Haha maybe so and it would inspire them im sure of it Anytime and i gotta say i havent will do tonight when i can. I have a bloody speech today and my teacher will make me go first i swear. Anyway Good Luck
Haha maybe so and it would inspire them im sure of it Anytime and i gotta say i havent will do tonight when i can. I have a bloody speech today and my teacher will make me go first i swear. Anyway Good Luck
Chapter Thirty - The right century, just the wrong army
Battle of the Trebbia, Northern Italia – December 218BC
Marcianus stood at the side of his century his eyes roaming his men for any signs of imperfections in their equipment or to spot the furtive look of a potential coward, he was pleased to note that his men showed no signs for concern or a lack of respect for their arms or armour. The same couldn’t be said for all of Consul Longus’s army. By rights he knew that he and his men should have been returned to the camp of Consul Scipio, they were after all his men, even if the injured patrician had left them behind as a votive offering for Hannibal over the river Po! However the fact that the century was here in the wrong Consul’s army, was yet another sign of the enmity and competition that existed between the two leading men of Rome.
Marcianus had been in Consul Longus command tent at the behest of Longus, he had assumed to talk about his recent dust-up with the Carthaginians, but what he hadn’t realised was that he was about to be used as a bargaining chip between both Consuls, while there he had witnessed a heated exchange between the two men. A wry smile crept onto the Centurion’s lips as he recalled how Longus had virtually called Scipio a coward, he had accused the older man of sitting on his heels, had said that they should attack the Carthaginians immediately, and had requested that Scipio should hand over his best troops to him. To give the elder Scipio his due he had remained stoically polite, and had told Longus that the men needed rest, the recruits that Longus had levied into new legions and his green Italian allies both needed extensive training, and that finally, if they waited the Gaulish allies of Hannibal would soon return home for the Winter, as Gauls always did, their warfare always being of a seasonal nature.
Marcianus clearly remembered the look of disbelief that registered on Longus’s face, he could see that the Consul had acknowledged the factors that Scipio had outlined for him, and that he had plainly understood the logic. But Longus had still pestered Scipio for extra men the other consul had refused and in the end, Longus irritated and furious at the older man’s obstinacy had stated that he would attack the Carthaginians alone and that all the laurels of victory would be his alone to reap. At that Scipio had leapt to his feet had called Longus an imprudent fool, stating that he was playing into the hands of the Punics and before he left had pointed straight at Marcianus and said ‘and you can give me back my century too, I don’t want them wasted on some boyish tantrum of a battle!’
At that Longus had jumped out of his own campaign chair and shouted at Scipio ‘I think that wound has addled your brain old man, you are missing an opportunity, one that your Centurion will benefit from when he serves under my command!’ Marcianus had stood there feeling very out of place and exposed to the whims of his two commanders, he looked between the two men, wondering what on earth he should do to extricate himself out of the situation, fortunately Scipio had come to his rescue.
‘The Centurion and I go back a long way, all the way to Rome in fact’, Marcianus had understood the hint, even if the meaning alluded, a somewhat puzzled Longus, in other words, keep your mouth shut about the Temple of Vesta incident! Marcianus had inclined his head making it very clear that he would do as Scipio wished. Scipio had then continued, ‘then let me make it clear, I would like my Centurion back in one piece if you please, and the majority of his century, if you’re ineptitude does not throw it away!’
Longus was dumbfounded, he had stood staring at Scipio his mouth gaping open like a startled fish Scipio however demonstrably ignored him and then addressed Marcianus directly, ‘I was very impressed with your performance at the Po, after the disgraceful behaviour of the senior centurion present it has been noted with favour’ and with that he had nodded curtly at Longus and marched out of the tent.
Longus had turned to Marcianus and said, ‘not a word to anyone, if people are inquisitive you tell them Scipio is incapacitated by his wound, I can’t believe that he can’t see the opportunity before us, I have beaten Hannibal once and I will thrash him again! When I deem the time is right we move! Waiting is for the old and the infirm, dismissed!’ And now the Consul had his chance, deep inside, Marcianus wished he had the elder Scipio in command, and not Longus, he did admire the man’s spirit and drive, but his soldiers instincts agreed with Scipio, Longus’ men, apart from a solid two legions worth, were green, in fact so green that he swore that some could take root if they stood still for much longer.
Standing here freezing their proverbial’s off was not much fun when you had little faith in the army around you. Apart from a core in the middle of the formation that was made up of the heavy block of infantry he found himself standing in, he was flanked by green legionaries, and behind the new boys lurked their allies, the Samnites, Bruttians and Ligurians, who if anything were just as green as the men on the flanks. The other thing that concerned him was that his men were seen as veterans by the troops around him, yes, they had seen combat, but apart from himself and a few older men, the bulk of the men had only been in skirmishes, the hardest fighting they had seen was at the Po. Even men like his Optio Lucius and his pal Andronicus, how would they fare in the noise, blood and confusion of a real battle? He shook his head, no need for negative thoughts, he knew his century, his men, they would not let him down, and as for the rest…well who knows?
Marcianus noted the thousands of men in drab tunics and little if any armour in front of the heavy infantry, the light infantryman of the Republic; the poor sods who were to screen the heaviest soldiers that the Republic could field; they were scurrying over the frost covered plain, ready to exchange missile with the screening troops of the Carthaginians, slingers from the Balearics and javelin men from Numidia. He could see Roman horse on either flank, not many, certainly not enough in his opinion and that was coming from a infantryman; his scalp itched the sixth sense of a veteran at work, not good he thought, then as it started to snow and the chilly temperature got lower the experienced Centurion sent a prayer to Mars asking him to protect his century.
Lucius could see the look of concentration on his Centurion’s face, Marcianus had told him about the run-in between the two Consuls’, and had then sworn him to secrecy. He knew the thoughts that would be running through his friend’s head, it now seemed ridiculous that when they had first met he had been in awe of the man, a little afraid of the no-nonsense soldier, now he regarded him with respect and a certain amount of fondness. He could see why his father Numerius thought so highly of him.
Lucius had a nagging throb at the back of this head he tried to shake it off, but it was still there, not a headache, no nothing quite so simple as that….it was something else…. the Carthaginians had attacked the camp early this morning at first light, before the men had properly slept and breakfasted; just a little sortie, those damnable Numidian horseman running amok again with their javelins, until they had been pushed away by Roman cavalry. And then Longus had ordered an attack; having what Marcianus had told him about the Consul in mind, he was sure that Longus thought he was being dashing and adventurous and attacking of his own accord…but Lucius’s thinking was different, Hannibal had goaded the Consul and he had taken the bait.
Lucius train of thought was interrupted as buccina sounded all around him, the signal to attack given loud and clear, Marcianus’s voice echoed around them as the century moved forward at his command, the stamp of thousands of sandaled feet could be heard, crunching on the hard frost covered ground, in response his stomach grumbled and he wished he had had the foresight to grab a piece of bread from the early morning ovens that had been fired up, a lucky few around him munching on a crust, old hands all of them, experienced in the ways of battles. A hand furtively reached into Marcianus own, Andronicus pushed a small roll into him palm giving his friend a furtive wink and nodded towards Africanus as if to say ‘it was him not me you need to thank’, the little Carthaginian marched next to Andronicus, the Greek had managed to quiz the new man about why he had slain Manugas, it seemed that he had killed the man because the officer had killed his older brother, once the men had understood why he had changed sides they had somewhat surprisingly taken to him and called him ‘Africanus’ as an affectionate nickname
Andronicus had taken him under his wing, he had even trained Africanus in the rudimentary commands of drill and combat, and he was beginning to learn Latin, although of an earthy, soldierly kind. Lucius could see the youngster happily munching on bread, at first Marcianus had wanted to leave him in camp, but the men had kicked up such a fuss, about him being a ‘lucky charm’ what with their miraculous escape over the river and the subsequent march to freedom that a somewhat grumpy Centurion had relented. As they marched forward, the snow which had began in small fitful flurries, then became more insistent, settling on the shoulders and helmets of men, visibility getting poorer as more snow fell, and the snow at their feet turning to a greyish brown mush as it mixed with the earth, the messy mix now freezing the exposed toes found in each legionaries sandals, Lucius shivered, not in fear, but of the cold.
In the distance over the river Trebbia, which looked dauntingly grey and foreboding, Lucius could see the Carthaginian infantry waiting for them, Hannibal’s men had probed then withdrawn and now they stood, waiting patiently for a tired, green and hungry Roman army that had to wade through a frozen river to fight them in the early hours of the morning.
Lucius could already see that the light infantry and cavalry of Rome had crossed the river to engage the enemy in their eagerness to engage them. Why could they not see what he could see? Hannibal was drawing them on, his light infantry and cavalry falling back to draw our own upon them until they are exhausted, and his troops then smash to the attack?!
Already the Roman cavalry was strung out, exposed and ready for picking, the light infantry less so, but still vulnerable, and soon it would be their turn. He looked over at Marcianus, and he held the gaze of his second in command, as if to say ‘I know boy.’ And then they hit the water! By the Gods it was freezing, they waded in ankle deep, then thigh deep, then up to the waist and then finally the freezing water hit their chests and robbed them of the breath from their lungs and what was left of the heat from their bodies, then at last the ground at their feet levelled out and then began to taper upwards then they were swiftly marching out of the other side, not moving in haste through eagerness for the fight, but to escape the bitter cold of the water that had surrounded them, Lucius’s body and legs felt encased by ice, with a huge effort of will he pushed his body onwards trying to drive warmth back into his body. He had thought the Po had been cold when they crossed it, but this was something else, as he got out of the cold water, he could see some men had almost turned blue, and teeth chattered all about him. How were they supposed to fight like this?
When they drew to a halt on the other side of the river, to his surprise Hannibal did not attack, no, and Lucius knew why, he wanted them all! He wanted all the heavy infantry to cross, and right there and then Lucius knew the battle was lost…
I don't know why I bother posting any more, I always say the same thing.
Just see the last couple of replies to get the general idea.
Oh and a great update, I can't wait too see how Marcianus and co get out of this.
Good chapter especially in describing the river crossing
I never thought I would see The story at the bottom of the page Keep up the Great work
Wow seriously? Ok I apolagize for my last comment I lost track of time (so to speak)
I demand an update.
Chapter Thirty One - The Icy Fields of Death
Battle of the Trebbia, Northern Italia – December 218BC
Marcianus shook the excess water off his clothes as he marched, the men doing similarly all around him, each man doing his best to warm up and dry-off at the same time, the Centurion’s thoughts mirrored those of his subordinate, this was a bad position to be in, and the men were hungry, tired and cold. Still he could see the look of determination etched in each and every face of his century, even though he could tell his men felt as uneasy as he did at the way the Carthaginians were drawing them on, his men did not waver, they marched forward with the stoic professionalism of the men of the legions. Marcianus could sense a flow and movement in the opposing javelin men and slingers that did not bode well, their retreat stopped in an instant, the men reacting as one to form a solid single skirmishing line, behind them the heavy infantry of the Africans, Iberians and Celts waiting fresh and well fed, whilst on the wings he could see the cavalry waiting with a small number of the elephant beasts that scared the country boys of Italia so much.Suddenly the Carthaginian cavalry that had been steadily pulling back from in front of the chasing roman cavalry wheeled around and struck the strung out Roman cavalry hard!
Longus had no choice but to signal the withdrawal of the tired and outnumbered Roman horsemen. The lighter Numidian horse peeled away from their heavy colleagues and charged towards the Roman velites, and in a beautiful flowing move charged and then turned to spin their mounts away that caused the Roman javelin men to panic and throw their missiles short of the horsemen. Then the Punic horsemen span again and turned and threw their own missiles at the unarmed and un-armoured velites, groups of fast moving Balearic slingers coming forward to support their cavalry and add to the slaughter. The Romans fell in their droves; small wiry young men dotted the field like a cruel mockery of a flowered meadow, javelins pointing out of their broken bodies in a myriad of directions, added to this was the head wounds, broken arms and legs all caused by the hail of stones unleashed by the men from Iberia. Once again Longus seeing that he had been outfoxed by his wily opponent had no choice but to withdraw his screen of velites back through the heavy infantry of the legions. As the light infantrymen came back through the ranks of his century, Marcianus could see the looks of relief on their faces, so keen were they to leave the space between the battle lines of the opposing forces and the stinging javelins of the Numidian horse and the stones of the slingers from the Balearics.
Marcianus found himself admiring the timing of the opposing general, just as the veteran Centurion thought the time would be right to remove the Numidians and the slingers from the field, then Hannibal did so. As one, the light horseman and the slingers left the centre of the field and resumed their places on the flanks of the Carthaginian infantry. As the Buccina sounded Marcianus knew that the time had come for his men to be tested in their first real battle, the centurion shouted his command and he could hear it echoed all around him from the lungs and throats of the Centurions of the neighbouring formations, ‘forward, keep pace with the flanking centuries!’
Lucius instantly responded to the order issued by Marcianus as did the men all around him, they marched forward, the steady tread of their sandals crunching on the frosted ground, Lucius could see that opposing them was a horde of muscled, tattooed, hairy and angry looking Gauls. He had hoped to fight the Carthaginians, after all they were the ones waging war on Rome, the Gauls just a mere side show, an expendable commodity, at least that was how the young Optio thought Hannibal would be viewing them.He was in the very front line as Marcianus’s voice rang out clear again, ‘Keep your shields high lads, second rank brace the first rank, third rank use your Pila on my command!’
The Gauls were moving forward now, not the steady tramp of an organised battle line, just a mad headlong rush, each man trying to outdo the mad warrior next to him, the warriors howling like wolves and insulting the Romans in a mixture of the tangled Gaulish tongue and coarse Latin,Marcianus voice pierced the air again, ‘halt. Brace for charge!’
Lucius world exploded in a confusion of coloured lights as a massive Gaul slammed against his shield, the interlocking shields of Andronicus on his left and the legionary on Lucius’s right absorbing the power of the Gaul, all along the line Lucius registered the wave that went from shield to shield as the Gauls hit the wall of legionaries.
Marcianus had been clever, before the battle had started he had ordered the men in the first two ranks to hand their Pila to the men in the two ranks behind them, now he gave the order ‘release pila, fire at will!’
Pila arched one after another into the air over the heads of the men in the first two ranks, the centurion could already see where they where hitting home, Gauls impaled by the lethally weighted ‘darts’ of the legions, his boys, his Hastati, were doing well.But then the inevitable happened, over the heads of his men, Marcianus could see the Carthaginian cavalry spring from the wings like wild beasts, they crashed into the outnumbered roman horse on each flank with the force of an avalanche and drove the horsemen back, pushing them again and again from the field until finally they were fighting them in the waters of the Trebbia. The flanks of the heavy infantry were now open; there was nothing between them and the cavalry of the Carthaginians.
Surely it could not get worse!
Erastus didn’t want to be with the men on the hidden flank of the Romans, he wanted to be with his own people, in the centre of battle, fighting the hated Romans with his fellow Boii and the rest of the Gaulish tribes. But Hannibal had asked him to ride with the general's own brother Mago, how could he refuse?
The order was given.
And Mago’s men who had hid in a hidden depression in the ground on the right flank of the Roman infantry burst forward with all the fury that a mortal man could muster.
Marcianus eyes almost burst from their sockets, where did these Punic dogs spring from?! It was as if they had sprung from the very earth itself, they charged into the flanks of the green centuries that he been most concerned about, soon he could see the first signs of panic as men began to peel away from the fight, first the odd one or two….and then a flood.The men of the rear centuries and on the flanks ran for the river, showing their exposed backs to the enemy, any sense of formation or fight vanishing in an instant.
Lucius could tell that something was going badly wrong, he had disposed of the big Gaul mere moments ago, but he had no time to dwell on his victory, as already more men pushed against his shield, trying to either push him over, stab his ankles or feet, or hook a spear or a long sword over the top of his four foot of wooden protection. This was not like any skirmish he had faced before, he could not dance out of position, sword singing, or grab a fallen battle axe and run amok amongst the enemy, he did not have the time to register the face of each and every man he killed in single combat. He just stood there, legs braced, right arm punching out in a stabbing motion as he had been trained, looking for an exposed stomach, groin or other undefended part of the body, his shield a solid comforting weight on his left arm.
He risked a peek to his left, and saw Andronicus stabbing like a crazed gladiator next to him, the big man seemed to have boundless energy, already a small gap had opened before him as the Gauls realised that this was one legionary best avoided.Then a glance to the right confirmed Lucius gut instincts…both the right flank and the rear centuries was running away back over the Trebbia, pursued by fresh Carthaginian cavalry and a lone Gaul a feral snarl on the man’s face, Lucius frowned at that oddity, and then resumed his concentration, if he was to die here, he would take a few more of these barbarians with him.
Marcianus’s eyes were locked at the massacre taking place on the river bank, the mysterious force of new horsemen were making merry with Rome’s green Italian allies and the few Romans that had ran with them. Piles of bodies were already clogging the river downstream, some men had died on the end of a spear point or the edge of a long blade, some had been crushed by the weight of retreating sandals as their comrades had trod all over them in their haste to get away from the grinning, laughing horsemen all around them and some drowned in the river as they tried to swim it in their heavy armour. Already the cavalry that had chased the Roman horse from the field had returned, so that they might join in on the bloody carnage on the river Trebbia.
The Buccina sounded yet again, Marcianus could see that already a new Roman right flank was forming as was a new rear line; Longus was forming a box formation, now at least the man was doing something right! He could see the consul shouting orders at the centre of the formation, surgeons working in the middle next to him as wounded men were pulled from the ranks and medicated as best as possible given the circumstances.Marcianus eyes locked onto the Consul, the senior man beckoned Marcianus to him, ‘Centurion your men have been in the front line for too long, they are to rotate, I have job for you and your men, at the double if you please.’
‘Yes Consul’, Marcianus jogged over to the Centurion in command of the century directly behind his own, ‘The Consul wants us to rotate, my boys have a job to do.’
The Centurion raised an eyebrow but did not comment any further, he simply spun on his heel and issued the order ‘Rotate!!’In a perfect piece of parade ground efficiency, the two centuries swapped positions, without once losing contact with the enemy.
Marcianus shouted the order to form up on him and without any undue fuss his men took their customary order of March. ‘Lucius you’re in charge, we have a job to do it seems, I’m going to find out exactly what it is.’ With that, he left his men to find Longus once more.
Marcianus stood in front of the consul and saluted.
Consul Longus almost gave Marcianus an apologetic smile, ‘Centurion, good. I want you to take out the elephants on our right flank, they must be stopped, or our entire flank will be threatened. I have ordered the men to give you every spare ‘dart’ that they can. When you have finished you may return to the square. Good luck.’
Elephants! What was he an animal trainer at the circus! Yet again his men had been given a death sentence, first Scipio and the bridge at Ticinus and now Longus at the Trebbia. He saluted Longus and replied, ‘Of course Consul, consider it done’, Marcianus walked away back to his century, wondering why the Gods could not torment another century for a change.
Fortuna does not smile upon them Vae victus, I suppose. Superb writing as always, my one gripe being the flicking between all these characters. Perhaps use less characters in one update, or spread them out over several, so each in involved but not all in one post? Anywho, I like it.
It looks like the century is in for an exotic experience. Good update! +rep
As for the character switching, I do like to tell the tale of a battle from the perspective of both Marcianus and Lucius as they will have different experiences, it also helps to portray the battle as it actually played out, for example the surprise attack by Mago (with Erastus taking part as a plot device) actually did happen and did cause the rout of the newly levied troops back to the river Trebia.
Already the battle will stretch over 3 chapters, so if I gave each character their own it would probably be more like 9, which would bore everybody!!
I'm glad you liked it however!
Oh my god. How do you do it? Lucius is definately not having the best week poor lad Anyway fantastic update Rex! Keep writing and ill keep reading!
Do you have any tips on how to get the description of a charcters feelings and doings right? You superbly describe each scene I can picture it in my head!
This is some advice I gave someone I while ago, with a little bit added;
Think about how you would react in a given situation, heres a few to think on, for example a friend dies tragically - how do you react to the news/cope with the feeling of loss/feel the depth of your emotions - the strain etc.
Another example would be try to capture your feelings in the midst of battle for the first time - fear for your life, the future, your mates/anger at your enemy or a cowardly comrade or even your own temptation to run/empathy with your enemy after battle, feeling the common bond of a family man or the loss of comrades.
A final example would be you're reaction if you won a great deal of money - the overwhelming joy/ the happiness that you and your family would never have finanical worries/ the panic of how your life has changed, and will the money actually make you happier?....
Think about situations and how you would react and respond to them, and then move a step onwards and think about how friends and family would react, from there its quite simple to move to the everyday persons reaction, even if they are from another culture, fantasy world or time.
Hope that helps mate.
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