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Thread: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 24th June 2019]

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    Default “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 24th June 2019]

    “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR.)
    by Welsh Dragon.





    "The Romans...

    They would rather lay upon their couches drinking wine than face a true warriors death in battle.
    They think themselves our betters. That they can 'civilise' us. Tell us how to live. How to fight?

    War? What do they know of war? They do not live for it as we do. They weaken themselves with
    luxury and still they call themselves warriors? Toutatis favours the brave...!

    But one tribe cannot stand alone.

    We must. Be. United.

    Fearless.

    Ruthless.

    I will drive Rome from our lands."

    ***

    Hi everyone and welcome to my first AAR. I'll be posting Chapter 1 in the next post, but for now here's a few details.

    The focus of this AAR will be the Nervii, a faction I've found really intriguing ever since they were added to Rome 2, and whose playstyle I enjoy, especially since Patch 17. You can read a little about them on the Official Wiki here .

    The AAR will be based on a Nervii Hard/Hard Difficulty Caesar in Gaul Campaign I am currently playing. This is with Patch 17, though I'll also be using a few mods to mix things up a bit, details below.

    The events of the campaign will guide the events in the story, and I'll also be using in game characters for major characters where possible, with personalities guided by the traits they have in game. This isn't to say everything in game will happen in the story, or visa versa, but it will be what I am chiefly working off.

    I'll also be trying to roleplay my actions in game to suit the characters involved. I'll be fielding what I feel to be realistic armies (so no Oathsworn stacks) and as the Nervii were known to not use cavalry, I will not be using any until I have achieved certain campaign/story goals, which I'll be keeping to myself for now.


    Chapters:



    Mods:


    A More Aggressive AI by Ron Burgundy (aka Turquoise_Falcon)
    More AI Armies by Ron Burgundy
    The Great Politics Overhaul by Ron Burgundy (contains Influence_50x by Octavius and Attila Politics and Civil War by HappyCompy.)
    Rebalanced AI Recruitment by Setrus
    Patch 17 Data Typos by Bruce_R and other Community Members.
    Zoom All the Way Down by Re’goso

    You can find full details in my Mod Collection here.

    Thanks:

    First and foremost thank you to Alwyn for encouraging me to have a go at AAR writing, advice and helpful feedback; Setrus and a number of other veteran Total War players who I am lucky enough to call friends, who have encouraged my writing; and Shankbot de Bodemloze, Caillagh de Bodemloze and mad orc for welcoming me into the Writers Study. I also want to thank the various writers in the Critics Quill and Writers Study, whose articles and posts are proving invaluable in teaching me how to do things like write battles. Finally I'd like to thank CA staff past and present for making the games I enjoy so much I want to write about them, and the makers of the Mods I'm using for giving even more life to a game I've already played so much.

    Read on for Chapter 1, and I hope you all enjoy the story.

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.
    Last edited by Welsh Dragon; June 24, 2019 at 05:58 PM.

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    Welsh Dragon's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR)

    “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR.)
    Chapter 1: Prophecy (Part 1)

    They come for me in the night. Two warriors, amongst my most brave and loyal. Each has sworn their lives to me in both blood and battle. Their conviction tested time and again, and never found wanting. I would trust these men with my life, and have done so many times. On a night such as this, I would entrust no one else with the difficult duty we face.

    We cross the village in silence, our thoughts on the task ahead. For tonight we stand the death's watch. The sacred vigil, to stand over a dying warrior, to protect them from the evil spirits that would lead them to the forsaken lands, and prepare them for their journey to the Otherworld. To honour them, to remember them and to see them safely to their way.

    I have sat it before. For my father. My mother. Fallen comrades and even enemies whose courage has earned them that right. Yet the watch I stand tonight, and have stood these past five nights, is perhaps the hardest thing I will ever do.

    We arrive all too quickly at the hut we seek. My companions would see me inside immediately, but I gesture for them to hold still. I wait a moment and take in the sight before me. Around this single unremarkable hut there are many gathered. Men, women, even children. From our tribe and from others. Both near and far. The hut's owner is a popular one, and so there are many who wish to come and say their farewell. But they keep their distance. For only the druids and those of the death's watch may approach and enter.

    A small child is the first to notice me. He turns and points, babbling something to his mother. The man next to her hears his chatter and elbows his friend, and both turn towards me as well. The muttering soon spreads like wildfire till all look upon me. Their reactions are mixed, from friendly recognition to fear, to lust, to envy and hatred. Many share my look of sorrow, for what will come to pass before too many more sunrises. Others, I cannot tell.

    I see a few familiar faces. Those who have fought by my side in battle. Others whose swords have been raised against me. Some I have helped, others would rather see me be the one lying in that hut. But they all know me, by name and reputation if nothing else. I am Boduognatus, Warlord of the Nervii, the bravest of the bravest of the Belgae. It is a title and reputation I have earned the hard way, through blood, battle, sacrifice and I hope some small amount of wise leadership. Not quirk of parentage like some Gallic chieftain's son...

    But tonight is not about me. I acknowledge the crowd, but my thoughts are still elsewhere. To the man I have come to see, for what may be the last time. As I walk towards the hut and enter, the crowd falls silent out of respect. If not for me, then for who I have come to see.

    *

    Inside the hut a small fire burns at the centre, yet most of the room is shrouded in darkness. But this does not trouble me, as I have been here many times. To seek guidance, to join in song, to celebrate a victory or just find a friendly ear. The decoration is modest. We Nervii do not seek the trappings of luxury that drives other tribes. It is not our way. And while its occupant may not have been a Nervii born, he earned the right to call himself one of us long ago.

    Several more of my trusted men, my Oathsworn, are gathered. But they part without a word to let me through. Near the small fire, laying upon a bed of furs is one of the greatest warriors I have ever known. I have called him many things in my time. Friend. Rival. Wise council. Pig-headed idiot. Brother in battle. But most know him simply as Gwydion.

    Who he was before he came to us and where he came from, no one truly knows. He speaks our language as fluently as our cousins across the Narrow Sea, and yet no tribe there claims him. He fights like a wild man from the dark forests of the east, and yet he does not speak their tongue. I have seen him woo a lady like a bard, yet he cannot sing a note, though that has never stopped him from trying. Some even believe that he came from further away, perhaps the Island of Angels where the druids dwell amongst their sacred groves? Though if so, I have never met a druid quite like him.

    Stories of his victories will live on long after we are both dust. Not that you would know all this, looking upon the frail and withered figure I see before me now.

    The gods can be most cruel... especially to those who have once held their favour.

    *******

    Author's Notes:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    While the Narrow Sea is probably best known these days as a location in the world of Game of Thrones, it's also another name for various small seas and straights including in this case the English Channel and the Straights of Dover. For example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Narrow_Seas

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.
    Last edited by Welsh Dragon; July 20, 2017 at 05:59 AM.

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    Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar From the Writers Study!
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR)

    Great opening - very interested in learning the origins of this mighty Gwydion!

    +rep
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR)

    Excellent start, you've got my interest.

    Have some rep.
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    Prepare to imbibe the medicine of rebuke!

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR)

    His name's Gwydion? From your description, I'd say that seems very fitting. I'm very much looking forward to finding out just how fitting the name is.

    That's a great start - you've caught the atmosphere beautifully, I think, and your description of Gwydion is lovely.






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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR)

    Quote Originally Posted by Shankbot de Bodemloze View Post
    Great opening - very interested in learning the origins of this mighty Gwydion!

    +rep
    Thank you. We'll learn a bit more as the story develops.

    Quote Originally Posted by Justinian Australis View Post
    Excellent start, you've got my interest.

    Have some rep.
    Thanks. Hope I can continue to keep your interest.

    Quote Originally Posted by Caillagh de Bodemloze View Post
    His name's Gwydion? From your description, I'd say that seems very fitting. I'm very much looking forward to finding out just how fitting the name is.

    That's a great start - you've caught the atmosphere beautifully, I think, and your description of Gwydion is lovely.
    I wondered if anyone would pick up on that. As for how fitting, well you'll just have to wait and see.

    And thank you. Getting the atmosphere right is very tricky, so means a lot to me that people are feeling I'm getting it right.

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR)

    “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR.)
    Chapter 2: Prophecy (Part 2.)


    “Boduognatus?” Gwydion says as soon as I approach. Age and illness may have robbed him of his sight of late, but they have not stolen his sharp wits or keen hearing.

    “Rest easy my friend, I am here.” I say as he tries to sit up. One of my warriors moves across to aid him, but Gwydion shrugs away his help. He always was a proud one.

    “Rest? I cannot rest. Arawn already calls for me,” he says. “There is so little time my friend, and we must speak of many things. But the message I bring this night is for you and you alone.”

    “Leave us.” The rest of the death watch obey without question. I wait until they have left the hut, and then I ask. “Why did you send for me?”

    “Isn't it ironic? Only now, when I am blind, do I see more clearly now than I have ever seen before...”

    “What do you see old friend?”

    “I see everything...” As he says this, Gwydion's voice changes in a way I have never heard before. It is as if he speaks from far away, yet also as close as he is to me now. It is unsettling, yet I know that I must listen to his words.

    “I fly high above the ground, higher than even the greatest of the birds. This must be how the gods see us, from the Otherworld. We are so tiny, so insignificant, and yet so full of potential. But even as I watch a great shadow falls across the lands, until all is shrouded in darkness. All except... at its heart there is a single spark of light, shining out against the darkness. I swoop down and see that where there is light stands a towering bonfire, it's flames reaching up into the night sky like a beacon in the dark. And from the shadows I see four figures approach. Each is so different and yet looks so determined, united by a common purpose to succeed. They do not notice me, as if I were nothing but smoke on the breeze. But I study them.

    The first stands proud and strong. His chest is bare, his beard aflame, his shoulders swathed in furs. Around him a great pack of wolves gather, their jaws open, teeth and lips dripping, hungry for blood. The night holds no fear for them, nor does he fear these creatures. For they look upon him as their leader, and truly he appears more beast than man. And yet... there is intelligence behind his lupine eyes. He is no mere beast, he is a warrior and a leader, and under him these beasts would sweep across the lands, devouring all in their path.

    He would drive all before him in his quest for plunder.”

    What manner of man could control such animals? I wonder. Gwydion coughs, and adjusts his position upon the bed, before continuing.

    “The second dresses like a man noble born, upon his head a winged helm sits as if a crown. Yet he also has the look of one who has known great hardship in his time. An exile, who has learned to fight for what is his in all things. He is no chieftain... not yet at least. He thinks himself a hero and presents himself as such. This gathers many about him... The poor... The dispossessed... Those with a grudge to settle and those just spoiling for a fight. But even as I watch, the plants near him begin to wither and die, the very soil turned to dust.

    He would lay waste to these lands in his efforts to save them.”

    As I consider how one man could bring such ruin, Gwydion's cough worsens. I offer him a cup of water, which he drinks quickly, then continues.

    “The third rides upon a white horse. His armour gleaming in the firelight and a red cloak upon his back. He is an interloper. He has no place in these lands and yet through them he sees his path to glory. He intends to be the greatest Chieftain this world has ever known, and even the gods may tremble before him. His tongue is as silver as the hair upon his head, and with it he already sets tribe against tribe, brother against brother. He will divide the tribes, and when we are at our weakest he will come for us all. For his army spreads across the lands like a plague of ants. Unceasing. Unrelenting. Marching and fighting as one. If they are not stopped they will grind all before them into dust.

    He would trade all of our blood for the power he craves.”

    Gwydion falls silent. And I feel something I have not felt in some time. True fear. For as he has spoken, I have come to realise these are no ordinary dreams. I do not know how I know, but I know. These are the death dreams. Visions provided by the gods to a select few as they stand upon the border between this realm and the next. They are said to show the truth, of what was and what is to come, and come with the gravest of warnings. Only a fool would ignore them.

    His words have shaken me to my very core. And yet I know there must be more. Gwydion said there were four figures, yet only he has only spoken of three so far. I almost fear to ask for more. And yet I know I must.

    “And what of the fourth?”

    “The fourth...” Gwydion smiles. “The fourth is known to me. In the dream I see him moving through the shadows like a wraith. The light does not touch him unless he wishes it to. And he is not alone. Others move with him in the shadows. Friends and allies come and go in an ever changing tapestry of faces.

    He steps into the bonfire light, and that is when I know his name. He looks much as I remember him, though perhaps a little older, a little wiser. If he stays true to himself he will forge his own path as he always has before. Yet, he will have to learn new things to defeat the foes before him. He will be a great warrior and a great leader, and if the gods will it, he shall unite the tribes behind him and none will be able to stand in his way. But the path is hard, and he is the only hope for these lands... For if he fails... Then there will be no hope. All shall fall before one of the others. The old ways will be lost for all eternity, and these lands will run red with the blood of its peoples.”

    Gwydion lets out a sigh. I wait for more, but it does not come. By Toutatis, why must he be so cryptic sometimes?

    “Who is this great leader?” I finally ask. “I must seek him out at once.”

    Gwydion laughs. It is a deep and booming laugh I have not heard in all too long.

    “You do not have far to travel....” Suddenly Gwydion is racked with a cough worse than any I have heard before. It shakes his whole body like a leaf in a storm. He covers his mouth with his hand. I reach to pass him more water, but he waves me off and that is when I see the blood in his palm. I want to speak, but he stops me with a glance. A moment later the cough subsides, and he continues speaking, sounding weaker than before.

    “The fourth... my friend... is you!” With that, as if the exertion has been too great Gwydion collapses back onto the bed, apparently asleep... or worse, I cannot tell.

    I sit in silence, a million thoughts running through my mind. I am no stranger to the burdens of leadership. I could not have risen to lead my people without learning how to carry the fate of others upon my shoulders. But this? The fate of all? How could the gods put such a great weight upon the shoulders of just one man? Of any man?

    I wait there a long while, listening to the ragged breathing of my dearest friend become quieter. And quieter. And quieter still, until I can hear it no more. As the sun rises upon another day, I think that he must have passed beyond the veil and rise to leave.

    But suddenly like the warrior I knew of old, Gwydion's hand shoots out and grasps my arm in a grip as strong as any iron. He pulls me down to him so my ear is but a hairs breadth from his lips. And then he speaks. His voice, barely a whisper...

    “The four will find their paths entwined...
    The future of these lands at stake...
    What happens now is in their hands...
    They cannot afford, but one mistake...

    One shall rise to rule these lands...
    One shall return home in disgrace...
    One shall die a warriors death...
    And one shall truly wish he had...”

    The last word seems to stretch out as the breath leaves his body.

    Gwydion did not see another sunrise.

    *******

    Author's Notes:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    While I intend to mostly draw from in game sources for names and characters, I felt for the man whose prophecy will be a driving force for the actions of Boduognatus to go a little further afield. So for Gwydion I've borrowed the name of a folk hero from Welsh legends.

    Meanwhile the figure of Arawn, mentioned by Gwydion here, is also from Welsh legends. Arawn is the king of the Otherworld realm of Annwn, and is remembered in a traditional saying “Long is the day and long is the night, and long is the waiting of Arawn.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arawn



    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.

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    Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar From the Writers Study!
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 24th July 2017]

    I love your writing , this paragraph in particular was fantastic:
    The first stands proud and strong. His chest is bare, his beard aflame, his shoulders swathed in furs. Around him a great pack of wolves gather, their jaws open, teeth and lips dripping, hungry for blood. The night holds no fear for them, nor does he fear these creatures. For they look upon him as their leader, and truly he appears more beast than man. And yet... there is intelligence behind his lupine eyes. He is no mere beast, he is a warrior and a leader, and under him these beasts would sweep across the lands, devouring all in their path.
    Awesome stuff!

    Looking forward to seeing how our hero copes with this burden, and how he inevitably deals with the three other men from this prophecy.
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    Welsh Dragon's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 24th July 2017]

    Quote Originally Posted by Shankbot de Bodemloze View Post
    I love your writing , this paragraph in particular was fantastic:

    Awesome stuff!

    Looking forward to seeing how our hero copes with this burden, and how he inevitably deals with the three other men from this prophecy.
    Thanks. I spent quite a while trying to get the prophecies just right, so nice to hear they're working.

    Will be interesting to see how the prophecies work out, as I'm only playing a little ahead of where I am in the writing, so who knows where the game will take me.

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 24th July 2017]

    Like Caillagh, I am intrigued about how fitting Gwydion's name will be - and, like Shankbot, I think your writing is excellent!

    Gwydion's prophecy has got me thinking about who these four people are (and how their paths will entwine).

    I'm also wondering how 'ruthless' the Nervii will be (this is in response to the stirring lines underneath the image in your OP), when they experience the challenges ahead - this looks like a challenging and enjoyable campaign!

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 24th July 2017]

    I only read chapter 1 so far, but this stuff is excellent I have to say! Have some rep from me too
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 24th July 2017]

    A most excellent beginning, and good to see you back here; I look eagerly forward to the next update!

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 24th July 2017]

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Like Caillagh, I am intrigued about how fitting Gwydion's name will be - and, like Shankbot, I think your writing is excellent!

    Gwydion's prophecy has got me thinking about who these four people are (and how their paths will entwine).

    I'm also wondering how 'ruthless' the Nervii will be (this is in response to the stirring lines underneath the image in your OP), when they experience the challenges ahead - this looks like a challenging and enjoyable campaign!
    Thanks Alwyn.

    I've found I quite enjoyed using a prophecy as a framing device, and it's not something I've ever really used before. Not sure where the idea came from exactly (I know where some of the inspiration did, but that would be telling.) As I'm taking my cues from the game itself, how exactly they entwine is still something yet to be revealed to me.

    How ruthless the Nervii will become is an interesting question. The teaser actually started out as my attempt to write a version of the Caesar in Gaul intro from the "barbarian" point of view, so I originally picked "We must be united. Fearless. Ruthless." as a mirror to Caesar's "They must be divided. Scattered. Conquered." But war changes people, even those who may have spent much of their lives up to that point fighting like Boduognatus, so what effect facing the might of Rome has on the Nervii will be something I will probably explore in future chapters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Flinn View Post
    I only read chapter 1 so far, but this stuff is excellent I have to say! Have some rep from me too
    Thank you very much. Glad you are enjoying it.

    Quote Originally Posted by McScottish View Post
    A most excellent beginning, and good to see you back here; I look eagerly forward to the next update!
    Thanks. Next chapter is pretty much done (just need to set up image hosting and maybe make a few minor tweaks.) But I'm trying to space them out a bit.

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 24th July 2017]

    “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR.)
    Chapter 3: From Tiny Acorns....


    A full moon has passed since the final night of Gwydion's death's watch. And whilst his words of prophecy on that night have preoccupied my thoughts, as I stand in the Longhouse I cannot help but think of other times and other conversations.

    He and I spoke much in his time with the tribe, and especially so in the weeks leading up to his passing. Only now do I begin to realise that he may have known his time was coming, and wanted to prepare me for when he no longer stood at my side. I shall miss his sound advice...

    “Never make a promise you don't intend to keep. Never let an enemy get behind you. And never, ever, bed a blacksmith's daughter unless you intend to wed her. Because if you don't, may the gods have mercy, because her father has a hammer and he knows how to use it!” I can hear his booming laugh as he said that even now.

    But his aid was not just words of wisdom. (Or of age as he would say.) He also left me several of his possessions, one of which is spread before me now upon the meeting table.

    He called it his 'Great Map.' A lifetime's experience of travelling these lands, laid down upon a single Auroch's hide. Upon it he marked the lands and the seas, and the many peoples he met in his travels. From the 'Britons' and our cousins in the lands across the Narrow Sea to the North, to the toga wearing Gauls of the South. And from the shores of the Great Sea to the West, to the edge of the Dark Forests to the East. After he returned from one of his long journeys, I would often find him in his hut, working away upon the hide to add new details, or changing something as the different tribal lands would shift. It is truly a sight to behold, and in the challenges to come I expect I shall often find myself referring to it.





    (A modern representation of “The Great Map.”)


    But as I look upon it now, I know that these are challenges I will not have to face alone.

    As Warlord I hold great authority amongst the tribes. But my power is not absolute, nor should it be. Many smaller tribes swear allegiance to the Nervii, and it is only right that they too have their say, as part of the Tribal Council. To either side of me stands two of these Elder Chiefs, men I have known for many winters, though not as long as Gwydion, and whose council I trust almost as much.

    To my left stands Caxtos, a warrior of some 36 winters. Though he fights like a demon on the battlefield, he is a quiet man in all things. I have seen him take a spear point through the thigh with barely a sound, and in the same motion kill the man wielding it. And I have also seen him achieve more with a few words that others have with a great many of them. He is someone I have come to rely on for his ability to see many sides of an argument, before finding a path through them. When he speaks, it is wise to listen.

    To my right, is Sacrapo. He is a younger man, of only 31 winters. His father was known for a quite prestigious beard, and while Sacrapo has never been able to match him in that respect, he more than makes up for it with his extremely long moustache. Gwydion once told me he thought it looked like a caterpillar and a snake had mated and their offspring had attached itself to Sacrapo's top lip... Though wisely not within his earshot, as the man has a temper. His moustache also tends to droop when wet, much to Sacrapo's annoyance, which only seems to increases his impetuous nature.

    Despite all that, Sacrapo has always been the peacemaker amongst us. But a desire for peace should not be mistaken for a reluctance to fight when necessary. Many a foe has not lived long enough to learn that lesson. On the battlefield he is a charge first, ask questions later kind of fighter.

    Along with Gwydion, we four have faced many a battle together and come out the other side, if not unscathed then at least with a few new scars and some interesting stories to tell. His loss is a great one to us all. But whilst we have all mourned his passing in our own ways, we have not been idle.

    I have not told them all of Gwydion's prophecy, for to be honest at times I do not know that I truly believe it all myself. Prophecy is a tricky thing, and the God's wisdom is sometimes open to interpretation. But I have told them enough. That before he passed Gwydion warned me of dark times ahead. That we will face enemies too great for even the Nervii to defeat alone. And that our people will look to us to lead them through the fires of war to come.

    It was upon their council that I sent emissaries to all of our neighbouring tribes, friend and foe alike. It is a risk, I will grant you. But a necessary one. For what is to come, we will need all the help we can get.

    “I still think our best chance of allies lies with the tribes to the west.” Sacrapo's words pull me back to the present. “Our history of trade with the Atrebates, along with our new found agreements with the Mornini should make both of them open to further advances. We should push them both for a formal alliance at once.”

    “If we push them, they may startle and flee. Or worse, go elsewhere,” Caxtos says, as calm as ever. “I believe we should consider making further efforts to persuade the Eburones, once we know what they have to say to our envoy.”

    “What help would they bring? The Eburones are glassmakers, not warriors.” Sacrapo says in annoyance. For a peacemaker, he has a sharp tongue about him.

    “You know that isn't true.” I say with a flash of anger, slamming my fist down onto the table, making Sacrapo jump a little.

    “We have not forgotten your history with them,” Caxtos replies, putting a calming hand upon my shoulder. “But that was many winters past, and their craftsmanship could aid us in the days to come. Trade alone would help our cause.”

    History would be putting it mildly. I have good reason to hate them, and yet... Caxtos has a point. I take a deep breath, trying to calm myself, then nod.

    “And what of the south?” I say, indicating the three tribes whose lands are adjacent to our southern borders. “The Suessiones. The Remi. And the Trevarii.”

    “I fear that there we may face a challenge too great for even my skills” says Sacrapo, leaning heavily against the table, the frustration clear in his voice.

    “I have to agree,” Caxtos adds, stroking his beard in thought. “The Suessiones are too proud to accept any alliance not lead by them. The Trevarii have too much to lose should they side with us, and too much to gain should we fail. And the Remi? You know their reputation as well as I do. I'm not sure any of us would trust them to stand beside us in a shield wall.”

    “Any threat from the south will have to come through their lands.” I say, glancing across the map to those lands further afield. “When that time comes, I would rather all three tribes be fighting alongside us, no matter their reputations. But we cannot afford for them to be fighting against us that day. If we cannot unite them through talking, we will have to find another way.”

    I look at the grim faces of my comrades. We all know the truth of the matter. Nervii do not shy away from a fight, and we have been known to travel great distances just to take part in one. But neither do we shed blood without reason. There is no honour in it.

    Before more can be said, we are interrupted. A young man of the tribe, barely old enough to have grown his first beard enters.

    “A message from the gate.” The young lad says, clearly a little out of breath. “There is a rider. Came from the east. He claims to come from the Eburones with a message, that he will only deliver to you Warlord.”

    Caxtos, Sacrapo and I exchange looks. “Well, better not keep him waiting.”
    *

    We find the rider upon his horse, riding back and forth a short distance from the East gate. It seems he is impatient to deliver his message and be gone from here. To be honest, I don't blame him. Were I in his place, I would feel the same, knowing it would take but one gesture to the warriors who stand at the gates to bring him down by sling stone, javelin or spear.

    I take a moment to study horse and rider. The horse is small, but healthy looking. Perhaps built for speed and agility, though I am no horse man to say for sure. As well as the rider, I notice the horse carries a cloth sack and a spear strapped to the side of the beast. I turn my gaze upon the rider. He does not look like what I have come to expect from an Eburone. His hair is unnaturally spiked. His clothes, what there are of them, are dyed strange colours. A mercenary if I were to guess, maybe from one of the tribes of the Dark Forests of the East.

    The rider notices my attention and in the same moment his horse stops as if the two are one beast.

    “My message is for the so called Warlord of the Nervii.” The man speaks in a thick accent. “Send him forth or stop wasting my time.”

    I can feel the anger flow through my companions and warriors at the rider's slight, but I gesture for them to take no action. I will not rise to such weak bait.

    “That would be me.” I say, stepping forward from amongst my warriors. “Deliver your message rider. What does your master have to say for himself?”

    The rider looks down at me as if looking upon a bug to be crushed beneath his foot. He is clearly not impressed. “His excellency, Ambriorix the Mighty,” he begins, and I can hear his arrogance in every word. “Warlord of the Eburones, slayer of beast and man, bedder of the finest women, wiser than the wisest of the druids, High King of all the Belgae and the Gauls and the Germanics thanks you for your request and wishes me to deliver his reply to you personally.”

    “And what is Ambriorix's reply?” I say, deliberately omitting the titles, both real and imagined. I will not be talked down to in my own lands.

    “This!” The rider says. He moves with uncanny swiftness, his right arm reaching into the sack and swinging around to hurl something towards me even as he wheels about his horse. He rides away too fast for anyone to react. All eyes are drawn to the the object. Too large to be a sling stone, not long enough to be a javelin, it arcs through the air before coming down a short distance from me and rolling across the ground to come to a stop at my feet. I look down, and have to hold back my revulsion at the sight I see.

    For looking up at me are the cold lifeless eyes of the man I sent to speak peace with the Eburones.

    The message is clear. There can be no peace.


    ***


    Author's Notes:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Hopefully it's clear from the story, but if not, I'm using a couple of alternate expressions to mark the passage of time. A “full moon” is an entire month (literally a full cycle through the phases of the moon.) And in this case a “winter” or “winters” is a year or years. As a man of some 40 winters, in the world of this story Boduognatus is old enough to have experienced much conflict and be respected as an Elder, but young enough to still be fighting in a battle line.


    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.
    Last edited by Welsh Dragon; March 02, 2019 at 08:32 AM.

  15. #15
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 4th August 2017]

    Your meaning of a "full moon" and a "winter" was clear, at least to me; even so, it's helpful to make this explicit in an author's note (as you have done), in case people are unsure. The map is helpful, too. I enjoy reading about a faction's strategic thinking and this comes across well in the discussion between the Warlord, Boduognatus and the Elder Chiefs, Caxtos and Sacrapo.

    The contrasts in your characters help to make them feel authentic - I like the way that Caxtos is described as fierce on the battlefield, but quiet elsewhere, while Sacrapo is a peacemaker who has a sharp tongue when he is frustrated.

    I also like the impression that both characters and factions have histories (and reputations), even at the start of the campaign. The dialogue between the Warlord and the mysterious rider from the east is nicely done, I look forward to seeing how the Warlord of the Nervii will react.
    Last edited by Alwyn; August 05, 2017 at 12:16 PM.

  16. #16
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 4th August 2017]

    Shankbot's right, this is good writing. Chapter 2, in particular, is beautifully written. Chapter 3 is more prosaic, but that's very appropriate given the different content of the two chapters.

    I love the way you draw your characters so clearly with so few lines. And the way you describe the delivery of the 'message' from the Eburones is lovely; the build of the tension, and the pacing, are just right.






  17. #17
    Welsh Dragon's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 4th August 2017]

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Your meaning of a "full moon" and a "winter" was clear, at least to me; even so, it's helpful to make this explicit in an author's note (as you have done), in case people are unsure. The map is helpful, too. I enjoy reading about a faction's strategic thinking and this comes across well in the discussion between the Warlord, Boduognatus and the Elder Chiefs, Caxtos and Sacrapo.

    The contrasts in your characters help to make them feel authentic - I like the way that Caxtos is described as fierce on the battlefield, but quiet elsewhere, while Sacrapo is a peacemaker who has a sharp tongue when he is frustrated.

    I also like the impression that both characters and factions have histories (and reputations), even at the start of the campaign. The dialogue between the Warlord and the mysterious rider from the east is nicely done, I look forward to seeing how the Warlord of the Nervii will react.
    Thanks Alwyn, glad the terms and characters were clear. I know sometimes I write something which makes perfect sense in my head, but is undecipherable for anyone else.

    As the principle characters are all in their 30s and 40s, seemed to make sense they'd have a history already. Same goes for the tribes, which in many cases will have been neighbours for generations. I had a lot of fun looking at each of the surrounding tribes and considering what might make them special, and how the Nervii and specific characters would feel about them. To do this I also took a look at their real historical counterparts (Wikipedia has some useful pages on this.) The Remi's connection with Caesar is quite well known, and they also seem to have sided with both Germanic and other tribes at different points, so seemed to fit a reputation of being untrustworthy. Meanwhile as the Suessiones had, at the time of Caesar's invasion, "within living memory... exercised sovereignty over most of the Belgians and even parts of Britain" it just seemed to fit to have them be a prideful people. Trevarii are an interesting one, as they were early adopters of Roman material culture, but had a chequered history with Roman power. So how they develop, well could go a variety of ways.

    As for the Rider and his message.... well don't think it's giving too much to say Boduognatus isn't going to take such a dishonourable act lying down. War is coming!

    Quote Originally Posted by Caillagh de Bodemloze View Post
    Shankbot's right, this is good writing. Chapter 2, in particular, is beautifully written. Chapter 3 is more prosaic, but that's very appropriate given the different content of the two chapters.

    I love the way you draw your characters so clearly with so few lines. And the way you describe the delivery of the 'message' from the Eburones is lovely; the build of the tension, and the pacing, are just right.
    Thank you Caillagh de Bodemloze,

    It's always nice to get feedback on my writing, as it can be a quiet solitary activity at some points. Glad you are enjoying both the writing and the story itself, especially as I have almost no experience writing in first person present tense.

    After the first couple of chapters, which were a bit mystical, I wanted to get back to a more grounded place with a greater connection to the game itself for this one. When playing I sometimes imagine myself a leader looking at maps to plan their campaigns, so glad I managed to translate that from the game into the story, and also build more of a presence for Gwydion in the process. I've been lucky with the game providing me with some interesting characters to work with (plus Sacrapo's moustache in game is just ridiculous looking, so had to get that in!) But glad to hear they are coming across well as different people. Always a bit worried everyone will end up sounding the same.

    As for the Rider, the Eburones rather caught me by surprise when they declared war out of the blue, so I wanted to get that across in the story. (Though looking at their situation in game, as Bagacum is literally the only way they can easily expand, makes a lot of sense from the AI POV.) All of that, plus what is to come in the next chapter, spun out of that one A.I. decision, which makes for an interesting story telling challenge. It's one of the things I'm enjoying about writing this AAR, adapting to unexpected changes, instead of plotting everything out in advance.

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.

  18. #18

    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR)

    Very atmospheric! Looking forward to reading more

  19. #19
    Welsh Dragon's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR)

    Quote Originally Posted by Beavertronius View Post
    Very atmospheric! Looking forward to reading more
    Thank you. Glad you are enjoying it Beavertronius. Hope to have another chapter up soon (next week or so) just as ever real world stuff getting in the way.

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.

  20. #20
    Welsh Dragon's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 4th August 2017]

    Sorry for the delay. Life stuff getting in the way and writing time needed for other projects. But in the meantime, here's a snatch of dialogue from the next chapter as a teaser.

    “Will this blasted fog never cease.”

    “Oh quit your complaining. You're the one that's always talking about wanting to get out more.... Besides, I'd have thought you'd like the fog. Hides that ugly mug of yours.”

    “Ugly mug? UGLY MUG? When I catch you I'll hide your ugly mug with my fist.”

    Suddenly there's a crash, followed by a bang, and then I hear laughter.

    “You'll have to find it first.”

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.

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