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

  1. #101
    Basileos Antiokhos Euergetes's Avatar Pili Prior
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 31/10/2011]

    Nice updates, enjoying this alot.

  2. #102
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 31/10/2011]

    “Alright then, you have your orders, make it so.” Jean Luc Picardius

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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 [Updated: 31/10/2011]

    Quote Originally Posted by ybbon66 View Post
    “Alright then, you have your orders, make it so.” Jean Luc Picardius
    Exactly! Two Trek quotes in there. Good times.

  4. #104
    Ishiyumi no shashu
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 31/10/2011]

    Not been on this forum much while out of town... damn I miss it. great updates in both AARs, McScottish.

  5. #105
    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 31/10/2011]

    Quote Originally Posted by Diomede View Post
    Not been on this forum much while out of town... damn I miss it. great updates in both AARs, McScottish.
    My thanks to thee Diomede, as always your support is most welcome. Just gotta play out the siege of Lugdunum and then I can get this AAR 'moving' again, as it were. I have a sneaking suspicion that this could, possibly, be the first Roman defeat in decades. We shall see...

  6. #106
    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 31/10/2011]




    Another Day, Another Victory – Winter 586 A.U.C


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    “...so then the woman looks down at it, her eyes wide with amazement and says, “why Jupiter, I did not know you were a Jew?!”

    Dizas telling his silly jokes, making all in our small circle laugh, caused no end of sore sides and tear-sodden eyes and was probably the highlight of quite a few days and nights. His joy and enthusiasm for life, his eager relish for it, were exactly what was needed in these cold and dreary times, as we sat just out of bow-shot from the high stone walls of Gergovia, an ever looming menace which eventually we would have to face. Those walls, or the men manning them at least.

    “How would you even know a Jew, Dizas, you who have never even been to Syria!” Laughed one of the Thracian decurions from our cavalry escort and reinforcements, “you speak so much horse dung...but what can I expect from a man of the Tranipsae...” more laughter ensued and Dizas just grinned from ear to ear, his slim face illuminated by the crackling flames in the midst of the blackness that was the Gallic night.

    In the last month, before the onset of winter, a well-loved Legatus named Matho had died doing his duty. He had stormed the stronghold of Lugdunum, battering down walls and gate, cutting his way to the hill-forts central square to confront Cabriabanos of Bibrax only to be cut down by the longsword of this foe and his surrounding horsemen. It was said that, in spite of being over fifty years of age, nearer sixty, the popular commander had taken a dozen strikes by as many blades before finally succumbing to his wounds. His death had not been in vein however, Cabriabanos bound and gagged by the legionnaires of the VIII Augusta and sent to Numerius Maximus near Vesontio and the river nearby for torture and information.

    With our rear now well secured, the VIII Augusta and accompanying auxiliaries of the Romani volunteers garrisoning the hill-fort until a new commander could be appointed, Numerius had moved northward and our invasion forces had mobilised with the determined speed of men bored out of their wits and ready for some blood-pumping action against these barbarous foes. Vopiscus C. Marcellus had surrounded Bibracte, Servius G. Novellus had done likewise to Avaricum, Gnaeus C. Mammula had marched along the coastline to Aginnon and Lucius C. Canina and his Spanish auxiliaries to Lemonum.

    We, the men of Nepos, along with the Thracian horse of Varro and the Spanish peregrini of Gnaeus “the Coward” marched had at once toward Gergovia and our objective here. Whether by hook or by crook, we were to take this settlement which acted as both a stronghold and a rallying point for the otherwise dispersed Gaulish tribes and hold it against any attempt to retake it.

    Traitors, men who sympathised with Roma or simply wished for advancement in the new order, had informed us that only the current 'King of all the Gauls' and a few hastily assembled men of the warrior caste were holding the walls against us. I have no doubt we could have attacked, killing all inside and taking the city forthwith, but our Legatus was determined to starve the old man and as many of his followers to death as he could before he made any move to take the city from its current inhabitants.

    And so this is where I bring my tale to now, having marched into Gallia Transalpina and constructed a ring of simple but effective fortifications and walls about the Arvernian city, to a cold night in the Roman year of 586 Ab Urbe Condita. Dizas telling his jokes and riddles, all our troops mingling quite freely and myself writing and reflecting as I usually did, with my wax tablet and sharpened reed in hand.

    “Tell me,” I announced and questioned aloud, my reed hovering over the tablet, silent and still for a moment, faces turning to look at what most considered the highest ranking soldier sat around the fire, “do any of you miss your homes? You cannot all have joined the Romani after your home nations had been absorbed into their Empire?”

    I received a lot of uneasy looks then, shifting of backsides and bodies sitting on their felled logs and tree-trunks, some men even going so far as to look away or bow their heads so that they did not have to answer. Others, those I assumed to be part of a more Romanised generation, influenced more highly by Latin power as they were, looked both somewhat confused and some even insulted. None though, much to my luck, got up and walked away.

    “You cannot ask that, Centurion,” whispered a Decurion of cavalry nearby, “such talk is prohibited amongst the ranks. We eat like them, speak like them, dress like them and serve them. That is all there is to it.”

    Another man, a long scar running down from his forehead, through the ruin of his eye-socket, and to his chin leant into the firelight with a grimace on his lips. He was only an auxiliary soldier, but older than me and probably wiser, his shaggy head turning to face the smooth-cheeked Decurion.

    “Rubbish, you are speaking rubbish, boy,” he said loudly, “you would probably think that I got this scar from a Parthian scimitar, or a Germanic blade, but I got it from a Roman gladius my friends. The very same swords which you and I now carry. I remember, clear as daylight, the short-sword of a Roman legionnaire striking toward me as I tried to defend my family.”

    Peering closer, my leather harness creaking as I did so, I could see and hear that the man was obviously of Greek extraction but wearing the bright coloured attire of the Spanish auxiliaries. Boiled leather and yellowy cloaks replacing the scale armour and dark cloaks of my own cohort. I had heard of Spanish cohorts serving in Asia Minor, and could only deduce from that that this man had been one of the Ionian or Pergamite Greeks they had been fighting against.

    “I miss my home...” a small voice piped up from across the fire, the face of a curly-haired boy of dark complexion, clearly African origin, peeking from the shadows and allowing all to see, “...my home in the proud city of Hippo Regius. Days spent playing in the streets and working in my families bakery, or at least until I was conscripted to join the same cohort as our scarred friend over there.” The displeasure in his cracking voice was clear, conscription something I knew the Romani to hardly use unless they desperately needed to make up the numbers.

    A sigh escaped from between my lips, chilled hands placing my tablet and reed down to one side of me, only to have them pick up a steaming bowl of stew containing a variety of vegetable and game which I eagerly took a few mouthfuls of. Those few who had spoken had given me a lot to think about, thinking which was easier if I had food in my mouth and heat in my belly. Oh, those who have never been on campaign, dear reader, cannot truly appreciate the value and nourishment of a good bowl of warming, nutritious and taste-filled stew.

    "With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably." I muttered to myself more than anyone else.

    “Centurion Laenas,” came a familiar voice from behind me, it was none other than my old friend Valerius Maximius and I greeted him with a smile, his own face rather grim but a kind hand placed on my shoulder, “best hurry and get your men together, sir. Order from the Legatus, we attack at dawn.”



    **********




    The overcast sky, the shadowed light of the dawn and the snow covering everything as far as the eye could see. It was a rather comforting sight, one that reminded me of my own home far to the east, in the mountainous terrain of Dacia. This slight uplifting note was, however, drowned out by the screeching noise of the other thought that I would never get to see its rugged hills, deep valleys and wide glens again before I died. By sword or by age, my destiny seemed almost inseparably linked with that of Roma and the empire which had been forged in her name.

    As if to put even more of a weight on me, pacing from one end of the line of my centuria to the other, the stone-reinforced walls of Gergovia loomed out of the dimly lit day to taunt me and just as evenly challenged me to either scale over them or break through them. One look to my right, crews heaving back the cranks of their war machines, told me that it would most likely be the second of the two options. Having a number of ballistae on your side in a siege, as I had witnessed only a couple of times, twice more than enough, could mean the difference between defeat and a glorious victory.

    So, in the grim haze we stood, wisps of cloud blown overhead by the stiff breeze that cut men to the bone, and achingly sparse rays of the sun doing very little to heat our frostbitten bodies. Nonetheless, it pleased me to see most of my veterans standing firm and without shivering, other newer men to my centuria not made of such hard stuff.

    Only hours before the siege, during our 'morning' assembly and parade for the Legatus, Nepos had taken it upon himself to organise the survivors of the Second Cohort of Dacians and Gauls into four centuria. These were made up of various smaller units being absorbed into bigger ones, men having been lost to Gauls, illness and the cold since we began the campaign. Now myself and three other centurions, all good men, had overall control of these four centuries and had been ordered to lead them into battle. The Alaudae on the other hand, having not lost even a fraction of our numbers, were not similarly reorganised and instead stood once more marble-still in two lines behind our own single line.

    I was beginning to believe that our distasteful Legatus was punishing all of my cohort for one mans actions, an affront to him and to his ancestors. That man was me, this cohort was my family, and I knew deep down that he was intent on destroying both before this military operation was done.

    We stood in the ever-expanding light of the furthering dawn, the snow glistening off of armour and pilum tips, while the ballistae did there work of pummelling two side-by-side sections of the wall. We waited for over two hours, the snowfall never ceasing or letting up, as specially designed bolts with largely rounded tips, like small iron boulders, battered away bolt-after-bolt and each time removed further chunks of earth from the wall as well as cracking stone.

    When the command was shouted from behind to form testudo I nearly leapt out of my skin, only now noticing that two breaches had been created and we were to advance into fire from the towers nearby as well as the Gods knew what else inside the wall. To get there we would need to scrabble up the piles of earth and stone-shards, half our force going through the most direct breach, the other half clambering through the other one to its right and further along the wall. Only when I moved my own legs did I realise that, standing at the attention for nearly six hours, they had gone nearly completely numb from the knee downwards.

    “You heard the Legatus,” I yelled, turning about as best I could to address my centuria, “form testudo!”

    Getting to my own position, the blood running through my legs again, sharp pains in my legs like hot pokers, my century built up the testudo around me. Man by man, file by file and line by line, until the final command was given and the shields were interlocked as one on every side and above to form an armoured shell that time-tested methods had proven to be near invulnerable to arrows, stones and so forth.

    “For-ward, one, one, one, two, one...”

    The tramping of feet began all around me, beating a familiar tempo across the frozen and compact earth, hobnailed sandals digging gouges out of it and the breathing of my comrades sounding in my ears. Little did I realise that, unbeknownst to me, my centuria was in front of the entire rest of the force whether auxilia or men of the legion. Our pace was carrying us toward our destination, I made sure of that as I looked out from the semi-crescent eye-hole made by my own shield and the one resting atop it, guiding with my words and my body the direction of the formation straight at the breach before us.

    Close enough to spit, the breach was empty...we could simply walk through it and into the city, or so I believed for a matter of moments. All too soon I saw my hopes being dashed away, heads topped with highly decorated helmets of bronze appearing behind the rubble, shortly to be followed by war-trained bodies carrying brightly coloured shields, long wickedly-ended spears and expertly made Gallic longswords. These were no ordinary men and I knew it, having fought their like before. They were the men of the warrior caste of the Arverni, men a king would always have around him, the finest warriors and champions of the tribe and its clients gathered to defend Gergovia.

    Yet still we marched on; missiles rained down from towers to our left and right both, whooping warriors high on the ramparts of the city wall hurling their own projectiles down onto us. Spears, stone, even the odd shield or two ended up hitting and bouncing from our testudo. There was never a moment there when I believed we might break, not one, these were good men around me and some half-starved Gauls were not about to shatter us like a hammer shatters coal.

    No, instead they charged us!

    As a centurion I was required to be in the thickest of the fighting and leading by example, and so I was. I braced my legs while simultaneously unsheathing my gladius and calling for the rest of my century to disperse from formation and form a fighting line. The last order was achieved with a great deal of shoving, hammering into Gauls with full weights behind shields, and with a good deal of thrusting into exposed organs and hacking at unprotected limbs.

    After which we locked our shields together once more, facing the enemy, and began the slow and arduous process of pushing forward into them, this is how the Roman military fought.

    Was it superior weapons and armour that allowed the Res Publica to conquer Hispania, Cisalpine Gaul, Greece and Macedon and Asia Minor? Not really. Was it overwhelming numbers? Partially. The determining factors, however, were the sheer amounts of training, discipline and exercise that the Romani received from the moment they joined the legions. It gave them, for I was still not one of them, a backbone the likes of which none of our enemies thus far had shared with us and probably never would.

    We fought for a good deal of time, blow-for-blow, spears scraping and bouncing off of shields and swords impacting on iron rims. A man to my left thrust forward with his shield, hitting his opponent in the face with the iron boss, his other arm moving like a lightning bolt and bursting through the Gauls guts with his gladius, it was a textbook and precision manoeuvre that was being performed over and over again all along the line.

    To our rear and to our right came our friends and comrades, our reinforcements and our brothers, barging us forward with their weight of numbers and some even moving around our flanks to get at the enemy.

    In a palpable cloud of frustration the Arvernian warriors began to move backwards, keeping their fronts to us at all times, their shields raised and their spears lowered, we men of the Roman army following in their wakes and becoming squashed in between the wall, the buildings within the wall, and by the sheer press of our soldiers against one another. The perfect situation for a Gallic counter attack, I hear you shout, astute reader, and you are not wrong in this assumption either...for this is exactly what they had planned.

    From within the tower to the left of my centuria came the clattering of weapons and the warcries of angered adversaries, mailed Gallic warriors wielding longswords running straight out of the door and into the side of my men and I.

    It was only by pure luck that I managed to only take glancing hit from one of the whirling blades, my head ringing like a bell of worship and throbbing like an infected wound, as I lifted my arm and slammed the iron rim with as much force as I could muster straight into the dark orifice that was my adversaries mouth. Teeth shattered, blood flowed, and bones cracked. My attacker fell to his knees and was swallowed up by his oncoming tribal brothers, each one just as eager or desperate to split 'Roman' skulls.

    Only after the battle did I realise that not all the blood on me was from either me or the enemy we had fought, a nearby auxiliary from my century splashing me with brains and gore as the top of his cranium was taken clean off by the sweep of a longsword. Meanwhile, the sight of blood on snow could have inspired any poet, for myself it was simply another battle with the same outcome.

    Whereas the 'professional' Arverni warriors had retreated to the massive square space outside the castrum of Gergovia, these swordsman were determined to go down fighting. They were pressed between us and the wall of their city, every way of escape blocked, retreating back onto the ramparts would have availed them nothing either, for we would have pursued and we would have slaughtered them still. Nonetheless, they did not retreat, not one step, they held their ground and pinned us, their attackers, in place for the better part of the day. How they achieved this, through sheer willpower or more supernatural means, I cannot say.

    All I can say is that anyone who speaks of the Gauls as cowards and dogs is a born liar, and not worthy of the flapping tongue in their head. These men, defending their homes, families and one another died to the last man without taking so much as a step backwards.

    Breathing heavily, my lungs on fire, I took my helmet from my head momentarily and wiped the back of my hand across my forehead, a streak of mingled blood and sweat staining my hand with a crimson hue. All the while I was looking about me, replacing my helmet to its rightful place, and gathering those of my men that I recognised.

    “To the forum, finish them!” Yelled the Legatus as he rode past with his Aeduean hostage-horsemen, no-one having seen them come through the rifts in the wall it appeared.

    “You heard him,” I said as I straightened up and pointed my sword toward the square, “follow me lads, into death or glory.”



    **********



    By the end of the day we would have both, dead Romans and Gauls, as well as the glory of taking Gergovia from its inhabitants and its leaders. Viridomaros, the king of the Arverni, fifty-seven years of age, was hauled from his saddle by our very own Legatus and beaten unconscious by an understanding legionary. He would be sent, as all the captured Gallic leaders were, to Numerius Maximus at Vesontio and there he would probably die.

    I must be honest, I thought little of it or him after the battle, Catavignos however was not so forgetful and walked about the huge settlement as if reliving childhood memories. It occurred to me that he probably was, having been both part of the Boii peoples and, for a very short time, their Boitrix or king. When he was finished he turned to me, tears in his eyes, and shoved past me to dwell alone in one of the now-empty thatched dwellings.

    As with most other settlements, Gergovia, or at least its people, were enslaved and chained and sent to every corner of the Empire. There they would be gladiators, slaves, cooks, nurses and Gods knew what else. Some may even earn their freedom one day, bitter blood probably forcing them to take action against those who had enslaved them at every possible juncture in their new and woeful lives.

    I heard later, much later, that a large group had been sent to the Galatian city of Tavion, the former capital of the Trocmi and now an equally important place, where they were put to work on building projects and some even hired into 'free companies' of Gauls by shrewd Roman commanders.

    Gnaeus truly was a coward, having failed to reinforce us during the battle, Nepos already on his way to speak with his plebeian counterpart commanding a Spanish legion. I can only guess at what was going to and must have been said, but I can safely say it would not be words of everlasting friendship.

    And, lastly for this entry, the Thracian ala of the famous Terentius Varro, who had seen action in Greece when both he and I were younger men, had ridden northward to construct an auxiliary praesidia or small castra for their ala situated near an important crossroads through mid-eastern Gaul.

    Gergovia was where we would shelter for the remainder of the winter, but that is a different story.


    - M.Laenas

  7. #107
    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 10/11/2011]




    Just Settling In – Winter 586 A.U.C


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The winter of 586 A.U.C was a bleak and cutting one for certain, but not the worst I have ever known, one of the reasons I was even chosen to march into Greece as a mercenary alongside the original Laenas was because I am...or was...a wild and savage barbarian from the bleak and unexplored regions beyond the borders of the Roman Res Publica. As such, the winters in Gaul, mild in comparison, held no hardship nor fear for me. Likewise, the Gauls from the tribes over the other side of the Alpine mountain range named the weather and temperature as only a minor nuisance.

    Those auxiliaries and legionaries from Gnaeus' army, Spaniards the lot of them, shirked it as much as they could and avoided going outside if it was not required of them, oh how I laughed to see how much they detested winter-quarters in a praesidium about five miles march from the former Gallic city of Gergovia.

    Placed atop a plateau and able, as we had seen with the lives of our soldiers, to be held by only a few men where more would have been a burden rather than an asset, the V Alaudae and my own cohort of the Second Dacians and Gauls were well positioned to defend ourselves if it came to that. Regular patrols were sent, daily, down from the plateau to forage and inspect the surrounding countryside for any sign of enemy movement. For a quite a while this was all our hot-blooded Legatus could do, his orders to remain inside and hold Gergovia until other key oppidum of the Gauls had been taken.

    As for myself, I was billeted in a now uninhabited homestead, my position as a centurion granting me a larger share of spoils, better pay, and when on campaign a larger tent or billet than the regular miles of the Roman army whether he be a legionary or an auxiliary man. It appeared that the former occupant or occupants of my new, temporary, possession had taken everything of value with them when they fled and I was left to make my own adjustments because, as I have already said, we were going to be there for quite some time.

    It was not a complicated dwelling, not like the Romanised ones I had seen in Mediolanum, no underfloor heating or grand atrium with a mosaicked floor when one entered. No, far from it, it was actually much more like the home I had known in my childhood years and growing up into a man. It was a simple, but fairly large, roundhouse crafted from wattle and daub and then lime-washed and covered by a rooftop of wooden rafters and reed thatch from nearby bogland. Certain things though the fleeing Gauls had not seen fit to take with them, the wooden frame of a bed for instance, various pieces of pottery, some skins on the floor and even a stool with wooden legs and a leather seat.

    What I beheld in that house, as I had had before in others, led me to believe that the Celtic peoples as a whole, from the Boii to the Gauls, were not as uncivilised and 'barbaric' as the Romani liked to pretend that they were.

    The truth be known, so much about those peoples we invaded and the lands that we gained dominion over was unknown to us. Intelligence on the manner in which our enemy fought, his armament and so forth, were already bad enough, but culturally and in terms of understanding them we were even more blind. I suppose, at that moment, I felt shamefaced and disgraced at my lack of even attempting to understand those that I had been ordered to execute for over two decades for an empire that was not truly mine.

    Outside, beyond the circular walls of my dwelling near the settlements 'town square', the moments of the day passed by without much interaction from myself. Rather I dragged my belongings into the roundhouse, my larger-than-standard papilio tent, my arms and armour, a small box of belongings and off-the-battlefield riches I kept locked away, and made myself rather at home for the long winter period.



    **********



    By the time I had finished placing everything exactly where I wanted it, which I can tell you took quite some time, I had a fire roaring in the central fire-pit of the place and my own blankets and mattress set up over the steady wooden framework of the Gaulish bed.

    When I glanced outside, making sure my cooking pot was steady over the flickering flames, I noticed that all light had receded and there was nothing but the dark curtain of night for my eyes to behold. Like pinholes of illumination in the dusk I could make out other soldiers lighting their own fires, making me remember that I had joined the auxiliary for more than just gold, more than just victory, but because we were all foreign-born brothers and a family as dear to me as the one I had back in northern Italia.

    “Not interrupting anything am I, sir?” Came a voice from the entrance to the roundhouse, “it is just that you sent for me and here I am.”

    Catavignos, his hands covered in dirt and grime, stepped foreword into the firelight and gave his best Roman salute. Needless to say, he hated the Romans and it was sloppy at best.

    “Of course not, please, take a seat on that stool...just cooking up some supper.”

    Twisting my upper body to my left, the rest of it cross-legged on the floor sat on the skin of some dead game, I took into my hand two wooden bowls and slid them apart before placing them before me. I glanced up to see the steam rising from the cooking pot and, inhaling the smell of a meal to come, my mouth began to water.

    “Here, hold this,” I ordered as I handed him one wooden bowl and a spoon,” might be rather hot.”

    The larger wooden spoon I held descended carefully into the cooking pot, and probed the depths of the bubbling broth contained within, its deep end picking up a good sized portion of the meal, like a hand scooping up water, Catavignos holding out his bowl and grinning as the brownish liquid slid into the finely crafted container. A grin that only increased when he dipped in his own spoon, as I filled my own bowl, and tasted my culinary creation.

    “This is excellent, sir,” he said as he took another mouthful, “I never knew my centurion and master was such a fine cook.”

    My face must have looked slightly pained as I replied, “my name is Thiacus, or Marcus, and I am not your master...it saddens me that you still see me that way. I do hope, eventually, to be your friend.”

    Leaning down from the stool so I could hear him better, his eyes filled with emotion, the Boii exile spoke to me with a tone that made my insides turn more than even his words.

    “You, as well as all the others out there, are as responsible for killing and enslaving my people as any other. I wear your armour, learn your strategies, eat with you and drink with you...but I am a Boii, one of my people, and I will be damned before I accept someone in Roman service as a true friend. Perhaps, after we have both seen the end of service in this army, it will be so.”

    Silently he rose from his stool and placed the bowl down in front of the stool, saluting once more, “my thanks for the food, sir, it was delicious. I must see to my duties.” With that he was gone, turning away from me and marching back out into the darkness, leaving me with much to ponder.

    “Ow, by the balding head of Zalmoxis!”

    I remember crying out then, the broth burning the roof of my mouth and a chunk of vegetable, onion I believe, landing with a sizzle in the fire.


    - M.Laenas

  8. #108
    Merula's Avatar Pili
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 12/11/2011]

    Hey mate, i just thought i'd say that i reckon that this story is one of the best i've read in this forum, who cares about pics when the descriptions are just so engrossing!
    I only recently started reading it, and i must say it is awesome, although i am still only up to "the battle of Euboronum" (i really should be studying, but its just so good ) I should be able to catch up to your latest updates soon though, its been a great ride so far though!

    Cheers

  9. #109
    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 12/11/2011]

    Quote Originally Posted by BLIP99 View Post
    Hey mate, i just thought i'd say that i reckon that this story is one of the best i've read in this forum, who cares about pics when the descriptions are just so engrossing!
    I only recently started reading it, and i must say it is awesome, although i am still only up to "the battle of Euboronum" (i really should be studying, but its just so good ) I should be able to catch up to your latest updates soon though, its been a great ride so far though!

    Cheers
    Blip, when a comment like that comes along, demonstrating someone's appreciation and joy at reading what tale(s) I have tried to write...well...I do not believe there is any greater compliment to be had for a writer, budding or otherwise. My thanks to you, and please enjoy all the textual delights that this here thread has to offer.

    Oh, and sorry if it distracts you from your studying!

  10. #110
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 12/11/2011]

    Caught up with the last two episodes, story-telling at it's best. Catching up takes time, but AAR's like this are so worth catching up on.

  11. #111
    Boustrophedon's Avatar Grote Smurf
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 12/11/2011]

    This is still such a lovely AAR I'm curious to see where you go next with this

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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 [Updated: 12/11/2011]

    Quote Originally Posted by Boustrophedon View Post
    This is still such a lovely AAR I'm curious to see where you go next with this
    Indeed, as am I In all seriousness though, not many places I can go with this. Marcus is now 45 years old, in the middle of Transalpine Gaul, with most of the Gallic settlements being besieged by Roman forces after having their military crushed.

    Well...we'll see where it goes!

    Onwards and upwards, I always say.

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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 12/11/2011]




    One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back – Spring 587 A.U.C

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Spring, 587 Ab Urbe Condita, the city of Gergovia in the lower-south of Transalpine Gaul.

    We of the II Cohors Dacica et Gallorum, along with our sneering comrades of the V Alaudae, the larks looking down on us at every opportunity, had been training, exercising and generally preparing for further combat throughout the winter months. The green men of other centuria, that had joined my own, the fourth but most experienced century, had soon learnt that we were soldiers and would take no slacking or indiscipline within our ranks. All of us, from myself to the newest assimilated auxiliary, soon expected to march out into the wide expanse of Gaul once more, north perhaps, and plunge our sharpened and gleaming blades deep into further Gallic flesh.

    This is why I never saw what happened next as even an option, an option engineered by a sly political general who I had spurned in favour of my own woman's touch and demotion along with it.

    It was a clear day, murders of black-feathered crows circling above the city built upon the plateau, men marching this way and that while others rested, and I had been called to an assemblage of all officers in the legio and the auxiliary cohort. Called to the largest building that our legatus, the middle-aged Nepos, had taken for himself.

    The firm thatched structure, containing two different levels to it, and built of hefty and thick logs and beams, had certainly once belonged to the King of the Arverni before he had met his end at our hands. I always knew our legatus would choose to abide here, for him there could be only the finest, and in the oppidum of Gergovia this did constitute the finest.

    As I entered through the large doorway I was met by the heat of the place, as if slapped by a heated glove, warmth given out both by a roaring hearth at one end of the room, as well as by the mass of bodies gathered therein. Every centurion, decurion, optio and other officer of note was gathered around a long table, Nepos sitting at leisure at its head on an expertly carved chair, the rest of us seconded to benches on either side. I took my place near the end of the row without so much as a sound and waited patiently for the catamite fool to begin.

    “Gentlemen, knights and plebeians, and barbarians of the auxiliary,” he waved a hand wide to encompass the room as he stood, a smile stretching across his smooth and unchanging features, “there is news from all around and it is this which I shall give to you first.”

    With a goblet of wine, cut with water of course, in one hand, he stepped away from the chair and stood to his full height at the end of the table, looking oddly like a commander in that moment. His head was bare, his mop of short-cut hair looking well-groomed in the torch and firelight, his torso covered by a simple red tunic and a hardened leather cuirass moulded to his body, his fingers bearing captured Gallic rings as well as a torc clamped about his neck.

    “The third Augusta are moving into Belgica, occupied as it is by the Gallic menace, a cohort of Spanish auxiliaries under a notable officer toward Venetia and the oppidum Cenabum by a cohort of loyal Roman volunteer auxiliaries. Soon every major city of these peasants in their hovels shall be ours and then we can begin to harvest their manpower for our own and tax them thoroughly.”

    Taking a quick glance about, running a hand through my own unkempt hair, I saw many of the Roman officers nodding in agreement and my own comrades-in-arms of the auxilia looking somewhat confused as well as a little peeved at the words of the legatus.

    “Now...news for our...eeer...Dacians here.” He leant forward so that we all could hear, his smile only widening, “your countrymen have gone to war with the steppe nomads of Sarmatia it would seem. Hopefully, as Roman soldiers, you will not object to me saying that I pray they shall wipe one another out, with any luck.”

    There were definite grunts of displeasure and annoyance from the auxiliary officers around the table, some glancing at each other warily, some boring holes into the legatus with their eyes.

    “Not only that, my friends,” he announced with a chuckle, “but it appears that Gergovia is to become the new base for the Alaudae, though we shall still receive reinforcements from Mediolanum.” From what I could tell, this did not seem to come as a surprise to any of the officers from the fifth that were present, “we shall also be recruiting fresh auxiliaries from loyal Gallic tribesmen and therefore have no more need of you Dacians or your damned Insubrians.”

    Now there were open outbursts and curses from the auxiliary officers at the table, even I had to do everything I could not to swear at the legatus, Nepos simply shaking them off and raising his voice instead.

    “You are all to take your kit and anything else, along with enough supplies to reach Mediolanum, with you and to leave Gergovia by three days hence. These are your orders and you will obey them, any man found still here will be executed on the spot. Now get to it!”

    Nepos had revealed his hand, his influence from great riches and vast estates, clients in Roma no doubt helping him to rotate us back to Cisalpine Gaul and out of the current conflict here. He had used us, whittled us down to four centuries of men, forced us into the most dangerous situations and now was only too happy to see the back of us.

    I fail to remember how many curses were cast upon him, or by whom, but I do remember that unlike most of my fellows I was only too happy to leave. My wife, my children, my home awaited me, and one last consolation was that we would be lead home by my old friend Prefectus Vibius Rufus Regillus, also known as Droiaebus of the Teurisci.



    **********



    We left Gergovia in high spirits, yokes over our shoulders and every man of us in fine voice, it was more like a celebration. Truth be told, not one of us was unhappy to see the back of Nepos and those legionnaires of the Alaudae who were just Gauls that believed themselves to be more Roman than the Romans.

    “Kiss me goodnight op-ti-o, tuck me in my little wooden bed, we all love you op-ti-o, when we hear you yelling break a head!”

    […]

    “Its a long, long, way, to Roma city, its a long way...to go...its a long way to Roma city...to the sweetest girl I know. Goodbye Forum Boarium, farewell su-bu-ra, its a long, long, way to Roma city, but my hearts right there.”

    […]

    “Pack all your rations in your old food sack, and smile, smile, smile, while you've some grain for a bit of bread, smile boys that's the style, what's the use of worrying? It never was worth while, soooo, pack all your rations in your old food sack and smile, smile, smile.”

    Yes, we were happy, none more-so than myself, within the year I would be back in Cisalpine Gaul and then back into the arms of my loving Eunike. With Dizas marching in step beside me, a smile fixed on both our faces, we lead our men down the winding road and ever forward. What would become of us once we reached Mediolanum, we did not yet know, but as long as it did not involve Appius Flaminius Nepos, you could dunk me in tar and set me alight for all I cared.


    - 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 [Updated: 26/11/11]




    A Second Homecoming – Summer 588 A.U.C


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    My brothers-in-arms and I returned to sleepy Mediolanum on a warm summers evening, the twilight of the sun glowing red across the horizon, our feet weary and sore from days and days of forced marching and our shoulders rubbed raw from carrying our packs. Yet, we were home.

    “Second cohort of Dacians and Gauls returning to base, as ordered,” I said as I handed our papers over to the sentry at the thick and wide gates of the cities eastern wall, Prefect Regillus watching over the entire process with a look of grim satisfaction on his features. I was no cavalryman, Dacians and Romans both preferring to keep their feet planted firmly on the earth, but I could only imagine that our commanding-officers inner thighs had been rubbed raw by weeks of hard riding.

    “Alright then,” the sentry, a Dacian and an auxiliary like myself, said as he handed back the document and turned to shout up to those faces peering curiously over the ramparts at us, “open the gates! Cohort returning!”

    A shiver of something, though I know not what emotion, went down my spine as the shadow of the gateway overhead covered me and then was gone again in an instant. Leaving me standing inside the walls of the vast settlement, my first instinct to sprint to the homestead of my family but military decorum causing me to slow my pace in front of my men.

    “Farewell for now then, Thiacus. I shall see you soon, take care of yourself.”

    Dizas smiled at me and we clasped forearms, the Thracian gripping mine tighter than I did his, before we both let go and a salute was given to me.

    “All in good time, Dizas, all in good time.”



    **********




    The street was empty as I made my way down it, silent as the grave, not even a cat stirring amongst the sewage and homeless of the city. Everything seemed so much eerier in the darkness, the same inside or outside a city, my studded sandals causing a 'clopping' sound to echo off of the walls at my tread and one hand always remaining on the hilt of my blade. One never knew what lurked in dark alleyways or which cut-throat would seek to prosper by another's misery, dark times, dark places and dark people.

    Before long, straightening only my tunic, torc and cloak, my armour taken by Catavignos back to the barracks for cleaning and repair, I wandered as quietly as I could into the courtyard of my home and began to ascend the staircase which led to the door of the room I shared with my wife. It was when I was about to open the door and step through the portal that I heard the hushed voices, one female and one certainly male, and halted every inch of movement and instead strained my ear to listen in on the conversation.

    “If my husband knew were were discussing this then he would surely have something to say,” I heard Eunike say quickly, “I do not know how I could have done it or allowed it to happen...he may be on campaign now but, when he returns, and he will, what am I to tell him?”

    “Tell him whatever you need to tell him,” came the reply from a voice I found ever-so-familiar but could not place it immediately, “the less he knows the better. It would only anger him greatly if he were to discover it.”

    Having heard enough, I gave up any stealth and instead opened the door as wide as I could and as loudly as I could. Stepping into the room, my sword in my hand, I come across two figures seated at a table across from one another and instantly knew I had made a mistake.

    “Thiacus!” Exclaimed my wife, as beautiful as ever, her hair long and with streaks of white and her eyes reflecting the light of the candle placed between them, “please, put the sword away.”

    Taking another step forward, into the light, I noticed the face of old Anakletos and must have been branded then as the largest fool in all of the Empire. Doing as my wife bid me, I sheathed my sword and took a seat at the end of the table, my eyes going from one of them to the other until Eunike spoke again in a softer tone.

    “I can only imagine that you heard us?” She asked with a quizzical look “and would probably like to know what we were talking about...” I nodded slowly and she smiled at me for the first time since my entrance “...just do not be angry, promise me, and I will reveal all.”

    I promised, resting my arms on the table and still reaming deeply mystified by the entire experience.

    “It concerns the children, all of them I am afraid,” right away I was on edge again but bade her continue anyway, “Arzas has been making visits to the home of an Equestrians son for the last couple of months,” she said in a matter-of-fact tone, “and your sons have both chosen to do separate things. Both wished to join the army, except Diuzenes also wanted to write histories and study other cultures. All are asleep at the moment, as we should be, I think.”

    My head filled with the news but I easily yielded to my wife's wishes, standing and taking her by the hand, she switching and leading me to our bedroom instead. It was a night without love-making, for I was footsore and fatigued, but to be in her arms again and lay next to her warm skin...well...I could only envisage that this was how drinking the nectar of the Gods would feel.



    **********



    “What unit?”

    “I was thinking Thracian horse, father, or a Dacian cohort like yourself,” responded Diuzenes with a grin.

    “And you?” I questioned my other son, “what fine bunch of men would you fight alongside?”

    Bolinthos, dressed in a Roman style tunic and with shot-cut hair, took a moment to ponder before answering.

    “I aim to join the legions when I get the chance, preferably a border one. If I am to join the auxiliary, then I suppose that an Illyrian cohort or a Pannonian ala would suit me.”

    A smile cut across my face and I embraced both of them, each now eighteen years of age, proud father that I was, fully realising that they may get killed in action but refusing to let that dampen their enthusiasm or my hopes for them.

    “Excellent boys, simply excellent. After I am discharged then you shall be made official citizens, and you may join the legions or do as you please.”

    They had both grown into fine specimens of manhood, each taller than most Romans, a blend of my features and those of their mother making them handsome lads. Hard physical training of the body and the mind had forced them into having sharp minds and well-muscled bodies, young maidens already having noticed at least one of them.

    It is truly difficult for one who is not a parent to grasp how I felt as I looked at them, as if I were out in the battlefield but the complete opposite.

    Only a few days later and I was introduced to the young man that my daughter had been getting acquainted with and, after threatening to kill him should he do anything to hurt my daughter, we then sat down for a rather more cordial conversation.

    He was a sturdy-looking young man, one of good breeding it seemed, pale skin and a slender frame making him seem a little too feminine for my tastes though.

    Nonetheless, I questioned him and he responded well, naming himself as Lucius Cornelius Scipio of the famous Scipio family, my wife wrong in telling me that he was the son of a mere Equestrian when in fact the Scipii were a rather famous family of Patrician stock. He also assured me that he followed the virtues of the Via Romana of Roman Way and that he would gladly pay with his body and life if anything untoward should happen to my only female offspring.

    All-in-all I was rather pleased with her match, though he may not look at all masculine, as a Dacian woman's husband should, I did sense in him a much deeper well of aggressiveness and knew that he would be able to fulfil all promises he made, if and when the time should come.



    **********



    Weeks passed, happy and tranquil weeks, what you could call a month or two of leave from the military where I could be with my family and feel like a normal human again. I will not deny, dear reader, that at times I did feel uneasy and wished I was back in the field facing screaming Gauls or disciplined Greeks, but overall those moments lasted mere seconds before I accepted that I was better off where I was.

    Then came the day that I was ordered by a courier to report to the auxiliary headquarters in the city, the entire civitas abuzz with news that Gaul had almost been completely conquered. Through Romes might-of-arms the entire Gallic north and coastal regions had been subdued and now paid homage and tribute to their Roman masters.

    With the speed I had seen the Roman war machine grab the land from the Boii, I could well believe the 'rumours' as genuine news. It would only be a matter of time now, I thought to myself as I moved through the gates of the military headquarters, until Gallic auxiliary formations were marching across the face of the known world in the service of Roma, her empire, and her emperor.

    Prefectus Regillus, my old friend, stood as I entered his chamber and gave me a firm arm-clasp and a smile to go with it. He was dressed as if on campaign, a coat of spotless mail covering his firm torso and greaves about his shins, reminding me that I needed to retrieve my own armour without further delay.

    “Please, my friend, take a seat,” he gestured to a stool on the other side of his desk and plucked up a roll of specially crafted animal hide, the Imperial seal dangling from it like a portent of things to come, “I have something you may like.”

    After taking a seat the vellum was handed to me, Vibius urging me to read it and leaning against his desk as he did so, folding his arms across his chest and I believe smiled all the while.

    “Is this true?” I asked him in disbelief, looking up at him in a mind of doubtfulness, “as true as Gaul being nearly ready to fall fully into Roman hands,” he replied.

    My prefect, though tattooed like myself, had always been more for the Romans and has leisurely taken on their way and mannerisms. I noted this as he took the animal hide from me and returned it to his desk, amongst a pile of papyri scrolls, his back straight as a tree-trunk and his expression all mirth and humour as he conversed with me.

    “It is all true. Tiberius Imperator Caesar has moved the Praetorians, foot-sluggers and cavalry both, just outside the walls of Roma and into a recently completed fortress there and I assume they shall be distributed to towns around Italia as well...with any luck. Their former abode, the well-known Castra Praetoria, is to be taken up by the newly commissioned force about which you just read...I want you to be one of the first men to join them, as a centurion of course.”

    I shall explain further, dear reader, so as not to leave you confused.

    The Emperor Tiberius, in his divine wisdom, had that summer set in motion plans for the creation of an entirely new force to become the protectors of the royal family and of the city of Roma herself. By moving the Praetorians, including their twin prefects, outside of the city walls and into an independent fortress mere feet away, he had made room for his new idea.

    To be known as the Corporis Custodes Peregrinorum, or roughly the body guard of foreigners or outsiders, an entire force modelled on the structure of a Roman legion were to replace the Praetorians. It would be made up completely of experienced and hand-picked cohorts of auxiliary soldiers from all across the Roman Empire. With one half made up of infantry and the other of cavalry, it would provide protection for the Emperor and his family wherever they went, led by officers chosen by the reigning emperor, after also swearing an oath to those ends.

    Such an offer I could not refuse, and I told Vibius as much, sprinting home as swiftly as I could to tell my wife to pack her belongings and prepare the children...we were going to Roma.


    - M.Laenas

  15. #115
    Ganbarenippon's Avatar Equites Cohortales
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 26/11/11]

    This whole AAR makes me want to start a new campaign as Rome, but I should probably keep playing on as Bosporus for a while yet! Beautiful stuff my friend, I love your writing style.

  16. #116
    Boustrophedon's Avatar Grote Smurf
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 26/11/11]

    Nice update! The suspense is building ^^ I really like this tale and am curious to see where you go with it

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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 [Updated: 26/11/11]

    Thankee both very much, I appreciate it. All I can say is that I too, genuinely, have no idea where this is going/heading. Perhaps, in time, it shall take a turn for the east...or maybe even the dank and dark forests of Germania. It shall be focused, for now, on Roma. But after that, well, who knows?!

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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 26/11/11]




    Reporting For Duty, Part I – Summer 588 A.U.C to Winter 500 A.U.C


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    My considerable time and duty spent in Roma was, like the city itself, one of varied contradictions. I shall not tell you exactly why in this first sentence, as I touch ink to papyri, but if you are of keen mind, reader, then you shall be able to divine for yourself my reasoning behind such a claim. Just keep your eyes open.



    **********



    Roma Eterna, the eternal city of the Roman Empire and the centre of the entire world, a metropolis in every sense of the word and in every way that is plausibly could be. For someone like myself, a barbarian from what they would call the desolate wasteland of Dacia, and my wife who had seen the glories of Greece but was equally stunned, this vision of Roma was raised tenfold by what we actually came across when we arrived at the city.

    Let me tell you, dear reader, if you have never seen it, let me paint for you the scene which made me believe in my heart that what I had been fighting for for all these decades was true, just, right, good and excellent.

    We first came upon the towering walls, made of solid rock and stone, built in the time before even the senate had come into existence. Though not a Roman, even I was aware of the tale of Romulus and Remus and the building of the very first wall around Roma. What I saw then, the high ramparts, round towers and soaring gateways, did nothing to diminish my belief in Roma being founded by two twins of divine origin. All along the bulwark strode armoured soldiers, members of the urban cohorts probably, a force often used in lieu of the Praetorian Guard as the first line of defence and to police the streets of Roma at night.

    Along a well-built road, as all Roman roads were, we travelled and had travelled for many miles from Mediolanum, with two wagons containing all our possessions and an escort of my entire century, before we passed across a magnificent bridge and beneath the shade of a gateway and finally into the wide expanse of the Forum Boarium.

    Here we saw bustling activity the likes of which I had never seen before, not even in Mediolanum, which I considered a large settlement. There were innumerable stalls and stands with sellers hawking their wares, shouts and yells in a thousand different tongues and countless varieties of garb and physical characteristics. Over here there was a small bronzed Syrian with a train of Gallic slaves and then over there an almond-eyed man in a fur-trimmed hat dealing in some of the finest horses I had ever clapped eyes on.

    In the alcoves of some buildings, I noticed as our wagons made their slow way through the city, were kohl eyed women in extremely short tunics, some men entering the buildings they stood outside whilst others of a more noble bearing averted their eyes and hurried onward with whatever business they had. I found out later that these women were prostitutes, women who sell their bodies for coin, the entire concept alien to me I am happy to say.

    As we made our way toward the Castra Praetoria, so many sights, sounds and smells assailing my senses as to render me nearly blind, I could not help but feel shamed by my people and my heritage and even by the beard that I wore on my face amid all these clean-shaven Romani.



    **********



    “Stop right there, your wagons and family will have to find somewhere else, only soldiers allowed in here.”

    The tall man standing before me was a Praetorian alright, some having to remain behind to guard the Castra Praetoria until we foreigners got there to garrison it in their stead. He was standing before the gates of the building, dressed in the quite formal toga of a Roman citizen so as not to scare those on the streets with sights of war, which they were severely unaccustomed to. This being the case, they must have been extremely scared to see an entire century of hairy-arsed barbarian auxiliaries standing about outside the headquarters of their most highly paid 'fighting' force.

    “Alright,” I said to him with a nod, before turning to Eunike who was sat straight-backed on the wagons front and looked down at me in silence, “find somewhere to stay in this place and send me word of where that is exactly. At least you know exactly where I shall be.”

    By the time the wagons had been turned about, watching with a grim expression on my face as they rolled into the distance and over a rise, I had turned back to the guardsman and shoved my written orders, and the piece of vellum upon which they were written, straight into his hands. He scanned the entire thing thrice over with his piercing blue eyes and then nodded, happy with what he had read, saluting me and gesturing for my comrades and I to enter the building so that we may begin to be billeted in our separate barrack-rooms.

    Looked at by an expert military eye, such as my own, the castra was truly a work of skill and dedication from those who had built it. Surrounded by thick and high walls, along with the gates looking as if it could hold an entire army at bay, it split internally into the more familiar layout of a military fortress or encampment.

    A firm difference was, however, that everything was on a much grander and much cleaner scale inside, columns of marble holding up ceilings and barrack rooms for four men and two bunks instead of the usual six men and three bunks.

    As a centurion, as was customary in any Roman encampment, I received a larger chamber as well as my own office in which to interview or dress-down unruly soldiers. Certainly, I did not expect to be the senior centurion of this newly formed bodyguard, but what I had here was like...well, like an auxiliary was to a guardsman, I suppose.

    All around the castra I saw toga-clad praetorians patrolling, or lazing idly about in off-duty tunics, not many of them but enough to hold the headquarters if anyone should attempt to take them. I had no idea who would even dare endeavour to try such a stunt, but it did not stop the Emperor believing that someone might during this delicate transitional period.

    Thus far no-one else, no other auxiliaries nor officers thereof, had arrived and at that moment I felt especially privileged.

    So, laying on my double-sized bed, in my double-sized room, I decided to take a nap.


    - M.Laenas

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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 27/11/11]




    Reporting For Duty, Part II – Winter 588 A.U.C


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The following winter of 588 Ab Urbe Condita, the five-hundredth and eighty-eighth year since the founding of the capital city of the empire, was both enlightening and educational in more ways than one. That season bought news from across the width of the Roman world and, due to being in both Roma herself and the Castra Praetoria, I was privy to things I had not even thought I could be. News from across the world, gossip, politics and other such tripe that I would have preferred not to hear, if I am perfectly honest.

    Do not misunderstand me, reader, I am all to happy to garner knowledge but when that information could easily get you killed, well you can understand my predicament at not wanting to be involved. So, I did what I do best. I kept my mouth shut, ears open and said yes sir, no sir, can I dig your latrine sir. The life of a soldier was never a glamorous one, in spite of what some might say, and if they do then they were probably in the Praetorian Guard.

    Anyway, on with my narrative.

    By the bleak winter period, sparse but crisp snow falling over Roma to cover rooftops and streets in a sprinkling of the chill flakes, no other auxiliary units had arrived at the Castra Praetoria. Some of us were getting a little concerned, where were they? Who would they be? Why were we the first here, and so forth.

    I can say with some confidence that my own attitude was entirely different, leisurely even, this entire appointment so far completely opposite to what I had come to expect as a professional soldier and I was using such a time of 'leave' to the best of my abilities.

    Such activities included visiting the local taverns, though I had never been an exceedingly large drinker, training by myself and with my companions in the castra, regular visits to my family who had managed to find a fine-looking insulae close by, and taking routine walks about the streets to take in some of the more famous sites that Roma had to offer to outsiders and non-citizens like myself.

    Until further auxiliary centuries or cohorts arrived at the headquarters, mounted or otherwise, it was still in the hands of the Praetorian Guard to protect the Emperor and his family. These men, when they were not on duty in their togas, strutted about the barracks and mess-halls that still remained to them, looking down on we peregrini and sneering at us or glaring down their commonly hooked noses. At is truly made any difference to me, they would soon be completely gone and we, those they both hated and feared equally, would replace them completely.

    Good news for some, but unfortunately bad news for others.

    The action of forming a foreign bodyguard, though ratified by the senate under duress, had still caused no end of enmity between the Emperor and those he commanded. There were a great many people, all over Roma, that hated, even despised, Tiberius Caesar and would have gladly had him assassinated or 'disappeared' from the world of the living. It made me chuckle that the praetorians were not more involved, easily able to strike him down and make it look like an accident, or place him on a boat and ship him away to farthest Parthia. For once I appeared that these toy soldiers knew where their loyalties lay and just how far they could afford to go with any clandestine schemes involving our beloved Tiberius.


    **********


    It was a wet day, a soaking day, a day when I lay on my bed and stared up through the beams at the tiled roof overhead, when I was summoned to the front gate of the castra by the same guardsman I had met on my first time into the high-walled citadel. He big me follow him to the gates as swiftly as possible, to bring a couple of my men with me, and to arm myself. This I did without delay and, before long, our little group of four was jogging toward the closed entranceway of my new placement.

    Once we neared the gate, we took a precise turn into the right hand guardroom next to the gates, the room large enough to keep a group of ten men sheltered and rested for their entire watch. Inside we found two more praetorians holding a battered, half-naked, and kneeling man between them both his hands tied behind his back and his hair and beard both unkempt and wild. Just in front of this trio was a man sterner than any I had seen before, penetrating eyes of a deep green looking from one of us to the other and then back again, as if searching our inner beings for something.

    “I have the guards, sir, just as you ordered.”

    Said the first guardsman with a quick salute, we three auxiliaries following promptly, the man who had been scrutinising us being dressed in the distinguishable scarlet paludamentum or cloak and cinticulus or carmine waistband, tied neatly in a bow around his naval, or either a legatus or a praetor. Both had the same marks of rank, so it was even harder for a non-Roman to discriminate between the two.

    “This man is a prisoner,” said the sandy-haired officer in a deep bass tone, one hand waving at the kneeling man, large purple welts clearly visible all across his torso, “he is Conconnetodumnos, the last King of the Arverni, and was captured in northern Gaul by Gaius Vatia and his Aegyptian auxiliaries. I am handing him over to your men, as the new garrison of this place, to guard and keep alive until the Emperor has need of him or until he expires. Do I make myself clear?”

    We all answered in an affirmation of his orders and, with a flick of his wrist, the prisoner was slung forward onto the cold floor only to be lifted back up by the two men I had bought along for the job. An important captive indeed, and it made me wonder just how many other 'famous' imprisoned leaders of enemy nations were confined to the dank, dark, prison situated beneath the Castra Praetoria.

    “Hail Caesar!” Came the salutation by way of goodbye and “hail Caesar” came the reply.

    After oddly unnerving officer had gone, we lifted the captive up and hauled the last of the royal Gallic bloodline down into the clammy and cheerless bowels of the earth. His knees hit each step on the way down, the fool refusing to walk but rather being hefted bodily ever lower instead, the odd grunt and wheezing cough emerging from his lips before we finally reached an empty cell that we decided was fit enough for him. Inside, once the door has creaked open, opened by the semi-blind jailer, we saw that the prison cell held only a floor of dirtied rushes and a bucket for human waste. With a shrug of my shoulders we threw him headlong into the grime-covered room, his head bouncing off of the floor, and closed the door behind us.

    So much for the King of the Arverni, I thought.


    **********


    “So that is why he was imprisoned here!”

    My eyes opened wide as I looked at Dizas and then took another sip of my water, both of us sitting and talking on the edge of my bed as the rain continued to patter outside, news from the front always welcome when one was on garrison duty.

    “Indeed,” the Thracian replied with a grimace, “it appears that the entirety of Gaul has been pacified in our absence and that your friend in the dungeon was the last of the resistance.” He clamped his hands together in his lap and rubbed his forehead between thumb and forefinger, “though it is pacified, it will take a while to get things organised there and to begin recruitment and taxation of the various tribes. Palace and government officials are already on their way over the Alps I heard, ready to catalogue everything and judge just how many of the Gauls young men they can steal without causing a rebellion. They won't be moving Gallic auxilia out of their homeland for some time, that's for certain.”

    I leant my back against the wall, my comrade doing the same, and looked straight ahead at the white-washed wall before me as he spoke up again.

    “Oh, on more thing, sir...it appears that Marcus Maximus, relative of Numerius and your friend Sextus Maximus, is to be our new commanding officer. He is an elderly gentleman now, but it seems that Tiberius is still trying to gain favour with that much more eminent bloodline. If he can get them, the Scipii, and the other Patrician families on his side, well then he has nothing to fear once he is gone and the succession continues.”

    One of my hands grazed over the sharp stubble on my chin and neck, another draught of clean water wetting my throat, and my head giving an almost imperceptible nod.

    “Aye, all this news is very interesting, though it does not really make any change to our situation one way or another. What we need is a high-ranking officer here, more of our comrades, and to know exactly what were are doing here in the first place. A freshly formed bodyguard is all good and well, but not if we have a lack of structure or purpose.”

    This was when Dizas smiled, slapping me hard on the shoulder with a playful laugh.

    “Best prepare yourself then, my friend, because this time next year you will know why we are here and more. In fact, the Emperor himself is going to give a speech to his newly ordained Corporis Custodes, so get some rest and think upon such things no more.”

    So I thought on it no more, except with anticipation and even some excitement, and I was content for the moment as were we all.


    - M.Laenas

  20. #120
    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: [RS 2.1a Roman (Auxiliary) AAR] Serving Your Oppressor [Updated: 27/11/11]




    And Three Years Hence... – Summer 589 A.U.C to Winter 591 A.U.C


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    War...does it ever truly end?

    An old wise-man in my village used to say that there was never an end to war, especially for a Dacian, but only a period where one could put down their falx, shield and spear and instead till the earth and harvest the crops. A year it may last, maybe two, or possibly even more, but he assured us that there would never be an end to war and that whomever thought of such a notion was a foolish dreamer. During my time in the service of Rome therefore, I had come to believe his words and taken them as truth, for I had seen more blood and gore than I cared to before I was even man grown.

    Know this, dear reader, that wherever there are two or more groups of people, nations, tribes or whatsoever else, and only a patch of dirt to be shared amongst them, then there will undoubtedly be war between them.

    Nevertheless, I shall regale you now with a tale of three years of peace, a peace which continued even after my fiftieth birthday, and the sparse events of importance which took place during that time. There will be gaps, oh yes there will, for I am certain that on such as yourself would not like to read of the mundaneness of a common soldiers life any more than is required to help understanding. And so, I shall sweep across this trio of years and swoop down upon only events and periods which I deem of note, as is my want.

    As this is also my document and tale to tell, I shall recite each entry according to year, that is just how I wish it done, becoming much more selfish in my old age.

    The summer of the year 589, since the founding of the city, was a hard one for me and also a time of great change in my life. It is the year that my family was truly split asunder, rocked from the foundations up, like a block of wood or a shield splintered and shattered into pieces by the iron-headed axe of the Gods.

    It began with my two sons, twin brothers so different from one another and yet so alike, both going to join up and follow their father into the military. Mere days after their nineteenth birthday, I escorted them to the recruitment office myself, my hands shaking slightly on the pommel of my gladius, my palms sweating heavily due to other things than the high mid-day sun, and my eyes continuously glancing from young man to another.

    Though in the bloom of their youth, stalwart adolescents with a good head on their shoulders, they were still the fruit of my loins and would never stop being a part of me, they were both pieces of immortality that would be left behind when I had died and faded from the memories of most people...with only a headstone and their thoughts to mark my passing.

    “Just make your mark or sign your name, since your fathers still a few years off of his discharge you shall both be assigned to auxiliary units to begin with. Cohort or ala, it makes no difference to me.”

    I watched as they both took the quill and swiftly scribbled their names, now officially signed and sworn.

    Bolinthos, ten minutes older than his brother and also thoroughly more Romanised, moved to join a voluntariorum cohort of Roman citizens, slaves and any other undesirables they could sweep together from Italia. I can only imagine that this was because it was as close as he would get to being in the legions before I was discharged and my family became citizens. His cohort was to be sent to the Pannonian border to support other auxiliary regiments and legions already stationed there.

    Diuzenes, the younger son, much more proud of his heritage than his brother and already growing his hair long and carrying a handmade sica, signed to join a Dacian and Gallic cohors equitata that were being sent to the border between Aegyptus and Syria. The east was somewhere even I had never ventured and I prayed, for the sake of their mother and I, that they would both return unharmed or at the very least alive.

    This is not all though, for my precious daughter of the sunshine hair was returning to Mediolanum to be with her beloved Lucius Scipio. Nothing her mother or I could say would dissuade her, proud and emboldened as she was toward us, leaving within a month of her brothers being sent to their respective barracks, leaving myself, Eunike and or two 'slaves' in the eternal city.

    It was especially hard for Eunike, me being away at the Castra Praetoria, her children gone, and only a seemingly immortal Greek tutor to comfort her when she was by herself. Of course, I visited as often as I could, four times a week at least, but even this was not in truth enough because I could not be with her all the time, I still had an obligation to my Emperor and to Roma.

    During the summer, the hottest any of the elderly of Roma could remember since the invasion by Hannibal the Carthaginian, further auxiliary forces arrived at the castra to fill up the ranks of the new Corporis Custodes Peregrinorum.

    They, and we, were an assorted host, with semi-civilised and less-civilised members of provincial tribes from my homeland of Dacia, fierce and loyal warriors from the Dalmatian and Illyrian coasts, experts at mountain warfare from the Alpine tribes such as the Noricii and Rhaetians, cousins of mine from the Thracian peoples that still inhabited that vast area of plain lands and mountains and, lastly, two less civilised centuries from the outer fringes of the province of Hispania.

    Only a few weeks before we were mingling freely in our barracks and the mess hall, speaking a hundred different dialects and tongues, different customs and religions, but all together here in our duty to protect the ruling Emperor and his family from threats both within and without.

    There was, however, as there always is, one more things and that was that Tiberius Caesar had taken it upon himself to form yet another bodyguard for himself. This, unlike ourselves, was to be his personal guard and to go with him wherever and whenever.

    They were the Cohortis Nerviorum Imperatoris, a five-hundred strong paramilitary force of liberated Nervii warriors; the Belgae, who had always been loyal allies of Roma, more than happy to give something back for their newly acquired freedom. Even so, during the Gauls invasion of Belgica the main royal line and most of the Belgic warrior caste had fled north to the unexplored island of Britannia, leaving weak-willed chieftains and headmen to be put firmly and easily under the thumb of the Roman Empire.

    Due to this, the Roman Empire as it was now stretched from Asia Minor and the borders of the Pontic Kingdom in the east, to the British sea and the natural barrier of the Rhine in the north. Pannonia and Syria, Dacian and Seleucid respectively, were also borders to our army and so forts had been set up along them where natural obstructions to our future enemies did not exist.

    Anyway, the Nervii...

    They differed from us in a number of ways, firstly by being under their own commander, who happened to be the same Gaius Vatia who had captured the last King of the Arverni the year before. Secondly, though we may have considered ourselves non-citizens and less civilised than your average Roman soldier, these men reminded us all of what and where we had come from and I can honestly say that it made me ache for a freer life inside.

    They were free, given orders in their own language, dressed in their own native way, armed with their hexagonal shields and longswords and wearing their tall crested helms of bronze. Not only this, but they also kept the appearance of the 'barbarus', long moustaches and hair covering their heads and their muscular bodies intimidating even a few of the Spanish auxiliaries.

    We would be used to replace the Praetorian Guard, the newest military force in Roma, whilst these tribesmen from the true frontier would be used to form an even more personal guard for our reigning sovereign.

    Little did we know, or realise, that many more such institutions were to be founded, Roma soon to turn into an epicentre of specialised native cohorts not of Roman citizens, but this we were to find out one chill winters morning when the Emperor took to a tribunal set up in the courtyard of the Castra Praetoria and addressed us.


    **********


    Arrayed in silent ranks, fully armed and armoured in our finest parade uniforms, each man looked towards the firm wooden stage as the ageing Emperor Tiberius was guided up the steps to the side by his younger wife, Domitia, and placed between two brawny Nervians who flanked him and glared over the crowd from just behind Caesar.

    “My friends, my children,” he began in a voice that carried surprisingly well, his arms waving in the fashion of one schooled in oratory, “I will speak to you frankly and in a manner of true trust. For how else could I speak to those who gave up their lives in their homelands to serve the Roman Empire instead?” Now his arms fell to stomach level and he gave up on public appearances and simply spoke to us as if man-to-man, like a true leader of men.

    “The truth is that you are the only men I can trust, you who are not of Roma or Italia, but of outlying provinces and who are not extremely swayed by the temptations of riches and bribes. It is for this reason alone that I have bought you here, in trust and faith, to protect my wife and myself.” He paused a moment to suck in some breath, “I have also requested that, if you so wish, you may relinquish any limits set upon you by your auxiliary training, such as the shaving of your faces or the cutting of your hair.”

    I noticed a number of men, especially the Spaniards, frown at this and some even grimaced as if it were a distasteful suggestion.

    “Peoples of Roma are afeared of 'barbarians' which, to them, is what you represent, even if you do serve in our armies and follow the commands of Roman officers. This is the second reason you are here. I shall tell you now that I am hated by quite a few people, I know this, and it is because I allow people such as yourselves and my Nervians to both enter Roma and remain here. Some fear, especially in the Senate, that I will turn the centre of the world into a desolate city swarming with drunk barbarians who will rape their daughters and kill their sons simply out of spite.”

    Now a few smiles and chuckles came from the rank-and-file, my own lips turning up at the corners at the words of our leader, my loyalty towards this man already increased since he began his speech.

    “Let me tell you, here and now, that I intend to ignore such naysayers and do ahead with plans and preparations for further cohorts of native troops to provide guard-units for both myself and generals in the field. Why, already I have summoned a Roman officer here with an ala of Germanic horsemen, to provide for me a German Horse Guard or equites singulares Augusti, native Germans with no loyalty to any here in Roma, which includes my adversaries in and out of the senate.”

    Unlike a few of my auxiliary comrades, I was not surprised by anything Tiberius had told us so far, Roman commanders had been using foreigners and outsiders as bodyguards since the time I was a young man and, therefore, why should the Emperor not be able to do the same? He was, after all, the most powerful figure in the entire world, especially to his people and ourselves.

    “Being that as it is, if the time should come, I expect you to fight and die for me if necessary. I trust each and every one of you impeccably and, should I even get a whiff of treachery...” this time his own wrinkled face made a look of absolute disgust “...you shall be disbanded and replaced without any form of pay or reward and sent back to where you came from, and that is just those who are not executed.”

    To be honest, I had expected nothing less from people who were charged with protecting the Emperor, my head nodding slowly all the while. As a centurion it was my duty to make sure nothing like that ever happened, then again, if it did, I would be the foremost target for murder by my brothers.

    “A donative of two-thousand sesterces shall be given to each of you, via your bankers, and an annual pay matching that of the Praetorian Guard given when and where it is required. Serve me with fidelity, love and honesty, and the men of the Corporis Custodes Peregrinorum shall continue as a force in Roma for many years to come.”

    With that, his speech concluded, Tiberius raised a hand in salute and it was eagerly returned, amidst yells and whoops, by every man in the ranks of his now officially inaugurated guard. He shuffled from the stage, his Nervians and wife following a pace behind, and we were dismissed by our commander.

    Oh yes, it was an interesting day indeed.


    **********


    For the next two years the Roman Empire, except for a few bandits and sparse revolts my malcontent's, was at complete peace. A ceasefire was made with the last remaining Boii, deep in Germania, and temporarily with the Seleucid Empire in the eastern lands of our dominion.

    During this time the equites singulares Augusti arrived from the cold north, barracked in a fortress built nearby our very own, the mounted section of our own unit still nowhere to be seen although more than expected by those on duty in Roma.

    In the year 591 Ab Urbe Condita, on my fiftieth birthday, news arrived that a large number of mixed auxiliary cohorts were being shifted about the Roman Empire. Volunteer cohorts from Italia were being sent toward Hispania, Thracian and Spanish ones shipping out to Aegypt and the Syrian border with the Seleucid Empire, and Illyrian cohorts marching through Cisalpine Gaul to reach Transalpine Gaul and the Romano-German border which separated the two nations.

    So far, to the best of my knowledge, no Gallic auxiliary cohorts had been formed from the wild masses of untapped potential contained within the still uncivilised wilds of Gallia Transalpina. It was only a matter of time, I knew, until we began seeing such units marching from that westernmost outpost of the empire, tribes going to pay in manpower or taxes, or both, for the protection and the civilising influence of Roma. Already many nobles had flocked to the idea, buying in all manner of Roman imports to their lands, some even attempting to re-model their warriors along Roman guidelines.

    What was certain was this...

    Like all lands, old or new, conquered by the Roman Empire and occupied by its armies, there was no escape from its insidious and weakening influence. An influence that would creep into your dreams at night, force you to learn and speak latin, and to adopt everything you could from your conquerors. It always was only a matter of time.

    You wish to read about me? How I was influenced, or not, as it may be?

    All I will tell you is this; I was fifty years of age, having served in the Roman auxiliary for some time since my youth, but I wore a Gallic cloak, wore a Gallic torc and was tattooed on my face and all over my body in the traditional markings of my tribe. No force from above-on-high or below in the underworld of Hades, could force me to become fully Roman...none.

    It was with extreme relish that I began to grow my hair longer and my stubble thicker, directly after Tiberius' speech. If he wished us to represent where we had come from, rather than what we had been moulded and shaped into by Roman officers and trainers, well then, all he had to do was ask.


    - M.Laenas

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