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Thread: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [COMPLETED]

  1. #21
    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor




    Hot Greek Summers, Part II and the Battle of Olympia - Winter 566 A.U.C to Summer 567 A.U.C




    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    “Your tongue is not still sore, is it?” Breucus asked me as we camped upon the face of Mount Kronos, the ancient Hellenic sanctuary of Olympia rising up to our north, within that place contained wonders of the Grecian world from every poleis with a known name, “I just thought that since you licked that Romans arse so very hard it might still be a bit tender.”

    At that moment I viewed my companion as an enemy and evaluated him as such, his shoulder-length copper hair, reddish-brown beard and those eyes of viridian green seemingly mocking me silently. It was true that he would be stronger than me, his torso bound with muscles, even if his stomach was sagging somewhat, but I had the advantage of speed and reasoned in my own mind that I could win a fist fight.

    “Keep your mouth shut, Pannonian, your lands are just east of the Res Publicas current borders...it would be a shame to see anything happen to them.”

    I thought he would leap up and kill me then and there, instead he stood and removed himself from our Roman-issue tent, probably off to get sodden on the urine which the Romans called wine before returning to tell me what a Roman lapdog I was. Not that I really blamed him, Sextus did seem to favour me now, having given me and my comrade a tent, Roman rations and offering a number of other 'vitals' that men needed on campaign. I had stoically refused, but my compatriot of the Pannonii was only to happy to indulge in the more 'vice' fuelled offerings.

    Later that night he returned, incredibly drunk but also eerily silent, taking a seat opposite me on his bed and staring at the ground, as if it would answer the questions of the universe upon which wise men ponder.

    “Do you have a family, Dacian? A wife, children?” His face, creased in a mask guilt, moved in the darkness as he spoke without waiting for an answer, “I have five children, two boys and three beautiful girls, but instead of being with them and tilling my lands I am here. Here fighting for a people who would never accept me as I am, who would never except my offspring and who would rather see my family in slavery than treat us as decent human beings.”

    With a wave of my hand I told him he must be mistaken, that he had had too much to drink, and that these were mere delusions bought about by memories of his family. Deep down, however, I knew he was right but did not have the guts to say it.

    “Wrong am I? No...those Celts who replaced us in Gaul...they used to be just like us. Once upon a time they were entirely free men, bowing to no man, fighting anyone who attempted to prise their lands from them. Now there are Roman garrisons placed in every major settlement in their land, the insidious hand of Roman creeping over and under them, turning them from what they once were into what the Res Publica want them to be.”

    “Go to sleep, Breucus.”

    Turning over and attempting to shut my eyes, all I could hear were his words of caution and warning ringing in my ears.


    **********


    Unfortunately, bored reader, in the winter of 566 Ab Urbe Condita there were more military manoeuvrings and little detail of events, for I did not see them myself. I know that the Spartans demanded an entirely exorbitant amount of denarii for a ceasing of conflict between the Romani and themselves, an act clearly born out of desperation and easily brushed aside by the Roman diplomat. Alongside this the I Italica legion had landed in Aetolia, crossed as my commander and I had and now advanced past our own forces and into Lakonia, the heartland of the enemy, intending to gut Sparte and put an end to their foolish resistance.

    Winter turned to summer, more heat, more flies and more training for my comrades and I with news that Gaius T. Varro had been assassinated and his son, Spurius, now quickened his pace towards Sparte in a blind fury. Who knew what the Spartans would make of this angered youth?

    Meanwhile, under orders of the Scipii, housed safely in their stronghold of Carthago, the Legio I Cyrenaica were formed under Vopiscus E. Cinncinnatus and almost immediately put to sea on a course for Krete and the Spartan garrison there.

    Under normal circumstances they would not dare to have taken such action without the permission of Sextus Maximus, but the lead citizen of the Res Publica was swiftly loosing support in the senate, becoming distrusted by the troops under him and even going so far as to have the plebs proclaim him a curse from the gods. Opposition to his leadership portrayed him as a political general, grasping at victories to verify his rule, favouring non-citizen foreigners too much in the military and depicting his war in Greece as an unjust war of the highest calibre. Talk of his assassination was rife in the senate, I am sure of that, but it was questionable as to whether any of the other families would have the nerve to send on after him with his loyal Praetorian Prefectus at his side.

    On a note of some greater brightness, the city of Athenae was taken by the I Rhodorum and their tribunus, allowing the I and II Macedonica to advance past the Isthmus of Korinth, into the Peloponessos and besiege Korinth itself. The citizens of the city were not harmed and the building not damaged, the legion left their to put down any civil unrest amongst the free-spirited Greeks, and the polis made into nothing more than a client-state. Even Sextus was not mad enough to pillage and plunder the epicentre of learning in the world.

    Now I wish to tell you, patient reader, of my first battle, both in Roman service or ever at that time, the day that three stone-throwing siege engines arrived outside Olympia and the day we broke the siege to take the city for ourselves. It was a battle I have not forgotten in all my years...


    **********


    The Battle of Olympia, a sanctuary considered sacred ground to the Hellenes and housing the statue of Zeus, is about about even these days as the only good thing that Sextus F. Maximus ever did for the Res Public. He bought this piece of holy ground into the Roman fold and, for this alone, he was remembered. What is not usually recalled, and probably best left forgotten, is the massacre of the entire Spartan garrison and how they sacrificed themselves to keep the sanctuary from Roman hands. I am not ashamed to say that I partook of the butchery, but then again I am not Roman nor Greek and, therefore, consider it fated that every man should die when the gods decide.

    Now, it was a clear day when the battle took place, beneath the gaze of both Mount Kronos and the many gods that inhabited Olympia, Zeus and Hera amongst them, the sun beating down upon our finely clad and assembled forces that now marched against the outnumbered Spartans.

    Sweat beaded my forehead and slicked the palms of my hands as the forces of Spurius Laenas moved into position, with Sextus, his prefect and the twin praetorian cohorts to the rear of our movement as if they were just there for show. As it turned out, that is exactly why they were there.

    “Well Spurius,” I head the first citizen shout, “we will wait for the engines of war to do there job first and then, once the walls and defenders have been pounded into dirt, we shall send in the archers to clear those that may rally or regroup.” He clearly seemed impressed with his plan, as he continued, “then these...Agrianian fellows in to secure the gateway I think and after that the main body of your infantry.”

    I have to admit that we did make a splendid sight to anyone observing us, our armour polished and our weapons cleaned and sharpened for the occasion. My bow was held limply in my hand as I cast a nervous eye over the best of our warriors, the tarabostes of my own people, clad in their mail and protected by their ornately decorated shields and helms, and those Thrakians wielding the two-handed rhomphaia with a smaller shield attached to their foremost arm but equally armoured in chainmail. Both of these contingents were considered amongst the elite of their people and would certainly prove to be so during the course of the battle.

    “FIRE!”

    The yell and immediate release of a tension-bound stone made me look up and take notice, further stones sailing through the air to impact on the simple wooden wall built around Olympia. Clearly the inhabitants had never believed that anyone would dare invade such sacred soil, it was to their dismay that they would find themselves proved very wrong indeed. Wood splintered and creaked, the stone-throwing mechanisms causing me to hear the words of my friend in my head once more...if the Romans were ever to come to our homes and bring these war-machines with them...

    “Sagittarii! Porro!”

    At the latin command we, the archers, advanced in a loose order until we were within shooting distance of the walls. Already the stone-throwers had created a number of breaches, the main gate being separated from its hinges, and a number of men now attempting to plug the gaps therein with their own bodies of flesh and bone. The stone-thrower kept up its murderous hail of projectiles, bodies turning to pulp, brain-matter and blood mingling to become mere smears on the Grecian 'strata'.

    “Take aim...” Although only a few of us understood the latin bellowed at us by Roman officers, the rest followed as soon as they saw what we were doing, “...fire!”

    The Getae beside me, the Skythes next to them, and myself included, released the taught strings of our bows and watched as the arrows sailed both over the top of the walls and straight into the gaps caused by the stone-thrower, and where men still gathered to die. Our deluge of arrows continued unabated until we had fired the last of our arrows, being amazed myself at how fast the Skythians could shoot, each rain of arrows forcing the lightly-armoured Spartans and their single phalanx of Macedonian volunteers back from the walls. It would have been suicide to keep stepping into the killing field between the fractured wall and the open space inside the sanctuary, arrows clattering amongst the temples and altars of the gods and painting them with blood, men dropping one after another, yet this is exactly what the defenders did...and paid for it with their lives.

    “Getae, forward!”

    To this day I have not the slightest clue as to why we, the lightest soldiers in the army, armed only with our sicae which we carried at all times and clad only in garments of furs and skins, should be sent in before any others. I often believe it was because Sextus favoured me, because he knew in which of his 'centurie' I resided, and because he knew...though I could not say how...that I was unbloodied in battle.

    However it came about, we were not going to waste this opportunity, each man took off like one of their arrows towards the simple gate or one of the breaches in the walls with their sica drawn and a prayer to Zalmoxis on their partially-foaming lips.

    What I found inside the confines of what could be called the Olympian agora made me give pause, even as my comrades ran to engage in combat a newly appeared band of, what I was told later were called, 'hypomeiones' which apparently means 'inferiors' or 'under-equals'. This, of course, made no sense to me at the time of the telling and I am still not certain that it does even now. Anyway...what I beheld made me want to kneel down and weep, for I had never lain eyes on a dead enemy before, and this first look at some nearly caused my insides to expel themselves from my body.

    I will not furnish you, reader, with all the details, descriptions of bodies broken apart by crushing rocks and those riddled with black-fletched arrows, but I shall tell you something and that is this; seeing those Spartans and their allies, attired in little more than chitons and with only an aspis and a helmet for protection, I could not help but believe that they had both been unprepared and also wasted their lives in the defence of this place.

    Upon hearing the tramp of running feet, and the clinking of mail on leather, behind me I turned to see the tarabostes and their Thrakian counterparts emerging through the same holes in the defences as we had previously used. They looked splendid in the sunlight, with their weapons bristling like a hedge of metal, and the bearded face-masks of their helmets making them look each the same as the other. I tried to turn and get back to my own detachment before the oncoming rush of men but was swept up amongst them instead, each one jostling to reach the Olympian bouleuterion, outside which the Spartan strategoi had decided to make their last stand.

    What happened next is probably the hardest thing to explain, battle being a press of bodies and a maelstrom of swinging weapons, the screams of the dying and the piss and guts of both friend and foe. In spite of what some will tell you, battle is not an especially glorious thing, unless it is out in the open field or plain. In the confines of a Greek sanctuary or the stratae of a settlement it is like the domain of Hades bought unto to earth.

    All I can truly tell you, reader, with any authority, is that as my 'barbarian' comrades and I charged home into the steady wall of Spartans shields, our forces closing in from all sides, I personally gazed upon the enraged visage of someone who I believed must have been of some importance. They were like something from the tales of old, a legend from the time of Herakles or Akhilleus perhaps, dressed from head to toe in the most dazzling corslet and tallest helm I had ever seen on a man, as well as the man being at least a foot taller than any of the men present at that time! Am I exaggerating, you ask? Only a little, I think, although it is hard to tell when my mind becomes foggier every year...and many years have past since Olympia.

    Nevertheless I urged myself onward, heaving through the press of entangled bodies, avoiding swinging rhomphaia or stabbing xiphos as best I could. I was a lean man then, well-trained in the arts of wrestling by my own people, and not at all bad at averting an end to my life by some blow from out of nowhere, fortunately for me. Barging combatants out the way with my shoulders, tripping adversaries and stamping those underfoot, clambering over the already dead, eventually I made my way up behind the enraged Spartan with my sika in hand and watched for but a split second.

    He proved even more terrifying up close, dispatching three Thrakians as if they were nothing, fending off assault after assault by himself, his long greying hair whipping in the breeze caused by his movements and his hazel eyes glaring about with the vehemence of a cornered beast.

    Seeing my chance, and screaming the name of both my tribe and my people, I hurled myself into the attack and, I must say, it was sincerely the worst onrush I have had the misfortune to perform. Once I got within range I was like a man possessed, swinging this way and that, attempting to either smash or knock aside the Spartans shield without being skewered by doru or xiphos, the eyes of my enemy were now full of a cold fury which shook me to my very core as he retaliated with an counter-attack of his own.

    One moment I was standing and the next I was knocked off my feet, his aspis connecting solidly with my face, my hand closing tightly around the hilt of my sika lest the family weapon slip from my grasp and dishonour ever be mine in the afterlife. His blade came down innumerable times, myself rolling away from the blows as well as I could, my arms receiving a number of cuts from the pursuing Greek, the noise of battle now dimmed down to a low murmur (I would later discover that the other enemies had been vigorously dispatched and I was, in fact, the last man fighting) as he chased me.

    At length I found a place to recover my balance and take myself into a low half-crouch, the Spartan simply imitating me, expect with the assistance of a shield also covering most of his body. We circled one another for a few moments, I being the first to lash out, aiming to find a flaw in this mans defence and exploit it.

    Time went on, I continued to assail him, wearing myself out in the attempt, for this man...this Spartan...seemed to have no weakness at all, or that was until he made the fatal mistake of not keeping an eye on his surroundings. As he advanced towards me he failed to take note of the blood-stained marble underfoot, for a split second loosing his footing, his shield coming down and leaving his head and neck exposed, but a split second was all I needed, and so I seized upon it and attacked him with all my might.

    The last thing I remember, from that engagement at least, is the breaking sound of my enemies neck and the spouting of a carmine geyser right there on the battlefield, my hands grasping something in one and hacking at something else with another. I can only conclude that I decapitated my enemy and, if I remember correctly, later bought the head of Philiskos of Sparta to the then first citizen of Rome in whose favour I could only continue to rise.


    **********


    And that, endeavouring scholar, is the first time I killed a man. It was a fluke, true, an unfortunate event bought upon the Spartan by his own arrogance, need to kill me, and his lack of observation in the heat of battle, yet it was a kill nonetheless and my sika sang with joy as it opened his neck and drank of his blood. I know, for I heard it, the song of a weapon which every true warrior knows, the song of their weapon.

    Where was I...ah yes!

    We, the savages, had won the now famous Battle of Olympia and, even better for the Res Publica, had achieved it without spilling a single drop of good civilised Romani blood. This pleased Sextus greatly...poor Sextus...for his time was coming to an end as the senate disowned him and other families plotted against him. He had become unpopular all over the Res Publica, despised and hated as a figurehead, cries going up for his immediate return to Roma and his leadership of the Grecian campaign to be given to another more deserving of it.

    This lay the way open for Tiberius I. Gracchanus and his Illyrian tribesmen to besiege the former arch enemy of Sparta, the polis of Argos.

    And that is the situation that the Res Public had come to by the summer of 567 Ab Urbe Condita.

    Yes, I shall tell you of the splendours of Olympia and my time there, but now I must rest as my old bones grow tired a lot quicker than they used to!


    - M.Laenas

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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor

    I can only apologise to everyone for the disappointing battle scene, though I was sat here for over an hour and my head was humming like a swarm of bees. I beg your indulgence.

  3. #23
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor

    Should have had some screenshots

    just kidding

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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor

    Quote Originally Posted by ybbon66 View Post
    Should have had some screenshots

    just kidding
    Nah, I'm too awesome for screenshots. Actually I'm just lazy and awful at taking photos...unlucky.

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    Boustrophedon's Avatar Grote Smurf
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor

    I'm in love with this AAR sob sob

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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor

    Quote Originally Posted by Boustrophedon View Post
    I'm in love with this AAR sob sob
    Praise such as yours (if a little extreme ) makes an AAR worth writing and I can only give my sincerest thanks and continue writing for your delectation and that of the general populace.

  7. #27
    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor




    Interlude III - Servant of Rome - Summer 567 A.U.C


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    “Well...is it not magnificent?”

    I had been summoned to join Sextus in the Temple of Zeus, although I was unawares as to why, the campaign had not yet finished and I was a simple mercenary and no different from any other. I assumed it may have something to do with my taking of the head, but it turned out that I could not be more wrong.

    “It is,” I replied to his question, “princeps.”

    “Ah, princeps,” he chuckled and, for an instance, his face seemed youthful once more, “tell me Marcus, do you know what princeps means?”

    I thought for a moment and nodded “it means first man or citizen,” this appeared to placate him until he opened his mouth and gave another short bark of laughter, “it means I lead the Res Publica as its figurehead and hold the office of propraetor as long as those old fools in the senate say I can!”

    I must have looked a little confused because his features seemed to soften, and he beckoned me closer so that I could view the Olympian Zeus in all its bejewelled glory. I tell you now, I have never seen a sight such as it in all my lifetime, and I have seen many things, but when you stand before the statue of Zeus at Olympus then you may as well be standing before the feet of the god himself.

    “Marcus, can you read?” He questioned, an already wrinkled brow wrinkling yet further, clearly his mind was thinking of more than one thing at once and one thought was weighing heavier than the other, “no princeps, I am afraid I cannot read nor write your spoken words”, I replied with what I hoped was an earnest smile.

    “Anakletos!”

    There was a slight rustling of robes before a man emerged, tall and well-built, but with the greying hair of an distinguished elder, his blue eyes looked me up and down quizzically before he turned to give the first citizen a small nod of respect but no more than that. His attire showed him as a man clearly of comfortable means but in no respects extremely wealthy, a simple grey chiton of coarse wool covering his otherwise naked torso, his feet and hands clearly calloused from constant walking and some other trade which I could no divine.

    “This...is the barbarian you wish me to teach, princeps?” The tutor spoke in Greek and I could not understand him but got all I needed to know from his gaze, “yes Anakletos, teach him your own language as well, it may prove useful in the future.” The taller Hellene gave another short nod and left us in the silence of the temple once more, the great sky-father Zeus looming over us.

    “Anakletos is a Greek from Pisa,” Sextus confided in me, “he can be stubborn and is not as open to 'barbarians' as I am but, if you take in everything he has to say, you will be well prepared for what I am going to ask of you.”

    For a moment I thought I had misheard him but, as if reading my thoughts, he gave a clear shake of his head and smile pensively.

    “Yes Marcus, I need you,” his smile warped into a grimace and he rubbed a hand against his furrowed brow, “I am a hated man, Marcus, hated by all within the confines of the Res Publica. It was always outside these self-made borders which my father told me to look for support. That is why I need you to be able to deliver messages for me, to your own people, to any other people you may come across, those warlike peoples who would fight for me and the Res Publica as you do now.”

    I was about to speak and, again as if knowing what I was going to say, he raised a rough hand to silence me.

    “You are thinking of the auxiliary regiments being recruited and trained in Aegyptus, yes?” I nodded in silence and he went on with a sigh, “yes...well...we need men to fill the rank and file of these regiments or we will have none at all. Civilised Greeks and Iberians are no good for such tasks, which is why we need men like you and those Illyrians to keep a fighting spirit within the army. Something those fools in Roma do not seem to understand.”

    It was then that I put to him the questions that had been plaguing me for so long, echoing nearly exactly the words that Breucus had put into my mind, asking him if he truly believed in Rome destiny to rule over and bring the light of civilisation.

    “I believe we Romans have a destiny to fulfil, yes. I believe that we should respect and treat well those who come into the fold of their own accord, and utterly crush those who choose to resist us with force. They who come into the fold and align themselves with the Res Publica, serve us faithfully, and put their body and blood in our hands, would never have anything to fear from us. All they need be are servants of Rome.”

    Our meeting ended there, Sextus telling me clearly what he expected of me, I was to be a messenger and a herald and spread the word of good father Jupiter Optimus Maximus, his protected people, and his Res Publica protected by his divine power. The Res Publica founded by Romulus and Remus, fathered by Mars, creating a race of people inured to war and ever ready to expand their borders. I wondered for many months on how to do this, knowing what I knew of the Romans, but I was not sure how...is it better to be a servant than be dead without being a slave?


    **********


    My time in Olympia was well spent, the sanctuary and site of the famous Olympic Games, a Hellenistic tournament of epic proportions, being very much to my liking. The temples of marble and stone, the altars and statues, yet there was something not quite right, and that was the utter silence.

    After the taking of the sanctuary-city, somehow going unnoticed by myself, the male population who could wield weapons were taken into slavery and exported to the gods knew where all over the Res Publica, the same being made of fertile seeming women and those without children. It would transpire in the future that the Romans planned to bring over a number of Romani colonists and discharged veterans, certainly those who would enjoy a good life in a god-blessed polis such as Olympia, and implant them in the wake of those poor Olympian fools who now resided elsewhere.

    This was how I came upon the one who would bear my child, a now Greek slave, and the mother of my sons.

    Her name was Eunike, meaning 'good victory', after the goddess of that same name, a rake of a thing and really not much to look at but a women that captured my attention immediately. I am not certain what it was or how she did it, her looking like a mongrel dog, unwashed hair hanging limply over her face and dirt plastered over her face and body, but she ensnared me so much that I could hardly leave her in her current situation. To this end I went to Sextus and promised to be his man, if only her would relinquish the girl to me, a bargain on for his part, one slave-girl for the as-good-as-promised allegiance of an entire tribe.

    “Can you understand my words?” I asked the first time I took her inside my tent, her eyes staring up at me definitely, grey and at that moment like an ocean with a storm upon it, “yes...I can understand.” I had been speaking in my mother-tongue and so you can imagine how much this took me aback, but she continued speaking apparently without thinking, “my father was a Thrakian from the Dolonki, a tribe in the Thrakian Chersonese, your speech is not so different from his own.”

    She told me of her father, how he had been a warrior and slain by the Odrysai, her mother, also a Thrakian, taken by that tribe and never heard from again. Eunike was sold to a Grecian slaver-trader when she was very young and could not even recall her 'true' name but remembered her native language well enough to converse with myself and Breucus, when he finally dragged himself away from the drink and whores.

    That very same night, hot and fervid in temperature, we rutted like beasts within the walls of the borrowed Roman tent and swore that there would be no other. This we swore and this promise we kept, I refusing to join my Pannonian friend in his whoring and Eunike remaining under the protection of myself and by association the princeps of the Res Publica.

    Needless to say, I slept soundly that night, dear reader, and it was to be the best nights rest I had for quite a few years to come.

    - M.Laenas

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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor



    By Order of the Senate!, Part I - Winter 567 to Summer 568 A.U.C



    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Life, as they say, is a precious thing, and I would be most inclined to agree with whoever 'they' are.

    By the summer season of 568 Ab Urbe Condita, the Seleucid Empire, an enemy that Roman forces had not even fought in the field yet, and the Pergamites, one that had always been defeated, had both declared a ceasefire with the Res Publica. On the island of Krete the I Cyrenaica had landed and laid siege to Kydonia in the north-west of the isolated landmass and, in the lands of the Argives, the ancient polis of Argos was taken by a force of Illyrian irregulars and more Greek slaves sent to every corner of the Res Publica to tutor young Romani in the Grecian traditions, customs and culture.

    Perhaps better news was that, after eating everything in sight for nearly over nine months, and after a rather mild stay in one of the many ramshackle villages that had sprung up around Olympia, my emancipated slave-wife Eunike gave birth to three children, two twin boys and a girl. All three were beautiful and healthy children, each squalling as they came into this world, the two boys nearly identical but for a pinkish birthmark that looked more like a rash on the inside of ones right forearm. It was, perhaps, the happiest time of my life and you, my dear reader, cannot know exactly what I felt to behold those tiny bundles unless you too have been or are the parent of a child, full grown or otherwise.

    Eunike had to rest after her labour, I remember her breathing was shallow but she looked, physically, none the worse for it. It took a week for her to recover entirely and the arguments we had between us could have put Zeus and Hera to shame! Why women act so irrationally sometimes I cannot say, what I can say is that it is our duty as men to stand beside them even in these difficult moments and be the soothing water to douse their hot-blooded flames.

    I was twenty-seven cycles old by this point in time, my bride and now mother to my children only slightly younger, but neither of us were truly Roman or Greek citizens, though we both held names given to us by both peoples respectively. As such we named our children in the manner of the Thraco-Dacian people, the boys named Bólinthos, after the wild bulls which live in the Messapian mountain range, and Diuzenes meaning 'born of Zeus' for truly our many prayers at the sky-fathers temple had been answered when he was born, and lastly was our most pleasing daughter Arzas which simply means 'white' and she was named so because of her locks of almost-white hair.

    But all this was to be tarnished, tarnished by the eventful death of someone who you could say was quite close to me but to who I would eventually keep a promise...


    **********


    Officially, the death of Sextus Fabius Maximus, scion of the venerable patrician Fabii, and former princeps of the Res Publica, was put down to natural causes at the age of sixty-three. There were rumours immediately after, and still today, that the princeps was murdered by someone close to him and, although even I cannot be certain who, I do know that his death was anything but natural.

    It was a storm-ridden night, a storm-ridden night that I would not soon forget, a storm-ridden night which was a perfect night for a perfect murder.

    Sextus was alone in his praetorium, except for the presence of myself that is, the rain thumping down on the canvas above my head and causing the usually snooty-but-fair old man to become quite irate as he scribbled something on a piece of papyri before him. What he was writing, exactly, was connected with me in the most personal of ways in that it was a letter of recommendation to any future, Roman, commander who may or may not seek to have my services in their regiment. It spoke of me, I found out a bit later, glowingly and in the best terms, stating that I was an 'educated savage' and had already taken gallant action in battle against a superior enemy. I took the parchment, rolled up and slotted into a waterproof carrier, with its signature and mark, and, after bowing low, I then exited his tent to go and reacquaint myself with my wife and my new family. This would not be, regrettably, how it would turn out that storm-ridden night.

    Just after leaving my overall commanders tent, dressed only in a now sopping wet tunic and my Gallic cloak, I espied a figure detach itself from the shadows of another nearby tent and, my suspicions suitably piqued, acquired my own lookout spot where I believed I could remain unseen. The figure waited a few moments, pausing in between tents, its (for I could not be sure of the sex) movements certainly not that of a messenger come late in the night or of a servant bringing his master a midnight wine, no, the shapes motions were always slow and ever-so deliberate. After waiting a few more minutes, the shadowy phantasm slipping without a sound between the folds of the tent-flap, I wondered where the guardsmen were and why someone had not come to check on their princeps by now.

    So, grasping the hilt of my sika, I started forward at a low crouch, my heart pounding in my ears and my breath coming out in laboured pushes from my lungs, or so it was until I heard the quite emasculated scream from inside the praetorium. Heedless of anything else, I launched myself head-first into the tent, my head hitting the flaps before the rest of my body, my sika flashing in the light of the tents torches, a lithe character clad in dull brown from head to toe, hooded and sinuous, hunched over my erstwhile master with an already bloodstained blade poised for another strike.

    With an undulating war-cry I threw myself into the attack, but the assassin was too quick, leaping across the piece of furniture to their back and, with a swift cut through the canvas to the rear of the tent, dashing away into the night, leaving me with a blooded body and a very serious problem. Eventually I decided to tell my tribunus, bodily lifting the corpse of Sextus Maximus, his head lolling back to expose the carmine furrow from one side of his throat to the other, and carrying him out into the storm and all the way to the tent of Spurius Laenas. I was stopped with efficiency at the door of his tent by two of my own countrymen, relieved of my burden, and sent on my way with making a report or even getting to see the equestrian whose command had been effectively usurped by some political general hoping to make a name for himself.

    Ever since the report came out from Praefectus Trigeminus, mere days afterwards, that Sextus had died in his sleep and that there had been a number of reliable witnesses...well...my sleep was impeded considerably and every day I believed a group of praetorians would be knocking on the door of my humble dwelling, coming to slaughter me and the children and rape my wife into madness. This, praise be to the gods, never happened. This subject was never discussed with me and, if I ever attempted to speak with the tribunus or prefectus, I was simply told that they were busy with important business. I may have been a favourite of Sextus, but now I was back to just being a rather intelligent Dacian with a family and a Greek tutor, yes, Anakletos was still with us and, no, from that day forth he would never leave either.


    **********


    In the Romani season of Quintilus, the seventh month in their calendar, on the day of dies Veneris, Decimus Fabius Maximus, until this time stationed in Lilybaeum in Sicilia, was proclaimed as the replacement for his father by an almost unanimous vote by the senate of Roma. Decimus, unlike his father, was loved by the senate, the army and the plebs, so his position was quite secure from both his own and other families. So that he had one, and so that the senate could not interfere in his affairs after his death, Tiberius Aurelius Lanatus was proclaimed as his successor should anything happen to him. Although this was quite an unprecedented manoeuvre by the reasonably mild-mannered Decimus, the senators agreed without a quarrel, seemingly having had enough of unloved leaders and whisperings at court.

    Almost immediately the much-loved Decimus began to make changes, first planning an invasion of Pergamon, legions from the east and the west being pulled together and assembled around the Hellespont and taking positions close to the southern border of Pergamon in formerly Ptolemaic territory. The troops currently active in Greece were also to remain as they were and complete the campaign, while three legions, the X Fretensis, XIII Gemina and VIII Augusta, were all to be raised in the individual provinces.

    I cannot tell you all that much about the naming and numbering conventions of Romani legions, never reliably understanding them myself, so for this I ask pardon, treasured critic. Nor, I am afraid, will I tell you all that much regarding their composition, for you need only take a look in the nearest barracks and I am unerring in my belief that you will be able to discover someone therein whose authority regarding these matters far exceeds my own.

    Decimus, I also discovered, followed the practice of both his forefathers when it came to foreigners, and was already in the process of raising Dalmatians and Spaniards into auxiliary, Roman-trained and led, regiments as well as recruiting and conscripting both horseman and infantry from all the tribes of Thrake as well as horseman from nearby Pannonia, which was presently unoccupied by any Roman troops or civilians but in danger of being overwhelmed by the growing and expanding federation of Dacian tribes.

    Lastly, I tell you, it was to be perhaps the worst summer I had known...for Spurius Laenas was to be recalled to Roma and was ordered, while still at Olympia, to disband his army of irregulars and send them back to their homelands.

    Another story for another page.

    - M.Laenas

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    By Order of the Senate!, Part II - Winter 567 to Summer 568 A.U.C



    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    With Praefectus Trigeminus left in charge of Olympia, Laenas relieved of his command in that city, though whether it was a political move or not is beyond me, we irregulars were free leave or stay as we saw fit and leave Trigeminus with his locally raised troops and his two praetorian cohorts. Of course there was only one place I would be going, and I decided to take Eunike with me.

    You cannot truly, enlightened reader, appreciate the spectacle of Thrake and Dacia spreading out ahead of you onto the horizon unless you go there and witness it for yourself. There are few established roads, or there were, and what people call towns are almost non-existent to the hard fighting tribes of the north, the tribes preferring to live in villages and encampments, making for an especially empty but also especially splendid landscape. The land thereabouts had sometimes been called 'rough', 'rustic' and 'barbarus' but, believe me, it is none of these things to those who know where they are going and what they are doing. As I did, that winter in 568.

    It was cold, I recall, as my family, Breucus, Anakletos and I made our way towards my homeland...about which I should probably tell you a little at this juncture.

    It lays in the mid-south-east of what the Romani call Dacia, near the tribe of the Serri to our south and the Apuli to our north-west and their town of Apulon. My people, those who inhabited my homeland, were proud warriors as much as we were proud anything else and had repelled any number of enemies away from our lands, driving them into the nearby rivers and drowning them there.

    Most of the journey into my homeland I remember not, except that I marvelled at everything anew, as if I had come here for the very first time. Even though I had not, I did see everything with fresh eyes and even my wife and our Hellenic comrade seemed impressed at the lands we passed through, by and around.

    “You see...we come upon my people!”

    I almost yelled to Eunike, sitting right beside me on the front seat of the wagon we had taken from Olympia, along with two horses, her face showing that I had probably half-deafened her.

    There were shouts and yells of alarm as we all, the Greek and my children safe in the covered part of the wagon, Breucus riding alongside us on a chestnut stallion and myself and my wife in the front seat, were targeted by lithe skirmishers clambering up and down the rock-faces on either side of our path. For my walled village was located on a plateau and stood overlooking all the land which surrounded it, entered only by three or four routes which were watched at all times by the men of the tribe.

    “My datan...” I said to Eunike, which means settlement, before I shouted in as large a voice as I could muster, “I am Thiacus, son of Gatanos, of the tribe of Rhatacense of the people of the Dacii and I have come home!”


    **********


    I had taken the wagon and my retinue to the top of the slope upon which my ancestral home rested, the bees kept at the bottom and my homestead halfway up. Breucus stood guard over my family and my newest Grecian servant was being surrounded by the children of the village, stared at oddly, and generally ridiculed. Now I made my way down the path my father had cut into the slope when I was just a small boy, the compact dirt trodden and worn with the comings and goings of so many people, my family having been very popular the last time I was home, breathing in the fresh air of the valleys and trying to make out any movements as I got closer and closer.

    The home I grew up in was a simple affair, as it is with most of the people that the Romani think are uncivilised, being a small round-hut with an opening in the centre of the roof below which a fire was built and around which every activity of daily life took place. Outside was a small, fenced-off, garden where my mother would often work with her hands to grow vegetables and flowers of any type she wished and everywhere else was luxuriant green vale.

    Only when I was close enough to smell a fire, yes, there was most certainly a fire burning, did I notice a hunched figure pottering about the garden as if without a mind of their own.

    “Mother?”

    As if jolted awake, the figure flinched, before turning slowly to face me.

    “Can I help you?”

    The elderly looking woman asked, gone the noble matron I used to know and in her place stood a haggard old woman. The same sharp eyes peered at me as if half-remembering and those wrinkled hands still looked strong enough to strangle someone if they threatened her, a sturdy looking sika also attached to the simple belt which held her dress neatly in place about her waist.

    “Mother...its me...,” I said in the vain hope that she would recognise me, “do you not remember me?”

    She shuffled closer and closer until she stood only a hairsbreadth away, her eyes scanning my face and my own eyes intently, realisation igniting her gaze like a spark lighting a tinder or the flash and powerful strike of a lightning bolt striking a tree.

    “I...I may remember you...”

    Her hands, shaking, lifted themselves to touch my face, causing me to pull away slightly at first but to return instantly afterwards, this was my mother and not some old crone.

    When her hands touched my forehead, moving to either side and slowly moving over my face, it was like rough rock scraping over my own toughened skin and a far cry from how I remembered my mothers firm yet soft hands in my childhood.

    Slowly, before I realised it, I began to weep like a that small child I had been, tears stinging my eyes in a mingling of joy, guilt and pain, deliberately pressing my face into her hands and moving my boy ever closer until I could heart the breath coming from her throat.

    It was as I drifted in and out of my past life and what I had become that she spoke, my eyes held tightly shut as I tried to force my tears back into my eyes, knowing I should have kept a space between us but unable to help myself. Only she did what I had not expected first, bringing her hands down to my waist and encircling me in a hug that only a mother could give.

    “Thiacus, my son, you have returned to us after all these years,” now she too wept openly and looked up into the eyes of this muscular, bronzed, and tattooed warrior who was her son, “but I am afraid you have come too late.”


    **********


    My comrades, I and my mother all sat upon animal skins that night, next to the crackling fire and bubbling cauldron suspended over it, a skin of mead being passed from hand-to-hand and my children each snoring gently in a darker corner of the hut. Overhead a bird softly fluttered to rest on the expertly thatched roof and it was only then that my mother decided to tell me what had happened to Gatanos, my father.

    “It was terrible,” she began in a voice like death, “every day you were gone he seemed to draw further and further into himself. Not only in his mind, but in body also, getting thinner and thinner as the years went on, his hair turning almost pure white and his eyes becoming glazed over if you were ever mentioned.” A short moment of silence followed as she pointed to the path outside the door, “he would stand out there every night and gaze at the top of the hill, into the horizon, willing his son to return and, when you did not, I was forced to deal with your fathers disappointment at what he saw as the ultimate loss.”

    The tears began to come again, the smoke of the fire not helping, my mind wandering and trying desperately to remember my fathers face the last time I had seen it. That was how it would forever remain in my mind. I had not even noticed that my mother had continued speaking.

    “...twelve cycles you have been gone, twelve long years, your father was so proud when you volunteered to follow that Roman. He believed it would make a warrior out of you and, from what your companions tell me here, it did. It is just a shame that Gatanos did not live long enough to see it!” She sobbed and her shoulders heaved but she spoke on through the tears, now looking up at me, her face half-covered in shadow but the other as if covered in a sparkling stream, trickling down her cheek, “I took no other man after your father died, though the gods know some tried, no-one siring any brothers or sisters for you Thiacus. Know that I kept my honour as a wife and as a woman. He was the only man I ever loved.”

    As if without thinking, she stood from the fire and approached me, kneeling down beside me and opening her closed fist to reveal a small pendant, a small figure dangling from the end of it.

    It was Gebeleizis, lord of the skies and god of thunder and lightning, my father often saying that this pendant bought him good fortune and luck in battle. I knew I was to take it and did so, then and there, placing it about my neck and smiling sadly.

    I would stay here a while, but I had to keep my promise to Sextus Fabius Maximus, to rally others of my countrymen to fight for the Res Publica and defend her borders. The gods knew I did not want to do so, having wasted twelve years of my life already away from home, but I had to and there was nothing I could do about it. To this end I took Breucus outside and placed a firm hand on his shoulder.

    “My friend, comrade and, as far as I am sure, countryman. In a few months I shall need to go once more and keep a promise to the last Roman princeps, but you must remain here and see that no harm comes to my children, beloved wife, or ageing mother, do you understand?”

    The Pannonian, his face an unreadable mask, gave a short nod and a deep sigh from his gullet.

    “I will do so, my friend, they will be as safe with me as if they were my own family.”

    I knew at that moment that he was thinking of his own family, not too far away in Pannonia, and me making him stay here while I gallivanted around on a self-proclaimed mission for a dead man. It was at that moment, outside my home on that hill, that happened one of the times that my heart felt heaviest.

    “You are the truest of friends, Pannonian, and you shall see your own children soon enough...but for now let us drink!”

    And drink we did, at least three skins between us, before Breucus retired to a skin nearest the fire and I curled up beside Eunike, placing an arm around her and pulling her close, the smell of her luxuriant hair in my nostrils even as my heavy eyelids almost shut themselves and I fell into a deep but troubled sleep.

    - M.Laenas

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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Interlude IIII - Exodus - Winter 568 A.U.C


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    When I told my wife, blessed Eunike, that I was leaving for a second time my homeland and my village it did not surprise me that she responded much as my mother had the first time. She wailed and she gnashed her teeth, she beat her thin breast, and she clawed at my clothing and begged me not to go, my mother simply standing by with an almost unconscious smile on her lips though it was certainly not one of cheerfulness.

    Now, reader, you must be imagining that only a monster, a best, with a heart of stone could leave their wife and newly birthed family to go on a fools errand in the name of a foreign power and, well, you would usually be right but, alas for me, I was no such beast and my heart was made as much of pumping muscle and flesh as I presume your own to be.

    My eyes did not stop weeping until I was well away from the wooden palisade of my village, down into some unnamed valley in southern Dacia, stopping to dismount from my rugged off-white pony and squatting silently beneath the shade of a tree.

    What feelings overtook me then came upon me like the waves of the ocean, each one more violent as it impacted on the rock of my mind, a roar growing in my gullet and eventually being unleashed in such a manner that birds took flight and a nearby deer bounded off into the wooded surroundings in fright. I howled, wolf-like, at the sky and cursed the gods for my destiny, punching myself in the chest and very nearly about-facing and heading directly back to whence I had come...but I did not. Instead I re-mounted my steed, my eyes puffy and red by this time, feeling like my soul, which would live on long after I was gone, had been torn from my body and flung into an ageless abyss.

    For a week or more I traversed the hill-cropped terrain of the Burridensii, their capital Buridava where I was heading, and every time I attempted to eat something I found myself absent of appetite. Drinking was similar and more than once I regurgitated both in a deluge of half-digested spew, not a pleasant image I shall admit but, clearly, leaving my family and homeland had left me quite unable to stomach anything heavier than a few mouthfuls of water and maybe a handful of watered-oats if I was lucky.

    In Buridava I found both a number of young and middle-aged volunteers, more than happy to fight for a foreign power if it meant wealth and probably fame amongst their own people, as well as information which was to prove useful to know in the future. This information was that a Dacian warlord named Duras, though none knew to which tribe he belonged, was gathering strong support to him from a great number of both larger and smaller tribes and that this was the reason for the expansion of Dacian borders over recent years. It was also said that he would not stop expanding unless he was forced to stop by a stronger power and, as a Dacian, he knew no stronger power than he or the gods themselves.

    Once my business was concluded in Buridava, I continued in the company of my fellow Dacians to a great number of other spread-out settlements, for this was how we lived. It took almost all of the summer and into the winter for me to conclude my oath to Sextus Maximus, that I would gather a number of my countrymen to serve the Res Publica, doing so and sending these men on ahead to find the nearest Romani outpost and request to enlist in their army. I knew that a plan for a Dacian auxiliary cohort had already been put into action before the death of Sextus, and so feared not for my countrymen to go and seek out the Romani by themselves.

    As for my own part, winter was drawing in and, before I signed anything for the Res Publica, I desired to visit my family and either take them with me or ensure their security from harm.

    For I had a feeling, a feeling deep in my gut, and the feeling proved very much to be true.


    **********


    My village burned, figures dancing in the firelight, motionless bodies strewn here and there, breaches were clear in the stockade and the snow that had began to fall melted swiftly in the flames. My gut, I thought then, had been right but would probably get me killed. Yet I had been raised to have no fear of death, even welcoming it, pounding my feet against the side of my pony and forcing it into something quicker than a trot, turning its head toward the blackened gates of the settlement with one hand while my other clutched the handle of my sika.

    No-one guarded the entryway, nor watched the winding trail from either side, my mount easily climbing the otherwise steep pathway into the flaming village, my eyes scanning here-and-there with the swiftness of an arrow shot from a bow. My mind raced and reeled as I took in the sights, the smells, and the sounds of a village nearing the end of its plundering by an enemy who was neither worried nor afraid of discovery as long as they got what they wanted.

    Realising I was within walking distance of my homestead, I slid silently from the back of my pony, giving its rump a sharp slap to send it away, drawing my curved sika one-handed and padding forward before crawling on my belly towards the lip of the hill.

    Peering over the ridge, down into the glen, I saw my home aflame and at least five tattooed figures harrowing another, broader, figure from some distance. They were most certainly afraid of the bigger defender and I knew it could only be Breucus, my brave Pannonian comrade-in-arms. I was at the top of the slope and could not see every detail clearly but I distinctly recollect the moment that made my heart stop for a split second, the spear of one of his assailants darting past his guard to plunge itself into his side.

    “Breucus!”

    I was already on my feet and running by the time the name left my lips, my Gallic cloak of darkened plaid whipping this way and that with my momentum, five pairs of eyes turning to glare at me and Breucus himself slumping to the ground in what had previously been my mothers vegetable patch.

    “Fight me then, you genton,” I jeered at the foremost and nearest warrior, a lithe man with the distinct tribal markings of the Apulii, the word 'genton' meaning simply any piece of meat, “come and taste the edge of my sika.”

    Of course I knew it would not be so fair, suddenly not sure what I had been thinking, that this clearly honourable warrior would fight me man-to-man and request that his fellows back away so that we may duel? Yes, it was a stupid thought but there we go, I may have been twenty-seven years old but I had still only ever been in one battle...though this was nowhere near, and would be nowhere near, a battle. As you shall read for yourself.

    He lunged then, attempting to take off my entire face in one motion, the sharpened edge of his own sika barely missing the end of my nose as I leant backwards and nearly stumbled to the floor. It took only a second to regain my footing but, by then, two of the Apulii were already on me.

    Their already repulsive faces leered at me as they came, every drop of sweat and smidgen of grime visible, their yellowed teeth revealed as they pulled back their lips to growl at me, a sika flashing through the air from my left before I knew what was happening and opening a gash in my upper-arm from which my lifeblood flowed.

    I returned the favour in the most unexpected way I could think of, I went on the offensive. Left and right, across and down, I hacked and slashed at my attacker in an unforeseeable whirlwind of blows which caught him off a balance of his own, my throat bellowing a war-cry as I did so, the fear in his eyes drink-glazed eyes clearly palatable now and the blow that took his life unlooked for even by me. Before I knew what had happened my blade had bit into flesh, blood jetting forth from his throat and his legs giving way from under him as he fell...now there were four.

    The next pair came at me as one, seeking to fell me with both superior numbers and the element of unpredictability, one going left and one going right, armed with axe and sika individually, weapons meant to put the fear of the gods into ones adversary. Their only weakness, as I was to discover, was one inherent in all of Dacian blood, and that was the ability to not work together as a cohesive unit.

    Before the axeman could fully turn my flank, circling about behind me, I back-peddled up the hill and kept the advantage of the higher ground, the other Apulian deciding to break into a sprint with a grunt of derision at his comrade. This was to prove to be a fatal mistake, my sika falling from the sky like a thunderbolt to carve a furrow into his skull, brain and fractured bone dripping from it as it withdrew, the fallen Apulian falling face-first into the mud-like earth of the hillside.

    The axeman had other ideas, his two surviving brothers keeping their distance and watching guardedly, as he decided to assess me before he attacked, feints and whirling strikes designed to weaken me and expose an area where he could strike the killing blow but, when this did not work, he lunged forward and managed to take the sika from my hand with the flat of his axehead. I was now unarmed and crouched low, running shoulder-first into him as he raised the axe above his head, causing him to double over with a whoosh of air and the both of us to tumble top-over-tail down the hillside with me, eventually, landing astride him.

    Knowing there was not much time before his kin decided to attack I tried my hardest to finish him off, swatting aside his attempts to unseat me, my thighs grasping around his ribs and my thumbs plunging deep into the fleshy mass if his eyes, his blows getting weaker and weaker as they thumped against my sides. At length he ceased to move or struggle, my thumbs withdrawing from his sockets smeared in two kinds of flesh, my head whipping up to look at the two remaining raiders through the growing accumulation of snow.

    One I noted, the one who had struck down Breucus with his spear, was no more than a boy only in the bloom of adolescence, the other a man too old to have been in battle. Nonetheless I would finish them and I would do it without remorse or pity. I will not tell you how I slew them, all you need to know is that they perished by my hand and blade and that I could turn to more important matters.


    **********


    “My friend,” my voice came in little more than a whisper as I cradled the bearded head of the Pannonian in my lap, all the fight and strength seeming to have drained from him along with a good deal of blood, “do not go to the gods yet...I still have need of you here...” his eyes flickered open and a grimace came to his mouth, “I knew you would come back Dacian,” he spluttered, “I knew you would see your old friend Breucus again before he passed into the next life.”

    “Thiacus?” I twisted about to glare at the next danger but, to my everlasting thanks, Eunike stood alongside Anakletos and my mother, my children cradled one in each of their arms, “is he going to die?”

    I honestly did not know what to tell her and, as if to say so, I simply shrugged.

    “It is in the hands of the gods now,” taking a look at his ashen face I only hoped they would spare him, “go and find something to carry him on and be careful. We are leaving this place of carrion and I am going to take you all somewhere I know you will be safe.”

    This was how my family came to cross the borders of the Res Publica, a small wagon on its way to Mediolanum and an enlistment, for myself, into the Roman auxiliary. As for Breucus, well, only time would tell.

    - M.Lanaeas

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    Into service... - Summer 569 to Winter 571 A.U.C



    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Travelling for quite some time, hiding if we had to and making sure Breucus was still alive, we eventually reached the border between Illyria and Gallia Cisalpina. The municipium of Patavium, a thoroughly Romanised settlement and base of the legio X Gemina, was the nearest place of succour and so, after such a long travel, it was there that we remained for over a year.

    News came thick and fast during that time and it is here that I shall recount some of it to you, dear reader.

    Legions were being mobilised all over Hispania as well as irregular forces, the recently appointed princeps electus, Titus Lanatus, commanding one of these himself and being ordered to take control of all the forces gathering around the Hellespont in preparation for the Pergamite campaign, which would hopefully see these meddlers wiped out. In a similar line of thought, the poleis of Thebes, Korinth, Kydonia and even venerable Sparte were taken from their inhabitants without even so much as a drop of blood on either side.

    A potion of each cities inhabitants were taken as slaves, and soon the markets of Patavium were flooded with Grecian flesh for the choosing. It only took one look at the elderly Anakletos to put me off purchasing a Greek slave of my own, Anakletos emancipated by his owners death, my family only needing one Greek tutor after all.

    Not only this but, with this, came too the end of the resurgent Spartan coalition and the utter ending of one of the greatest powers in the history of our age. Needless to say that Spartan slaves were the most highly sought after, the highest price I ever saw fetched being three gold aurei, a currency rarely used from day-to-day, but apparently the kind of price a disgraced Spartan homoioi would bring. What this ferocious but downcast warrior was taken for, I know not, all I can say is that I hope his life did not end too soon.

    All across the Res Publica professional legions were being raised, some with titles such as 'Augusta' or 'Ferrata', made up mostly of Italic citizens, whether colonists or those bought from Italia by other means, distinguishing them from the multitude of Res Publican legions raised from provincials gifted with the coveted citizenship and even now preparing to march on Bithynia and more Greeks. These legions were equipped in various manners, armoured too, each a fighting force of heavy infantry trained to the highest standards, even those such as the III Gallica, raised from native Gauls, were excepted amongst their dignified ranks due to their discipline, training and loyalty to the Res Publica.


    **********


    It was the summer of 571 Ab Urbe Condita by the time we left Patavium, any money we had between us swiftly spent during our stay there, our small group now being down to its last denarii.

    Before we left the Romanised settlement, I sought out an officer of the X Gemina, told him of my background, and informed him of my objectives.

    With a look of half-disgust and half-amusement, not at all of warmth or friendliness, he told me that the first cohors Dacica et Gallorum was being formed inside the barracks of Mediolanum, those Dacian volunteers I had sent ahead apparently being mingled with Cisalpine Gauls of the Insubres, Ceonmani, Boii from Bononia, Veneti from Patavium, Taurinii and a number of others who, like the Dacians, preferred to fight for glory, honour and wealth alongside Romani rather than their own people. I did not thank the utterly disagreeable man for his assistance.

    Taking a perfectly built, and straight, road through the lands of the Venetii and the Insubrii, we soon came upon the sturdy looking stone walls of Mediolanum in our creaking wagon.

    Towering above us and topped with soldiers it was an imposing sight, my eyes stretching upwards from beneath my brows to see the top, the implacable and reinforced gates ascending before us as we crested the horizon and descended into the valley in which the commercial hub of a settlement sat.

    All around, as far as the eye could see, were vineyards, fields full of golden grain just waiting to be harvested and swineherds pushing forward their charges down the road before us. It was truly a spectacle of equanimity and lawful blessedness, a stark contrast to my own lands of origin, a twinge of guilt rising up in me as I though about it.

    The guards at the gate, legionnaires with feathers protruding from their helmets and the features of native Gauls, paid us no heed and let us through with the rest of the traders and herders of the day. I leant down from my seat and kindly asked one of them where I may find the barracks, this legionary only too happy to direct me, my appreciative thanks going with him as I slanted my wagon away in the direction of the road given.


    **********


    “I told you, I want to enlist!”

    The man to who I was speaking, a muscled Gaul with a fine moustache, dressed in Roman armour and bearing Roman weapons, simply shook his head at me again and would not allow me to pass. He kept speaking to me in his own tongue and I frankly had no idea what he was saying,

    “This is getting ridiculous,” Breucus intoned as he came to sit beside me, the Greek and my family huddled in the back of the wagon, the Pannonians face a little gaunt but his strength returned after the ministrations of a good doctor and a nice long period of recuperation, “let us just take off his head and make our way in that way?”

    “That would not be in your best interests...gentlemen.”

    Another figure, his horse near inaudible even on the cobbles of the barracks interior, gazed down at us from his four-cornered saddle. He was a tall man, his fiery-red hair cut short in the Roman style and his cheeks clean-shaven, though there was something very familiar about both his voice and his eyes, eyes much like my wife, grey as slate but full of something more...something deeper...

    “Droiaebus?”

    I asked nearly at a whisper, my voice full of awe and disbelief, could this be the same Teurisci prince I had spoken to as he was held hostage by my former tribunus? When he cracked a smile, the mask of superiority disappearing from his features, I knew it to be true.

    “You are welcome here, Thiacus of the Rhatacensii, or should I call you Marcus?”

    “You may call me whatever you like, my lord, if you will but let me pass through this gate with my family. We are refugees from my own lands, raped by the bestial Apulii, and I wish to enlist into the force I have come to believe is being assembled here.”

    Nodding slowly, a hand rubbing his chin thoughtfully, the prince gave another smile and looked past me into the wagon. His eyes seemed to change a little, as he beheld those within, but when he looked at me again he was the same Droiaebus once again.

    “Families are not really permitted here, Thiacus, this is a barracks and not a civilian settlement. Nonetheless, I would not want your family to go destitute...if they can find a place suitable for their needs in the city then I promise they will be safe enough and need not worry about visiting you here or you them there.”

    It was a fair compromise, we all knew, and I gladly excepted the terms.

    Together Breucus and I got down from the wagon, handing the reigns to Anakletos, gathering what belongings we had, and leaving our unexpended money with my ageing mother who had never left Dacia before in her life. I told them what had been agreed and, after kissing my wife and speedily growing children, turned back to Droiaebus to continue our discussion. The wagon was turned about outside the gates and haltingly, as if even Anakletos wished to stay, rolled down the city roads and into the distance.

    “Well then,” Droiaebus began, “please allow me to welcome you as decurio praepositus Vibius Rufus Regillus, Roman citizen and sub-commander of the first cohort of Dacians and Gauls, under the overall command of Praefectus cohortis Spurius Popillius Laenas.”

    Clearly the newly minted decurion saw the look in my eyes at the name and nodded with a grin.

    “Yes, Laenas. After they summoned him back to Roma they decided that his expertise with natives was just what they needed, demoting him somewhat, and placing him in command of a newly levied auxiliary cohort. Even in his old age the buggers still an obsessive drill-master. Well, lets get you two integrated.”

    A few words by the decurion to the now sour-faced Gaul, in his own language, and we were permitted entry, our meagre belonging slung over our backs in roll packs of animal skin and our old lives outside of the Roman army soon to be changed forever.


    **********


    “Sign on this line or mark your mark, its all the same to me.”

    The irritable ex-legion centurio sat behind his desk in the 'long barracks' and waited for barbarian after barbarian to make a scribble or write his name, most not being able to write so choosing the former, which made me chuckle to myself even in spite of his annoyance. Now that I was holding the quill I decided that I may as well use what Anakletos had taught me, inscribing my Roman name on the dotted line of the twenty-five year contract in as flowery a hand as I could muster, the centurio glaring at me as if I had just pissed on his mother.

    “Well now, my lord, clearly an educated savage you are. I must remember to mind my manners around you. Now get out of my sight!”

    It was only one of the many digs I had had to endure during the long months that myself and Breucus had already been here, Dacians and Gauls keeping themselves to themselves during lulls in our training, of which I shall tell you forthwith, and neither assemblage looking all that pleased to be in the presence of the other.

    During our first month, my Pannonian companion and I had been given a standard-issue tunic of white wool, as was every other recruit, a pair of caligae to wear on our feet and red woollen scarf, called a focale, to tie about our necks. At this time we were given no other equipment or dress and our own, including my scavenged cloak, was taken away to the storehouse and put under lock-and-key.

    Training began early every morning, constant drilling under the watchful eye of our praefectus and his subordinate officers, centurions from the legions and tribal aristocracy mostly, instructions given out only in Latin and anyone who did not comprehend them was quickly and routinely punished on the spot. Wooden gladii, weighted so as to be heavier than the real thing, were handed out to some while others of us were made to learn the Roman way of war, that was marching and fighting in formation. Others were taught how to dig trenches, erect ramparts, or other more 'engineering' tasks and, lastly, those doing none of the above went often on route marches through the hills, mountainous terrain and woodlands all around Mediolanum.

    Needless to say, this was hard and hot work, men fainting from exhaustion and heat, some simply too weak for this lifestyle, others getting on the nerves of the Roman officers and being whipped for their insolence. I remained in the background, a nameless soldier, while Breucus caused a little more trouble to those who tried to train him to be like a Roman. We also each had to take a Roman name, one which would be used to address us, and which we would use to address each other, for as long as we remained in service. Most chose one name, some chose two, but only citizens could choose three.

    One day when I was outside in the scalding sunshine, my brow dripping sweat and my tunic drenched in it, my arms burning and weary from stabbing a thick pole of wood with an overweight gladius, our praefectus assembled us, all eight-hundred and twenty-four of us, in the barrack-yard so that he may address us, it was an address I would remember for a long time.

    “Men,” he began in a voice as clear as water, strange given his wrinkled and white-haired appearance, “I have disturbing news which I must deliver. A similar address is being performed to all legions and cohorts within the Res Publica and this is it.” He gave a cough to clear his throat and continued, “months ago we received news that the Dacian known as Duras had seen fit to wage war upon our allies in the lands of Germania. This confederation of tribes had always been loyal allies of ours and it was with deepest regret that our great leader, Decimus Maximus, declared Romes support to be on the side of the aggressors. Now it would appear that we made the wrong decision, forcing the hands of the Germanii even, a confederation of tribes including the Semnones, Marcomannii, Quadi and Cherusci joining together with more eastern peoples, among them the Teutones and Cimbri, to put themselves as clients to Duras and his own union of peoples.”

    At these words many of the Dacians amongst our ranks probably could not have been happier, not seeing the problem with one of their own subjugating another people, not realising truly that they were in the service of Rome now and therefore could one day be called upon to fight loyally against their own kin.

    “War could well be upon us in the oncoming years,” continued Spurius, “and you could be called upon to fight your countrymen as well as those Germanic brutes.” It began to sink into the minds my brethren now and there were small shouts if dismay, quickly silenced so that our commander could continue, “you have all sworn oaths and you will uphold them or, gods help me, I will decimate your ranks myself. Prepare yourselves and train hard, Roma victrix.”


    **********


    So we trained, we trained hard and without pause, knowing that, at any moment, we could be called up to defend the nation that we had signed ourselves away to. It was a hard life but that year, as a mere 'tiro' or recruit, we were supposed to be treated like horse excrement...and we were. In the course of time we began to be able to march in step, our bodies becoming more muscular and filled-out, good food and training seeing to that, our two peoples mingling together as we learnt to be a combined unit, our esprit de corps rising to the heavens with every task completed and every level or training achieved.

    Were we ready to fight? Would we survive if we did? Against the brutal Germanii, our own people, or even the Gauls to the west?

    All these questions we did not know the answers to but, in the years ahead, I believed we soon would.

    - M.Laenas

  12. #32
    TheJim's Avatar Taihō no heishi
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor

    It's a story rather than an AAR since I get the impression you're not actually playing, and since there is no Action After which to Report, I guess it's not really an AAR. Still, riveting stuff, very well written. + Rep

    Jim

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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor

    All AARs are stories. This is just a proper one.
    AARs with pictures are proper ones too, of course. I just mean, this is a proper story rather than a great AAR with story aspects to it. I'd like to see it in the MAARC.

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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor

    @TheJim: I am most certainly playing, my view is just consigned to a singular unit of Dacian and Gallic auxiliaries at the moment, focusing even more so on one character within that unit.

    I've added in interludes to show more "story-like" parts but, believe me, when Greece and now Pergamon are being invaded, I'm playing the battles and I'm controlling what goes on.

    I could just invade Gaul, Germania, Dacia and the lands of the Boii but that surely wouldn't make for a good story.

    Oh, lastly, you'll get plenty of action...once one of the aforementioned nations decide to step onto Roman soil!


    @Diomedes: Thank you...I think. I'm not sure what the MAARC is but I'll look into it.

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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor

    It's the Monthly AAR Competition, check the stickies.

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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor

    Quote Originally Posted by Diomede View Post
    It's the Monthly AAR Competition, check the stickies.

    I may just do that, thanks Diomede!


    Oh, and, just to assure everyone (and TheJim ) , the events of the game influence what happens to my character, which is why it seems so much like a story. I have added story-telling elements to it but, as the Romans, I am still in direct control of what happens to the Republic and what course it takes.

    For example, if the auxiliaries I've recruited under Spurius Laenas in Mediolanon were to be wiped out in battle, in-game, then this AAR would end prematurely because Marcus/Thiacus would be dead along with it.

    Wives, comrades and countrymen are all added in but Spurius, Sextus, Decimus etc are all proper Roman family members/recruited generals and, yes, I am controlling the invasions of various peoples lands.

    So sit back, relax, pour yourself a cuppa and, if you can live without pictures, enjoy this story-like AAR as I would like it to be enjoyed.

    Kindest regards to one and all,

    McScottish.

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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor

    You're welcome. I don't have the writing skill (or rather, the confidence probably) to start an AA of my own but I read just about every one, in the Eras forums at least.

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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor

    om
    Quote Originally Posted by Diomede View Post
    You're welcome. I don't have the writing skill (or rather, the confidence probably) to start an AA of my own but I read just about every one, in the Eras forums at least.
    I think you should certainly consider writing one of your own then, you can't be as bad as some of the really awful AAR's on here. Just pick a nation and go-go-gadget writing skills.

    @TheJim: If you simply meant that, from my writing, you don't get the impression that I'm actually playing, then that's cool too. Sometimes my writing can be a little too story like.

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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor



    Pergamite Blood and The First Patrol, Part I - Winter 572 A.U.C to Winter 574 A.U.C



    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    As is the fickle nature of 'uncivilised' nations, my own included, it was not long after such a warning and portent of doom that the Germanic tribes, realising that their chieftains had made them subjects of the Dacians instead of equals, ousted their former headmen and regained their independence from my countrymen and this inspiring unifier, Duras. This took pressure off of the Res Publica, Decimus now free to focus his attentions on his political aspirations and his ongoing campaign against the Pergamites.

    Over the next few years, training day and night myself, I was to hear many things about this illustrious campaign and genuinely wonder if I were ever to see another battle before my twenty-five years were finished. Names of places and people, Athenaois and Titus Metellus in Lydia, Tiberius Paetinus against the ruler of the Bithynian Kingdom and others were to be spoken at me and I would simply nod. These events were in Asia Minor, far removed from my sphere of life, and the places and people spoken of were just blank pieces of slate in my mind.

    I was fortunate enough, during the closing seasons of my basic training, to come into contact with a discharged veteran from that campaign. Gaius was his name, a legionnaire formerly under the command of a very popular general named Tiberius Praetextatus, discharged honourably from service thanks to the severing of an arm from his torso by a Thrakian rhomphaia during combat.

    It was the winter of 574 Ab Urbe Condita, my cohort having been moved to an auxiliary fortress in Gallia Cisalpina in 572, near enough to Mediolanum for leave but not within marching distance unless you happened to acquire a mount, the man was hungry and, as I was on guard duty outside the gates, I offered him some of my breakfast. It was simple porridge but the hungry man took it greedily, spilling some down his already dirtied tunic as he ate, handing me back the wooden bowl when he was finished and promising to tell me a tale of his time in Lydia and most especially the Battle of Sardis in which he had taken part. So, after both taking a seat and with nothing else to do, I pulled by cloak tight about me and urged him to go on.

    “We was besieging Sardis you see, me and my brothers of the IV Macedonica under Praetextatus, a Greek by birth see, when all of a sudden this Pergamite called...what was it...Aristarchos it was...comes up behind us with an army and sure sign of reinforcement from the inhabitant of the city too. Well, says Praetextatus, we shall go and defeat these fools on their own turf and show them what Romans can do!” After scratching a hand through his hair the man continued as if he had never paused, “after marching a few miles the enemy found us instead, me and the lads taking position atop a hillock and forming a quadratum, the natives we had with us, Gauls and Greeks, staying inside the formation with the general.” I offered him some water, which he drank gratefully, the water nearly freezing his gullet in our cold climate but his eagerness to tell his narration unabated.

    “This Pergamite general had all manner of warriors in his army, from what I saw that is, Thrakians an Khaldians, even Skythes an Greeks from all them poleis dotted around the place. Most fearsome of all though were his cavalry, light horse an heavy, an the worse o' them were truly his cataphracts. Silver demons dressed from head to toe in mail an overlapping metal, horses an men both, their bearded masks making them seem like identical daemons from Hades.” His face seemed to momentarily contort into a wince before he regained control over his features, “anyway...me and the lads who formed the face of the quadratum directed at the enemy took the brunt of everything they threw at us. Javelins from Thrakian psiloi, lead pellets from Grecian slingers and...eventually...the charge of the cataphracts.”

    The former soldier leant forward then, so close that I could smell his breath, and looked me directly in the eyes.

    “Listen to me. You will never feel as much fear as you do when a man and beast armoured in metal come bearing down upon you at a gallop, their kontos held ready to strike and only their eyes visible in their helmets, the full weight of an entire wing of them hammering home into your lines and hoping to splinter it like a twig. The only way to stop this is to hold the line, plant your feet, and kill them all...exactly as we did. I saw a man beside me spitted by a two-handed lance, lifted clean off the ground, but I simply closed up the ranks and lashed out at whatever vulnerable parts I could find on mount or rider, hoping against hope to strike something that would bring either one crashing down.”

    He went on for well over three hours, describing to me in detail the events of the battle, how they had fought and, when the sides of the quadratum had spread out to envelope the enemy, their general dead, the Pergamites had fled before Roman wrath. Only Praetextatus had foolishly charged ahead of his exhausted and rather mauled cohorts, losing his life to the expert thrust of a Greek light cavalryman in the heat of combat.

    Once he had concluded his tale, thanking me again for my hospitality, I could not help but feel that I should be putting my training to good use, fighting enemies of the Res Publica, anything! Sitting about in my barracks was not something I considered a worthy task for a soldier of Rome, even an auxiliary, and I knew others felt that way too.

    Little did I know that I would get my chance to fight sooner than I expected...

    - M.Laenas

  20. #40
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor

    Promises, promises! He's going to be an old man before he gets anywhere near a battle - you're just teasing us!

    It's hellish good though, I keep coming back to read more. I'd +rep you but need to spread some around first.

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