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Thread: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated January 23, 2019]

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    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Jupiter Give Me Victory
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    Default The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated January 23, 2019]


    (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    by Skotos of Sinope


    “The Last Chariots of the Tarquins” tells the story of Avle Spurinna, a rakish aristocrat of Tarchuna, and his humbling transformation via the hardships of war and the bond that is found in a brotherhood of arms. We'll see him as he rallies his fellow Etruscan cities to beat back the Senones invasion, and watch as he finds his loyalties tested when the Etruscans then turn their envious eyes to Rome. Through it will be the ominous presence of a strange relic from the past, that may or may not be the source of a family curse. Half-Roman by a mother who hails from the Tarquinia gens, Avle has been haunted his whole life by a family heirloom inherited as part of a marriage dowry: the blood-stained racing chariot of Tarquin the Proud, the last King of Rome...

    Background Information




    This AAR series will be based on the Tarchuna campaign in the new Rise of the Republic DLC. The style will be soft narrative and will take the form of letters to and from Avle. While many AAR's can be classed as “alternate history”, this would fall under “secret history”, i.e. a story that could've happened but has never been told. So in the beginning, events in game will be brought about to match historical events as closely as possible. After 388 BCE however, history gets fuzzy for most of the Etruscan cities so I'll feel more free to let the campaign go wherever it goes.

    Additionally notes (Feel free to skip):

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    • Being that the story is told through a series of letters discovered and translated by a Roman consul, often names will be in their Latin form. (i.e., from chapter one on the Etruscans are referred to as “Etrusci” and not “Rasna”.) When the game uses Etruscan language names, they are kept as is and not Latinized. (i.e., only once is Tarchuna referred to by the Roman name “Tarquinii”.) Otherwise, when an Etruscan name is referred to, its Latin form will always be provided as well. And with some places, like Gravisca, the Etruscan name does not survive, so the Latin one is used.
    • The question came up as to whether the ancients really wrote letters like this. Yes and no. No Etruscan letters survive, and the earliest extant letters from Rome are indeed as long and deeply personal as the fictional letters that comprise this narrative. However, they were also highly formulaic in structure and topic, which is not repeated here.
    • An attempt will be made to represent chariot warfare more accurately than in the game. For example, in the game, a chariot only has one occupant, but historically all but scythed chariots had a charioteer and chariot warrior. That is the case in this AAR. Since the game does not allow dismounting of a chariot, when a chariot warrior is described as dismounting in this story, what that means is a separate infantry unit advanced. Also, screencaps will be digitally altered to have two chariot occupants. Some concessions will be made to the game. Firstly, it is unlikely that Etruscans ever commonly employed Celtic-style chariots. The only examples I have been able to find are two papers from the 60's describing a sarcophagus at Chiusi/Clevsin decorated with a Celtic chariot. But since they are present in the Rise of the Republic DLC, they are kept in the AAR, with an explanation given to justify their use. Secondly, it is thought that during this time period the Etruscans most likely used chariots as prestigious “battle taxis” (if they used them at all) rather than as combat support vehicles, as the game uses them. But as the "Tomb of the Amazons" at Tarchuna shows battlefield chariot use as combat vehicles, and is dated to this period, I feel I am not stretching historical authenticity to the breaking point.
    • This AAR depicts chariot racing as a sport of the aristocracy and this may come as a surprise to some. True, while Greece and later Rome limited chariot racing to slaves (servi), this was not the case in earlier Etruria nor in the 'Etruscanized' Rome of the Tarquins. The source for this is Fik Meijer's Chariot Racing in the Roman Empire.
    • I'm sure I don't have to say this, but the character and date headings at the beginning of each letter are for the benefit of the reader and not to be considered as part of the “in-story text”. I just don't want anyone thinking I'm suggesting that ancient societies used the “BCE” dating system.





    Dramatis Personae


    Note: The reader need not attempt to memorize this daunting cast of characters before beginning. Relevant “Who's who” entries will be including in a recap before each post. All entries are included here in one place merely for reference purposes. All one needs to remember is that, when the story begins, much of the drama centers on two historically rival houses, the Spurinnae and Velchae, later united by marriage and by the friendship of Avle and Arnth.




    The Spurinna Family:

    The Spurinnae led the overthrew of Tarchuna's monarchy, and made Tarchuna a republic. Considered to be radicals and libertines, they are seen as close to Rome. They have fought the Velchae for most of the last century. A generation ago, the family patriarch Metru Spurinna had planned to end the feud by uniting the houses together in marriage. Metru inexplicably broke the marriage contract and instead married into the Tarquins of Rome. The product of this union was Avle Spurinna.




    Avle Spurinna: Main protagonist. Half-Roman Zilath (head of government) of Tarchuna. Descendent of the Roman Kings on his mother's side and inheritor of the Kingsblood Quadriga. When we first meet him, he's an undisciplined drinker, gambler and chariot racer.







    Ramtha Spurinna: Wife of Avle.









    Metru Spurinna: Father of Avle and former Zilath of Tarchuna. Killed at Veii in 406 BCE.









    Cneve Tetnies: Spy and assassin for the Spurinnae. Swore himself to Avle's service after Brennus took his home city of Sarsina.










    The Velcha Family:

    The Velchae were the last dynasty of the kings of Tarchuna. Overthrown in the 5th century by the Spurinna conspiracy. Conservative, xenophobic, hostile to Rome.




    Arnth Velcha: Brother-in-law and life-long friend of Avle. The Purthsvana or military leader of Tarchuna. Traditional, pious, dutiful, the model of an Etruscan statesman and the polar opposite of Avle. He longs for the halcyon days of the monarchy.







    Velia Velcha: Wife of Arnth and sister of Avle.









    Velthur the Stammerer: Uncle of Arnth. Patriarch of the Velchae. Honorable and irritable. A recent stroke has robbed him of his ability to speak. Now aide-de-camp to Avle Spurinna.








    Marce Velcha: Son of Arnth and heir to the Velchae.












    The Major Background Players:




    Brennus: Gallic King who invaded Etruscan territory and sacked Rome. The principal antagonist of book one.









    Marcus Furius Camillus: Later known as the second founder of Rome. Camillus killed Avle Spurinna's father and grandfather in 405 BCE during the siege of Veii.








    Gaius Sulpicius Peticus: Roman consul who conquered Tarchuna fifty years after the events of the story. Compiler of Avle's letters which form the basis for the AAR.











    Mods and Difficulty Settings


    Mods:

    GEM
    Extended Particles
    My Etruscan Chariot Generals Mod



    Difficulty Settings:

    Campaign Difficulty: normal.
    Battle Difficulty: Varied between normal and very hard according to the needs of the story. When stakes and dramatic tension are high, battle difficulty was increased proportionally.
    Battle Time: 60 Minutes


    Table of Contents



    Prologue
    (351 BCE)



    Book One: A Gallic Whirlwind
    (399-389 BCE)

    Last edited by Skotos of Sinope; February 07, 2019 at 07:45 PM.


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    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: The Last Chariot of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    I enjoyed your introduction, your ideas of focusing on the development of a rakish artistocrat and of doing something different from some AARs, by putting the story first initially and then following the campaign more closely. There's nothing wrong with leaving out or glossing over uneventful turns, helping factions if you'd like them to be powerful enemies later on, using custom battles in places and so on - these are all useful ways to make AARs enjoyable. It's great to see a Rise of the Republic AAR (I'm about to try this campaign for the first time and am excited about trying it). I'm looking forward to the prologue and the first chapter!

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    Default Re: The Last Chariot of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    Prologue – Part One



    Tarchuna has fallen. The armies of the Tarquinienses have been destroyed and this, the birthplace of the kings of Rome, has fallen. Her city. Ramtha, a priestess at the temple of Hera-Uni, watched it unfold from the nearby emporia of Gravisca. These Romach...Romans as they called themselves, didn't even have a name for themselves before their kings arrived from Tarchuna, and found savage bands of Latins and Sabines scattered amongst seven hills they called Septimontium, and named this city Aruma. "Tarchuna made your city a city, and now you have unmade ours", she cursed. As the Roman army approached, she had accepted the throngs of suppliants seeking sanctuary in Hera-Uni's loving embrace. It was she, whom the Romans worshipped as Juno, who had suckled even the mighty Hercle at her breast. Sanctuary was the custom in every war. But this war had been a graveyard to customs, and they should not hope for it to be respected. Not after the priests themselves fought the Romans, wielding serpents and torches and their manifold arcane curses. Not after they, the Tarquinienses, massacred three hundred sons of the city of Romulus. Rome had not forgotten. The nobles of Etruria they captured they did not ransom, but publicly tortured and decapitated in the Forum while crowds cheered.

    No quarter would be given. But Ramtha was old and ready to die. She waited for the Romans to come, and then waited some more. In time the suppliants left, one by one. She waited still longer. Finally, messengers brought word that their army had surrendered in the field. But the Roman soldiers did come to her temple, of course. And when they arrived, she could not have expected that it would be Gaius Sulpicius Peticus, the consul and destroyer of her people. Nor did she did expect that when he came, he would ask her for her help and that she would give it. Least of all did she expect that he would bring something with him that she never wanted to see again, and that seeing it tore her heart out.

    She had been lighting the morning lamps when she heard his party enter the temple. She listened for the unsheathing of steel and the overturning of coffers. She closed her eyes. She did not want to see death coming. A figure stopped at her door, remove his shoes, and in his barbaric guttural Latin tongue, he bid his men wait outside. She heard him put a finger in the bucchero oil dish, then dabbed it in ashes and touched his forehead. She heard him mouth the liturgy as he presented himself to the east, the north, the south, and the west. Then silence. Ramtha turned around and saw that his head was lowered, his hands cupped in front of him as he waited until he was addressed. She was unsure of what to do next. It isn't often that a conqueror abases himself before a common priestess.

    She greeted him in her broken Latin and asked why he was here. He lifted his head and replied in broken Etruscan, asking why she thought he was here. They could have spoken in Greek, and yet did not. She said that she thought he was there to loot her temple. He said he was sorry that he had given her reason to believe such a thing. No, that was not why he had come. He explained that he had searched every temple of Juno between the Tyrrhenian and the Adriatic seas for her. She laughed. She replied that it was very thoughtful of him, but at her age, she doesn't travel that far. He asked if he could bring something in for her to examine. She asked if it was a fler, a votive offering. The conqueror did not answer but motioned to his men.

    When they brought it in, and she saw it again after half a lifetime, she did not know what to feel. She knew that she should hate it, fear it, for all the heartache it caused her. And yet, she could not help the warm tears that welled up, and the eighty years she'd lived didn't come close to how old she felt in this moment. Her eyes had grown milky in her years, and sometimes she struggled to see her face in the glass. But she had no trouble in recognizing what was before her. After all this time, it still looked exactly the same. It had the thinnest layer of gold leaf over the panels and was richly ornamented. On one side panel of the chariot was Aeneas, the Trojan ancestor of the Romans, who was called Eine in her language. On the other side was Tarchon, the ancestor of her people. And in the front of the cart, they are both fighting side by side against King Turnus of the Rutuli. They could not even say how old it was or who had made it. To look upon it, one lost themselves in it, and almost entered a kind of trance.

    And that's when she saw him again. Avle. He looked as he did in his prime, was standing in the chariot in the cloak and diadem that he always wore to battle...



    To her people it seemed as if he'd stepped out of the past, representing all that was glorious in that bygone age. Even then only a few of them still rode chariots into battle, their primitive kin of the far north who used them merely as prestigious transports. And then he came, riding in something as old as the world, and one by one the enemies of Etruria either fell or knelt before him. He must've been divinely sent, they all thought. No mortal could defy fate itself, as he had done. No mortal man could dare a dying race, long into the sunset of their years, to hope again.
    Then she remembered how he looked mounting this chariot as he left her for the last time. They were outside the gates of their estate. They had said their goodbyes, and he urged the horses on down the road. He did not get further than a few feet before he stopped and turned to meet her gaze. She wanted to remember him smiling, and telling her he'll be back. But he didn't. Gone from his face was the boyish grin that made him once look almost as young as her, worn away with age. Gone was the mischievous gleam in his eye. His skin was now weathered by sun and etched with loss. He parted his lips to speak several times, but no words came. He could not lie to her, even now. At last, he turned and rode past the assembled city guard who had come out to see him off...



    And then he was gone.

    She wept, holding on to the thought as though it was a bird that could fly away at any moment. Each year it became harder for her to remember his face. The other devotees of the temple say that in her moments of confusion, she sometimes calls out his name, and asks them where he is. They help her back to her cell and tell her to rest. They don't know who she is, but they seem to know that she had once been someone important.

    "So you've seen it before?" The consul ventured at last.

    "Quiet. Please..." She couldn't allow her mind to wander. She had to keep it still as a pond. The relic looked nothing like those that followed him into battle. Neither like those of his sworn satelles bodyguard...



    ...nor the Gallic chariots he adopted from his enemies, turning their strength against them...



    It was coming back to her now. She tried to recall the stories they told of him after he left her side for the last time: Of a figure glimpsed in the distance on that fateful day, leading a final, desperate charge through the cypress trees...



    ...of a final stand and a final betrayal....



    She wished that she knew his last words. Many of those who were with him on that day have told her what he supposedly said. But none of them were with him at the very end. He was abandoned, alone.
    The enemy army who captured him on the field of battle executed his sons in front of him---her sons---and then gave this scion of the Roman kings a crown of adders to wear. And as the serpents struck, and venom coursed through his veins, they mocked and japed at this man who thought he could save his people. She liked to believe that they were telling the truth, that in that final moment, he displayed the defiance she remembers, and that his last word was indeed "Rasnele!". Rasnele: For the Rasna, the Etruscans' name for themselves. That's how she wanted to picture him. It was a story she asked to hear over and over again, no matter how much it pained her, always convinced they hadn't told her everything. Once strangers would stop her in the street and tell her, they would say that they stayed with him until the end. When all others had fled or abandoned him, their loyalty never wavered. Then they would ask if there was anything they could do for her. And she would smile and thank them, and tell them only to let their swords sleep now, and instead of loyal soldiers to be farmers and shopkeepers and husbands and fathers. Over the years their voices spoke in more hushed tones, sometimes looking around to see who might be listening. The parade of strangers thinned, and a day came when they stopped altogether. Not long after, people would cross the street so as not to be seen with her. A few even spat curses. No one spoke of Avle Spurinna anymore. Not the man he once was, or the man he became. His name has sunk into the earth.

    "Where did you find it?" She finally managed. The old Roman hesitated. "Does a Roman consul fear the judgment of a withered, old conventual?"

    "It...is not a subject for a lady's ears." He looked away. He struggled to speak, and it wasn't merely the language barrier.

    "I'm no lady anymore. And even when I was, I was no kept woman, nor blind to what men do in war. It will not shatter my innocence to learn that conquerors take what they can, because they can. My delicate sensibilities were lost long before you were born."

    "It was..found buried, domina." He fidgeted and picked at his fingernails, as if suddenly embarrassed to find them dirty.

    "Buried?" Ramtha stepped forward.

    "In Velusna....at the Fanum Voltumna." His eyes fell to the floor.

    "Oh, I see. Do men no longer hesitate to desecrate a religious shrine?"

    And now he met her eyes. He almost resembled Avle. It was the Roman nose he inherited from his mother. But this man's eyes were different. And he was more portly and wore his hair closely cropped as the men now wear it these days.

    "Not merely a shrine," He protested. "It was also a political and military capital. It was there where the league of the twelve cities sealed their compact to make war against Rome. We weren't there as pillagers. We had heard rumors of a cache of weapons and funds, with designs to continue the war again when the time was opportune. We have a forty-five-year peace now, domina. My duty before returning to Rome was to ensure that it lasts. And that's what I intend to do."

    "Designs to continue the war?" Her rising anger surprised even herself. "You know nothing of our people. There is no one from the Po to the Tiber who wants to continue the war."

    Again he was silent.

    "No. I suppose not. I can only say that we heard reports of a terrible weapon that had been smuggled away. But instead of the weapon, they found...this. It was in an underground vault, like a catacomb. Do you know the place?" Again, he looked at his fingernails.

    "Were there creatures painted on the walls and the door? Hideous things?" She turned away from him and began refilling one of the lamps.

    "Yes, yes. So you know of it, domina? It was...painted in nightmares. One figure had horse ears, snakes for a mane, a beaked mouth. An abomination."

    "Indeed. That would be the daemon Tuchulcha. Your soldiers must've been in the Hypogeum of Charun. Tuchulcha is painted as a warning, to frighten people away from something that should not be found."

    Continue to Prologue – Part Two...
    Last edited by Skotos of Sinope; December 16, 2018 at 08:13 PM.


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    Default Re: The Last Chariot of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    Prologue – Part Two

    Continued from Prologue – Part One...

    Her words hung heavily between them.

    "Nevertheless," The consul sighed, "that which is done cannot be undone. We asked the novices at the Fanum Voltumnae who it belonged to, why it was there, but they would not say. They made a sign in the air and walked away. I wasn't even sure if they knew. They said only one person would be willing to speak of what it was, and where it came from. As I said, it took us a long time to locate you."

    She cast her eyes upon it, and once more her heart grew full.

    "You needn't have troubled yourself. Put it back, Gaius Sulpicius Peticus. You don't want it. Believe me, you don't. Put it back. Will one less trophy in your triumph make any difference?" He winced at the suggestion. Did she embarrass him? Did he not see his motivations were as transparent as amber? "Put it back. And leave us relics to die in peace."

    Peticus wiped his sweaty brow and sighed. "Will you not humor a man who has turned over half of Etruria searching for you, domina? A consul of Rome who has spoken to you with the dignity of your office? Did I barge in here as a master to his vanquished? Look at it. It must be ancient, and yet the wood has not cracked, the gold has lost none of its luster. Look at the wheels. My chariot wright tells me that the wheel felloes were made from a single sapling, bound and shaped into a circle as it grew.
    The result is light as a feather and nearly unbreakable. I have only heard of that technique once before: In Homer. During the Age of Heroes. You Etrusci are the master chariot builders of the Mediterranean, and yet who among you today could build it? Who among you could afford it? Tell me what you know, and you'll see the back of me."

    "It is a tempting offer when you put it that way. But if I tell you, I don't think I will."

    “You doubt my word, domina?”

    “I have no reason either to doubt or trust your word. But you will doubt mine. You could not allow yourself to believe what I would tell you. Like all Romans, you are a practical man. Perhaps you'd put me to the question. The words of a tortured prisoner earn their credulity. Though I warn you, I would not last long at my age.”

    “I would never.”

    "'Never' has no meaning in war: a sound on the lips, a puff of breath. Whatever you promise yourself you'd never do, I'm sure you would find a way. After all, you are a practical man."

    The consul tugged at his toga. And for the first time, she noticed he was not wearing his armor. Quite dangerous for a man to stroll unprotected through a city he has just defeated. He was either fearless or stupid. She never understood the toga. The Romans took their tebenna and made it unwearable. You could only move one arm, and it was oppressive in the heat.

    "Is it gold you want? A new bronze statue of Uni? How about one that rivals Zeus at Olympia?" He eyed the chariot again, and she knew the glimmer of lust in a man's eyes. "Who did it belong to? Perhaps..."

    “Why? Have you seen it before, consul?”
    “Yes. No. I...don't think so. Yet I feel as if I have.”

    “Perhaps in a half-remembered dream.”

    “Yes, yes. Precisely.”

    “All who see it for the first time say the same. My husband said it. His father before him did as well.”

    “Please. Tell me.”

    “Have you heard of the Kingsblood Quadriga?

    The consul did not speak. He tugged and rearranged his toga again, seeming to consider his next words carefully. "Is that the story they tell?" He laughed. "The chariot of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, seventh and last king of Rome. The one that made him invincible in battle? It's a good story to tell pilgrims. I don't begrudge a steady income. I imagine it's expensive keeping priestesses in such pious poverty. In Athens, I saw what was supposed to be the bones of Theseus, brought back by Cimon in that city's direst days. They weren't even human, but the bones of a giant northern bear. At Delphi, I saw a statue come to life, as pipes were played to conceal the work of the puppeteer beneath it. Unfortunately, we already have the genuine article. It's in the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline hill."

    "But have you seen it there, within the temple on the Capitoline hill? Has anyone you know ever seen it?" He paused. She then continued. "If you had it, you would not keep it in your city, I assure you. Do you even know a tenth of its bloody history? Did they tell you how Tarquinius Superbus acquired it? That it was the chariot that his wife, Tullia Minor, mounted and rode through Rome to proclaim her husband's overthrow of her father and his ascension as king? That in that reddish hour, when she came before the senate house and saw lying in the streets the dying, mutilated body of the former king, what did she do? Did she see the fruits of the conspiracy she hatched and burn in shame? Did she remember a daughter's duty and perhaps comfort an old man in his last breaths? No. She snapped the reins and bid the horses on, trampling him under hoof and under wheel. And after that unfilial deed she stood over him, and as the life left his eyes, she knelt and soaked her dress in his regal blood. In that act of kin-slaying, her husband's reign was born. Tarquin the Proud rode this very chariot in his coronation, and when he did he heard a voice telling him, "Now thou has become more than mortal." This was the source of his madness, his pride beyond reason. He who mounts the chariot is doomed. It is no legend, no myth. It was the bane of my husband and all who came before it. Sealed in blood, it carries the curse of Tarquin's pride. To mount it is to be Phaeton mounting the Chariot of the Sun. Where Hubris is yolked, Nemesis will follow close behind. Put it back."

    "I have heard that story, and others as well. And I will put nothing back until I'm certain of what it is."

    Ramtha noticed the wick of one of the oil lamps needed tending. "And if you claim to be bringing home a relic of the last king of Rome without proof when supposedly you already have it in your possession, your fellow senators will name it counterfeit, and then they will name you counterfeit. They will whisper that perhaps a man who would perpetrate such a fraud might be seeking to become King of Rome himself. Isn't that the constant fear? How quickly a returning hero's triumph may turn into a crowning? Thankfully though, there is proof."

    "What kind of proof?" Peticus straightened up. She almost laughed.

    "You Romans store your sacred documents; your wills, patents of nobility, oaths and contracts in your House of Vesta on the forum, yes?"

    "What of it?" he replied.

    "The house of Vesta was built by us Rasna...by us Etrusci as you call us. And that tradition is ours too. Go back to the Fanum Voltumnae, and ask for the papers of Avle Spurinna. Tell them you have spoken to his widow and she gives her consent. The documents aren't light reading, and may challenge your mastery of our language."

    "I was educated in Cisra by Etrusci teachers, as was most of the Roman senate. I can read your language with some facility, though I cannot say I ever found ease in reading right-to-left."

    "Nor I, left-to-right." She looked him over again. He did look like Avle. It wasn't her imagination. "Among the documents, you will find a marriage contract for his Roman mother—a member of the Roman Tarquinia gens and a direct descendant of the king. It will show the chariot was part of the dowry. And you'll find the last will and testament of his father bequeathing it to Avle. But you will also find something else: letters. They are of a personal nature...but perhaps after reading them, you will see why you should put it back, and pretend you never found it.

    Peticus bowed his head and stood to leave. He then added, "I..." His speech stumbled. "...I should like to visit your husband's tomb too if that's agreeable. To pay my respects and, well..."

    "Make an offering to appease his shade?" She laughed. "To ask forgiveness for what you are about to do?" Again, he winced, and now she was beginning to feel a tinge of guilt for her mockery. "So there is piety to be found within this consul's stony breast, one that even fears an avenging spirit? Perhaps I was wrong. In any event, he's not buried in his family tomb within the city's necropolis. They denied us that right. We laid him to rest on the Hill of Augurs, just outside the city. There used to be a charnel house there. It's one among many, an ancient site that few frequent. I warn you that it won't be easy to find. It's a reminder of what many want to forget. The tomb is overgrown. No one visits it or tends to it. It's is covered in ivy and weeds. His very name has been scratched off and defaced."

    "How will I find it, if it doesn't have his name on it?" Peticus produced a wax tablet from his satchel."It has an epitaph on it that still survives." She knew it well. In fact, she had selected it herself. She eyed the chariot again. No, she could not hate it. It had taken her Avle from her, but it nearly gave him the world. "The epitaph was an old rhyme that I learned as a little girl. It kept grave robbers away. They must have taken it literally when in fact it's more...thematic in nature. Metaphors are wasted on the young. It reads:

    'Here Phaeton lies: In Usil's car he fared,
    And though he greatly failed, more greatly dared.


    Continue to Prologue – Part Three...
    Last edited by Skotos of Sinope; January 25, 2019 at 12:39 PM.


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    Default Re: The Last Chariot of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    I enjoyed your introduction, your ideas of focusing on the development of a rakish artistocrat and of doing something different from some AARs, by putting the story first initially and then following the campaign more closely. There's nothing wrong with leaving out or glossing over uneventful turns, helping factions if you'd like them to be powerful enemies later on, using custom battles in places and so on - these are all useful ways to make AARs enjoyable. It's great to see a Rise of the Republic AAR (I'm about to try this campaign for the first time and am excited about trying it). I'm looking forward to the prologue and the first chapter!
    Thanks, Alwyn. You're playing the Insubres right? I've read AAR's before but it was the Ancestral Update / Rise of the Republic that made me decide to take the plunge and write one. I had never felt emotionally connected to any of my generals before in the grand campaign. It was too sprawling, everyone was disconnected and died too soon. But now when you combine the family tree with four turns per year, I found myself constructing a narrative in my head as I went along.

    By the way, could someone let me know if you can still see the screen shots in prologue part one? I had a few technical snafus with those.
    Last edited by Skotos of Sinope; August 17, 2018 at 10:13 PM.


  6. #6
    VickyLyn's Avatar Laetus
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    Default Re: The Last Chariot of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    Super, this is very healpful!

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    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: The Last Chariot of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    That's an exciting and unexpected opening line (of the first part of your prologue) for a Tarchuna AAR! I enjoyed your descriptions of people and events, like the conqueror abasing himself before the common priestess, the dramatic phrasing (such as 'a final stand and a final betrayal') and the well-chosen screenshots. The mystery around the reports of the 'terrible weapon' which was hidden is intriguing.

    That's right, I'm playing as the Insubres in my Rise of the Republic campaign, I'm enjoying it a lot! You asked if people can see the screenshots in the prologue part one; I can.

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    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    I can see your images, too, so I think whatever your problem was, you sorted it out effectively!

    I'm a bit late catching up with this, but that's a great start! I'm looking forward to hearing the story that led to this prologue.

    Under the patronage of Shankbot de Bodemloze

  9. #9
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Jupiter Give Me Victory
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    Thanks again Alwyn and thanks Caillagh. Thematically it felt right to start at the moment that was the beginning of the end for the Etruscans. And it's that they saw it coming. It's been said that they were the only civilization that correctly predicted the date of their own demise. (Yeah, I know they say the same thing about the Mayans nowadays). The Etruscans were uniquely obsessed with fate, with the notion that all things are preordained and that everything has a finite existence. There's something about them that reminds me of the Elves in the Lord of the Rings or the Children of the Forest in ASOIAF. They knew their age was ending and that someone else would come to take their place.

    I'm trying not to give too much away here, but there are always those who rebel against fate, who won't “go gently into that good night”. (I doubt I'm the first to explore that in an AAR.) Is that heroic or tragic? Perhaps both? Because all things must end. I know I'm getting a little pretentious here, but I found it intriguing that the word in Ancient Greek for fate is the same as “one's portion or share”. I think for the ancients, trying to live beyond one's years, whether it's one man or an entire people, might be taking what hasn't been set aside for you.

    The metaphor of the chariot in antiquity was always tied up with mortality and the passage into the afterlife. And the words that Tarquin heard in his coronation could be seen as an inversion of the warning that would be whispered in a man's ear during his triumph: Remember, you are mortal.

    Oh, and I know I'm dragging this out...but there's going to be one more part of the prologue coming. After that, I promise we'll get into the actual story.
    Last edited by Skotos of Sinope; August 22, 2018 at 03:49 PM.


  10. #10
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    In my view, a decent prologue (and yours certainly seems to be one of those!) is part of the story. So as far as I'm concerned, you're already writing the actual story.

    I like the parallels you've drawn between the Etruscans and the Elves and Children of the Forest. And I think you're right to say that at least some of the ancients thought rebelling against fate was a way of trying to take what wasn't yours. Not just in questions of the length of your life, either. If you objected to being a slave, and tried to escape, and failed, well, then you had defied the gods. If you tried to escape and succeeded, that was different, of course; your fate was clearly freedom...

    Under the patronage of Shankbot de Bodemloze

  11. #11
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Jupiter Give Me Victory
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    Caillagh, you're going to make me blush. Thank you.

    What you said really got me thinking. I suppose that's one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing an AAR, is trying to put yourself into the mindset of someone who lived thousands of years ago in a society that's alien to your own. It's a constant struggle, for me at least, to not allow my modern sensibility to creep through. For instance, as an American I was brought up with notions like “anything is possible” and “do what makes you happy”. Whereas in antiquity (and especially in the Greco-Roman world) my understanding is that the ethos was more “know your limits” and “do your duty”. There's a “tragic view of life” that I think many in my culture have lost, and that is undeniably fascinating. What do you think?


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    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Jupiter Give Me Victory
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    Prologue – Part Three

    Continued from Prologue – Part Two...



    That night, the Roman camp was full of singing and laughter and bawdy jokes, and the knowledge that they would soon be going home. Only in one tent was the mood different. Over the past few days, the camp had noticed a cloud of melancholy descend over it. Each night they had seen the light from the lamp within glowing until dawn.



    There, in his hour of victory, a middle-aged man rubbed his tired eyes. He struggled to write his report to the Senate. He put it off by meticulously cataloging all the property they had confiscated in the name of war reparations, keeping nothing for himself. No one could say he had profited from his assignment. His accounting books were in perfect order. Or, he corrected himself, they were nearly in perfect order. One item was left off the list. And that was the source of Gaius Sulpicius Peticus's sleepless nights.

    He had put the item under guard in a tent across the way from his and informed the camp that it was for the Senate alone, which meant that to touch it would be treason. Peticus had also written to the pontifex for the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus and enquired after the chariot they supposedly kept there, being careful not to reveal too much. He never found it odd before that no one he knew had ever seen the king's chariot in the temple. There could be a number of good reasons. But now the acorn of suspicion that the priestess Ramtha had placed within him was growing into an oak, and all his other thoughts fell black beneath its imperious shadow.

    His staff had returned that afternoon from the Fanum Voltumna with the expected chests full of documents. He was not surprised that the novices had acquiesced. They had little choice. There was an entire life within those chests. It would take months to sort through it all. He remembered the priestess's warning, and he approached them with trepidation. He didn't read them right away.

    He hoped to busy himself with other tasks, and that the obsession would pass. Still, he brooded, his stomach grew dyspeptic, and his temper flared. When a slave knocked over a wash bucket, he back-handed him, though he instantly regretted it. Like a jealous lover, so does obsession make men tenants in their own mind. The object of their mania settles in and becomes their landlord, and soon they have forgotten who holds the deed and who is the villein. Peticus tried another distraction by picking up an old work by Euripides. It seemed to give the respite that he needed. As he read, his eyes began to close and sleep took him at last. But there he found no rest. In the dream that coalesced, the play he read came to life. To his horror, Hecuba stood before him, but her face was of the priestess, Ramtha. She spoke her lines from the tragedy:

    "The dust as smoke riseth; it spreadeth wide its wing;
    It maketh me as a shadow, and my City a vanished thing!"

    And in the dream, Peticus took the shape of icy Talthybius and shouted back to her, "O Wife of Hector, do not hate me!".

    He woke with a jolt and threw the play aside. He went over his accounting ledgers again. This priestess had known precisely what to say to make him question himself. So what if they were taking treasure with them? It came mostly from the wealthy who had led their cities to the slaughter for their ambition. There must be a cost for waging stupid wars, and he'd rather that price is paid in aristocratic gold now than in the blood of the people later. So what if he were given a triumph? So what if he was honoring tradition in displaying the fruits of their sacrifice? Hadn't his men have earned it? That woman had no right to judge him. Did he expect forgiveness from her? Absolution? He didn't know. "Do not hate me!" Yet why shouldn't she hate them, the Romans? After all, the Romans hated her people. The Etrusci kings subjugated them, raped their wives and daughters, enslaved them in their grand building projects and crucified them when they did not work fast enough. If this indeed was the Kingsblood Quadriga, chariot, then it was meager reparation for the humiliation they had endured at the hands of the Tarquins. He once hated the Etrusci as much as a man can hate. He was but a boy when the Etrusci brought Brennus down upon his city, and in Rome's hour of need, they thrust a dagger into her back. The Romans had come to their aid in fighting the Gauls, and when the Gauls sacked Rome, the Etrusci used the opportunity to re-conquer the city.

    He changed out of his dressing gown. And yet as we age, he thought, we have less use for hate. Its fire dims. So when the Senate gave him his command and orders to deal with Tarchuna---even as he carried the spear of Mars in hand---he silently swore that he would act only out of the obligation of his office and not out of revenge. But had he? He had solely acted according to the customs of war, whereas the Etrusci had massacred prisoners. Still, here he was, a bandit counting his loot. Gods help him, was he a sacker of cities now? Was he nothing better than a Roman Brennus? "Strike me down, Mars. Strike me down now, if that's what I become."

    He reached again for one of the letters of Avle Spurinna that had come from Velusna. Since he first heard the name, he wondered if this 'Avle' could be the same man as Aulus Spurinna Velthuris. Once, every Roman senator knew that name, back when Peticus held the consulship for the first time. Aulus was the man who rose to unite his people in that turbulent time, the last moment of glory that Etruria would ever see. He would be as celebrated among the Etrusci as he was grudgingly admired in Rome. It was possible they were the same. Aulus was often a Latinized form of the Etrusci name Avle. But on the other hand, sometimes Etrusci named their children Latin names, just as there were Etrusci names popular among the Romans; strange, foreign-sounding names like Cicero and Cato. Even his name Gaius was a Latinization of an Etrusci name. But no. A man like Aulus would not have his body left to feed the worms in some forgotten sepulcher, and his widow would not be some penurious priestess greeting pilgrims in some roadside temple.

    Still, if anyone had possessed the Kingsblood Quadriga, surely it made sense that it was a man as great as Aulus. "The Kingsblood Quadriga..." he repeated the words and shuddered. And it made sense that this would be the rumored terrible weapon. No one could say where it came from. He heard other stories besides the one Ramtha had recounted. One said that when the Tarquin the Elder brought the chariot with him from Tarchuna. The moment Tarquin first laid eyes on Rome, an eagle swooped down and snatched away his cap. The cap was of the kind foreigners and freedmen had been required to wear to distinguish them from citizens. His father being a Greek, he was considered a foreigner in his own city. The bird flew away with his cap, then returned, and carefully placing it back on his head. His wife Tanaquil, skilled in the interpretations of prodigies, said that this was a sign from Tin, whom the Romans called Jupiter. Tin had ordained that no longer would Tarquin be a foreigner, but would soon crowned a king. The chariot had not yet been cursed at that point, but it still had a power to it. When they entered the city, the mere sight of it swayed the current Roman king to make him guardian of his sons, and the rest is history. Another story said that Tarquin the Proud owed all his victories in battle to it. With it, he was the first and only king to subdue all the Latin cities of Latium as well as the Etrusci cities up north, adding their armies to his own and building the greatest force of arms since Agamemnon. Tarquin the Elder then conquered the Volsci, the Aequi and the Sabines. The capstone to his victories was to be pacifying the Rutuli, the first and true enemy of his people. But the Rutuli retreated before the king and hid away in their capital city, refusing to take the field. Tarquin besieged it, and his army soon lost its discipline. That's when the king's son, Sextus Tarquinius, took his father's chariot to the house of Lucretia and sowed the end of his father's great and terrible reign.

    The voices in the camp had now died down, as drunk men staggered to their beds. The dawn would be long in coming, and he was wasting lamp oil. There was no use in delaying. Either the answers were in the documents before him, or they weren't. He wasn't sure which unsettled him more. He sighed, sat down at his desk, and started reading the first letter.

    "Avle, my love.", it began. "I'm afraid. The stars no longer speak. The birds fly crooked paths. But as soon as word came, I knew the hour is here at last. Enemies gather within and without. There is a host rallying beyond the Apenninus Mons, and Arnth your brother marches out to face them alone. Come home."


    Continue to Chapter One...
    Last edited by Skotos of Sinope; December 16, 2018 at 08:34 PM.


  13. #13
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    This is very good writing, I especially like your use of the phrase "the source of Gaius Sulpicius Peticus's sleepless nights" which drew me in, the feeling that this is a world with a rich history (in lines such as "Once, every Roman senator knew that name, back when Peticus held the consulship for the first time" and the reference to Brennus), and the mystery and awe about the lost item which Tarquin the Elder brought from Tarchuna. I'm enjoying this!
    Last edited by Alwyn; September 02, 2018 at 12:07 PM.

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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    You have a nice easy style of story telling, a pleasure to read.

    I recently finished 'The History of Rome' podcast which took me the better part of a year to get through. the last months of listening were obviously of the chaotic decline of the Empire where in many ways they sealed their own fate by backstabbing and getting rid of competent men to further their own interests often leaving the empire in the hands of men in no way fit for the task. Your story is bringing me back to the early republic when Honor and Duty were the principles that Rome built itself on and which allowed it to overcome it's powerful neighbours from the Samnites to Carthage. I think by the time of the late republic much of these virtues had already disappeared but no external threat could seriously challenge them... at least for a couple of hundred years.

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  15. #15
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Jupiter Give Me Victory
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    This is very good writing, I especially like your use of the phrase "the source of Gaius Sulpicius Peticus's sleepless nights" which drew me in, the feeling that this is a world with a rich history (in lines such as "Once, every Roman senator knew that name, back when Peticus held the consulship for the first time" and the reference to Brennus), and the mystery and awe about the lost item which Tarquin the Elder brought from Tarchuna. I'm enjoying this!
    I'm glad to hear it. I wasn't sure how the prologue would be received, to be honest. I knew I wanted to start with a kind of David Lean style bookend, but the prologue seemed to grow and grow and I was concerned I might be boring the reader to tears.

    Quote Originally Posted by Caledoni View Post
    You have a nice easy style of story telling, a pleasure to read.

    I recently finished 'The History of Rome' podcast which took me the better part of a year to get through. the last months of listening were obviously of the chaotic decline of the Empire where in many ways they sealed their own fate by backstabbing and getting rid of competent men to further their own interests often leaving the empire in the hands of men in no way fit for the task. Your story is bringing me back to the early republic when Honor and Duty were the principles that Rome built itself on and which allowed it to overcome it's powerful neighbours from the Samnites to Carthage. I think by the time of the late republic much of these virtues had already disappeared but no external threat could seriously challenge them... at least for a couple of hundred years.

    Cheers
    Thanks. I haven't listened to Hal Duncan's podcast. I have his latest book, but haven't cracked it open yet. And I totally feel the same about contrast of the early republic to the late. And of course Scipio Africanus warned exactly what would happen if they destroyed all their enemies, didn't he? He was quite prophetic. I kind of wanted the Romans in the story to embody that spirit. And I thought it would be interesting to have the story told by Gaius Sulpicius Peticus---a real historical figure who defeated Tarchuna in the final Roman-Etruscan war---as someone who couldn't be pigeonholed as a villain. I think some inspiration for me might have come from the book Rome's Last Citizen. Cato really tried to walk in the footsteps of his ancestors. There's an anecdote I think I was probably riffing on in the post above. Cato had to take the a post supervising the annexation of a new province, which he disapproved of, but still did what was expected of him. He also wanted to show that he wasn't getting rich off his post, and kept rigorous accounting. But on the way back, the ledgers were lost in a shipwreck. I was struck by how it affected him, the blight he saw it on his honor, the shame he felt.

    Anyway, we'll see more of Peticus. Besides forming the “bookend structure” of the plot, the idea is that he's collecting, editing, and translating this correspondence for a Roman audience back home, so he'll be chiming in explaining things with notes scrawled in the margins and what not. (As Etruscan society is very strange and exotic, and the time period is obscure to most, I felt I needed a kind of 'guide' within the story for the reader.)


  16. #16
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Jupiter Give Me Victory
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR)

    Recap


    The Story So Far:

    Gaius Sulpicius Peticus, Consul of Rome and conqueror of Tarchuna, has uncovered what may be the Kingsblood Quadriga, an ancient artifact once belonging to the Roman kings. In his investigation, he has unearthed the lifetime correspondence of its last owner: Avle Spurinna. The letters tell a story that begins sixty years earlier when the Gallic Senones invaded Etruria. With the drums of war sounding, young Avle Spurinna is far away in Rome commemorating his first election as Zilath of Tarchuna by entering the chariot races. Now he faces his first test in office, as well as a terrible choice...






    Characters Featured:


    Avle Spurinna: Main protagonist. Half-Roman Zilath (head of government) of Tarchuna. Descendent of the Roman kings on his mother's side and inheritor of what could be the mythical “Kingsblood Quadriga”. When we first meet him, he's an undisciplined drinker, gambler and chariot racer.







    Arnth Velcha: Foster brother and life-long friend of Avle. The purthsvana or military leader of Tarchuna. Traditional, dutiful, and brooding, he's the model of an Etruscan statesman and the polar opposite of Avle. He longs for the halcyon days of the monarchy.







    Velia Velcha: Wife of Arnth and sister of Avle.









    Gaius Sulpicius Peticus: Roman consul who conquered Tarchuna fifty years after the events of the story. He's also the compiler of Avle's letters which form the basis for the AAR.







    Terms Used:

    vinum: wine.
    penestes: levies, bondsmen.
    cale clante: Gaulish race.
    Fatel Rasnal: Etruscan League.
    satelles: bodyguard.




    Chapter One – The Tallest Poppies...

    It didn't take long for Gaius Peticus to realize that, despite being able to hold a simple conversation in their language, his meager school-boy Etruscan wasn't up to the task of reading fluently. The very next letter was written in a cramped, hastily drawn hand. He glanced over it, found himself confounded by the idiomatic quirks of the language; how the two genders of their nouns weren't male and female but animate and inanimate, how their dative tense was equivalent not to the Latin dative but the Latin ablative. He would have to translate it word by word, parsing the grammar forms as he went, as he learned to do as a child. It pleased his meticulous nature, as it meant that he would have a written translation of each document for reference. He also found himself scrawling explanatory notes in the margin for his staff, should he need them to consult it. It must have taken him hours to translate the first page, but when he did, he returned to the first sentence and smiled as he began reading: "Where to begin?"...

    Where to begin? That's always the question, isn't it? Where does Avle Spurinna's story begin?

    I could begin with my birth, or before. We are known to the gods before we are born, after all. I could begin with my breakfast this morning. It seems that the more a man wants to justify himself, the further back he goes. But no. This story begins with a pact. Two brothers are made to swear a secret vow before their father, the night before he rode off to battle to die. Both brothers were the sons of kings, scions of feuding houses, both orphaned by different fathers. One rises to becomes a leader of soldiers, and one falls into the degradation of being a politician. That is why the one brother is marching to war, and the other spent the day racing in Rome, racing at their Circus Maximus.

    And so Ramtha, my dear wife, when I got your letter, I gave thought to that pact I made with Arnth, my wayward brother. This pact I've never told you about, and won't tell you about now. But I'm waxing philisophic because I face a choice: keep that pact, or break it and march out to save my brother. So I put the dilemma to myself in story form. I asked myself if I was one of the poets writing a drama or epic, what would be the most heroic decision? But I am no hero. I'm a politician and a dilettante politician at that.

    You'll have to forgive the appearance of your new husband's handwriting. Likely you'll accuse me of being drunk again, so I will tell you that I move my stylus across the linen with a broken wrist. I'll explain further in a moment. But as one does not preclude the other, and as the only pain relief I have is my family's vinum, time will make you at least half-right: Soon I will be drunk.

    In any event, a messenger arrived two days after your letter did. I've already heard the news that has filled you with dread. I've also heard more, and if recent reports are correct, then it's even worse than you know. If what I've been told is true, I'm not sure that I can come home. I know, this trip to Rome has been the first time we've been apart since our wedding day, and I'd like nothing more than to return to you. But this changes everything. We've held our breath since last year, when the Senones crossed the Padana mountains, carved out a territory of their own along the Adriatic coast, and then stopped. We all asked what would they do next. Would they continue south and take more territory from the Umbri or would they march east and move into Etruria? Now we have our answer. I've just received word that the Senones have now crossed the Etrusci border with two massive armies, headed toward Sarsina.

    Arnth had seen this coming, of course. Alone among all of us, he called his penestes to battle and marched out. What he didn't see coming is this: The Ligures, their Gallic cousins in the north, have formally declared war on Viesul and the rest of the northern cities of Etruria Padana. These two peoples seem to be coordinating. Thus, my foster brother could now find himself caught between two invasions, with no one else able to help. Veii is in their sixth year of siege by the Romans. Not that they would lift a finger even if they could.

    But, I hear you say, the tribes of the cale clante raid and steal and burn, just as sure as bees make honey. It is their natural state. They're quick to anger and quick to lose interest as soon as the shiny baubles dry up. Perhaps. They do have an unmasculine lust for gold. How can a people be both barbaric and effete at the same time? I'm convinced that the Gauls are the only people on earth that went straight from the savagery stage to decadence, skipping entirely over the civilization stage. And as you should know, I'm an authority on decadence.

    But this is different. Perhaps it's this man who leads them. I've heard that he has no name. The name they call him, Brennus, means "king" in their Gaulish tongue. Do you want to know what worries me? This year was full of floods followed by an early cold snap this autumn. It will be one of the worst harvests in memory. The Gauls cannot merely import food as a merchant seaside polis such as ourselves can. They lost numbers in their conquests and they do not have the food sources to replenish them. Their hold on their new homeland is tentative. They have three choices as I see it: Abandon their new home, plunder neighboring settlements, or expand this newly born “Senonia”. These armies they've raised are too large for simple cattle raiding. They're not going home. That leaves one option. The coordination with the Ligures must be to occupy us in the west, so that we can't move east to stop them.

    This is a dangerous time, Ramtha. We may need friends more than swords. The Ligures threaten us from one direction, our Roman cousins besiege us from the other. (Though I must say my goodwill tour here has gone off well. I've only been called a 'Tuscan degenerate' once.) And now, the Senones invade from the east. With an ocean to our backs, we're surrounded. At any time the Boii or Insubres could join with the Ligures and invade. Or perhaps Syracuse will try to drive us out of Corsica. Arnth once said that weakness is like a woman's perfume: men smell it and desire rises in them. You'd think our cities would feel a common cause to band together, perhaps even to re-establish the Fatel Rasnal, but no. With Veii under Roman siege, everyone has been jockeying over who will replace Veii as the first among equals. There are mistrust and jealousy. I think Arnth may have misread the situation. He often does. That's why Arnth only accepted election as purthsvana on the condition that they elect me zilath. ["zilath" is akin to our praetor, before the consuls eclipsed them in power. He oversees the government while his co-equal purthsvana, similar to our military tribune, who oversees the armed forces. - G. Peticus] Then again, he may have done it to punish me for all the fights we had growing up.

    This reminds me of something that happened when I was a boy. An envoy from Taras was dining at our house. He told us a story where the Spartans had an earthquake followed by a slave rebellion, and the Athenians sent help only to be turned away. The Spartans refused the help of their fellow Greek and ally against the Persians, but later accepted help from those very Persians that they fought so hard to drive out of Greece just years before! My father laughed, and said, "So, the Greeks aren't that different from Etruscans after all!" If father only knew. I negotiated the military alliance and military access treaties with Viesul myself. They were tense. They are suspicious of Tarchuna, as everyone was suspicious of Veii. There's a saying in my family on his mother's side, "The tallest poppy is the first to be cut down." I broached the topic of Tarchuna adding troops to the garrisons of cities nearby but was rebuffed. I then asked the dignitary how he would feel about military aid from Rome. His face lit up. As the Spartans did with the Persians, one of our cities will gladly ally with an outsider over their own people. Does Arnth think that he will be greeted with garlands and called a liberator? Or does he suspect, as I do, that he will be seen as an invading opportunist, taking advantage of their weakness to move troops into their country? Or that we will liberate cities only to seize them for ourselves? Some would even welcome Gallic rule over that.

    This is what I'm good at, much as I wish it weren't so. I cannot drill an army, but I understand people. I did not want to be zilath. Barely a year ago I was superintendent of public festivals and games, an office the Romans here call an 'aedile'. It was the happiest duty I ever had. I suppose it brought back the earliest memories of my father, bouncing on his knee on the famed curule seat in the zilath's box. The zilath has the duty of starting all games and watching them. (If only that were all a zilath did.) It was the only time I really spent time with my father, my earliest memory of him. I could have held that office for the rest of my life. But damn it if organizing games doesn't make you popular. People liked me, Arnth said. And so when Arnth put my name forward for zilath, they needed no convincing. If they truly liked me, they wouldn't condemn me to an office that I couldn't stand. After my election, I fell into a despondency I haven't felt in years. And so my attending the games in Rome was my “one last hurrah” so to speak, to remember the happiest time in my life. With luck they'll tire of me and I won't be re-elected next year. Oh, I know what they say about me: That Avle Spurinna goes out carousing with his satelles, that when Avle's not racing he's wasting his days gambling at the track, and his nights gods-know-where. I make no apologies for attending the Consualia games here at the Circus. The Circus Maximus is no less my family home than our estates in Tarchuna or Cisra. My ancestor, Tarquin the Elder, built it after bringing the sport with him. Oh, how they've left it in such shabby disrepair. There is no starting gate. The stands are unfinished and without a portico, as they exiled their king before he could finish his renovation. It floods part of the year. The contestants have to dodge trees and temples and herms. I nearly crashed into a statue of Murcia during the first and fifth heats. North Wind, my Nisean trace-horse, never fails me. Do you know why there are so many statues of so many gods here? It's not piety, I assure you. No, it's that our Roman cousins don't even remember for whom they hold their games! Whether it's their agricultural god Consus or Murcia or Nethuns, who they call Neptune, they think it an unimportant detail. To be safe, they honor them all. Romans are so confused when it comes to religion, that's why they've always stolen from the Greeks and us.

    And now my wrist is beginning to throb again so I should probably tell you how I injured it. There's already calumny afoot that I injured it by entering the Circus dressed as Pacha, whom they call Bacchus, and like the god, my chariot was pulled by two panthers rather than horses. (How would I even get panthers passed the stables?) The truth is that after placing fourth, I was stepping out of my cart to receive my purse and one of the new fillies was startled and lurched forward. My foot got caught in the leather webbing, and I fell. But humiliation is often the road to wisdom. As I dusted myself off, it occurred to me that I could have broken my neck, and then who would come to my brother's aid? So yes, I've made my decision. Arnth will never forgive me for breaking our pact. Perhaps you won't forgive me for abandoning you in our first year of marriage. I accept that. Instead of riding for home, I'll make for Cisra with my satelles. There I'll begin raising an army. And when I do, we will find Arnth, and add our forces to his. I don't share your feminine intuition, Ramtha, just as you don't share my flare for the dramatic. But I know the prophecies as well as you, that say we are the last generation. I hear the voices of doom preaching in the street. I feel the sense of almost resignation in our people. Whether this is the hour we've dreaded, who can say. But Etruria is not dead yet.



    Continue to Chapter Two...
    Last edited by Skotos of Sinope; January 20, 2019 at 02:03 PM.


  17. #17
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated 09/20/18]

    Great chapter! The observations on the text by G. Peticus made me smile, as did the lines about decadence, and I like the thoughtful observations about what's driving the Gauls to seek more land. These are dangerous times, indeed.

  18. #18

    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated 09/20/18]

    This is a treat, pure and simple. Your writing is in turns simple and then remorselessly ornate, the switches between the two always hitting in just the right spot. The snatches of real history mixed in with the fake are also so seamless and natural that only a true scholar could tell where fact leaves off and imagination begins, and this makes for an extremely compelling read! I cannot say enough in support of what you're doing here, and so I will stick to the standard "Keep it coming!" I will keep a keen eye on your progress here!
    Genesis of Empires | Community Creative Writing
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  19. #19
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated 09/20/18]

    I don't think I have anything to add to other people's comments - this is great stuff!

    (I don't want to derail the thread, so I won't start talking about "the tragic view of life" here. If you still want to talk about it - I know it's taken me ages to get here, sorry - let's do that either on the WS Chat Thread or on a new thread in the Lounge. )

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  20. #20
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Jupiter Give Me Victory
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated 09/20/18]

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Great chapter! The observations on the text by G. Peticus made me smile, as did the lines about decadence, and I like the thoughtful observations about what's driving the Gauls to seek more land. These are dangerous times, indeed.
    Cheers, man! Alwyn, you never let anyone feel forgotten in this forum. You're always there with a kind word. Much appreciated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    This is a treat, pure and simple. Your writing is in turns simple and then remorselessly ornate, the switches between the two always hitting in just the right spot. The snatches of real history mixed in with the fake are also so seamless and natural that only a true scholar could tell where fact leaves off and imagination begins, and this makes for an extremely compelling read! I cannot say enough in support of what you're doing here, and so I will stick to the standard "Keep it coming!" I will keep a keen eye on your progress here!
    You're too kind. BTW, I plan on starting to read Sand this weekend. I'll post over there with my thoughts when I do. As far as real vs. fake history: ironically, half of the stuff I thought I was making up actually turned out to have some basis in history. It started freaking me out! Anyone else ever had that happen to them in their writing?*

    Quote Originally Posted by Caillagh de Bodemloze View Post
    I don't think I have anything to add to other people's comments - this is great stuff!

    (I don't want to derail the thread, so I won't start talking about "the tragic view of life" here. If you still want to talk about it - I know it's taken me ages to get here, sorry - let's do that either on the WS Chat Thread or on a new thread in the Lounge.*)
    Yeah, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Definitely go ahead and start a discussion over in the WS chat thread, if that's the right place. I'll join you there. I've been lurking over there for a while but haven't really had anything to say.

    Now a bit of housekeeping: I had to essentially pause work on this AAR for a few weeks in order to build a mod to enable me to tell the story I had planned out. Long story short: Originally the DLC (Rise of the Republic) looked like it had chariots enabled as a command unit for Tarchuna, but that later turned out to be a bug and any trace of them was removed in the first patch. I was at an impasse, but
    I got to work, and it ended up being a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to come up with something a little more historically authentic.

    So now that I've done a second full play-through (this time with the mod), there's going to be a few changes. First, there'll be some edits and tiny minor revisions to what's come before. Nothing major, no one will have to re-read anything. Just some dates and continuity and changes to the ages of the characters. I was originally going to skip the first 40 turns and go right to 391/390 when Rome was famously sacked. But after playing through again, I realize that's not necessary. Second, the screencaps posted above will change to those using the new mod and it'll be more visually interesting to look at. Case in point, I can now actually show Avle riding in the Kingsblood Quadriga:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    *Yes that's only two horses. So more of a biga than a quadriga. Because of the game's coding, certain models can only have two mounts. The remaining two will be added in photoshop.


    Thirdly, now that that's out of the way, updates are going to be more regular. Hopefully once a week.
    Last edited by Skotos of Sinope; October 05, 2018 at 08:30 PM.


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