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Thread: AD USQUE FIDELIS

  1. #41
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    The power of Narses' voice bore through the traumatized Uliaris as he was anguishing over the little girl laying down beside what remained of her slain parents. The frantic remains of the mob being slaughtered engulfed the girl and Uliaris lost sight of her. Narses bellowed again, "Uliaris get Hypatius and yourself down from the Kathisma! We can take him into custody now!" With force and speed Uliaris and his prisoners, Hypatius and the guard who was knocked out cold, were down the rope ladders and taken into custody except for the guard he was beheaded for his treason even at the protest of Uliaris. Uliaris wondered now what would become of his family.

    Narses then continued with his orders, "You are needed to gather up the remaining senators. You may select your team from the guard units under my command. After completing this task you may rejoin Belisarius. Are we clear?" Uliaris stood speechless and profoundly upset over the execution of the guard, and Narses grabbed his sword arm firmly snapping Uliaris out of his state and Uliaris blinked his eyes firmly and when they opened Narses spoke calmly and compassionately to Uliaris, "He would have lived had he been truthful Uliaris. I remember many of my men under my command. He deserted during the riots and stood accused of violently murdering at least one family. That ring on his finger was from the father of the murdered family. I knew him rather well, and how important that ring was to him and his family. He cut the mans ring finger off to get that ring and it was never sold on the streets. I thought you needed to know and be reminded that things are not always as they seem. Do you understand?"

    Uliaris looked at Narses in the eye with his respect for him as well as his baring all restored and replied, "Yes commander! Apologies..."

    "No need Uliaris now accomplish your new assignment!"

    Uliaris nodded and as he was headed back near the Kathisma to survey the remaining mob fighting for their survival, he was grabbed by a great leathery arm and spun around whilst drawing his sword. As the surprised warrior spun round his blade but was parried by an equally great warrior. "Andreas what are you doing!..," said the very confused Uliaris. The walls of his entranced state began to fade away as Andreas grabbed him shaking him firmly to snap him out of his state. Uliaris dropped his sword as it crashed on the floor of the garden he was coming back to the light of reality and visibly embarrassed at what he must have been doing during his traumatic episode. "I'm alright Andreas! Let go of me!"

    "You are not alright my friend! You were at Nika and about to take my head until I blocked your blow. You were not with us Uliaris!"

    "I know Andreas I have not thought about..." abruptly they were interrupted by Aelia, "We have to leave now! I just received a message that an old friend of mine has been questioned about you two and was hurt rather badly. He wants us to come to him because he has something for us beyond the incident, but we must hurry!"

    Andreas replied, "Gather our gear because Uliaris is not fit..." Uliaris cut Andreas off abruptly and speaking sarcastically, "Speak for yourself you big ox! Now hand me my gear...please!"

    Andreas roared into action grabbing their gear while Aelia was shaking her head and quipped, "I can see the level of maturity just sank a few notches. Come on we don't have all night!"
    Last edited by ♔Old Dragoon♔; April 13, 2017 at 11:25 AM.

  2. #42
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    It sounds like Uliaris is a danger even to his friends, in his traumatised state. I wonder how he, Aelia and Andreas will cope with their new assignment.

  3. #43
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    I know it's been a bit longer for a update than usual, so expect one this week!

  4. #44
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS - UPDATED 28 Nov 2016

    The three arrived at their destination without confrontation and rather quickly. A woman met them at the gated entrance and ushered them in to the bedchamber of the man who was badly injured. The woman who ushered them in was in her mid-thirties, pleasant, but very guarded. Uliaris gazed over at her catching the woman gazing back causing her to turn her gaze away from him. As she was walking back to what she was doing before she showed them to Agathias. Before the woman walked out he thought to himself she has a story to tell by the way she carried herself, but for now it would have to wait. Uliaris did not immediately recognize the lad. Of course to him anyone under forty was a lad to him. He was in his late thirties, and he was beaten rather well. It appeared to Uliaris that the the bruising and wounds were handed out by men who knew what they were doing to exact maximum pain without causing death after examining the young man lying in his bedchamber. The most telling of the bruising besides the neck was around the eyes and above the lip just below the nose. That area with the right pressure or strikes can get many men to talk The beaten man looked over at them, straining to speak up with a raspy voice due to great bruising around his neck, "Aelia! Thank you for getting here so quickly! Gentlemen it is comforting that you came as well!"

    Aelia replied with concern, "Are you sure this a good time.."

    Interrupting her, "Aelia, when is it ever a good time? I have rested precisely enough time and have strength enough for what I have to say..."
    "I, however, was not prepared to see you in this state or struggling to speak..."

    Sounding a little clearer, "Aelia, it is alright. I'm being cared for and though I look and feel terrible, I assure you I'm up for the task. Again, I would not have requested for your assistance in this matter if I was not. Now formally introduce me to your companions!"

    "Well, the titan before you is Andreas and the smaller one is Uliaris. Gentlemen, the man laying before you is Agathias Scholacticus." The three men greeted one another as any man would in a first encounter with another man. They made their acquaintance and Aelia gleefully interrupted them, "Okay enough of all the pleasantries and now to business! Agathias you asked for my aid, and you told me you have important information that will be of use. Please enlighten us with this intelligence."

    Agathias re-positioned his pillows so he could be more comfortable before he began, "Before I begin, I want you to know that we are looking for the same answers, and we are pursuing the same goals. The men that did this to me will stop at nothing to see their plan to the end. Do any of you know the goal of their plan?"

    The three looked at each other and Aelia finally spoke up, "I have my suspicions from what intelligence I have gathered with the help of Andreas and now Uliaris, but I don't know who is pulling the strings..." Agathias interrupted, "Exactly, which I believe I know now not because of the attack on Uliaris, was it?" "Yes," replied Uliaris. Agathias continued, "It was the ciphered note now in my hands, I desperately grabbed for the carelessly dropped note from one of the attackers after I was beaten. It was as if fate stepped in and gave me something better than medicine. This very note is what led me to know who was either behind this attack or at very least one of the main players." The note was on a single sheet folded up several times without any sign of a seal.

    Aelia quipped with excitement in her voice, "You recognized the hand that wrote the note!"

    "I did discern whose hand it was that wrote the note, but of course that is not sufficient evidence alone. However, it does raise suspicion to the fact that this was written from a man who has power and financial means enough to target potential threats. He also must clearly have access to the imperial court with palace guards being used. I was such a threat as well as the both of you gentlemen."
    Uliaris interjected, "I was targeted by a small band of pirates. After they were dispatched, I then looked for Andreas finding him at a tavern. While finding and talking to my friend, along came some hooded palace guards looking for us, and then apparently they ended up finding you."

    "Indeed they did and they were very adamant about the description of you three, and that I had been in contact with the three of you," remarked Agathias. "They were also certain I was hiding you all, thus the pain they dealt me. Finally they realized I had not been hiding you all or in communication except with Aelia. Our system has not been compromised I assure you, Aelia."

    Losing his patience Andreas jumped in, "Please for all things holy, would you tell us who you think wrote the bloody note?!"

    Uliaris scoffed at Andreas, "You have to forgive our rather uncouth friend here. He means well even if it appears that he is going to insert his sword into your throat for not being expedient with necessary intelligence to complete a mission, but don't let that concern you dear Agathias!" Uliaris moved in to gently pat Agathias on the back causing a minor wince of pain, and then smartly Agathias replied, “I see well, do forgive my somewhat long-winded explanation, that was more intended for Aelia’s ears since she has a keen interest in such long winded details. I do sometimes get carried away with my details with the average ear. “ Andreas and Uliaris looked at each other and rolled their eyes while Agathias continued whilst seeing the two veterans rolling their eyes at him, “Right, so you three might want to look more closely at Procopius, the judge himself. That is the hand I do believe wrote the note that the careless guards dropped.”
    Last edited by ♔Old Dragoon♔; August 13, 2017 at 12:41 AM.

  5. #45
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    Well, beatings and ciphers and familiar handwriting - it's all very exciting and dramatic!

    No doubt investigating Procopius will be very dangerous, but I wonder what they'll find.






  6. #46
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    I agree, pursuing the author of the note sounds like a risky mission, I hope that Uliaris and his friends will succeed.

  7. #47
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    The three guests of Agathias looked at one another, and Aelia spoke up, "I suspected him being the author of the note when you mentioned that you had acquired it, since he and Belisarius had a major falling out before he obtained a court position as historian and legal counsel to Justinian. I felt that a trial of the magnitude of accusations against Belisarius, given the fact that Procopius would be presiding as Judge, would not be a fair one due to their history." Andreas added, "Given the fact that someone wants to silence Uliaris for good, it would not be out of the realm of possibilities for Procopius to be pulling the strings as you say. Uliaris, is well aware of the potential result of trusting that man. In my opinion there is much darkness in that man, more so than many men I've met. From my first encounter, I felt I had grasped the hand of a devil."

    "Andreas, we do not know that Procopius was behind my attack or on the one on Agathias, unless we are able to compare the note Agathias has to the one we know was written by Procopius," interjected Uliaris. Aelia quickly responded, "You have a written document from Procopius!?"

    Uliaris answered,"Yes I did for commendation during the siege of Rome by instruction of Belisarius who in turn requested such commendation from Justinian himself. I held on to it for all these years, but it is with my personal effects at my quarters. It is a ways from here, but in a quiet friendly area away from palace operations that would be to our advantage."

    Agathias piped up, "Well, what are we waiting for? Uliaris, show us the way!" Aelia rebuked, "Agathias, you are in no condition to travel down the street let alone to Uliaris' quarters. We will come back after we retrieve Uliaris' commendation letter..."

    "You are not going to keep me from this adventure! I am able to walk and though still in pain...somewhat, I assure you that I will not impede your travel to Uliaris' abode! I repeat no one is talking out of or keeping out of this mission!" Agathias got out of his bed stood up and shrugged off the pain he was clearly in, but no one tried to keep him from the journey. He gathered himself and put on a fresh tunic and cloak and armed himself with an old but well maintained gladius. Andreas quipped, "If we get into a scrap you best leave that cleaver sheathed and hide, or you will have more to worry about than a few scrapes and bruises!" Agathias replied, "Oh Andreas, I did not know you cared so deeply!" Andreas remarked, "Well... you just be sure and keep your hands to yourself!"

    Everyone laughed for a few moments, then Uliaris snapped into military discipline. He barked, "Alright children let's pull ourselves together and get dirt on our shoes. We have to move quickly and with purpose. Agathias, you had best keep our pace. Aelia, I put you in charge of the scholastic one. Now let's move out!"

    Surprisingly Agathias was quickly able to gather his cloak without wincing in pain. The fellowship moved out as the quiet mysterious women who greeted them earlier watched intently as they left Agathias' home. Uliaris noticed her again and promptly asked, "Agathias, why does your servant not speak much and looks at me as though she has seen a spirit of a dead man?"

    Agathias replied as they were briskly walking to Uliaris' lodging, "She is not my servant and we should wait until we get to your quarters after we have able to compare the notes before we discuss her constitution."

    They all made it safely to the the insula (apartment) where Uliaris lodged which was above an olive oil shop that was very well kept and fair to the lodgers as long as they paid on time. Uliaris was always on time since he had been forced out of the military and was not denied his pension. They were outside the insula ready to enter when a voice shouted at them from some dark corner.

    "Fat ugly eunuchs aren't allowed in these parts!"

    Andreas tried to hold his ferocious temper as the band moved in close together trying to eye where the insult originated. Andreas quickly replied, "Ladies pretending to be men that hide in shadow bellowing like cross effeminates aren't allowed in mine!" Uliaris tried to hold back Andreas and spoke up, "This is not Dara! Ignore the swine and let's share some wine and focus on our task."

    "Task! Ha! You sorry lots look like unskilled actors unsure of yourselves as asses to a lyre! I can smell your fear from where I stand you guild of cowards!"

    "All right friend you have had your moment. Now either show yourself as a man, or sulk back to your cesspit. I warn you though.... If you dare show your face, that I will turn it into a piss pot!"

    Coming out of the shadows was not just one surly man but seven others itching for a fight. Like an old lion protecting his pride from a cackle of hyenas, Andreas attacked the gang with tremendous fury before Uliaris or Aelia could react. The first one out of the shadows did not know what hit him. Andreas stretched out his arm perpendicular to his body crashing into the brute's neck whilst quickly sweeping his leg sending him flat on his back with a great thud. Andreas, then punched, with his thumb and forefinger extended slightly from his fist, so hard that he crushed the big fiend's throat tearing through flesh exposing his larynx. The other gang members stood for a moment as their leader lay there lifeless with blood and gore gushing from what used to be his throat. Andreas looked up at the stunned remaining gang members as they looked like they were frozen in fear at what they saw.

    Andreas roared, "You cack eaters best be on your way or I will show you less mercy!" The remaining gang members begged for mercy, but Andreas first demanded that they explain their attack or they would get theirs. The second in command quickly spoke up and told Andreas that they were only following their leader called Diocles because they were hungry and needed work, and he had promised them both food and money. Andreas then looked at them and told them to leave and take Diocles with them and never show there faces around here again, or he would find and kill every last one of them. They moved as fast as they could with Diocles in tow, then Andreas came back to the fellowship. Aelia piped up, "Uliaris, I thought this was a quiet sector?" Uliaris replied, "So, did I! I was not thinking that Andreas was going to spoil the evening festivities. And to think I believed that you had dealt with that temper of yours!" Aelia and Agathias looked at each other and shook their heads as they entered the insula and Uliaris' quarters.
    Last edited by ♔Old Dragoon♔; April 13, 2017 at 11:26 AM.

  8. #48
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    Well, I wasn't expecting an attack by a gang. At least, I wasn't expecting that sort of thing just yet! Very dramatic, Old Dragoon.

    I'm interested to find out what notes they're all going to compare, and why the quiet woman is so shocked to see Uliaris.






  9. #49
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    Good chapter! I like the contrast between the Andreas' cheerful banter with Agathias, and the Andreas' fierce reaction to the street gang.

    There is still time for everyone to submit nominations for the Writers' Study Yearly Awards 2016. Also, everyone is invited to vote for your favourite story in the MCWC XIV.
    Last edited by Alwyn; January 29, 2017 at 11:34 AM.

  10. #50

    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    Great work here Old Dragon. The setting is excellent and one that I've been wanting to get to know better, as a matter of fact. Well done on the very evident research behind it. As for the story telling itself, I have three highlights. First, I like the gore and detail in the fight scenes, they are just on point. Then, I liked the inclusion of Theodora's speech and its almost seamless integration with the rest of the dialogues, which only added to both. Lastly, the massacre at the hippodrome is the peak of the narrative so far and it's really good. The tension is really well built and the orgy of violence contrasts perfectly with Hypatius' thought provoking resignation. If I have one criticism, it's the presentation. Times New Roman is a great font for reading and suits the setting but the size could be a bit bigger.

    Keep it up and have some rep!

  11. #51
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    Thank you Caillagh and Alwyn! Things will begin to progress more, but will have flashback sequences, so that the readers can understand why things are as they are.

    Admiral Van Tromp, I am humbled at your critique, and I wondered about enlarging the font slightly as well since I am old and a bi-focal scribe! I have researched the heck out of this story and lean a lot on the historians of that day. Procopius and Agathias as well as many others were real people and there were some interesting things that happened. I think in that era the Nika Riots would have had tremendous psychological effect on the soldiers who were ordered to carry it out since they were killing citizens as well as traitors. My attempt in all of this is to paint the picture with words that soldiers have not changed much through the ages just their uniforms, and that there is always hope. I also hope to achieve a worthy Roman story from the Eastern side instead of always Briton and Rome. Thank you so much for your comments and critique!

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    As the band entered the insula the place had an eerie calm about it. It was the kind of eerie calm that one senses before or after a ghastly tragedy. The closest Agathias had felt this was just earlier with the gang. The others of the party have felt this sensation more than they would care to talk about. Agathias broke the silence with a tone slightly louder than a whisper, "First off...Are we going to kill every time we meet an unsavory fellow?" Agathias gulped rather loudly before continuing, "By the way do you all have the feeling that something is quite wrong here?"

    The rest of the party in unison said that of course they feel something is wrong and then told him to be quiet. Agathias, then tried to remain calm and quiet. Uliaris ordered Agathias to get directly behind him as Andreas and Aelia watched their left, right and rear. They entered adjacent rooms downstairs and made it to outside owner of the insula's living quarters. They pounded many times on the door with no response.

    The owner of this insula and olive oil business was Marcus and his wife Sarra. They were an older couple in their late sixties and were very kind but stern when it came to running the insula. If renters were going to be pressed to pay on time they had best better make arrangements. Marcus had served with distinction at Dara but was wounded and met Sarra at Dara. Her father was Roman and mother was Jewish. Her father was a wine and olive oil merchant. They took Marcus in to care for him since his wounds were too severe to remain on campaign with Belisarius. Though Marcus moves with a noticeable limp, he is more than capable in defending himself.

    However, Uliaris was gravely worried what he would find behind the door after Andreas knocked it down. They all called out for the couple, but they were not there. Nothing looked out of place and there was no sign of any intrusion. "What now my captain? " asked Andreas. "We go to my quarters!" barked Uliaris. As soon as the Uliaris and the others made it to his quarters they found the old couple stunned at the state of his living space, and that the party was peering in at them.

    Uliaris spoke first, "Marcus... Sarra! What happened here?" Marcus spoke up, "It appears some people thought they should come to your apartment and straighten things up a bit!"

    Uliaris tried to hold back his laughter but could not and everyone joined in, then Uliaris spoke up again, "Marcus, thank you for the laugh as always, but we were concerned for you and Sarra's safety while entering your insula, and we feared something was not right and now I must say apologies for your door. I will pay you for the repairs! Now, do you know or not who ransacked my quarters?"

    "We do not, but we heard an awful commotion and I was trying to remember where my spatha was, because I was not going to investigate unarmed! However, when we got to your apartment, this is how we found it before you all came up. We have not been here very long and I believe whoever was here left out that window," pointed Marcus to the opened window. Aelia was already at the window peering out to see if she could spot anyone out of the ordinary, but she found no one. "

    "Whoever they were, they are gone now, since there is no one walking about on the via,"exclaimed Aelia. Uliaris quipped, "Yes, but they left empty handed! They did not find what they were looking for!" While Uliaris was looking through the mess of things in his room and turned up floor boards he continued to comment, "They did not look up!" Aelia and Agathias delighted in what Uliaris had said. Aelia quickly chimed in, "Brilliant! Most Romans would not think of looking up, but would think to look in a wall, floor, or an amphora!"

    "Precisely!" Added Uliaris, "Now let me grab a stool and my dagger." Quickly finding where he had hollowed out the beam he pried at the loosened piece of wood that was on top of the beam just below the ceiling but enough room for a man the size of Uliaris to comfortably remove the wood conceiving the hidden accommodation award that still had the imperial seal of the Roman Emperor. The hand that formed this document and one of its signers was indeed Procopius since I have seen his style and his hand at work as I was an officer under Belisarius for many years. Our emperor would be able to validate it as well if he was asked to testify on the hand that created and penned my award." Aelia added, "Agathias, now is your time!" Agathias moved in closer to look over the document and could verify that it was indeed created by Procopius. He and Aelia compared his ciphered note with great care. They would study then look at each other trying to see what one another felt in their gut, because neither was certain that they were a match. They moved onto comparing specific character strokes that would be easy to compare and Agathias had a kit that would allow techniques of determining if character strokes were near exact. He used a type of wax papyrus that was somewhat translucent to copy the characters they wanted to compare from the two documents. The wax enabled a near perfect copy to compare the documents which then they were able to draw a conclusion, which Aelia urged Agathias to deliver the news of their findings. Agathias began, "I know by those other than Aelia and I, that you want me to get to the point and I am....Our findings are inconclusive..." Andreas interrupted, "What do you mean inconclusive! From here they look like a near match..." Aelia interrupted as well, "Andreas, they do at first glance look very close, but in closer examination the hand of the cipher was meant to look like the hand of Procopius! It is meant to possibly appear to link him to the cipher."

    "So he is innocent of organizing a party to murder Uliaris and destroy Belisarius!" replied Andreas. Uliaris interjected, "Andreas, I know you hold no love for the man, but you told me how talented Aelia was in these matters. The point is that wanting someone to be guilty and charging them without proof is not justice my friend. That is tyranny and you know it is true."

    Marcus interjected, “ I believe it is best that Sarra and I excuse ourselves from this meeting, intriguing as it is. If you need us we will be at our quarters….Ahh we shall bring up some refreshments. I know that it is early in the morning now but I believe we all are in need of refreshments before we turn in..” Uliaris interrupted, “Thank you Marcus for your generous hospitality and I think that is the very thing we need.” Marcus and Sarra quickly exit to gather refreshments for their guests.

    Andreas turned away and tried to walk out of the room. Uliaris grabbed his arm, and Andreas wheeled around as if he was going to hit Uliaris. "If I was a tyrant you would be on the ground out cold!" Everyone in the room including Aelia was a little nervous about Andreas' actions. The large but normally lovable brute was acting very peculiar and in a frightening sense.

    Andreas continued, "Uliaris, you of all people know what that man tried to do to me in Italia!” Uliaris replied, “Of course I do brother, and you know what he has done to many that gotten too close! However, we must carry on and find meat of evidence instead of mad accusations! You know I speak truth…Remember our motto, Et Honorem, Et Virtutem Veritatis Viribus!”

    “You are right Uliaris!” groaned Andreas. “We must press on and find the proof that this rat has been behind everyone’s misery!”
    Last edited by ♔Old Dragoon♔; April 13, 2017 at 11:27 AM.

  13. #53
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    This plot continues to thicken with every chapter! I look forward to finding out who was actually responsible for the note, and what our heroes will do next!






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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    very good aar .I love the feeling of being in the pre dark ages .Very good.I have still not read all the chapters but plan to do the same .
    To anyone concerned. I am leaving twc. Bye and best of luck.
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    I enjoyed the discovery the cipher. The tension between the cool-headed concern for justice of Uliaris and the fiery passion of Andreas is well done. Looking forward to their continuing search for justice... or revenge.

  16. #56
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    Uliaris reached out for Andreas and they clenched forearms and spoke, "Together, my brother, we will find who has been behind our misery! Now let us..." Marcus came back and invited everyone to his fine quarters for rest and refreshments. He insisted and we all accepted. His spacious room near where he and Sarra dined and normally for entertaining party guests was now converted for Uliaris and his team to use for the night. Sarra had charged her servants to take care of all of their needs.

    The team was grateful for the light snack normally served at evening now made specially for them. Aelia broke the silence of everyone enjoying the refreshments, "I know it is now early morning, but Uliaris would you continue with your account of the Nika Riots or are you in need of rest? I do not think any imperial agents will come back here at least for a couple of days."

    "Well there is not a lot more to tell, but there could be some information important with what became of Hypatius and Pompeius. There is also the fact that after the riots, the city really became this eerie dead calm for many weeks. People were just plain feared for their future, and it is understandable," said Uliaris as he was trying to position his pillow on the lectus tricliniaris (reclining couch) for greater comfort.

    Agathias marveled at a regaling of the Nika Riots from Uliaris' perspective, "Yes do continue, and how I wish I had heard the beginning," said Agathias whilst giving Aelia a teasing sneer. Aelia just ignored him and interjected, "I believe we all are ready unless Andreas objects, then by all means Uliaris continue." Andreas gave a favorable nod still visibly irritated at Aelia and Agathias.

    Uliaris was visibly changing again as he began to talk. His face began to perspire and his voice sounded stressed as he spoke, "I know when I was retelling earlier that I had much trouble due to the... uhh memory of the little girl that I saw with her dead parents. As you know, I had never spoken of the girl I saw with her dead parents. Though it will not be easy to continue, I will for the fact that maybe something useful may be ascertained and that at the end of our quest good shall be accomplished." Tears started to well up in his eyes. "For many years after that girl haunted my dreams. She was the source of my downward spiral," the leathery veteran continued, "she was also my fuel to keep going, because one day I hoped and prayed I would find her."

    Everyone, even Agathias who was not present before, was tearing up with Uliaris as he continued. "When I saw her carrying the head of her mother to her father, at first I wondered why she would do such a thing. It then dawned on me that she could not bring her fallen father's body to her mother's or vice versa."

    "Standing by the Kathisma I could see the whole of the Hippodrome. I was not looking for any treasonous senator I tell you. I was looking for the girl laying down beside her dead parents that I had lost track of. I still could not locate her!" Uliaris was able to regain himself as his mindset floated back to the Nika Riots, but not like the earlier episode. Uliaris was in firm control of his mind even though he could see the riot's final hours in his mind.

    Uliaris examined intently for an approximate area where she thought he saw before the remains of the battling mob had engulfed her. He marked his spot raced down the steps near the Kathisma that led to the slaughter below as if he was an Olympian. Before he got near the fighting frenzied mob that was being slaughtered by the soldiers, he unsheathed his sword and ran a rioter through to the hilt. Effortlessly Uliaris ripped the blade from the soon to be dead rioter's gut spilling blood and gore on trampled, skewered, and dying rioters below. The whole time Uliaris was slaughtering rioters he was looking for the little girl.

    Uliaris then saw a bloodied senator trying to get away from the assault of the soldiers and was now in occupied space of the empire. Uliaris retrieved his spatha this time from a rioter's neck with such force that he nearly took the lifeless rioter's head. As he retrieved his blade, a rioter made a hasty careless charge at Uliaris' backside with his short sword held overhead. Uliaris in one motion changed the grip of his spatha from retrieval to a throw, much like a javelin or a spear, causing the tip of his deadly blade to penetrate deep into the chest of his would be killer. Whilst at a double time pace, Uliaris simultaneously yanked his sword from chest of the dead rioter, and then ran to the bloodied senator. Grasping the corner of the senators robe, Uliaris spun him around and through the mire and blood on his face Uliaris realized he had captured the Leader of the Nika Riots, Leo. Leo in turn realized who his captor was. Leo begged for mercy, but true to his orders the veteran warrior made the treasonous leader to get up. "Now you are in Narses' hands because..." Leo interrupted, "and God has forsaken me!" Uliaris led the captured senator ignoring his sobbing and lamenting.

    Narses saw Uliaris bringing Leo to him and that same vein in his forehead started to twitch again. Narses was surprised to see Leo alive, but when he saw him he remembered his words spoken to Leo. Now, one of the lions looked over his captured hyena ready to decide its fate.

    Narses looked over Leo for what seemed a lot longer than reality. The defeated Leo would not look up at Narses, but kept praying silently to God or so it appeared. Narses finally broke the silence, "Leo, I am certain at our last meeting that I requested that you had better be armed the next time we met, and though you appear less confident as our previous encounter, you still heeded my word at being armed. I do commend you at your valiant effort as treasonous as it was. You and your esteemed colleagues were so close in pulling off this rebellion. It is indeed a pity that it has come to this yet here we stand face to face. Leo, with Uliaris as my witness and second, you have two choices. You can honorably choose to fight me in combat or decline and be sent before Justinian who will make a spectacle of your execution. Either way no clemency will be granted. I will give you a moment to consider your fate!"

    Leo though standing had not looked up until after Narses had finished. Leo then got down on his knees, as if to pray to God, before Narses. Narses waited a moment then stepped closer to Leo and then spoke again, "So, is this your answer or..." Narses cut his sentence off, because, as Leo was standing up again, he withdrew his sword to strike Narses. Narses anticipated Leo's move and countered by stepping in and punching the shoulder of the sword arm very hard stunning Leo for enough time to grab Leo's neck with both hands slamming his face into Narses' left knee causing his nose to erupt like a volcano of blood. Leo, being knocked almost unconscious by the blow, held his nose with his left hand and trying not to drop his sword in his right. Narses then unsheathed his sword and in a fury sliced Leo's sword hand off. Uliaris stood there speechless as Leo was screaming out in great pain holding the stump of his arm where his hand once was whilst blood still gushing like a spring from his destroyed nose. Narses ordered some of his guard to care for Leo. Narses barked out, "Keep the traitor alive for our Basileus to judge!
    Last edited by ♔Old Dragoon♔; March 20, 2017 at 09:02 PM.

  17. #57
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    Uliaris's realisation of why the little girl was doing such a strange and gruesome thing is very appropriate, I think.

    That ending is rather a cliffhanger, isn't it?






  18. #58
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    Yes to both. The truth about combat whether domestic or military is that it is shock at the highest order to the senses. People do strange and gruesome things no matter the age. People have carried their arm after it is blown off etc. My goal was to convey the shock of combat and it's strain on people. The cliffhanger is more of small ravine with a bigger cliff around the corner Thank you for your comments!

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    Chapter V: Dum Anima Est, Spes Est (While there is life there is hope.)


    Some of Narses staff quickly took strips of cloth, already prepared for dressing the wounded, and applied pressure on where the captured senator's hand was. One of them grabbed a cloth strip and applied pressure to his nose as well. They were trying to keep him from going into shock. These same men had set up a very rough triage to care for the wounded. There was not many yet due to the fact that there was not many wounded soldiers and the rioters were not being treated for their wounds but killed where they fell. Uliaris had regained better control of his thoughts as he continued on.

    The final cluster of rioters had been pushed back a good ways from where Uliaris had killed his last rioter. The Spina of the track had become the hopeless fortress for the few remaining rioters. They had tried to even ascend the imperial monuments that adorned the Spina only to be cut down like wheat to a scythe. The rioters had been crushed and nearly cut down to the man. Only the senators that survived were captured including Leo who was barely hanging on from his blood loss. I do not know personally how many citizen rioters survived. There were often survivors of massacres, and even one at this level still had the few who overcame the odds. Regardless, the order was that only the rebellious senators were to be captured if possible. There was no specific order to kill everyone else until Belisarius, Mundus, and Narses ordered us to the Spina and eliminate all remaining rioters on the Spina or on the field of the Hippodrome.

    No victory cheer arose from any of us as we accomplished our objectives. An eerie quiet engulfed the Hippodrome after the last rioter was silenced in this life. I noticed that we all stood there what felt like hours but was mere minutes at the horrific gore that lay before us. A soldier near me covered in blood and gore broke the silence not in fervor but as if delivering grave news to a loved one. He spoke, "It has been said in war that the fathers will bury their son...Here at Nika we bury all!"

    The harsh reality and truth of those words shattered many of us were there that day. We were never the same, nor was the empire. As that moment and stillness was broken by the words of a soldier, we were ordered to regroup to our commanders for our next assignment. I was living in the darkest horror that I had ever thought possible, yet from a pile of bodies as I was walking by, I saw a little blood stained hand emerge. I immediately ran over and pulled bodies from the pile, and a fellow soldier was helping me. I looked up and it was none other than Belisarius helping me find a living soul amongst this field of death and despair. When we cleared the bodies away, my eyes gazed on the little girl that I had thought had been swept away from the torrent of death exacted on the rioters. She was still alive! The girl's face was etched in my mind though covered in blood and mire, yet I knew it was her without doubt. I quickly scooped her up into my arms, and with out hesitation Belisarius ordered me to take her to the court physician. He spoke to me, before I left, an old Greek proverb, "Uliaris, after war...aid." I was running with all my might, as I clutched the child close to my to my armored chest, and making sure each step was sure so not to jostle her as much as I could help. Her breath was becoming fainter and fainter, as I made it to the house of the physician. I wondered if she would hold on.

    The physician and assistant were careful with her and the physician ordered fresh water to be brought at one once and another for cleaning her. He raised her feet higher than her head as she laid on the medical table. He grabbed a funnel and gently forced her mouth to open. He whispered tenderly to her letting her know what he was doing. I sat on a stool and prayed because I didn't know what else to do! She was taking the water in sips from the funnel until a little to much entered causing her cough some. The assistant at the same time was gently washing the grime off her face and body. The physician said that she had lost a lot of water. He also was adding salt to the water and mixed with some honey to help revive her.

    I waited patiently for her to awaken and when she did, she was deeply frightened. I looked into her eyes and she in mine and I spoke to her gently, "You do not have to fear for anything now. These men are caring for you to make you better and my family and I will care for you the rest of your days if you wish to make it so." She said nothing but nodded yes as tears ran down her cheeks. Saving a life from what had happened at the Hippodrome did not help with the guilt, shame, and anguish, but the fires of hope and purpose that revive a man's soul were reborn like the phoenix.
    Last edited by ♔Old Dragoon♔; April 14, 2017 at 12:15 PM.

  20. #60
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    Default Re: AD USQUE FIDELIS

    Good chapter! You had me on the edge of my seat when the child was being carried to the physician, her breath becoming fainter.

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