to capture Augustodunum: which they nearly did! To have some sort of order in Gaul and the Rhine frontier we must deal with the Alamanni. Because of inactivity and civil war the much-neglected frontier garrisons along the Rhine have been overwhelmed and is a festering pit of the barbarians.

From what I hear, across the length of the western bank of the Rhine the Alamanni are consolidating their newly found conquests, preparing to launch more raids into Gaul. I would not be surprised if they wish to kick us out of the province altogether! So instead of waiting for them to come to us we shall come to them!” There was a sense of optimism among the senior officers, as they could see their new commander believed the barbarians could be uprooted out of Gaul. Julian could sense new found confidence within the senior officers, which he hope would be passed onto the rank and file.

“If there are no other questions,” Julian enquired to which there were none. “I suggest you head back to your men and inform them to prepare for some hard marching tomorrow,” The meeting broke up, as the officers headed out of Julian’s quarters, until there was only the young Caesar by himself. The general sighed heavily, before looking to the ceiling so to seek guidance from the pagan gods he worshiped in secret, while Christianity gripped the Roman world.

I pray to the gods that they look over me during this campaign and smite the barbarians. For if they do not then Gaul may be lost.

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

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

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

[This message has been edited by Legion Of Hell (edited 09-28-2012 @ 04:52 PM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 09-29-12 03:29 AM EDT (US)     20 / 121       
Excellent ambush and removal of same.

Well done on the commanding general introduction as well.

Great stuff- please keep this going!

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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
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 09-29-12 04:00 PM EDT (US)     21 / 121       
An amazing battle-scene, Legion. Conga rats for your stor

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-08-12 01:04 PM EDT (US)     22 / 121       
For those who are interested: Decem Pagi is modern day Dieuze.

*****

Morning arrived and at the crack of dawn the fifteen thousand soldiers of the comitatenses marched north towards the Alamanni heartland. As the vast army headed out of Reims several rank and file soldiers looked back at the dwindling figure of the fair city they had called home these past few days. Many of the men miss its warm comforts and sighed in despair knowing they marched to the hostile wilderness of the Rhine frontier.

Throughout the early morning the army trudged along the barely maintained Roman road in a marching column. Although it was the height of summer it did not look like an ordinary late June-early July morning. Instead of walking through open plains and greeted by the warm rays of sunshine they were met with dense mist. The conditions were atrocious, as a cold breeze crept into the soldiers and caused their spines to shiver in anxiety. Julian and his senior officers looked at each other with trepidation at what they face.

“Where are we now, Ursicinus?” the general asked his trusted adviser while the comitatenses marched through the fog.

“We just left the town of Decem Pagi,” came the reply. “So approximately twenty five leagues to the south west of Argentoratum,” Julian nodded and then looked on in frustration when seeing some of his horsemen upon the vanguard of the column disappear through the mist.

“Let us hope we don’t have to march through this fog for too long!” he lambasted the weather. “I can’t see a damned thing. I thought this area was open ground?”

“It is,” Marcellus retorted who rode ahead of the Caesar with his cavalry escort so to protect their young commander. “But this is quite a large patch of mist and covers a large tract of land,”

“Can’t you send your cavalry scouts ahead to reconnoiter the area ahead?” Julian enquired. “The only way I know we are on the main road is the sound my horse’s hooves make, which is drastically different to the one it makes when riding through grass!” The cavalry commander shook his head much to to his Caesar’s annoyance.

“I cannot send the scouts forward as visibility is low,” he explained. “I can only see up to two hundred paces at best. If I send the scouts forward they may get lost,” Julian knew Marcellus was right and nodded in agreement. The general was frustrated at where his army was and had a particular dislike of mist knowing it was a general’s worst nightmare for he had no idea what lay ahead. Thank the gods that the enemy are not nearby and are probably encamped near the Rhine.

*****

“Der kommt,” thought Serapio, as he digested what his eyes saw.

The young chieftain looked within the mist and could barely see the silhouettes of marching Roman soldiers. Serapio had no idea a Roman army was nearby. So was his surprise that Serapio and much of his warband were eating on the other side of the field before being warned by a scout who himself had been alerted by the sound of marching. Now Serapio, with his trusted confidante Raga, could see the Roman vanguard headed towards them no more than a thousand paces away.

“So they come to try and reclaim the Rhine,” Raga mused. “I wonder how many they number?”

“Thanks to the fog I have no idea,” Serapio replied. But out of nowhere an idea formulated in his head when looking at the mist that surrounded him. “However, there is a way to use this environment to our advantage. They have sent no scouts to inspect the area ahead and it seems they are using the road as a means to direct their army through the fog. While their generals use the road we will go off road. Raga, this is what I want you to do………”

Ten minutes later Raga’s three thousand soldiers marched towards the unsuspecting army while Serapio’s four thousand warriors did the same thing. However, the two divisions split from each other, with Raga wheeling to the left and Serapio moving to the right. Discretion was absolute with the Alamanni patiently waiting in the mist that covered Serapio and Raga’s men. A wide gap separated the two chieftains that were soon filled by the marching Roman army who were completely unaware of what their foe had just done.

The Roman vanguard walked past the hidden barbarians with Julian, Marcellus and Ursicinus plainly unaware of what lurked around them. Behind the vanguard were the heavily armoured cataphracts and the crack auxilia regiments. But these weren’t the targets of the Alamanni ambushers. Raga remembered the words Serapio told him when they planned their attack. Do not attack the vanguard but their infantry troops. Use the mist to wheel around the main column and pounce when you see their rearguard where their largest concentration of troops will be. We’ll hit them from both flanks and destroy their army before they can reach our homeland along the Rhine!

Now Raga saw the enticing target that Serapio had told him about. Behind the auxila regiments was a large gap, which at first worried the grizzled chieftain. But then as his eyes squinted further he could see the standards of the two main legions. They had lost contact with the rest of the column and were trying to catch up.

“Perfect!” hissed Raga in delight, as he drew his axe. He turned to his fellow soldiers and gave the signal to attack. On the other side of the mist covered field Serapio did the same thing, as almost in unison horn blasts reverberated across the still air. At once the barbarians emerged out of the mist with their bellowing war cries towards the stricken and surprised legions who had no idea their foe lurked in the midst waiting for them. The Alamanni smashed into the unprepared comitatenses who had no time to switch from a dense column formation into line.

Soldiers along the wings of the two isolated legions were the first to feel the brunt of the Germanic warriors who threw themselves onto the column. By the time some of the unprepared Roman soldiers drew their swords or readied their spears the barbarians cut a bloody swathe with their axes or long swords. Julian, along with the senior officers at the vanguard of the army, heard the faint din of the horns and was alarmed at the sound of battle. Their worst fears were confirmed when they saw a bloodied cavalryman head towards them.

“The two legions at the rear of the column have been ambushed!” he screamed with great panic in his voice, as he pointed behind towards the dense fog. “They’ve been boxed in on both sides and are struggling to hold their position!” A cold shiver slithered throughout Julian’s spine realizing this was his first real test as a commander. No doubt the Alamanni were testing out this army that were heading towards their lands. What worried Julian was how easy they were able to attack the main body of infantry on both sides even if they had used the fog. However, it did not take long for the young general to formulate a response, as he turned towards Severus.

“Take most of the auxilia and drive them away from our legions!” he commanded forcefully before turning to Marcellus. “Round the cataphracts and support Severus’ infantry attack. Leave me with a quarter of the auxilia just in case the Alamanni try to attack the vanguard while I send you and Severus to deal with our rear,” Marcellus and Severus nodded in reply and proceeded to carry out the orders given to them. Within moments the crack auxilia regiments formed up into battle formation and advanced into the mist with the cathphracts not far behind in support.

*****

Raga cried out with delight as he dispatched an helpless Roman by burrowing his axe deep into the man’s head before wrenching it out. He looked about and could see his warriors were wreaking havoc upon the enemy. For Raga it was pure bliss taking part in combat with his fellow soldiers and sow fear amongst his foes. The chieftain knew the ambushed legions were boxed in on two sides and were fully focused on trying to fend off the Alamanni’s attacks. Perfect, Raga thought, for the trap to be shut and create their very own Teutoburger Wald. However, just as he was about to wheel some of his men to the Romans’ rear, he could see to his right something emerge from the mist that ran his blood cold. The horsemen of the abyss! the Alamanni chieftain shuddered.

Without any warning the cataphracts arrived with their horses neighing or whinnying loudly to herald their arrival and impending doom of their foes. Their lances were lowered, as the heavily clad horsemen careered into the unguarded right flank of Raga’s division, which were preoccupied with ravaging the suppressed legions. The result was the exposed barbarians were either thrown off their feet by the oncoming horses or impaled onto the lances before brutally discarded with. As the cavalry’s shock charge began to peter out the cataphracts began to pull back into the mist and used their maces to kill any Alamanni who dare pursue.

Many of the Alamanni including Raga thought the cavalry retreated because they were small in number and didn’t want to risk being surrounded. However, just as Raga prepared to engage in combat against the two legions, the main Roman attack truly began. Severus and his auxilia lay within the mist, as they saw the cataphracts canter back with bloodstains splattered all over their once clean armour. Severus, who was on foot, motioned the commander of the armoured cavalry to him.

“Mahar, how bad is it?” he asked.

“Quite bad,” the grizzled horseman replied. “The two legions are barely holding their positions. Our little foray certainly shocked those barbarians but those besieged soldiers cannot hold on for long,” Severus nodded and sighed heavily.

“Very well, I shall attack with the auxilia, split the regiments into two groups and target those two warbands swarming along the two legions’ flanks,” he explained to Mahar and his fellow auxilia commanders. “Once the auxilia is engaged then Mahar will send the cataphracts in to wreak carnage!” Mahar nodded and proceeded to gallop towards the rear so to ready his horsemen. Severus drew his sword, pointing towards the Alamanni, using it as a signal to advance, instead of the cornicern for he knew it would warn the enemy of an attack.

Along the other side of the field Serapio was engaged in bitter fighting as the embattled Roman legions desperately held their position. The young chieftain showed his shrewdness with the axe, as he used it to parry a thrust of a Roman sword before using the butt of his weapon to slam it upon the soldier’s nose. Serapio then whipped the axe around so to hack into the unguarded flesh of the dazed Roman’s neck. A snapping sound came about as the axe met flesh and blood splashed all over the place. When Serapio wrenched the axe out of the severed head of the legionary the Roman fell lifelessly to the growing mass of dead bodies. Just as Serapio was about to send a runner to Raga with orders to commence the encirclement of the buckling legions the sudden sound of war cries to his left got his attention.

“It’s the Romans!” shouted one of his fellow warriors. Serapio swore heavily, as out of the mist were hundreds upon hundreds of Romans charging enthusiastically towards the Alamanni. Some separated to deal with Raga’s division and some towards Serapio, as both sides clashed into each other. The impact of the attack was too much for the Alamanni, as after a few minutes several of the barbarians began to flee. Serapio could see the trickle would soon turn to a flood and was well aware Roman cavalry were lurking amid the fog.

“Retreat!” he screamed at the top of his voice. “Fall back! Use the mist to cover the withdrawal!” The word was passed like wildfire along the Alamanni, as Raga and Serapio’s battered forces disengaged from the fighting. The cataphracts gave chase but Mahar soon realized his men could be lost in the fog and highly vulnerable to an enemy rearguard so decided to order the recall. Meanwhile, Severus took off his helmet when he deemed safe enough and could only sigh in sadness at what he saw when the mist slowly began to clear. The fields that had been covered in fog now showed corpses that littered the once picturesque field. Broken standards, as well as bloodied discarded weapons, lifeless horses, mortally wounded soldiers writhing in pain and the sound of the dying. Mahar and his cataphracts shook their heads mournfully.

“A high price the two legions had to pay for standing their ground,” the cavalryman noted. “At least the accursed barbarians paid a higher price,” As they lamented the costly loss of life they turned around to greet the oncoming Julian and Ursicinus arriving on horseback. They too were taken aback at the carnage that lay before them.

“I thank you Mahar and Severus for your efforts here. Were it not for both of you then our legions no doubt would have been wiped out,” Julian mused, conveyed his thanks, before looking on grimly at the dead. He then looked to the two battered legions, which rested after engaging in grueling combat. “What is the scale of our casualties, Mahar?”

“Estimates amount to each legion sustaining five hundred men. Thankfully the baggage train is safe as it seems Severus and I were able to counter attack before they descended themselves onto the rear,” he replied. Julian grimaced when realizing a tenth of their infantry, excluding the thirty five hundred auxilia, had been lost. His only solace was the baggage train that held most of their supplies had not been touched mainly because the Alamanni did not see it due to the thick fog.

"We make camp here for the night," Julian ordered. "Our army has marched and fought long enough today. We shall bury the dead before we move out tomorrow," As the order was given and the working party began to take measurements to build the encampment anger stemmed within the young Caesar at the audacious ambush by the Alamanni.

They may have gave us a fright but by the gods they, as well as their Frankish friends, will pay for their insolence!

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-09-12 01:20 AM EDT (US)     23 / 121       
Epic.

And a good use of weather!

Strange that the Alemanni would choose to attack an army they did not know the size of, but hey, they made a good tactical decision for a hasty ambush and it almost worked.

Well done.

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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-09-12 10:59 AM EDT (US)     24 / 121       
In the history books it doesn't stipulate their reasons for attacking but maybe they felt the fog took away much of the Romans' strengths and meant they would fight on equal terms. As shows it nearly worked if it weren't for the auxilia.

Thanks for the praise, Terikel!

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-13-12 01:57 PM EDT (US)     25 / 121       
*****

For the rest of the day, under the now clear sky, the Roman army downed their weapons and helped the labour detachments erect its camp that was set not far from where they had been ambushed earlier on. When sunset arrived the camp was fully constructed with pickets placed outside each of the four gates placed to the north, south, west and east. Inside the camp were several tents, as far as the eye could see, where the many thousands of soldiers slept inside the warm confines or were preparing to go out on watch in the pickets. Within the biggest tent was Julian who was reflecting deeply on today’s events. As Ursicinus entered the tent he could see his commander’s saddened face.

“A tough day,” the old man spoke, as he tried to break the awkward silence. “Every general: even Julius Caesar himself had bad days,”

“If I wasn’t so aggressive and waited till the fog cleared then we wouldn’t have been ambushed,” Julian lamented. “I should have listened to those officers at Reims, maybe wait a few days before marching out, instead of moving out at the crack of dawn. The ambush inside the forest road was a warning that I failed to heed and the attack today would have ruined us all were it not for the auxilia!” Ursicinus walked towards Julian who sat on his chair and put his hand on his shoulder.

“A general should always be aggressive and on the attack. You adhered to that maxim precisely to the letter!” reassured Ursicinus. “You may have been slightly over aggressive today but you will learn from it. Caution is well and good but do not go overboard, my friend. However, you will do well to remember not to be overly aggressive and a bit more prudent in the future. You know of the Second Punic War?”

“All Romans do,” Julian nodded. “Who could forget Hannibal: the bane of Rome!” Ursicinus chuckled.

“Yes, he was sure a bane,” Ursicinus recollected. “But the wily man of Barca was able to win most of his victories against the Republic by exploiting the aggressiveness of his Roman opponents. Prior to the battle at the River Trebia Pubilius Cornelius Scipio advised his fellow co-consul Sempronius Longus to wait till the end of winter and then launch an attack on Hannibal. Sempronius ignored that advice and promptly gave battle to Hannibal at Trebia where he was enveloped and badly beaten.

While Varro at Cannae used the vastness of his eight legions to go on the attack, massing his infantry in the centre so to attack till the Carthaginians collapse, which would prove to be the undoing of Varro and almost seventy thousand Romans that day. The point I am making is being too aggressive can lead to unnecessary mistakes that can cost an army dear. Next time think of the benefits and drawbacks of an idea before acting upon it,”

“I shall,” Julian nodded, as he shuddered at the carnage wrought at Cannae, where the casualties sustained in that battle over five hundred years ago were humongous compared to Julian’s losses within the mist covered fields of North-western Gaul.

“Very good,” Ursicinus cried out happily, as he sat on a chair opposite Julian. “So when do we move against the Alamanni heartland?” The young general grinned.

“Once I give the briefing to the senior officers we move at the dawn in two days!”

*****

Serapio entered the tent with little fuss, as those inside looked at him surprisingly. Some were eager at what happened to him while others were pleased that he had survived. However, the one man who was most pleased at Serapio’s safety was Chnodomarius: the foremost leader of the Alamanni confederation.

“I thank the gods that you are alive,” he stated his pleasure at his nephew’s arrival. He knew too well that with himself and Serapio as kings of the Alamanni confederation it would mean if one of them died feuding would erupt within the confederation. Chnodomarius knew the seven men, who were with him in the tent, would instigate the feuding. They made up the seven reges who took orders from Chnodomarius and Serapio known as the reges excelsiores or paramount kings. Underneath the reges were the optimates that were nobles and each noble commanded fifty warriors.

“I am alive but no thanks to the atrocious weather!” Serapio growled angrily. “Just as the fog helped me ambush the Roman column it hindered mine and Raga’s warbands retreat back here. Thankfully we both made it and Raga headed off to Brotomagus and I to the Rhine. The seven reges’ faces were one of worry at Serapio’s words.

“So the rumours are true?” asked one of them hesitantly. “The Romans are coming?” Serapio nodded before turning towards his uncle.

“I spotted them while me and Raga had finished foraging for food near Decem Pagi,” he explained. “A mist descended upon us while we ate but a scout soon warned us of a Roman army marching nearby. I don’t know of their exact numbers but even in the fog it looked large. We managed to ambush two of their legions in the fog before we were forced to retreat when they brought up reinforcements,”

“What was a Roman army doing in Alsace?” wondered the first reges named Glama.

“They intend to fight us,” grimaced Chnodomarius to which Serapio nodded. “Reclaim their lost lands along the west bank of the Rhine and then if successful attempt to cross the river so to restore their old empire.

“Why now?” asked the second reges named Verus.

“Because their emperor has never forgotten what we did during the civil war when we crossed the frontier in force and drove the Romans from the territories along the west bank,” Chnodomarius replied. Now he wants to try and recapture his lost possessions hence sending the Roman army that Serapio encountered,”

“Why attack us when we are not the only tribe that holds lands east of the Rhine?” Glama enquired. “The Romans seem occupied to striking our newly acquired lands of Alsace instead of moving upriver against the Franks!”

“We are stronger than the Franks and the Romans know that,” pointed the third reges Gulric. “They want to display a show of force to the Franks by driving us across the Rhine and cower the Franks to do the same without the use of bloodshed,” An eerie silence spread inside the tent that was punctuated by the sounds of passing warriors walking outside.

“What are the disposition of our forces across Alsace?” Gulric asked.

“There are several warbands but are small in number and dispersed across the main towns and fields of Alsace,” Chnodomarius answered. “Our largest force of five thousand is located where we speak right now at Argentoratum. Several smaller warbands of no more than four thousand are at towns such as Moguntiacum, Trier, Borbetomagus, Tabernae, Saliso and Nemetae Vangionum. The Romans will no doubt strike at these towns and capture them. It is no use trying to defend these towns if we do not have the numbers to repulse them.

However, it is vital they are not in a position to cross the Rhine, as you all know that is where most of our homeland resides. In the coming weeks we will meet the Romans on the battlefield. When that happens we shall remember who we are. The Alamanni: ancestors of the Suebi and conqueors of the Agri Decumates along with Germania Superior!” Serapio could see the looks on the reges’ faces were one of pride and confidence. His uncle was a man who was persuasive and had great charisma. It was joked he could charm an emperor to hand over the keys to Rome to the Alamanni and feel good about it afterwards. As the meeting ended Chnodomarius spoke to the reges one last time.

“I advise you to head out to the towns so to reassure the optimates that even if we lose a few towns along the western bank they will not cross the Rhine and threaten our homeland!” he strongly exclaimed.

“We shall!” boomed the reges’ reply before exiting the tent just leaving Serapio and his uncle.

“Are you confident that you can hold the towns along the west bank, uncle?” Serapio asked. Chnodomarius walked out of the tent and gazed his eyes at his warriors within the city of Argentoratum who carried out their duties before sighing.

“To be honest I don’t know,” he answered with a tinge of sadness in his voice. “When we stormed the old Roman frontier across the Rhine we did so with ease yet we waited for their counterattack to which it never came. Then Rome was wracked with civil war and we toasted our good luck by raiding deep into Gaul enjoying great success. However, the Romans have come and now I fear we will be locked in a desperate struggle to defend our lands,” Serapio could see the worry etched on his face and put his hand on his uncle’s shoulder so to reassure him.

“We’ll make sure they will never cross the river,” he soothed Chnodomarius. “The Romans will find their quest to take the towns along the west bank a bloody one,” Before Chnodomarius could show his appreciation Serapio’s eyes gazed towards an oncoming horseman who dismounted from his horse and stood before the two kings.

“Reges excelsiores, I was given explicit orders to give this to you,” he spoke urgently, as he handed a piece of parchment from his pouch. Chnodomarius unfolded the piece of parchment and began to read the letter out aloud:

Chnodomarius, the Romans have descended upon the west bank like a pack of wolves!

They have been quick to raze several small villages and have easily fended off what resistance has been put up against of which our attack were light and feeble. From what my scouts have told me it seems they are heading towards Brotomagus. My warband, along with those in the nearby area or were forced to retreat from the villages lost to the Romans, will make a stand at Brotomagus. Overall I will have about six to seven thousand men. May the gods grant us strength!

Raga.


Serapio swore loudly at the contents of the letter.

“Brotomagus is about ten to fifteen leagues away,” the young co-king pointed out. “Could we send our garrison to aid Raga?

“Out of the question!” the uncle shot back. “Suppose we lose at Brotomagus? Then this city would be defenceless and the Romans would seize a vital base situated along the Rhine!” The young nephew winced at the barb given to him.

“Can’t we launch an offensive of our own?” Serapio suggested. “So to relieve the pressure?”

“We don’t have enough supplies to sustain an all out offensive,” Chnodomarius dismissed the idea. “To launch an attack would mean coupling the strength of the Alamanni among our forces, as well as the reges, which would mean stockpiling supplies that would take many weeks if not months. Our recent raids into Augustodunum and deep into Gaul meant exhausting our supplies, which will take months to replenish,”

“So we must cede parts of the west bank before we can counter attack?”

“Yes,” the wily old uncle answered regrettably. “By the end of the year or the first few months of the following year we shall be able to launch an attack against the Romans in Gaul!” Serapio smiled but could not help feel guilt in leaving his friend Raga at the mercy of the Romans. For he knew that Rome gave little mercy to barbarians.

Let us hope you kill many Romans. For I fear you may die, Raga and with it lose all of the western bank.

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

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

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

[This message has been edited by Legion Of Hell (edited 10-13-2012 @ 02:00 PM).]

Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 10-13-12 03:01 PM EDT (US)     26 / 121       
An excellent update It's good to see some action by the Romans... Dark clouds are gathering above the Alamanni homeland... The Blietzkrieg conducted by Julian reminds me of the Gallic wars campaign by Julius Caesar. Too bad he didn't live longer... He was a good emperor... Anyway, on which sources are you basing your story? Is it just Ammianus Marcelinnus, or are you using Julian's writings too?

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-14-12 04:10 AM EDT (US)     27 / 121       
Mainly from Adrian Goldsworthy which uses Ammanius' writings.

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-14-12 05:39 AM EDT (US)     28 / 121       
I agree with Alex- this continues to be superb.

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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-19-12 10:45 AM EDT (US)     29 / 121       
*****

Raga bit his lip with anxiety whilst his eyes scanned the area ahead of him.

“Who knew a Roman army could be so frightening to see,” he muttered to himself, as he looked to his fellow nobles Hrotha and Dram who were also on horseback. Both of them gave Raga looks of trepidation and had good reason to do so. Despite their warband of six thousand men giving battle near Brotomagus these soldiers, as well as the three nobles commanding it, were shaken by the presence of the main army that was nearly three times the size. Raga was quick to break the awkward silence.

“Have you given your words of encouragement to the men?” he asked the two optimates. Both nodded in reply.

“The men are ready to fight!” Hrotha replied defiantly. “They will give a good account of themselves,”

“Good,” Raga nodded. “Hrotha, go to your men on the left flank. Dram, you head to the right. I’ll stay here and oversee the centre. Make sure to send runners if you wish to relay messages to me,” Both nobles nodded in acknowledgement and proceeded to head towards their positions. As Raga looked at the Roman army on the other side of the field he hoped by the end of the day he did not fall at the hands of a Roman sword.

The mood among the Romans was more upbeat, as Julian had several reasons to feel confident. Throughout July his army had split into several small groups and razed several smaller villages upon the outskirts of territory the Alamanni controlled. Julian had been pleased that his raiding bands had encountered such light resistance but had been troubled wondering where were the Alamanni. He remembered his discussions with the senior officers in the army debating on why resistance had been so feeble.

“I feel they are still licking their wounds after their costly assaults on Augustodunum,” Marcellus had suggested.

“It could be they are merely gathering their forces and waiting for an opportune moment to strike,” Severus pointed out. Julian felt inclined to agree with Marcellus and Severus’ points but Ursicinus’ suggestion though valid rattled the young Caesar.

“It could be they are not defending the frontier areas for one reason. So to entice us to march deep into their lands until we reach their heartland along the Rhine and then launch an counterattack so to cut us off,” That suggestion had caused a tense atmosphere within the room, which prompted Julian to try and laugh it off. But fast forward a few days later and Julian now saw himself come up against a sizeable Alamanni force near Brotomagus. A few hours ago the general had sent scouts towards the surrounding area of the battlefield so to make sure there was no additional enemy force nearby. Thankfully the scouts had returned and reported no Alamanni reinforcements. That piece of information had reassured Julian to focus his efforts in fighting the upcoming battle, as he looked proudly at his arrayed army.

His two main legions were in the centre, while most of the auxilia regiments were placed along the wings, with the cataphracts on the flanks. In reserve were those auxilia units that had suffered losses during the raiding campaigns of the last few weeks. His main commanders were deployed across the length of the Roman army, as Severus was on the right flank while Marcellus was on the left where most of the cavalry were positioned. Meanwhile, Ursicinus accompanied Julian and his bodyguard detachment of sixty horsemen. While the two generals looked at the Alamanni army Julian could not help but chuckle at their deployment. Two lines full of infantry while at the rear were a sprinkling of cavalry no larger than Julian’s own bodyguard detachment. The general turned to Ursicinus.

“They cannot number more than five thousand: seven thousand even,” Julian pointed out. “It takes a brave man to stand your ground while outnumbered three to one,”

“What are your battle orders?” Ursicinus asked.

“To advance forward but the centre will march first and then after a short space of time the wings and flanks will follow suit,” Julian explained with a glint in his eye.

“What do you hope to achieve from this?” Julian’s most senior adviser enquired.

“That talk you had with me in the tent after we were ambushed in the fog gave me new ideas,” he answered curtly before looking to his arrayed army. “You will find out what I mean soon enough,” It did not take long for Ursicinus to uncover Julian’s plan and beamed with happiness. It is good to see you are learning, Caesar! Julian could see his friend had figured out his plan and smiled appreciatively in reply. However, before Ursicinus could ask if Julian had any further battle plans up his sleeve, the young general summoned a cavalryman to him. The Caesar gave two pieces of parchment that one of his officers had given him and gave it to the rider.

“Give this one to Severus on the right flank while give this piece to Marcellus on the left,” he commanded the cavalryman. “Ride with haste and report back to me when you have carried out the order!” The horseman nodded and rode away so to carry out his task.

“What was in the parchments, Julian?” asked Ursicinus.

“Orders to Severus and Marcellus not to move their wings or flanks until I give the signal carried out by the cornicerns. The centre shall move first and after a short space of time the flanks will set off with my army resembling a crescent!” Ursicinus gave an impressed look, as he saw what Julian was trying to do but hoped the Alamanni would take the bait.

When the cavalryman arrived telling of Marcellus and Severus’ acknowledgment of the orders given to them it prompted Julian to turn to the signallers and etch out a hand signal towards the Alamanni. The signallers lowered their red flag, which prompted the cries of the officers within the centre to advance. Suddenly, the ground shook heavily, as thousands of soldiers marched to battle. After a short space of time the cornicerns blew their notes to signal the advance among the Roman wings and flanks. On the other side of the field Raga looked on grimly.

“Ready your weapons!” he roared, as he drew his sword, so to give encouragement to those unnerved by the oncoming arrival of the enemy. The rhythmic pounding of men stomping their sandals on the pristine grass added to the tension on both sides. The gap suddenly narrowed between the two armies with men gripping their weapons in anticipation. Roman and Alamanni tried to ease their anxiety by beginning to hurl insults, threats and mocking words at one another. Within a few seconds both sides ended their verbal abuse and got to the business of killing when both armies smashed into one another.

Swords met spears, axes met battered shields and blood was split onto the once clean field while both armies fought for supremacy. The fighting was fierce with no quarter given especially among the Alamanni who were eager to exact revenge for the Romans brutally razing their villages. Raga oversaw the fighting from the rear and could see his centre hold its ground staunchly. However, he was alerted to the arrival of a bloodied soldier, which came towards him from the right flank.

“Dram reports that he thinks the Romans are trying to envelop him! Their depth and flexibility is much wider than it is in the centre!” he exclaimed. Raga swore and began to realize why the Romans had formed into a half moon shape. Suddenly a horseman came from the left flank and saluted.

“Hrotha reports the Romans are looking to flank him,” he spoke, as he confirmed Raga’s worst fears. “He asks for orders on what to do,” Raga knew the Romans had more numbers so could try a flanking attack. Suck and pin the centre in while the flanks roll around to seal a trap. A good trick but this Alamanni isn’t going to play their game! Raga turned to the first horseman that bore Hrotha’s message.

“Inform Hrotha to withdraw at once, as it does look like the Romans are trying to encircle us on both flanks,” he ordered. “Tell him while he’s pulling back he is to set up rearguards and ambush points so to stifle the Romans should they decide to pursue!” The horseman nodded, as Raga then turned to the second rider and gave him the same orders to be relayed to Dram. As the orders was filtered across the Alamanni line Julian could see the enemy’s flanks beginning to retreat en masse. The Roman’s eyes narrowed angrily, as he saw the Alamanni managing to escape the encircling claws of Severus and Marcellus’ flanks. Julian was quick to signal two horsemen.

“You, go to Marcellus and get him to order Mahar to use his cataphracts to cut down those retreating barbarians!” he shouted before turning to the second rider. “Instruct Severus to do the same with the cavalry under his command!” The orders were carried out, as Ursicinus could see the thrill of battle take hold of Julian.

“These Alamanni will not escape,” the Caesar muttered to himself.

On the other side of the battlefield Raga rode his horse towards his warriors in the centre who fiercely stood their ground despite Raga sending runners ordering them to withdraw. The nobleman had to dodge stray javelins as he quickly dismounted and headed to the back of the line to seek out Gunter who was in charge of the centre.

“Gunter, pull back!” he screamed to the blood stained noble. “Our flanks have pulled back and if you stay here you’ll die!” Gunter stared at Raga with an angry expression.

“Then go! I will welcome my death in glorious battle than surrounded by my family in a dimly lit house,” he chastened his friend before grinning when seeing his fellow noble’s serious face. “Me and my men shall happily die here so our people will live. Leave me here, friend. You know it is the right thing to do,” Raga sadly nodded and proceeded to get on his horse. But before the noble left he turned towards Gunter.

“Make sure to kill a few Romans for me,” he joked. Gunter smiled.

“I will. Just make sure you kill more,” And with that Raga galloped away to leave his condemned friend to his fate. As the noble looked back one last time he could see the Roman jaws fully envelop their prey and shut the claws tight. Raga sighed before galloping away as Gunter and his men fought nobly to their deaths. As Raga galloped across the battlefield he was quick to dodge past the strewn bodies before seeing the figure of Dram and thirty of his warriors: some of which were archers.

“Where are the rest of your men?” Raga asked. “And what about Hrotha?”

“Both are on the other side of the hill and tailing it back to the Rhine. Hrotha wanted to stay but I persuaded him to oversee the withdrawal while you tended to Gunter,” Dram pointed before turning towards the woods to the right. “I’m going to slow the Romans with my men here by hiding along the woodland and ambush anyone that comes,”

“A well thought out plan,” he replied. “I shall accompany you so to enjoy killing Romans as they killed Gunter,” Dram gave a pained expression at the death of his friend to which Raga comforted him by hugging him and swearing vengeance. Soon afterwards they hurried to hide in the dense patch of woodland. They waited patiently and it did not take long for them to see their foe, as coming into view were thirty cataphracts. The horsemen’s eyes gazed slowly through their thick armour trying to locate any Alamanni that hid. Mahar headed the detachment and unbeknownst to him was merely sixty yards away from Raga’s men who concealed themselves adeptly.

“Do not aim for the soldiers but their horses,” Raga whispered to Dram who nodded in reply knowing their armour was thick. They waited till the cavalry were within fifty yards before the signal was given to let loose. Several arrows flew into the unguarded flesh of the horses, which caused them to neigh in agony. Some fell to the ground taking its rider with them while others bolted in pain and threw their riders off its saddle violently. Mahar quickly realized he had been lured into an ambush.

“Retreat!” he screamed under the shrieks of pain from the horses. “Pull back!” Some of the horseless riders hitched onto those cataphracts who were fortunate enough not to lose their horses. Within moments the cataphracts galloped quickly out of range towards their lines prompting the ambushers to cheer heartily at their small victory.

“They won’t be following us now!” Raga smiled triumphantly. “Let us go home,” And with that the battered Alamanni warband marched east. Raga found comfort in their symbolic victory against the cataphracts but knew today had been Rome’s day.

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.
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 10-21-12 00:34 AM EDT (US)     30 / 121       
Another excellent battle scene, LoH I liked the part where the Alemanni defeated the cataphracts. Looking forward to the next update...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-21-12 04:41 AM EDT (US)     31 / 121       
Nice bit of self-sacrifice on the part of that cousin, to stand and take on Julian's army to give the rest of the Alemanni a chance to escape.

Well played!

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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 10-21-12 03:58 PM EDT (US)     32 / 121       
*****

Julian stood inside his tent at the newly built camp reflecting deeply on what happened yesterday. It had been pleasing to drive the Alamanni warband off the battlefield but he wanted to crush them. However, his spirits were soon lifted when he saw Ursicinus enter the tent.

“The casualty reports from today’s battle,” the elderly advisor announced, as he held the tablet in his hand.

“Oh?” Julian raised his eyebrow curiously. “What are our losses?”

“Five hundred killed with a further five hundred wounded,” Ursicinus dictated from the tablet. “We inflicted much heavier losses on the Alamanni. Two and a half thousand; nearly a thousand originating from that plucky band who staunchly held their ground in the centre while their friends retreated,”

“Hmm, they certainly stood firm,” the Caesar concurred, as Ursicinus gave his commander the tablet. “It took a while before they were overwhelmed,” As Julian read the casualty figures Ursicinus could see he had a pained expression on his face.

“Are you alright?” Ursicinus asked worryingly. Julian sighed and shook his head.

“No. I am not,” he looked at his friend anxiously. “That battle yesterday has made me think long and hard throughout the night. It has made me come up with several realizations that has unnerved me deeply…….”

*****

A few hours later all of the senior commanders in Julian’s comitatus sat at their commander’s tent. No one knew the reasons of being summoned so hastily but whatever it was they must have felt it was important. When Julian arrived to meet his officers, with Ursicinus by his Caesar’s side, every man in the room saluted to which Julian acknowledged. When they sat down onto their chairs Julian began to speak.

“Thank you for coming at such short notice,” Julian nodded respectfully. “But I call you here because our victory yesterday against the Alamanni leaves me feeling mixed,” Certain officers such as Ammianus, Marcellus and Mahar gave confused looks. Julian could understand their perplexed reaction.

“I am pleased because I know each and every one of you fought brilliantly helping to achieve an favourable outcome to yesterday’s battle,” he further added, which brought looks or nods of thanks from the officers. “However, I am worried for a few reasons, which I know when you hear of my anxieties will soon understand why,”

“Why are you worried, Caesar?” Marcellus asked confusingly. “We drove the Alamanni from the field and our army is poised to push ever deeper into Alsace!”

“That is true and normally I’d be the first to crow about it to the Emperor in my reports to him,” he agreed with his Magister Equitum before sighing. “But my worries stem from what I saw yesterday. That Alamanni force was not their main army yet they fought fiercely and were able to slip away. As Ursicinus said a few days ago it could explain why the Alamanni’s resistance as of late has been so feeble: especially when they decided to withdraw instead of standing their ground yesterday. Marcellus, maybe they want us to push deep into Alsace up to the point our supply lines are stretched and become the victim of a devastating Alamanni counterattack. It could be another Teutoburger Wald!”

Many shuddered at the thought of that. No one wanted to be like poor Varus and become at the mercy of a crazed Germanic army. They remembered how the three legions were cut off, then torn apart, with their remains untouched until Germanicus’ expedition across the Rhine six years later allowed them to bury the fallen soldiers of the Legio XVII, XVIII and XIX.

“Even though our raids against the Alamanni in the outer regions of Alsace have dented the enemy we have not located their main army but merely their weak elements. With August fast approaching we have six to eight weeks of the campaigning season left. With the strength of our army and the time we have it isn’t enough to subjugate the Alamanni in Alsace or the west bank,” Cries of protest erupted from the commanders and while it was not mutiny they were not happy.

“What do we do then?” Marcellus replied. “Cede our new land to those barbarians?”

“Are we to pull back towards Reims?” said Mahar.

“None of those things is what I intend to do!” Julian retorted angrily, as he quietened the dissent and stamped his authority upon his subordinate officers. “I am merely switching my objective. Our army after nearly six weeks of fighting numbers around thirteen thousand. That is not enough to defeat the Alamanni and to do so would require substantial reinforcements. Therefore, I will write to the Augustus to request more men for the next campaigning season in 357. In relation to what we can achieve in the time left in the campaigning season I bring you this,” Julian motioned to Ursicinus who in turn beckoned two guards to bring a large table. A third man then unfurled a map onto the table for the officers in the room to gather around and look at.

[SVG+XML, (1.21 MB)]

“We are here near Brotomagus and to the east are the territories along the Rhine the Alamanni hold,” Julian pointed with the butt of his sword before slithering his weapon along the map. “We have insufficient numbers to capture or hold the Alamanni lands in Alsace and along the Rhine but not upriver!” The officers scanned their eyes to the words of where Julian’s ambition lay: Franci.

“The Franks?” Ammianus looked on curiously.

“The Franks!” Julian cried out enthusiastically. “They are weaker than the Alamanni and do not form a specific threat than the Alamanni who regularly raid deep into Gaul. And I know of a perfect target to seize from them,” Julian was quick to use his staff to tap on the city that brought about intrigued looks from the officers.

“Colonia Agrippinensis?” spoke Marcellus. “The Franks took the city last year?”

“Last winter but the Frankish presence there is not as strong as the Alamanni,” Julian replied confidently, as he knew of the Franks because of Ursicinus’ teachings of the main Germanic tribes along the Rhine: the Alamanni, Franks and the Burgundi. It had helped Julian immensely when formulating a strategy with his advisor last night.

“Even though we have enough supplies to last us for eight weeks,” wondered Severus. “How are we to get to Colonia for it is a long trek and our army is long, cumbersome and vulnerable to ambush?”

“Your worries are understandable and valid, Severus,” Julian noted, as he again turned to the map. “We shall march from Brotomagus westwards to Divodurum and then head along the main road past Trier. If fortune smiles upon us then we will rest and acquire supplies at Confluentes; one of two Roman held forts adjacent to the Rhine. Afterwards, we march along the great river so to protect our right flank and will head to the second Roman held fort along the Rhine at Rigodunum.

If we can sidestep the last obstacle, which is the city of Bonna, then it is merely a couple of leagues towards Colonia. If I am correct it is likely the Franks are spread out from their acquired territories on the western bank and their homeland across the river. It should take no longer than a few weeks to a month to reach Colonia,” As Julian moved the staff from the map he surveyed the reaction of his commanders. He could see some were still unsure of whether it would work while others were optimistic.

“When do we march?” asked Mahar.

“In two days time,” Julian answered. “It will be a long trek up to the Rhine and I need every man in peak condition. In addition, it is only fair the men get a rest after the events of yesterday,” As the officers mused the information given to them it did not take long for them to make a decision, as one by one they saluted their general.

“We’re with you, Caesar!” they roared in unison. Julian smiled knowing capturing Colonia would be a great prize. Although it would hurt the Franks, but not the Alamanni, he knew it would bring Roman prestige among the peoples of the Rhine: something that had been badly lacking in recent years since the brutal civil wars.

*****

August arrived as a dejected Raga galloped into Argentoratum. The noble looked sullen after losing so many men at Brotomagus and headed towards the main tents where the reges excelsiores were quartered. As he dismounted from his horse and hitched it the noble headed into the tent where he was greeted by the two kings and beckoned to sit on the rusty chair that had been placed for him.

“We heard of your battle with the Romans near Brotomagus,” spoke Serapio, which Raga acknowledged with a grunt. “Its tough to fight when outnumbered three to one,”

“Tough doesn’t come close,” Raga shot back bitterly. “I had to pull back my warband before we were enveloped. As a result the other nobles have decided to cease their marauding expeditions into Gaul so to protect the cities along the Rhine that they captured with their men,” Chnodomarius sighed ruefully but could understand why they sought to protect their conquests.

“So what now?” Raga asked Serapio’s uncle.

“The only thing we can do,” the charismatic king answered truthfully. “To build up our supplies and prepare for our offensive next year. We have the manpower in terms of men available to fight and more importantly the labour to produce our supplies along with weapons. Do not forget the benefits of our first raids across the Rhine six years ago,” The three nobles knew despite their recent setbacks their supply lines would be sustainable and replenish their casualties. Their reserves stemmed from the Alamanni - and to a lesser extent the Franks- brutal raids into Gaul. From 350-53 their raids - which then turned into a full sprung invasion - into Gaul were launched from the west bank of the Rhine while the Romans were preoccupied with the civil war.

Chnodomarius, who was at the forefront of the raids, remembered happily how their deep attacks into Gaul during the last six years had resulted in up to twenty thousand Roman civilians abducted from Gaul. They were forced to work in the Alamanni's fields, which in turn helped their supply lines, as the slave labourers based in the deep Alamanni heartland east of the Rhine were forced to send food and weapons across the great river. With the slave labourers under pain of torture helped with the harvest it freed many fighting age men to be sent across the Rhine to sustain their invasion of Gaul and conquests on the west bank. But Chnodomarius knew as of now there was no way his nobles could levy a standing army to try and seize Gaul this summer.

“It is better to be on the defensive during the summer but when the harvest finishes and our people get through the worse of the winter it is then we shall wreak vengeance upon the Romans for burning our homes,” he reassured his nephew and Raga. “Make sure to spread the word that despite our losses we are not defeated. The Roman army will find out us “barbarians” will not cower at the sight of their soldiers and heavily clad horsemen. Those Romans are weak after their civil war and their army must be their only force in Alsace and possibly Gaul!” Many of the Alamanni had heard of stories from traders or merchants of the brutal battles during the Roman civil war where in two major battles had lost fifty thousand men on both sides. It had been a factor persuading the Alamanni and Franks to cross the Rhine.

“I will spread the word to Dram, Hrotha, Gulric, Glama, Verus and the other reges spread out across the western bank with their forces,” Raga pledged, as he stood up from his chair so to signal the end of the meeting. “It’ll be good for the men to hear your pronouncements and will boost their morale throughout the winter,” Raga gave his goodbyes to Serapio and Chnodomarius, as he exited the tent in much happier spirits than when he entered it.

“Do you think there will be only one Roman army?” Serapio asked his uncle.

“I have no idea,” Chnodomarius answered sadly. “They could send reinforcements next summer, which is why we must attack next spring before they are at full strength. Not to protect our new camps along the west bank but to protect our homeland too!”

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

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

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

[This message has been edited by Legion Of Hell (edited 10-22-2012 @ 02:04 PM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-22-12 04:10 AM EDT (US)     33 / 121       
Very good! And a lot of intrigue and planning thrown in to boot. That leaves me with all kinds of wonderful avenues to explore and anticipate, and then see in the next episode how you play it out.

Wonderful!

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

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-22-2012 @ 09:47 AM).]

The Bald Eagle
Ashigaru
posted 10-22-12 08:50 AM EDT (US)     34 / 121       
I second that.
I thoroughly enjoy this tale. Will it be another epic saga like the Peleponessian wars?
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 11-02-12 10:55 AM EDT (US)     35 / 121       
It shall be another saga like the Peloponnesian War story but not as long!

*****

Julian had not been wrong when he had warned that journeying to their new objective would require heavy marching. Many of the soldiers were now finding out why they had been given two days rest upon the plains near Brotomagus. Their first stage of the march to Divodurum did not prove too taxing with the legionaries in good spirits, as the weather was good, unlike the mist at Decem Pagi that led into a deadly ambush.

At first, when the soldiers were told they were not heading deeper into Alsace, they were downhearted at not being able to wreak havoc upon the Alamanni who had killed many of their fellow Romans in countless raids. However, when they found out their new objective was to march into Frankish held lands upriver and retake Colonia Agrippinensis, their spirits were soon brightened. Many had been sad at hearing Colonia had been sacked by the Franks with the limetani wiped out to a man. So to hear they were to retake the city gave them a new sense of purpose.

As the army sidestepped the town of Divodurum and reached the Roman road it reassured Julian to be on familiar surroundings. The general disliked marching off road across fields and through forests because it was outside the comfort zone of himself along with the army. It had taken two days to reach the outskirts of Trier and when camp was struck up at the end of each day Julian knew his men were safe. Traversing through the Roman road past Trier the following day brought little trouble, as Julian knew the barbarians preferred to ambush his force in areas of their own choosing such as forests or open fields with long grass.

However, Julian and the rest of the army looked on in sadness at seeing the depravation wrought in the west bank of the Rhine, as well as Alsace while they marched north. Villages burnt with its remains a reminder of what it once was while the agriculture was devastated and its crops destroyed. Many of the soldiers knew the men who once lived in those villagers and swore by God they would exact their revenge on the barbarians: whether they were Alamanni or Frankish.

The next day as August set in the army reached the great river and swung left where they were to head north. Julian had thanked the gods, although in private so not to attract suspicion from his Christian soldiers and officers, he hadn’t met any Alamanni who were residing in makeshift communities along the river. However, he knew as they headed north it would be a stab into the unknown, for he had no idea whether the Franks had reinforced Colonia Agrippinensis and their new lands along the west bank.

A few days Julian’s army bypassed the Alamanni infested river town of Bingium before swinging north where they headed along the road and reached the safety of the Roman fortress Confluentes. When seeing the fort come into view Julian, Ursicinus and the others officers could easily see why it managed to fend off barbarian invaders for nearly seven years. Its walls were high and deep, as it was filled with hard stone, solid foundations and allotted with several strongpoints along with towers dotted along the battlements. As they neared the fortress they could see men on guard duty atop the battlements look on with expressions of amazement on their faces. Julian could see from their reactions they had not seen a sizeable Roman force strut along the Rhine in a long time.

“If my eyes do not deceive me I see before me a grand Roman army along the banks of the Rhine!” shouted a figure atop the main battlement above the gate. Julian trotted his horse ahead of the vanguard to inspect the man who had shouted that remark.

“Who are you?” the general’s voice boomed.

“My name is Hariobaudes,” he answered back. “Tribune and commanding officer of the garrison of Confluentes! May I ask who are you?”

“Julian, Caesar and commander of the army of Gaul!” he barked back irritated at being asked who he was as if he was a legionary. However, the general smiled when he saw the tribune’s face turn to one of incredulity and shock.

“But I thought you were downriver fighting the Alamanni?” he gasped in surprise.

“Things have taken a change,” Julian quipped. “Open the gate to let my army in and I shall tell you more!”

“Of course,” stammered Hariobaudes. “Open the gate!” The order was repeated several times before the mammoth gate creaked open. Ursicinus gave the order for the army to march forward, as Julian entered the fortress on horseback. As the comitatus marched deeper into the fort they could see the garrison look at them with such interest. Julian had noticed from the looks on their faces behind their armour and helmets how grizzled they were. By the gods these men have spent many hard winters in this fort! As Julian’s army marched to a place where they could rest before being billeted the young general and Ursicinus met with Hariobaudes who had ventured down the from the battlements. The tribune saluted before speaking.

“Forgive me for my behaviour upon the battlement,” he apologised. “From afar I had no idea who you were despite your attire,” Julian accepted the apology.

“How long have your men been cooped inside here, tribune?” the Caesar asked: eager to gain information about the situation along the Rhine.

“Five years,” Hariobaudes replied before giving a hearty laugh at the looks of surprise on the faces of Julian and Ursicinus. “Do not act so shocked! I was born in Germania so I am used to the harsh climate and unfriendly locals from across the river,”

“How bad is it here?” Ursicinus asked the tribune. Hariobaudes was hesitant.

“May I speak freely?”

“You may,” Julian nodded.

“It is dire,” the German replied frustratingly. “But more to the south than the north. The Franks do raid but not on a large scale and only attack en masse if they sense a weak point. The Alamanni on the other hand are dangerous. You know too well their deep raids into Gaul and their attempts to capture or sack cities. Many Romans have been abducted in recent years and ferried across the Rhine to do their work as slaves. Conditions are awful and we should know all too well, as some of our soldiers here are escapees who bravely skipped past Alamanni patrols to cross the Rhine,” Julian and Ursicinus could only nod in reply, as they too heard of these stories of abducted Roman civilians being used as slave labour.

“I also heard of your recent campaign and multiple battles against the Alamanni, Caesar,” Hariobaudes further added. “Although it will take a while before those barbarians are subjugated along this side of the Rhine let along the opposite side,”

“That is why we are here, tribune,” Julian differed. “The Alamanni will be dealt with in due process but for now our eyes lurk north towards the Franks: mainly Colonia Agrippinensis. What can you tell us about them seeing this fort is near their lands?”

“The Franks?” Hariobaudes raised his eyebrow. “They sometimes raid north of here but not in huge numbers so they are not much of a threat. They steer clear of our fortress, as do the Alamanni, because the last time the barbarians came here it ended in them burning countless funeral pyres. But the Franks do prey on weakness, as shown by the capture of Colonia Agrippinensis.

It was a surprise to hear of Colonia falling because although the defences weren’t great the frontier garrison were very capable and had warded off several assaults in the past. Your army is strong so I doubt the Franks will attack you head on. It is possible they might harass you or simply melt away especially if they think you are too big of a force to take on once they realize you intend to recapture Colonia,”

“Well that would be good for us if the Franks decide not to engage us,” Julian said hopefully. “But I do intend to pacify this region of barbarians on both sides of the Rhine. Once I capture Colonia and subjugate the Franks on the west bank I will head south to deal with the Alamanni next spring. I feel you can be of great use to me especially with yourself being a German and a good tribune. Can I count on you to be part of my army when we take the fight to the Alamanni next year?”

“You can count on me, Caesar!” Hariobaudes replied passionately. “For years these barbarians have ravaged the beauty of Gaul and the lands along the Rhine with many innocent Romans cut down. These jackals should pay for what they have done!”

”In time you will have the chance to do so,” Ursicinus added, as he shook Hariobaudes’ hand. “I am sure you will be a good addition to our army and will slay many barbarians for us in the coming months,”

“I will,” the German born tribune bowed.

“Good,” Julian smiled. “Now do you have anywhere to house my soldiers for the night, tribune? We intend to move out tomorrow after getting some rest. Marching a large from Brotomagus to the Rhine is no mean feat!”

“There’s a small deserted warehouse you can use although I’m not sure it is big enough to house all of your men,” Hariobaudes scratched his head. “There might be room in our barracks seeing we have lost many men since the barbarians crossed the river,” The general could see the pained look etched upon his face.

“Very well,” Julian nodded. “What about the fortress north of here at Rigodunum?”

“It’s a small fort and houses nearly three hundred men,” the German explained. “Supplies are scant over there and the garrison take to foraging so to find supplies. You might as well bypass it. That is why it is better to take some supplies here for the trek to Colonia. Over the last few years our quartermaster has done wonders rationing our supplies so we don’t get greedy. But what with a significant portion of Alsace swept through thanks to your army we can send out patrols to get food,”

“Thank you, Hariobaudes,” Ursicinus said gratefully. “What about Bonna?”

“That is held by the Franks but if they see a Roman army it is likely they won’t fight,” Hariobaudes answered. “Barbarians only attack in force if they have a numerical advantage and think success is highly likely. Hence why they fell upon Colonia,”

“Thanks for the information,” Julian appreciatively nodded. “We’ll be either in the warehouse and barracks should you need us,”

“I will have the quartermaster allocate some supplies for you to take tomorrow when you march out,” Hariobaudes suggested. Ursicinus nodded in agreement as they made their separate ways. As they walked away Julian turned to his advisor.

“He will be good for our army,” he mused. “An experienced tribune who can lead one of our weaker units within the legions,”

“For the campaign against the Franks?” Ursicinus raised his eyebrow.

“No, against the Alamanni next spring,” Julian answered. “For now taking Colonia is merely a damage limitation achievement after our efforts this summer. It will please the Emperor and give the perception we are exacting revenge by recapturing a recently lost city. Moreover, by capturing Colonia we can suppress the Franks and bring order along parts of Rhine like we did in parts of Alsace. Then maybe the Emperor might grant my request for more reinforcements,”

“A grand strategy for the following campaigning season, Caesar,” Ursicinus spoke positively. “But first we must capture Colonia!” Julian heartily laughed, as they looked at the rundown warehouse, which some of his soldiers were going to sleep in.

“Tomorrow morning we set out for Colonia and I will make sure the Franks pay for what they did to the limetani at Colonia!” Ursicinus could see in Julian’s eyes his conviction in wanting to capture the city. Now I know why he wants Colonia so bad. Its not to show progress but to prove to any doubters that he can be Caesar. Either the Franks will fall on Julian’s sword or Julian on the Emperor’s sword!

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

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

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-02-12 11:25 AM EDT (US)     36 / 121       
Very nice!

I like the way you cover the political angle and well as the military one. A nice set-up for a killer campaign in the spring.

Looking very much forward to the next installment!

|||||||||||||||| 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
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 11-20-12 04:02 PM EDT (US)     37 / 121       
Finally caught up with it, another excellent update, shedding light into the plan and the thinking of Julian. I like that you focus on the military side and not in the intellectual side of Julian...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 11-21-12 12:34 PM EDT (US)     38 / 121       
If you look closely you will see there are little hints about what Julian thinks and feels inside in terms of religion throughout the story so far.

But glad you are enjoying it. Rest assured an update will be up in the next couple of days.

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.
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 11-21-12 02:18 PM EDT (US)     39 / 121       
What I mean is that I've read a couple of novels on Julian and the writers focus mostly on the religious nature of Julian by writing about the arguments he had with the Christian Church and the Arian emperor Constantius, rather than focusing on the military side of Julian. Are you planning to write about Julian's reign, too, or just about his western campaigns?

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 11-21-12 04:05 PM EDT (US)     40 / 121       
I know what you mean in regards to the question.

I will write about his whole life but when it comes to his religion I will do it when its central to the 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.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 11-22-12 05:15 PM EDT (US)     41 / 121       
*****

After a rough night’s sleep Julian’s army awoke bright and early. After gathering Hariobaudes’ supplies the Caesar thanked the German tribune for his help before heading out of the northern gate towards Colonia Agrippinensis. Throughout the rest of the warm August day the large column embarked along the road before marching past the friendly fort of Rigodunum and going off the road to sidestep Bonna. By the afternoon the Romans rested below a ridge, as Roman pickets surrounded the army that had stopped to eat. Meanwhile, Julian had called his senior officers for an impromptu consilium.

“Right now we must be a couple of leagues away from Colonia Agrippinensis,” summed up the young general. “We have little idea of the Franks’ strength in and around the city. It could be heavily populated with soldiers or deserted. That is why I propose we sent a small scouting force to determine the Franks’ strength. Marcellus will go with Mahar and scout ahead while the army rests here after our march,”

“I agree with the plan. Good to know what lies out there,” Marcellus nodded, which brought about looks of agreement from the senior officers. As they dispersed Julian looked to Ursicinus with a wry grin.

“At least while Marcellus and Mahar go out scouting we can enjoy a brief rest in the fields of Germania!” he chuckled.

“I assure you when its winter you will wish you were back in Greece or Asia Minor!” Ursicinus retorted. Julian looked up to the clear blue sky.

“At least we shall bask in the sun and be safe from any ambushes with the pickets and stockade erected,” the general pointed out. “Let us hope that is also the case for Marcellus and Mahar,”

*****

The Roman scouting column trotted across the fields and were deployed in an abreast column in two lines so they could cover more ground. Marcellus was in the first line while Mahar was at the rear so to be aware of what was around them. The column numbered thirty men, which was enough to scout a good distance. They had been trotting at a canter for a short while now and the column had found little apart from the lush landscape of the land along the Rhine. However, the column soon halted under Marcellus’ orders, as he saw something along the other side of the field.

“What is it?” asked Mahar.

“Look,” Marcellus pointed. The cataphract officer looked to see across the field - over five hundred yards away - a group of three men walking past a large oak tree. Mahar knew that Marcellus had a good eye so the look on his face meant he had found something of interest.

“You think they could be Franks?” wondered Mahar.

“Only one way to find out,” Marcellus smiled widely, as he ordered to advance. The horsemen started to trot before galloping at full pelt. The thundering hooves alerted the three men who tried to run away from the oncoming cavalry. Despite their desperation to outrun the horsemen it was pointless, as the Roman cavalry soon caught up with them. By the time Mahar and Marcellus had caught up with the eager men of the column, who had rushed to catch the pursued men, both commanders saw that only one of the three chased men left alive.

“What happened?” Mahar demanded to know when seeing the two corpses.

“When we caught up with them they drew their weapons,” a grizzled cavalryman explained before turning to the dead bodies. “We killed those two and wounded the third man but he’ll be alright. Marcellus was content that at least one of them was alive before inspecting the wounded man. He had been stabbed in the leg and lay next to a small tree so he could rest. Right next to him were the remains of his deceased friends who had been mercilessly cut down by the cavalry.

Mahar and Marcellus both knew their men had killed them for the sake of it, as a means of exacting revenge after losing friends of their own during the campaign against the Alamanni. Marcellus could see their bloodlust in their eyes when he had ordered the advange. However, so long as one of them was alive, it meant he could get some information out of him.

“Out of the men here who can speak the Germanic tongue?” Marcellus asked Mahar who knew many of the soldiers within the column.

“I think Appianus can,” the officer replied. Marcellus ordered a soldier to summon Appianus and soon the young cavalryman arrived on horseback.

“I gather you can speak the tongue of the barbarians,” said Marcellus, as his eyebrows rose curiously.

“Yes, Magister!” Appianus replied.

“Good,” the Magister Equitum nodded before turning to the wounded captive. “I need you to act as a interpreter so you can relay what this man says to me while I question him,” Appianus nodded in acknowledgement, as Marcellus ordered his soldiers to bring the captive to his feet. The cavalrymen did so roughly, which brought about howls of pain and discomfort from the captive, before two Romans restrained him to the tree under Marcellus’ orders. The Magister’s eyes scanned the wounded captive, as the officer was unsurprised at his appearance. He looked like a true barbarian: scruffy and unkempt.

“I know that you are Frankish. Do not even try to protest your innocence because your dead friends over here would have been alive had they not try to flee when seeing us,” Marcellus spoke threateningly while Appianus translated. “Now, what were you and your friends doing here?” As the question was translated the prisoner looked defiant and stayed quiet. Marcellus smiled before turning to the two soldiers that had restrained the prisoner to the tree and gave a nod.

One of the men began to repeatedly kick the captive’s leg with particular attention on the wound inflicted by the Roman cavalry. With each blow struck the prisoner screamed in agony, as blood gushed out of the wound making the pain ever more unbearable. After being subjected under such treatment for over a minute Marcellus put his hand up to cease the beating. The prisoner moaned in pain.

“I will ask again,” Marcellus growled angrily. “What were you doing here?” After Appianus translated the question the captive sighed.

“We had orders to keep watch on your army,” he explained in German. “We saw you head into that fortress and stay the night yesterday. Our kings ordered us to follow you so we could know of your plans. The three of us were heading up on foot to resume scouting your army but we did not know you had marched out of the fort and sent scouts of your own to no doubt survey the land ahead. When we saw your cavalry head straight for us we had no option but to run,” When Appianus translated what the prisoner had said a multitude of questions flew into Marcellus’ head.

“Where are your kings?” he bellowed to the captive. “Where is your main army? Are they in Colonia or anywhere near here?” The Frankish prisoner raised his eyebrow when Appianus translated the questions to him.

“Colonia?” he said bewilderedly. “There is no-one in that wrecked city. Besides, your army is vast and outnumbers any army the Frankish kings are able to field into battle. The bulk of the Frankish tribes lay across the Rhine, with a detachment north of Colonia to protect the river crossings. There is no presence from here to Colonia and within the city itself,” When Appianus finished translating Marcellus was incredulous at what he had heard before turning to Mahar.

“Get everyone ready to move out!” he ordered. “Julian must know what we have just heard!”

“What shall we do with the prisoner?” Mahar asked.

“Kill him,” Marcellus said without any remorse. “We have acquired the information that we need. The prisoner has served his purpose,” The cavalry began to prepare to gallop back to the makeshift camp to tell of what had happened. However, before the Romans set out, the unaware captive was despatched with a blow of a sword and fell amongst his fallen comrades. Their final resting place was unceremonious for they were covered with the trail of dust as the horsemen galloped away.

*****

“You are sure of what you heard?”

“Yes, Caesar!” Marcellus nodded expressing total confidence. “Colonia is as good as deserted. The Franks have left the city and are across the river. There are no barbarians from here to Colonia!” Julian looked on curiously, as he and the senior officers listened to Marcellus’ report. They had listened in total surprise when hearing what the captured prisoner had said and why the officer decided to kill the captive: feeling his usefulness had run out once he learned of where the Franks were.

“If the Franks have been scouting us since we stayed the night at Confluentes why didn’t they launch an ambush like the Alamanni did?” wondered Ursicinus.

“They seem wary of engaging us in battle seeing they know big our army is,” explained Mahar. “The tribes of the Franks are probably scattered across their homeland. It takes a long time to gather an army and its supplies,” Julian and Ursicinus looked at each other deeply unsure if this information was correct. The Caesar knew this was a dilemma many generals faced: go with this information or be cautious and wait. He knew the consequences if he didn’t choose the right decision.

“I know the gods would favour generals who take risks and not exercise caution,” Julian thought to himself. “As those who worshipped the gods in the time of the Republic like I do - not that blasphemer Jesus Christ - I know they would want me to take the risk. As those who follow the true gods would say: carpe diem!”

*****

The army marched along the road with Julian at the vanguard as always. The general had decided to take the risk and see whether the path to Colonia was really clear of any Franks. The soldiers were not impressed at marching after trekking continuously since they set out from Alsace and had hoped for a longer rest. But the young commander was adamant in taking the risk: if there were a chance in capturing Colonia bloodlessly it would be a good achievement from their summer campaign.

More so it would dispel the poisonous slander that had tried to besmirch his name in the court of Constantius in Italia. The Caesar was not surprised that many had been surprised at Julian’s elevation to Caesar. It had left many disgusted that a novice had been selected ahead of far more competent people placed in the court. Julian had been told by Ursicinus that certain people in the court of the emperor - of which the exact perpertrators were unknown – plotted to try and influence the emperor that Julian harboured sinister intentions while fighting the barbarians: like the usurper Silvanus.

“The capture of Colonia will silence those who seek to discredit me in Italia and persuade Constantius I can lead the army of Gaul and restore Roman glory along both sides of the Rhine,” Julian thought determinedly to himself. As the army trudged onwards the young general felt reassured at not encountering any barbarians so far. Yet he knew an ambush could come out of nowhere. Despite their reputation as merciless warriors he knew they were adept at setting ambushers. However, any worries Julian had soon dissipated when suddenly seeing something come into view.

“The prisoner was right!” Severus spoke in a stunned tone, as in the distance was the ruined city of Colonia. From what they could see it was deserted save the shrill sounds of the birds nearby. As the comitatenses marched onwards they saw its gates were wide open. Julian immediately ordered Ammianus to lead a regiment into the city to investigate before the army marched into Colonia. After a short while Ammianus emerged from the city gate towards his general.

“Sir, the city is deserted!” he exclaimed. “My men have searched everywhere and we have found no one!” Julian looked up to survey the large yet empty frontier city before smiling.

The gamble had worked.

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

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

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

[This message has been edited by Legion Of Hell (edited 11-22-2012 @ 05:20 PM).]

Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 11-23-12 01:47 PM EDT (US)     42 / 121       
Another excellent update, Legion of Hell It's nice to see Julian struggling to show his military skill to Constantius...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.

[This message has been edited by Alex_the_Bold (edited 11-23-2012 @ 01:48 PM).]

Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 11-23-12 02:34 PM EDT (US)     43 / 121       
Very good.

Looking forward to the next bit.

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 12-21-12 10:29 PM EDT (US)     44 / 121       
Outstanding work Legion. The Late Empire usually doesn't hold much interest for me, but you've done well in fleshing out Julian especially with regards to his gradual excellence in the art of war rather than making him to be a genius from the onset.

I'm looking forward to reading your depiction of the Battle of Strasbourg and his fateful campaign against the Sassanid Empire

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
Cherub of Total War: Rome II Heaven and the Total War: Attila Forums
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 12-22-12 04:35 AM EDT (US)     45 / 121       
Those two points are going to be fun but there's a lot more dramatic stuff prior to Strasbourg, my friend. But good to see you, Domincius.

And I'll try to add another chapter before the end of the year!

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.
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 12-23-12 07:31 AM EDT (US)     46 / 121       
*****

Julian was eager to have his men start work on the ruined city of Colonia. For the rest of August, as well as throughout September, the army downed their weapons to become makeshift labourers. With the engineers and pioneers the soldiers helped rebuild Colonia’s defences, especially its city walls, so to make it a true fortress town and rebuild it to its former strength. During that time there was no contact with the Franks despite the numerous cavalry and foot patrols sent out each day to patrol a swathe of land up to the Rhine.

For those few weeks since Julian captured Colonia there had been no resistance so much so a shade of peaceful calm descended along the west bank of the Rhine. That was until late September when a bellowing cry erupted from the newly erected guard tower along its battlements, which gave them a three hundred and sixty degree angle and could see anyone trying to approach the fortress town.

“Horsemen heading straight this way!” shouted the guard pointing to the north. Julian, Ursicinus and the other senior officers headed to the battlement upon the northern gate to see who was approaching them. As Julian gazed his eyes into the distance he then saw why the guard had bellowed so loudly.

“Those aren’t Roman colours,” Mahar said worryingly. Soon each man upon the battlement realized that Mahar was right. They were Franks and the contingent of three horsemen was each decked in battle attire. Each Roman officer looked at another and it became plain to see on the looks on each man’s face their deep worry at what the Franks wanted.

“Why the three horsemen?” Marcellus wondered curiously. “If the Franks are nearby then why don’t they launch an surprise attack?”

“Likely these horsemen are emissaries,” Ursicinus answered back. “Sent by their masters to convey a message or rather a warning: leave these lands at once or face our full wrath,” While the Frankish horsemen approached the northern gate Julian looked on, as he pondered on what Ursicinus had said, along with the sudden arrival of the Franks. How on earth were the Franks able to send an army across the Rhine in such a short space of time? Even if it was done under cover of darkness it takes at least a few days to cross the river and would no doubt been spotted by one of our patrols! As the three riders were but a stone’s throw from the gate they pulled the saddle back to stop their horses. Julian looked at the horsemen and saw they looked competently clean. It seems the stereotypical rugged, dirty and unkempt barbarian were a thing of a past!

“State your purpose!” bellowed Severus to the Franks whom Julian chose to speak to the horsemen. The helmeted lead rider trotted ahead before looking up to the Romans on the battlements.

“We have been sent by our kings to bring you a message under a flag of parlay!” he shouted in almost perfect Latin that bewildered Julian and his officers. “They request their desire to meet your war kings: in this fort if you wish,” Severus looked at Julian as did many of the officers to see what he would do.

“Tell them what are their intentions,” the general commanded Severus. He nodded before turning to the horsemen.

“Under what pretence do you wish to seek an audience with our Augustus?”

“Under a flag of truce!” the Franks replied irritably showing annoyance at not being believed. “Our kings wish to sue for peace!”

“Peace?” blurted out Ursicinus, as he was taken aback with surprise at the revelation.

“It could be a trick,” Marcellus pointed out. “A barbarian is never to be trusted,” Julian pondered for a moment before coming to a decision. He walked ahead to the edge of the battlement where Severus was and looked at the Frankish spokesperson.

“If your kings desire peace then why aren’t they here before me and have sent you?” he enquired. The Frankish horseman knew what Julian had meant by questioning the validity of his kings’ intentions.

“So you think this is a trick?” he raised his eyebrow, which brought about condescending looks from the two other Franks towards Julian. “I assure you that is not the case. And in regards to why our kings are not here then soon you will see why!” The three horsemen then turned around before waving their flag continually. It did not take long for the ground to tremble, as coming into view were a detachment of twenty horsemen, all decked out in chainmail armour. They trotted to the fort in a row of two abreast.

As this was going on the Roman officers atop the battlement headed down to the northern gate. Julian ordered a century of soldiers to accompany him and his senior officers, as a precaution should the oncoming Frankish delegation have sinister intentions. As the gate was opened Julian and his detachment strode out to meet the arriving Franks. Flanking Julian and his senior officers were the century that formed into two parallel lines of fifty men each.

Julian looked at the lead rider of the Frankish detachment and could see from his attire that he was their leader. Anyone wearing ceremonial attire decked with chainmail armour has to be one of high rank! The lead rider reared his horse back before turning to his fellow riders and giving the hand signal to stand fast. He then realized that Julian, from his regalia, was the Romans’ leader and began to speak in German. The Frank who had stunned the Roman officers with his grasp of the Latin language began to translate what he was saying.

“He says that he is one of the many kings among the Franks,” he spoke eloquently, as he turned to the other Frankish horseman. “These men represent the other kings and have selected me as the spokesmen to parlay to you,” The Romans looked at the kings on horseback: a grizzled bunch who had seen many winters and many battles. The Frankish king then began to speak in German.

“We wish to seek peace terms with your people in recognition of your presence here along the west bank of the Rhenus,” he explained. “If you wish then we will like to present our terms before hearing yours?” The Roman officers around Julian, especially Marcellus and Ammianus, looked sceptical at whether they were sincere but Julian could see from the Franks’ faces that they were serious. However, the Frankish king should sense the Romans being unsure of their reason being outside Colonia. He began to speak agitatedly in German while raising his eyebrow before the translator gave his interpretation of what has had said.

“You are not sure whether I am telling the truth?” he said, which Julian then realized that was what made him raise his eyebrow before his tone turned to one of mocking and bravado. “If we wanted to capture Colonia then rest assured our armies would have launched an counter attack the moment you seized the city. However, we wish to seek peace. Our terms are simple: in return for peace we will not engage in any attack across the west bank along Roman lands and neither will you upon our lands. All the kings of the Franks, who lie before you on horseback, agree that now is the moment for peace between us after years of abject devastation along the Rhenus. I trust that your people feel the same way,” Julian analysed what the Frankish king had offered: in return for no attacks on either side of the Rhine there would be peace. It was a compelling offer but knew he couldn’t make the decision alone.

“Tell your king to allow us a short while to contemplate your peace offer,” Julian commanded the interpreter to which the Frankish cavalryman spoke to his king in German. The Frankish king then turned to Julian and nodded in agreement. Julian turned to his fellow officers and sighed.

“Well you heard their terms loud and clear,” the general sighed. “What do you think?” Julian could clearly see there were differing looks upon the senior officers. Opinion was clearly split down the middle.

“I feel that it is worth taking a chance and agreeing to their peace offer,” Ammianus suggested. “They wouldn’t bring their kings from their own lands across the Rhine if they weren’t sincere, would they?”

“I disagree completely!” Marcellus differed strongly. “You can never trust a barbarian! In the past, from the early days of the Principate and the Republic, the barbarians in Gaul, Germania and Northern Italia reneged on treaties made with Rome and treacherously raided out lands. If we give them peace then in the future the Franks will think we are weak and invade when our eye is turned!” Julian looked to the rest of his officers to gauge their opinions. He could see people such as Mahar agreed with Marcellus’ point of view while Severus agreed with Ammianus’ argument. Julian could see his senior officers were divided on the issue so he turned to his wise friend Ursicinus.

“What is your opinion?” he asked his mentor for counsel.

“I share Marcellus’ worries about whether the Franks are truly sincere,” the senior general explained. “I do believe we should accept what they are offering. There are several reasons why but the main one is this: By reaching a settlement with the Franks it removes half the opposition and allows us to fully focus our resources on dealing with the Alamanni,” Ursicinus’ musings brought about a change of mood, as those who disagreed with the Franks’ peace offer were now persuaded. Even Marcellus began to look as he changed his mind.

“If they do renege on the peace offer it gives us an excuse to gut them where they stand,” he grinned. Julian smiled, as the senior officers gave their consent, before the Caesar trudged to meet with the Frankish king.

“Upon consultation with my fellow officers I agree to your terms,” Julian proclaimed. “Under the agreement the Franks will not cross the River Rhine onto your territory and vice versa in terms of my people crossing into your land,” After hearing the translated version the Frankish king nodded. Julian smiled: At least this part of the Rhine will experience peace and that is something that hasn’t happened in a long while.

*****

As October arrived the first signs of snow began to show as sprinklings of frost and snow layered across Colonia and the areas around the Rhine. Julian also took it as a sign that the campaigning season had truly ended. As the general finished writing his end of year report to the Augustus he read the letter that he was going to send to Constantius.

Augustus, as I write to you the campaigning season has ended, with the arrival of the snows. The campaign against the barbarians this summer has gone well. The Alamanni have been pushed towards the western bank of the Rhine and the islands along the river after our capture of the main towns. However, our main successes this been against the Franks. Colonia Agrippinensis has been retaken and the Franks have agreed terms where they will not cross the Rhine. Should they renege on the agreement then I will personally make sure fire and chaos will descend upon their lands.

I also write to you so to request additional reinforcements for next year. This winter I shall disperse my comitatus to winter billets across Gaul and the frontier. However, I have several problems that I foresee the following year. Firstly, food is running short, as the land has been ravaged due to years of fighting in Gaul and Germania. Scavenging supplies for next year’s fighting is proving to be difficult and I barely have enough food to feed my army throughout the winter.

Secondly, I need reinforcements to take the fight to the Alamanni, so to drive them across the river. I have nearly fifteen thousand men and while that is plentiful it isn’t enough to completely destroy the Alamanni. Further more, extra reinforcements will serve to bolster the comitatus in Gaul but more importantly the limetani. With these added men I can in future impose a proper system of frontier garrisons to keep watch along the west bank and make sure the barbarians never breach the line in force again.

If my requests are approved then I am sure the year of 357 will prove very fruitful, Augustus!


As Julian finished reading his intended letter to Constantius he certainly hoped next year would bring better tidings. Notably he hoped it would stop those back home trying to poison his name and persuade the Augustus to execute him for treason.

"At least I hope it saves my ass," he thought gloomily to himself.

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

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

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

[This message has been edited by Legion Of Hell (edited 12-23-2012 @ 07:33 AM).]

Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 12-23-12 10:09 AM EDT (US)     47 / 121       
Finally another update! Excellent as always, LoH...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
DominicusUltimus
Legate
posted 12-23-12 01:46 PM EDT (US)     48 / 121       
Well done Legion. The flow between the characters conversations and inner thoughts was excellent. I spotted a few missing words and some sentences that could be rephrased, but none of this detracted from the story itself.

As for Julian's actions, I fear his decision to not only accept the peace offer so quickly but to also spread out his comitatus in separate cities/settlements may come to haunt him later. I recall vividly how the last great Seleucid kind did the same with his army after defeating the Parthians. His fate was a sad one and even though the same fate might not befall Julian himself I fear for the safety of his trusted lieutenants.

Remember the fate of Marcus Licinius Crassus dear Julian! He too put faith in an enemy commander's offer of peace, yet when he arrived at their camp to discuss proper terms they struck him and his finest officers down without mercy. Beware the words of the Franks!

"Life is more fun when you are insane. Just let go occasionally".- yakcamkir 12:14
"It is not numbers, but vision that wins wars." - Antiochus VII Sidetes
"My magic screen is constantly bombarded with nubile young things eager to please these old eyes. This truly is a wonderful period in which to exist! - Terikel Grayhair
Cherub of Total War: Rome II Heaven and the Total War: Attila Forums
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 12-24-12 03:29 AM EDT (US)     49 / 121       
Very well done! A few nits here and there, but nothing that detracted from the flow of the story.

I enjoyed this. Thanks, and Happy Holidays!

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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 01-12-13 02:08 PM EDT (US)     50 / 121       
Sorry for the long break but had a a lot of stuff on. Anyway here's the next chapter!

*****

As the month of October lingered Julian felt more at ease when he safely sent out a rider to carry his letter to Constantius. Moreover, it allowed him to focus on the winter ahead, especially as the snow began to come down harder and settle on the once lush grass of Germania. A few days later the general called a consilium to which his most senior officers attended in Julian’s quarters. The officers were pleased to be huddled in their general’s warm quarters instead of the cold outside.

“I am sure you know why I have called you in here today,” Julian began. “It is so I can tell you what our plans are for the winter and where the comitatus will be dispersed to billet for the winter,” As Julian paused the officers were very keen to know where they would stay during the harsh winter months. “The army will be split up to several smaller groups across Gaul to inhabit towns and forts along the frontier throughout the winter.

Moreover, it eases our supply chain where it limits the amount of people to feed in one solitary place. Spreading the army around will ease the consumption of our supplies. My contingent of a few thousand men will billet at the town of Senonae. Over the next few days I will give each of you a slip detailing your billeted town. We leave next week. Are there any questions?” There were murmurs amongst the officers.

“Senonae is not that far from the Rhine, Caesar,” Ammianus asked. “Is there the likelihood the Alamanni might attack?”

“It is unlikely that will happen,” Julian brushed off his subordinate’s worries. “The Alamanni no doubt will have to rest for the winter. However, I understand your concern, Ammianus,” The young officer nodded but still looked unconvinced.

“If there are no further question then you are dismissed,” Julian replied. “Next time I see the rest of you is when we head out of Colonia towards our billets,” As the officers dispersed so to get back their duties Ursicinus turned to Julian.

“Are you sure it is wise to base your winter billet camp at Senonae?” the wily general pointed out to the Caesar. “Ammianus was right in saying it is not that far from the Rhine,” Julian shook his head dismissively.

“It takes a long time for the barbarians to muster a large army to campaign in the field,” he explained to Ursicinus. “We will be safe. Besides, though the barbarians know we camp in billets they do not know where we are staying and the disposition of our forces. I understand your concern, Ursicinus but rest assured we will be safe,”

“We?” the old general looked surprised. “I thought I would command an unit and be billeted to one of the towns in Gaul for the winter like the other senior officers?”

“That is before you told me of your worries about placing myself at Senonae. As a precaution you are to be at my side,” Julian smiled. “If the barbarians do come in force towards Senonae at the onset of winter then you can curse my name to God,” Ursicinus chuckled at Julian’s dark humour.

“Let us hope it doesn’t come to that, my Caesar!"”

*****

And so within the next few days the Roman comitatus prepared to move to their winter billets throughout Gaul. A residual frontier force of nearly a thousand men were left behind, as well as split up so to occupy the towns and forts perched along the west bank of the Rhine so to keep a watchful eye among the barbarians. The mood among the army was good, as many soldiers knew they could rest their feet during the harsh winter and take comfort in the warm confines of their billets.

But as the comitatus of Gaul began to split into smaller groups to their billets a small group of three Romans headed east: not to reside in Alsace but over the Rhine. They weren’t trying to cross the river for a scouting mission upon the lands of the enemy but were attempting to desert. These men were a mixture and were from across the empire. Amarc, who was the ringleader of the deserters was born in Germania and had been given a Roman education. Cerixus: a strong Gaul who was prone to ill discipline. And finally Sextus - who was a young recruit from the poor slums of Rome.

They each had enough of fighting what they felt would be a protracted and bloody cause. Moreover, they had been angered at their own officers’ treatment of them and other men in their unit the Primani legion. At times the tribunes or even those commanding the Primani treated them more like slaves. For weeks the three men planned to desert and decided the winter would be the perfect time to desert and go over to the other side. They had been able to march south from Colonia unhindered before turning west to the river. Despite the cold weather and a blanket of snow covering the group the three men were making good progress.

“How far is it to the Rhine?” Cerixus asked Amarc.

“Should be another league or two,” the German replied.

“It’s a good thing winter came so soon,” Sextus chuckled. “Or we’d never been able to sneak out of Colonia!”

“Indeed,” Cerixus nodded. “Using the fog as cover thankfully allowed us to dodge the outposts. Besides, the guards were no doubt more focuses in preparing to leave for their winter billets!”

“Do you think they will send soldiers to look out for us?” Sextus wondered. Amarc shook his head.

“I doubt it. We are merely three soldiers in an army of thousands! Besides, the army is split up across Gaul and the towns along the frontier, so by the time they realized we are gone we shall be long gone!” All three men grinned with glee with each man thinking they had managed to escape. No longer would they be soldiers and be under orders. However, their joy would be soon short lived.

Two hundred paces ahead of the three deserters was a large dip, which served to obscure what lay before them. But as they made their way forward they suddenly heard the growing sounds of thundering hooves coming from behind the dip. Before they could do anything six horsemen came onto the dip and into view. Both the three deserters and the six riders were startled to see one another. But Amarc knew who they were.

“They are Alamanni,” he hissed to his fellow deserters.

“What do we do?” Sextus said anxiously.

“Do not run,” Amarc replied. “If we do then they will ride us down,” The three men stood still as the six horsemen trotted towards them. They soon formed into a circle so to surround them and then lowered their spears towards them.

“Wer bist du?” shouted one of them angrily in German.

“He’s asking who we are,” Amarc explained. “I’ll speak to them in their language and then translate to you,” The two other men nodded as Amarc turned to the grizzled rider who had asked the question and looked like the leader of their detachment.

“Me and my friends here are deserters from the Roman army,” Amarc spoke in German to which the Alamanni horsemen looked on darkly that made Amarc stammer. “We-we have information to give to your leader regarding the Romans’ comitatus!” The Alamanni horsemen turned away to converse with one another.

“What did you say?” Sextus hissed.

“I told them who we are and that we have information about the Roman army,” he replied.

“Why did you do that?” Cerixus replied angrily. “You could endanger our friends!”

“Don’t you think I know that?” he whispered back. “But what else could I say? They probably can see from what we are wearing that we aren’t ordinary villagers but Romans. If I hadn’t told them we are deserters then they’d probably cut us down. I had no choice, Cerixus. No choice at all,” Before Cerixus could reply the Alamanni horsemen came back as the leader of their pack looked at Amarc.

“You may come with us,” he explained. “But I must bind your hands and blindfold you,” Amarc nodded before translating to Sextus and Cerixus. Cerixus looked miffed but knew he had no choice but to obey. And so the three men were bound along with blindfolded as they headed to the southeast.

*****

Chnodomarius was in his quarters with his nephew Serapio as they ate while trying to brave the harsh winter weather. Both of them decided to spend the winter at Argentoratum. Though the weather was tough the good harvest along the east bank of the Rhine meant those communities and more importantly its fighting men had enough food to eat throughout the winter. As the two nobles ate their food a guard knocked on the door and entered.

“I apologize for interrupting your meal,” he apologized profusely. “But Hrotha is outside and says he had something extremely urgent to show you,” Serapio looked curiously at his uncle with both of them intrigued at what it could be.

“Very well,” Chnodomarius nodded. “Let him in,” The guard exited the tent and soon after the grizzled Hrotha arrived.

“Well what is it that couldn’t wait?” Serapio asked. “You manage to hunt down a wild boar?” Hrotha chuckled before looking at the two reges excelsiores in a serious manner.

“I managed to find something a lot more valuable than a wild boar,” Hrotha explained. “While patrolling my squadron managed to find three men walking towards the river. When my men surrounded them they said there were Roman deserters – one of them could speak our language,”

“Then why didn’t you cut them down as soon as you saw they were Romans?” Chnodomarius raised his eyebrow in suspicion.

“I would have but then told me they had valuable information and sought the leader of the Alamanni,” Hrotha added, visibly irked at being questioned of his intentions. “They are outside. I made sure to search them, as well as have them bound and blindfolded the moment I picked them up north along the west bank of the river,”

“Very well,” Chnodomarius sighed. “Bring them in,” Hrotha nodded and the three Roman deserters were brought in walking abnormally due to being blindfolded and having their hands tied. When the blindfolds were taken off along with the rope tying their hands it took them a few moments to adjust to the light after being succumbed in darkness. The three deserters then saw the stern faces of the two Alamanni kings.

“I am told you have information about the Roman army?” Chnodomarius spoke in German. “Speak or have your tongues cut out!”

“A few days ago the Roman comitatus of Gaul split up into several groups and dispersed its forces across several towns along with forts across Gaul,” Amarc spoke in German. “The leader of the Roman forces along the Rhine, known in the Roman name of Julian, is to reside with his detachment at the town of Senonae during the winter,” Serapio’s eyes lit up at what he heard. Chnodomarius’ face did not give anything away but inside was intrigued at this news.

“What is the strength of this force led by this Julian in Senonae?” asked Serapio.

“At least a thousand and at most up possibly nearly fifteen hundred,” Amarc replied. “Consisting of regular soldiers and auxiliary troops,” The two kings digested this information quickly, as Chnodomarius leaned towards his nephew.

“Tell Hrotha to send a scouting to force immediately to Senonae,” he instructed in a hushed tone. “With a decent sized army we can reach that town within a week’s march. If what they say is true then we can kill their army’s leader and turn the tide!”

“I shall send Hrotha at once!” Serapio nodded. “But what shall I do with those men?”

“Have them sent to the prison. If they are lying then inflict a gruesome death upon them,” the Alamanni king replied. “But if they are telling the truth then kill them as painlessly as possible,” As the three deserters were ushered away Chnodomarius smiled while resuming his meal.

If I can kill Julian at Senonae then Gaul is MINE!!!

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

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

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

[This message has been edited by Legion Of Hell (edited 01-13-2013 @ 04:02 AM).]

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