Another great update! Can wait to see the Aulus and Manugas' father match wits! + rep
Another great update! Can wait to see the Aulus and Manugas' father match wits! + rep
Pirates get ready to get
+rep(i finally know what that means )
Chapter Thirty Five - Letter from a prodigal son
Numerius Farm, Near Capua – December 218BC
Numerius had positively beamed when the slave had handed him a scroll from his son; the slave had ridden a hired horse all the way from Placentia and looked as tired as the animal that he rode upon. Numerius had called to his steward to look after the man and his mount and had then hurriedly strode to his personal chambers to digest the contents of his son’s letter to him. Numerous flung open his chamber door, sat on the end of his bed and then broke the wax seal of the scroll to eagerly read its contents.
I hope I find you well, that the farm is in good order and that you are prospering.
I am sure by now that you are aware that we have had two engagements with the enemy. I have to say that of the first, I saw very little action as it was almost entirely a cavalry engagement. As too the second Father! Well it was but a narrowly avoided disaster, I cannot say too much for fear of this correspondence going awry; but it was a close run thing, but as I am sure you are no doubt informed by Uncle Aulus, the panic that hit the streets of Rome was not necessary.
Although attached to Consul Scipio we found ourselves under the command of Consul Longus, and as Aulus will have told you, we had a tremendous battle with Gauls and then Elephants! I had no idea the beasts were so huge until I took a ride on one!
We have unfortunately lost a good deal of men both at the battle at the Trebbia and at subsequent minor engagements. After leaving the field that day we marched to Placentia; though the forces of Scipio left to camp elsewhere to avoid a drain on the city. Hannibal tried to break us again at Placentia, but on that occasion we gave him the worst of it, he attacked with light infantry and cavalry in the night, but our sentries rallied the camp and our own cavalry flanked them and even wounded Hannibal himself, for once the horse jockeys had done their jobs well!
Hannibal then left with his tail between his legs and had marched on a supply depot at Victumviae which was garrisoned by Gauls loyal to Rome. The fools went out as an undisciplined mob to meet him and were driven back into the town; the town and the garrison had then surrendered, but as soon as they had handed over their weapons the Punic dogs turned and massacred everybody.They carried out every act of cruelty and barbarity that they could inflict on a poor soul; we were the century chosen to check the aftermath of the attack, I would hope by Jupiter Optimus Maximus to never see such a foul sight again. I know as a man of action and as a soldier you will have seen such sights, I fear that they remain ingrained in your mind even when you have left the legions far behind.
Now winter is upon us there is a kind of wary lack of action holding between us and the Carthaginians; this has meant that Consul Longus has agreed to release us back to Consul Scipio and he in turn has ordered us to return south to replenish our ranks.We have also been given leave because of our ‘Elephant tricks’ but I will tell you more of that when I see you; for yes I am coming to see you at Capua Father! Andronicus and Africanus too, for I am sure that you would not mind the company of such fine soldiers.
I hope to be with you a few days after this letter has been dispatched; we shall hunt deer, fish the rivers, drink wine and tell tall tales together!
You’re most loyal and loving son
Numerius put the scroll down on the bed; the news from the North was bad, but not as bad as it could have been. At least with the bad weather and the seasonal fighting traditions of the Gauls, the Carthaginians were in no real position to attack until late spring at the earliest. He could well understand his son’s torment at seeing the barbaric actions of the enemy; he had witnessed similar actions himself; Lucius was right they do stay with you.
However his mind turned to the happier thought that all this meant that he could welcome his son and his friends in real style; he began to think of all the arrangements that would need to be in place; yes, he had an awful lot to do. He couldn’t wait! He would send word to Aulus too, get him to come down from Rome and spend some time at the farm.
The noise of screams and shouting broke into the crowded happy thoughts that had blessed Numerius mind up until that point. He rushed over to the left hand side of his room and took his gladius from the wall mounting that it had rested on since his retirement as first spear….
YES! The old first Spear back in action! Damn I will like where this is going
I love these bits in books, they normally lead to a tragic incident happening to a loved one of the protaganist!
Rex I love this story! You are an epic writer!
+rep when I can
Woo! The old guys must still have some fight left in him.
I can only hope he doesn't get chopped before Lucius gets to see him... that would be a cruel twist of fate.
Great as always. +rep
Thanks for the complement Tig and the rep -when it arrives!
Chapter Thirty Six - Jackals of the Sea
Numerius Farm, Near Capua – December 218BC
Bandits….it must be bandits! Numerius rushed out of his chamber, through the farmhouse and out of the opened front door into the night, shouting at the top of his voice ‘to arms; everyone arm yourselves! Quickly now!’
As his eyes adjusted to the gloomy night, he took in a host of men running amok on his farm. Numerius’s freedmen and slaves were trying to defend themselves from a bunch of savage looking warriors; from Numerius experience he could tell these men were jackals of the sea; too lightly equipped and haphazardly armed to be anything other than a crew of pirates.
A man with a tanned complexion and trimmed dark beard ran screaming towards him with a levelled spear, gripped in both hands and held out in front like a green recruit; the old first spear spun away to his left and then cut down through the man’s right forearm as the pirate’s momentum carried him past, a howl of protest came from the man’s lips as he dropped the spear with his remaining left hand; his voice quickly silenced as Numerius expertly rammed his gladius through the man’s exposed throat. With a curse Numerius ripped the now bloodied blade free and looked for his next opponent; the thought crossed his mind that how he wished that his son and his friends where here now; with some trained men he would have soon put these dogs to flight. He did not have long to muse on any wishful thinking however; two men came at the old soldier, and this time they seemed to have a vague notion of military training.
One peeled to the left, the other to his right. Numerius knew that these men would expect him to back off; by rights he should be unsure of who to tackle first and they would expect him to back up until he ran out of room. So the old soldier did the unexpected, he charged screaming like a battle crazed barbarian at the man on his left; even this would be a small surprise, as a naturally right handed swordsman should normally take on a man to his own right. Thus his suitably and doubly surprised opponents reeled in shock; Numerius wasted no time, moving at the speed of a man half his age, he shoulder charged his axe wielding opponent and then as the man stumbled back in shock, he ran him through the guts with his gladius.
He pulled his blade free just in time.
Numerius could hear the sound of the right sided man closing fast; he wheeled around on his right heel, crouched down and held his gladius low and level, just as the second man ran and impaled his lower abdomen on Numerius gladius. The man’s face widened in an ‘o’ of shock; Numerius smiled in response and cut his blade horizontally across the man’s stomach letting a stream of pungent fluid and purple coloured intestines out. The man dropped to the ground in a crumpled heap. He gave both bodies a quick glance to check they were still and then resumed his position outside the front of the farmhouse. It had been a risky manoeuvre; but it had worked.
Numerius rose back up to his feet, all around him he could see his people, his workers and his slaves being slaughtered by the enemy. It didn’t matter that he had personally dispatched three of them, there were just too many for one man to stop. From the area immediately around him which lay in front of the farmhouse, the few remaining men of Numerius household came and stood with their master. He took in their grim determined faces, it did not matter that a former First Spear, freedmen and slaves stood together, it did not matter that contrary to Roman law, one slave held a sword in his hand, no doubt taken from a dead pirate. All that mattered was that they stood together. Numerius had always prided himself that he had been a firm but fair man; the same principles that he applied in the Army he had applied in life on the farm. He guessed it must have worked, for none of his men had run, they had all stayed to fight to the bitter end.
He took in the scene around him once more; feeling a pride for this handful of men who would not turn and leave their master; he could see and hear in the middle distance that some of his female slaves were already being dragged off into the darkness by some of the pirates who shunned the fight and choose to satiate more dishonourable appetites. Their screams haunted Numerius, but there was nothing he could do; already he could see many more shapes coming out of the darkness towards him, the figures placing themselves between Numerius and his men and the female slaves and any small opportunity of escape.
Not that the thought crossed his mind; he knew when a battle was lost and more importantly he knew when a man’s time had come.The men around him were angry but silent; the old soldier could feel the rage of his men burning all around him.
His time had now arrived.
And so another great man passes unto the ferryman's grasp.... unless of course they all arrive in time.
The fighting descriptions were nice, maybe more detail say something like "as the blade cut through him a spray of warm blood splattered over him, obscuring his vision for a meaningful second" etc.
Perhaps Numerius survives... Love this take on the people in this era. Great update!
OHHH Rex you tricked me, Guys he will get out of this! They will arrive and Numerious will be saved. BUT later on something will happen and Numerious will die.
BUT I could be wrong and Numerious could well be dead! I love these parts of stories cause it really brings out the emotinal side of the Protagonist haha either they are depressed or raging
+ rep EDIT when I can ARGR
Chapter Thirty Seven - An unwelcome mercy
Numerius Farm, Near Capua – December 218BC
Jason strode out of the night; he had watched with a kind of dispassionate interest as Numerius had killed three of the Greek captain’s men, Demetrious had looked at him with a pleading look in his eye wanting him to intervene and save his men.But Jason had not wanted to engage himself in the fighting quite so soon; he had suggested to Demetrious that they send in the most inexperienced men first; in that way the survivors would be bloodied and the weak would be culled from the crew.
Jason had no time for weaklings.
He admired the way the Roman moved, he guessed that he himself was roughly the same age as the ex-soldier, Numerius had obviously kept himself fit and by the looks of his practiced sword work he probably still trained every day. He had calculated the odds of the Roman falling to an attack in the first wave as negligible, he had been proven right. Numerius now stood at the front and centre of a small bunch of defiant men. Jason looked to his left and right, he had deliberately kept his best men back for the second wave; it was funny how he now regarded the men ‘as his’ and no longer belonging to Demetrious. He wondered for a second if they would kill the Greek if he asked? Maybe he would order it another time, perhaps when the captain began to annoy him or when the Thracian found himself bored with the captain’s company.
As an agent of Carthage, Jason knew that everyone was expendable and that perhaps the Greek captain’s time of usefulness to him was coming to an end. Still if he killed the man or got the hulking great German Erhard to kill him Hannibal would be displeased, the captain was still a ready source of intelligence for the general. Turning his attention to the matter in hand, he had not been surprised when the two men he had placed to scout and watch the road North, had spotted a large group of heavily armed men heading towards the farm; it had to be Aulus coming to rescue his brother. However the scouts had estimated that the enemy were still a good hour away; there was time to finish the business and still be on the way. All around him he could hear the screaming and wailing of those in agony; he had made his orders explicit, nobody was to be allowed to live, apart from Numerius, whom he had ordered could be wounded, but not killed. He wanted the pleasure of dealing with the Roman himself.
Jason beckoned to the German, ‘Erhard, he only has a handful of men left standing, go and deal with them, and remember I want Numerius alive!’
Erhard responded in his guttural accent, mauling the Latin that he spoke ‘Of course my lord, we will gut them all and give you the Roman dog on a leash.’
Jason watched as Erhard waved his right arm forward and the second wave of warriors followed after him; Jason was left behind with Demetrious and a handful of the crew. Erhard stalked through the cornfield that led up to the farm, holding his arms out to either side to get the men to fan out on both sides so that each flank was sealed and there was no possibility of escape. Erhard began to pick up his pace, he drew the heavy infantry sword he wore from the scabbard on his waist; it had been a gift from Jason for ‘firing’ Aulus’s merchant ship. The sword wasn’t pretty, it was not a swordsman’s tool, it was a butchers. Erhard appreciated the feel of the heavy cold steel in his right hand; he never thought he would have held a sword again, truly the Greek had been sent by Wotan to make him a warrior once more.
Since he had found a kind of freedom thanks to Jason, the German had decided to show him absolute loyalty until he could perhaps one day save his new warlord’s life. Savouring the air as a free man, Erhard took in a big lungful of air and prepared to move against the paltry defenders. Erhard suddenly broke into a frantic sprinting pace; the men around him struggling to keep up; just as they neared the pathetically small bunch of men arrayed against them, the German let out an ear splitting roar ‘Wotannnn!!!’
Numerius had watched as the men had slowly walked towards them; then they had stepped up the pace, then finally they had broken into a full out barbarian charge. He watched the leader of these men with professional interest, a massive German or Gaul by the look of him. He was coming straight for Numerius; there was no way that the Roman could brace against him without either shield to protect him or legionaries to hold him steady. The man would simply weigh too much. Numerius had no shield wall, no armour, no trained men around him. He kissed the flat of his blade, still tacky with blood and whispered a small prayer to Mars.
‘Come on boys lets get the scum!’ it wasn’t the most eloquent of speeches ever given, but is motivated the men enough to charge at their aggressors. The slave with the captured sword moved in front of Numerius at the last minute and met the big man head on. Erhard was annoyed; very annoyed, some idiot had just got in the way as he tried to take down the Roman for Jason. He was not pleased. The slave attacked the German with a back handed slash of his sword, Erhard wasted no time on him and swung back with his own blade, at the same time he launched a swinging punch with his left hand that smashed into the right ear of his enemy. He could see the slave’s eyes wince in pain and he knew his balance would be compromised for a vital few seconds. Erhard barrelled into the man knocking him to the floor, he stood on the man’s right wrist, his sword now immobile, Erhard reversed his blade and thrust down into the man’s throat. Blood shot up and coated the German’s lower body; he smiled and dragged the blade free looking to see were the Roman was.
Numerius had been ready to side step the German as he charged; however the young slave had intervened and left the Roman momentarily unsure of what to do. In the end he had only just reacted in time to the swinging of a small boarding axe wielding by an African pirate. The man had taken advantage of the unexpected turn of events to try and chop a hole in the skull of Numerius; now however the Roman had ducked beneath the swinging outstretched arm of the man and had then punched upwards with his gladius straight through the exposed right arm pit of the pirate. The gladius had slid in nicely as the Roman then turned the blade across and through the sternum straight into the pirate’s heart. He dropped dead in an instant. As Numerius straightened up his eyes locked with that of the big barbarian’s, the man smiled at him, Numerius could see that the young man that had tried to save him now lay at the warrior’s feet. He tried to remember the boy’s name, but it somehow slipped his mind.
The big warrior strode forward shoving his own men out of the way in his efforts to get to Numerius; the Roman nodded at the warrior and made his way toward him. All around Numerius could see his household falling one by one. He gritted his teeth and made his mind up to kill the big oaf before they added his corpse to the slaughter.
A voice pierced the dark of the night; Numerius watched closely as a man came out of the darkness, stopping only to neatly slice the head off the last of Numerius men standing with a flash of a long Thracian sword. The man had been duelling with a pirate, the rest of the pirates leaving them alone to see who would be the better man. ‘We have no time for this nonsense! Encircle him, now!’
Numerius watched the man, a Thracian or Greek, probably the former because of the sword. The man moved fluidly like rippling water, he would be a dangerous swordsman to say the least. The Roman looked warily around him as a loose circle of men formed around him; Erhard the massive German as Numerius now knew him moved reluctantly away like a vicious dog called off by its master. This new man was obviously the brains of the outfit.
The Thracian spoke to him in fluent Latin with only the lightest trace of an accent, ‘First Spear Numerius Livius Verres I assume; it is an honour to meet such a renowned soldier. I apologise for the circumstances, but the rules of nature, and of revenge have ruled that I must punish you and yours for the death of my son.’
His son? Numerius did not have a clue what he was on about; maybe it was somebody he had killed in battle? Numerius responded in his most commanding of voices, the voice that made young patrician Tribunes quail before him. ‘I’m afraid you have me at a loss Thracian; I have killed a lot of men, so I do not remember if your son was one of them. Still if he was like his Father, then he most assuredly deserved it!’
The Thracian simply smiled and then spoke in a low voice. ‘Burn the farmhouse, crops and corpses. Then kill all the livestock and poison the well. If there’s a water source block it with the dead. Do it now!’ The lesser men of the first wave did as Jason commanded.
Numerius shrugged, it meant little enough now he was about to die.
This seemed to infuriate the man even more.
‘Do you think I am simply going to kill you? No it will not be that easy, I will make you suffer first. Because I know what will hurt you more than the loss of your property or your life!’ with this the Thracian motioned the circle to close in on Numerius, the Roman in response crouched lower and held his gladius out level and horizontal at the encroaching circle began to close in on him. Numerius felt claustrophobic, he fought the urge to panic, not wanting to give way to fear or emotion in his final moments. He would make this scum kill him. With that last thought Numerius selected the one man he wanted to kill, he charged low and fast at the Thracian.
‘How predictable you Romans are’, as he mouthed this Jason stepped to one side and allowed Numerius to come barrelling by without impeding him; then just as Numerius thought he had left the Thracian behind him, Jason struck out low and hard with his left had in a L shape behind the Roman’s kneecap that left Numerius sprawling in the dust of his own cornfield. As Numerius tried to scramble to his feet still clutching his gladius, Jason loomed above him and brought down his razor sharp sword and swung it down, neatly severing Numerius sword hand from his wrist – the now detached hand still holding on to the smoothly worn wooden handle of his beloved gladius. Numerius bit down and gritted his teeth through the most intense agony he had ever experienced. The Thracian looked down with an amused expression on his face as Numerius sat on the floor; the bloodied stump of his right forearm pulsing blood on the ground around him.
‘Oh, you Romans make this so easy, why you’re almost no challenge at all. Perhaps I should kill you, but then I would have nobody to pass on my message.’ With those words and a flick of his right wrist the Thracian took his sword and sliced down Numerius face, before adjusting the point of the blade to remove his right eyeball. Numerius rocked on the ground in agony, why could this dog not just to kill him and be done with it! Still some inner strength refused to let the Roman plead for mercy; instead he bit down all the harder on his tongue until he could taste his own blood in his mouth.
The Thracian looked at Numerius’s good eye, ‘I am going to let you live Roman, not because I am a compassionate man, or that I like showing my enemies undue mercy. I will let you live, so that you may live with the agony of what you have lost. You are no longer a warrior, you are now a cripple. In time I will do this to all your family – I will cripple them and when I am tired of the sport I will kill you all. This is the price you will all pay for the life of my son Manugas, so pass on this message to your brother and your son ‘the Father of Manugas has come for his due. Oh and before I forget, tell your fat brother that Jason sends his regards’, and with a final flourish the Thracian flashed his blade and cut across the Achilles of Numerius right ankle, fresh waves of pain hit the Roman and he felt nauseous and faint; but still he would not cry out.
‘I do admire your spirit, for a cripple that is. Don’t be concerned for soon all your family will share your condition and then the grave. Together.’ With that Jason waved his arm and signalled and then he and his men began to melt away into the darkness.
The last sight that Numerius saw was the big German Erhard who pointed, laughed and slid a hand over his throat. He then turned away and was swallowed up in the darkness of the night.
Well that ceartaintly put a interesting twist on my guesses
Awsome update! Looks like Lucious is going to have to watch his back.
Oh wait he has Adronicous he will be fine!
Daaaaaaaym boy, that is some dope stuff alright. Love it, love the gore and the fact he's a Thrakian especially. Amazing stuff, good sir.
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