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Thread: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 28th December 2020]

  1. #121

    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 10th March 2020]

    That was a beast of an update! Congrats! That was quite a read!!!

  2. #122
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Sick Baby Reindeer
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 23rd February 2020]

    A poetic and justly named chapter. It's another way to talk about a battle and I found it very refreshing.

    I can relate to losing footage but I will say you've done a remarkable job in working with what you've been dealt. I for one think it all worked out just fine.

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 23rd February 2020]

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    This is a wonderful build-up, I'm getting excited for the battle that is to come! It's great to see you continuing to differentiate the different tribes and give humanity to the enemies of the Nervii. Now onwards to victory!
    Thanks Turk. Giving the tribes their own identities is something I decided I needed to do (as much of the map are basically Gauls,) but I'm glad it's also proving enjoyable for readers. I've also taken on board Derc's feedback about the demonization of Ambriorix so I'm hoping to give other characters and especially antagonists more depth. Though for those that like their villains truly villainous, don't worry, I'm already laying the groundwork for the next one of those too.


    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Like Turk, I enjoyed the contrasts between the cultures of the different tribes. (I like flash-back to a similar event in the past, too).

    It looks as if the Suessiones have seized the initiative, but the Nervii commander has refused to let his next move be determined by his enemy.
    Thanks Alwyn. Yes the Suessiones definitely made the first move, though as you've now seen sometimes it's not who makes the first move that matters most, but who makes the last. Of course such a strategy can also have consequences, and may not sit too well with some who prefer a more, direct, approach.

    Quote Originally Posted by JB2C View Post
    That was a beast of an update! Congrats! That was quite a read!!!
    Glad you enjoyed it JB2C and thanks. It's definitely a confidence boost to see Toutatis still drawing readers some 2 years later.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    A poetic and justly named chapter. It's another way to talk about a battle and I found it very refreshing.

    I can relate to losing footage but I will say you've done a remarkable job in working with what you've been dealt. I for one think it all worked out just fine.
    Thank you again Turk. I really wasn't too sure about how this chapter would go down (especially after my multi chapter cinematic approach to the previous battle,) so I'm glad to see the contrast is working for people.

    And yes, lost saves and replays are a definite challenge. I'm just glad I found those screenshots, as I thought I was going to have to use ones from other battles which would have been a bit odd for anyone familiar with the faction colours.

    *

    Not sure at present whether the next chapter will be a Boduognatus or another Interlude chapter, as I'm still in the process of writing them and figuring out what flows best. But will hopefully be not be too far away.

    This battle may be over, but the war is just beginning.

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 31st May 2020]

    “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR.)
    Interlude: Galba


    It was night and the rain gently fell, the water droplets rustling through the leaves. Much had changed around Noviodunon in just a few short hours. The fires of battle had been quenched on the field. The pyres of its inevitable aftermath also. Though surely it still burned in some men's heart.

    But now was not the time for such a thing. Now man, bird and beast alike sought to seek shelter from the rain. While many took to the buildings of the newly claimed Nervii settlement or to the camps that surrounded it, not all had that choice. Some had to make do with the trees of the settlement's Sacred Enclosure some distance away.

    Galba of the Suessiones took what little shelter he could get. These blessed trees had once been a source of great pride for him. A sign from the gods that the Suessiones were favoured by them above all else. But now they just reminded him of what he'd lost. His fine cloak torn to shreds. His carefully crafted chain mail armour abandoned as too heavy and easily recognised by the Nervii who now occupied his lands. His noble horse gone to Albios, the Otherworld, like so many of his brethren. Perhaps even now being ridden by the goddess Epona herself, such a mighty steed had he been.

    This was not how a chieftain of the Suessiones was supposed to act. Forced to walk through the mud that sucked at his boots with every step, trying to drag him down to Dubnos, the Netherworld. Skulking behind trees and bushes like some bandit. Hiding whenever he heard a sound that might be some Nervii party looking for him, for surely they must be.

    “May the gods damn them all for what they are making me do.” He muttered aloud.

    “They may well do.” A voice said from behind him.

    Startled, Galba reached for the small dagger at his belt, the only weapon he still had left. It was not even the exquisite blade he had once enjoyed using during feasts, but a simple thing taken from a corpse. How far he'd fallen.

    “I wouldn't.” The figure in the dark said by way of warning and the menace in that voice made Galba pause.

    “Who are you? What do you want?” Galba commanded, not able to remove the sound of entitlement in even these dire circumstances. He was was still a chieftain and expected respect.

    “Those aren't the question you should be asking.” The figure replied, seemingly immune to Galba's authority.

    “Then what is?” Galba snapped.

    “You should be asking me how I can help you? Because it seems you have few friends left.” The figure replied, the scorn dripping from his words like the rain which began to fall heavier, adding to Galba's misery..

    With this the figure stepped forward leading a horse by a rope. Well, a horse was being charitable. A smelly old nag completely unbefitting of a chieftain such as he. Galba wrinkled his nose in discust, but his discomfort was quickly forgotten as the moonlight briefly broke through the clouds, catching the figure in its gaze.

    The Suessione's eyes flared in anger. The clothes. The hair. The face. All too familiar.

    “Why should I trust the likes of you?” He spat.

    “Do you have a choice?” The figure calmly replied, giving Galba a look which made it clear there would be no further argument.

    “Take this horse,” the figure continued. “And ride in the direction of the morning sun. Stay off the paths in daylight and travel at night when you can. Do not try to seek help at Durocorteron or Divoduron, the Remi and Mediomatricii cannot be trusted. Ride to the Treverii lands and when you reach Treverorum you will be safe. Go to see their chieftain at once. Cingetorix is sworn to give you the money and men you will need to raise an army and restore the pride of the Suessiones.”

    “Yes...” Galba liked the sound of that. He could see it now, riding into Noviodunon not in disgrace but as the returning hero, a vast army at his back. They would slay the Nervii and remind the other tribes why the Suessiones should be feared and respected. He turned to examine the horse properly. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad. What was a short period of hardship versus being the one to restore Suessione's pride after this defeat. But there was one thing still bothering him.

    “Why are you helping me...?” He began, turning back to address his new benefactor. But he stopped mid-sentence.

    The man was gone.

    *

    Author's Notes:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    One of the things that has always fascinated me about history and about historical strategy games such as Total War is the concept of the What If? How, if events big or small had gone even just slightly differently, this could lead to a person, a people, or even the whole world being in a very different place to how we remember them. It is perhaps best described in the proverb “For Want of a Nail,” variations of which have been found all the way back to the 13th Century.

    For Want of a Nail
    For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
    For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
    For want of a horse the rider was lost.
    For want of a rider the message was lost.
    For want of a message the battle was lost.
    For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
    And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.


    So in one timeline a Suessiones chieftain named Galba might rise to lead not only his tribe, but an alliance of Belgic tribes that challenged the might of even Rome. He would be recognised by Caesar for his sense of justice and intelligence. He would be well remembered on coins and other artifacts...

    Unfortunately for our Galba, this apparently isn't that timeline.


    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.
    Last edited by Welsh Dragon; May 31, 2020 at 12:47 PM.

  5. #125
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 31st May 2020]

    I enjoyed the twist in Galba's fortune, with the intervention of the mysterious figure in the dark - and it's an interesting moment when the Suessione recognises the clothes, hair and face of the person he's talking to. I agree, the What If? element of history and historical strategy games is fascinating.

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 31st May 2020]

    And that's how villains are born.
    I really liked the information of the differences of Galba's fate and especially loved the "For Want of a Nail" proverb.

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 27th July 2020]

    “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR.)
    Chapter 20: A Fall

    The morning comes and with the light of dawn the rain that has plagued us these past few nights departs, leaving behind a Noviodunon still dealing with the aftermath of the battle days before.

    I have taken the High Chieftains longhouse to sleep and work in, as is expected by a conquering chieftain. It is... uncomfortably comfortable. Though in truth I would be much happier bedding down out in the rain beneath the stars with my warriors than stay in this alien place, with it's extravagant tapestries and ornate carvings. It seems the Suessiones have spent much coin on excess.

    Coming here I had hoped to find some clue to the origins of the strange coin. Perhaps spoken to their chieftains, some of whom must have had some idea where the coins were coming from. But it seems those who did were slain in the battle or fled afterwards. The mercenaries we captured are no better. What care does a soldier of fortune have for the source of his coin, as long as he is paid on time and in full?

    It is not the first time that I have found myself thinking of the decisions made by other chieftains much like me. But this is not like Atuatuca. The Suessiones are not the Eburones. They are not a shadow of their former selves, half dead before the battle even started, but a proud people who felt themselves worthy of respect. They do not look at us as rescuers freeing them from the clutches of a mad man. To the Suessiones we are occupiers. We who invaded their lands, killed their warriors and hurt their pride more than any tribe has done in a generation or more. Even though I spared those of their fighters that I could and have not inflicted needless destruction upon their homes or their families, there is still some truth in that.

    I do not relish the role of conqueror that fate has decided I must play. We chose to come here. I chose to come here. All that comes after, good or ill, I will have to live with.

    But it is not just the Suessiones who are not happy with the decisions I have made. Others too have seen their pride hurt by my actions.

    “Warlord, this is unacceptable.” Liscos, chieftain of the Angry Beasts says.

    Considering his words and my answer, I take a drink of water from my drinking mug, It is a simple thing, plain wood with no ornamentation and looks out of place in this room. Liscos and I stand on opposite sides of the Eburone warlords high table. Like everything else in this place it is too fancy for my tastes, but it serves its purpose well enough. Given Liscos's temper, it seems wise to keep a barrier between us.

    “The Suessiones are not the only enemy we face.” I reply, putting my now half full mug down on the table. Liscos and I have been discussing this for a while now. He speaks for his tribe, and neither are happy.

    “All the more reason to make an example. Send a message that the tribes of the Nervii will not be challenged.”

    “I have made my decision.” I say, trying to put an end to it. This has gone on long enough. But Liscos is not finished. As he speaks, he counts down his grievances with the fingers of one hand.

    “First you send out messengers to our neighbours to beg for peace, when a true warrior would demand it. Then you choose Eburones, glass makers for Toutatis sake, to fight beside us. When we finally come to battle with the Suessiones you have us stand around and wait to be attacked like weaklings, instead of charging into battle like any real warrior would. Now you will not even let us take trophies from our vanquished foes, AS IS OUR RIGHT!”

    The Angry Beast's Chieftain slams his fist down onto the table hard enough to tip over my drinking mug, spilling the contents across the ornate carvings.

    “Some might question whether you are the right man to lead us at all!” He finishes.

    At his words I feel a cold fury building in my gut, but I know I cannot give in to it. I am Warlord of all the Nervii. I must lead by example. But I cannot let such words go unchallenged either.

    “How many?” I ask quietly.

    “What?” Liscos replies, still filled with rage and I think barely hearing my words because of it.

    “How many Suessiones would we have had to kill if I hadn't accepted their surrender?” I continue, gradually circling the table, keeping my voice low by force of will alone.

    “What does that matter?-” Liscos sneers, but I cut him off.

    “How many would have sworn vengeance against us for the loss of their loved ones, not in honourable battle but in protecting their homes from looting?” I ask, taking another step closer, my voice getting gradually louder with each step I take.

    “How many more of ours would have died in the fighting?” Another step, my voice louder still.

    “How many more warriors would I have to leave here to maintain order when we head out to face the next threat because the people hate us even more than they already do?” And another, now standing barely a step away.

    “HOW MANY!” I roar.

    The last I deliver directly to his face, as I let my fury burn hot for an instant. Glaring at Liscos. daring him to say more. To question my words and my authority further. To take that last step and challenge me for the leadership of the tribes. Because we both know that is what it will take to get me to back down now. As Warlord I can do no less.

    This is a moment of great danger for the both of us and we know it. Once such a challenge is issued it cannot be withdrawn and must be decided by weapons not words. Though I have fought in many battles I would not wager on a certain victory against this bear of a man in single combat. His height and reach make him a fearsome opponent.

    But Liscos knows that if he challenges me he will have to win, or lose the leadership and respect of his tribe. Even if he wins there is no guarantee all the tribes will follow him. While the Angry Beasts may boast that they could stand against the world alone if they wanted to, their leader is not fool enough to actually try it... I hope.

    But Liscos does not get the chance to answer. We are interrupted by one of my warriors who has appeared at the door. He glances quickly between us, but wisely says nothing of it. When chieftains quarrel, the wise warrior does not intervene.

    “Warlord. Chieftain,” the warrior says, acknowledging us both before turning to face me. “A messenger for you at the gate.”

    There is a brief pause. Liscos and I continue to stare at each other, eyes locked, neither willing to back down.

    “It cannot wait.” The warrior adds.

    “This isn't over.” Liscos growls, turning and pushing past the warrior as he leaves the room.

    “What is it?” I ask, perhaps too quickly. The confrontation with Liscos has shaken me more than I would like to admit. But not so much as the words I hear next.

    “Word from our scouts in the south. The Remi crossed into the Suessiones lands two nights ago and are marching north. We can expect them within days.”

    The battle with the Suessiones is barely over, but the next one already awaits us. And so the war goes on.

    ***

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.
    Last edited by Welsh Dragon; July 27, 2020 at 06:30 AM.

  8. #128
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 31st May 2020]

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    I enjoyed the twist in Galba's fortune, with the intervention of the mysterious figure in the dark - and it's an interesting moment when the Suessione recognises the clothes, hair and face of the person he's talking to. I agree, the What If? element of history and historical strategy games is fascinating.
    Galba wasn't actually in my first draft, nor was the figure he meets quite so vague. But I needed a name for this Suessiones chieftain, and figured I might as well explain what happened to one of the few Suessiones we know the name of in this timeline at the same time.

    I'm still in the process of welding the original and second campaign playthroughs together, which is creating challenges but also opportunities to What If? my own What If? which is fun.

    *

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    And that's how villains are born.
    I really liked the information of the differences of Galba's fate and especially loved the "For Want of a Nail" proverb.
    Ah yes, good stories need good villains. But I'm trying to take on feedback from earlier chapters to give them more depth too. We probably haven't seen the last of Galba.

    As for the proverb, "For Want of a Nail" nicely sums up one of the things I love about writing and fiction in general. Vast stories can spin out of the simplest premises. Even Toutatis Favours The Brave spun out of me thinking "what would the Caesar in Gaul intro be like from the Barbarian's point of view?" I'm looking forward to the clash of cultures when the Romans start to make their presence felt, though before then there are other challenges for the Nervii to face.

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.

  9. #129
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 27th July 2020]

    If I remember correctly, the Nervii had a reputation similar to that of the Spartans, so I can see how the comforts of the longhouse would seem uncomfortable (and 'uncomfortably comfortable' was a nice piece of phrasing). The tension is brilliant in the confrontation with Liscos!

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 27th July 2020]

    I agree with Alwyn. The confrontation with Liscos is very well done, building up tension and holding it even though the direct conflict has ended. Dangerous moments indeed.

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 27th July 2020]

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    If I remember correctly, the Nervii had a reputation similar to that of the Spartans, so I can see how the comforts of the longhouse would seem uncomfortable (and 'uncomfortably comfortable' was a nice piece of phrasing). The tension is brilliant in the confrontation with Liscos!
    Thank you Alwyn. And your memory is correct. As CA describes them on their wiki.

    At the Battle of Sabis in 57 BCE, where their surprise attack almost defeated Caesar’s legions, they fought until only 500 of their original 60,000 warriors remained. Such bravery was at the heart of their culture, which was Spartan-like in both outlook and reputation. The Nervii would eschew all luxury, especially alcohol, which they perceived made the body and spirit weak. Instead, they pursued the traditions of their Celtic and Germanic origins, venerating the cult of the hero-warrior. As such, their kings and chieftains were chosen due to their martial prowess and wise leadership.
    It was the idea of a barbarian tribe with a Spartan mentality who shunned alcohol that first sparked my interest in the Nervii, and ultimately lead me to write about them.

    And glad to hear that the tension between Liscos and Boduognatus works. It was a tricky scene to write, but I thought it was important to show that much like the real world just because two people belong to the same tribe, party, family etc, doesn't mean they agree on everything. As I wrote all the way back in the first post, to defeat what is to come the Nervii must be united. But unity cannot be forced, it must be earned to be worth anything at all. And some may never be willing to join your cause.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    I agree with Alwyn. The confrontation with Liscos is very well done, building up tension and holding it even though the direct conflict has ended. Dangerous moments indeed.
    Thanks Turk. I tried to approach the scene almost like a fight between two skilled warriors, blow and counterblow, just fought with words not weapons. The result is... inconclusive, so I think it's fair to say Liscos and Boguognatus now have unfinished business. Though right now the bigger problem may be the Remi!

    The next chapter should hopefully be up in a day or two, assuming I don't melt from the hot weather we're having.

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 8th August 2020]

    “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR.)
    Chapter 21: The Remi




    (Remi coins, circa 80-50BC. Source.)

    Nobody trusts a Remi.

    It is a lesson many learn as children, sitting at their elders feet. Others learn it the hard way, through personal experience. Some never get the chance to learn that lesson at all. Travellers from foreign lands may wonder how one tribe could earn such a reputation. But they have clearly not met many of them.

    There are few who do not have a story of a Remi merchant who short changed them or backed out on a deal. A Remi lover who also shared another warrior's bed. A Remi warrior who failed to come to a shield brother's aid when called, or worse still had their sword turned by another's coin against a former ally.

    My father once told me that if I ever clasped hands with a Remi I should make sure I still had all my fingers before releasing them. It was good advice, for I have known little good come from dealing with the Remi. And yet...

    As a youth I sometimes wondered how such a tribe could survive when few would willingly stand in a shield wall with them. But the answer is simple. The Remi are traders the way we Nervii are warriors. Their contacts in the south are without equal. Their merchants able to obtain just about anything you want, at a price you think you can afford. I saw many strange and foreign trinkets in the Suessiones' homes and I have no doubt they paid the Remi a great deal for most of them.

    But the Remi have never been content with just making money. If the Suessiones' weakness was their pride, then the Remi's must surely be their appetites. For they will eat and drink long after most other warriors have had their fill, or fallen down and rolled beneath the benches. I think even Gwydion would have struggled to keep up at times.

    Traders, liars, cheats and thieves they may be. But if there is a profit to be made, the Remi can be fierce and cunning warriors too. The timing of their actions, entering Suessiones' lands right when both they and we are weakened by the recent battle is no coincidence I'm sure.

    *

    The news of the Remi's rapid advance leaves me with a stark choice and little time to make it in.

    If we stay in Noviodunon and wait I will have every warrior I have here at my command and the stronghold's defences to aid us. But we will also be fighting on unfamiliar ground, surrounded by Remi beyond the walls and Suessiones within it, all the time waiting for a knife in the back from someone wanting to even the score and profit from our demise. To defend a settlement we have only just taken is not an easy task.

    But if we head out and face the Remi in the field, I will have to lead warriors who have already faced one fierce battle only days ago and march once more to face an enemy fresh and ready to fight. Many of my warriors carry injuries or are still tired from the battle and the march before it. Others will not be able to march and must stay here to continue to heal from their wounds before they can fight again. And I will still have to leave some able-bodied warriors behind to maintain order, further reducing my strength.

    I like neither option but in truth I have little choice. My confrontation with Liscos has seen to that. He and many of his warriors will not stomach more delay. They see an enemy coming and it is their nature to face it head on. If I stand in their way again, I doubt fate will stay his hand a second time.

    However it not just my leadership at stake. If we are to stand against what Gwydion's prophecies says is coming, I must somehow unite not just the clans of the Nervii but the tribes of Belgae and Gaul. But if I lose the support of clans like the Angry Beasts we will have lost this battle before it is even fought. It is a price none of us can afford to pay.

    My decision is clear. We leave before nightfall.

    ***

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.
    Last edited by Welsh Dragon; August 09, 2020 at 06:50 AM.

  13. #133
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 9th August 2020]

    I really like the way that you introduce the theme in just a few words in the opening line, and the different ways in which you illustrate the reputation of the cunning Remi. That's a memorable line about checking you still have all your fingers! I can see how that would be passed on as part of a tribe's culture, its understanding of its members differ from others - so this is reminding us of the importance of honour in Nervii culture, as well as their perception (accurate or otherwise) of the Remi.

    It's interesting to see how the confrontation with Liscos is affecting the decision about how to respond to the Remi expansion - and the connection back to Gwydion's prophecy underlines the importance and urgency of the choices being made here. Uniting the other tribes without losing the support of Nervii clans sums up the challenge very well!

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 9th August 2020]

    Alwyn's feedback is spot on I find. The worldbuilding continues splendidly, every tribe gets his place in the world and his fair share of information on them. It's obvious the Remi and Nervii are completly different from each other just like the Suessiones are. I'm excited to see the Nervii and Remi do battle, or if they (the Remi) have something cunning in mind.

    Great update Welsh Dragon!

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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 9th August 2020]

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    I really like the way that you introduce the theme in just a few words in the opening line, and the different ways in which you illustrate the reputation of the cunning Remi. That's a memorable line about checking you still have all your fingers! I can see how that would be passed on as part of a tribe's culture, its understanding of its members differ from others - so this is reminding us of the importance of honour in Nervii culture, as well as their perception (accurate or otherwise) of the Remi.

    It's interesting to see how the confrontation with Liscos is affecting the decision about how to respond to the Remi expansion - and the connection back to Gwydion's prophecy underlines the importance and urgency of the choices being made here. Uniting the other tribes without losing the support of Nervii clans sums up the challenge very well!
    Thank you Alwyn.

    Checking you still have all your fingers after shaking hands with someone untrustworthy is actually a really old saying I believe, but I can't remember where I first heard it. Anyway it seemed to fit the reputation I've given the Remi. In the real world the Remi were allies of Rome throughout the Gallic Wars, and one of the few tribes that didn't join Vercingetorix's rebellion. Ironically this probably means they were quite loyal and honourable, at least from the Roman point of view anyway. But much like the Eburones the game (and my narrative) has taken them in a different direction.

    Something that I'm always very aware of when reading and writing is cause and effect, especially the way that something can have unintended or unexpected consequences. I think it's fair to say Gwydion's prophecy is always in the back of Boduognatus's mind because it means he truly knows the stakes at play here. He'd probably act differently without it, perhaps facing Liscos's challenge head on, but here he doesn't have that option right now because Boduognatus needs every tribe he can muster.

    You also make a good point about the perception of the Remi. As much of the story is from Boduognatus's point of view, it is shaped by his own experiences, views and biases. And while I wouldn't say he's an unreliable narrator, the truth is often far more complicated than just one person's version of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    Alwyn's feedback is spot on I find. The worldbuilding continues splendidly, every tribe gets his place in the world and his fair share of information on them. It's obvious the Remi and Nervii are completly different from each other just like the Suessiones are. I'm excited to see the Nervii and Remi do battle, or if they (the Remi) have something cunning in mind.

    Great update Welsh Dragon!
    Thanks Turk. I'm quite enjoying doing these almost standalone chapters on the different tribes as they become relevant to the story, so I'll probably continue doing them. One of the challenges of writing a story based on Caesar in Gaul is that most of the factions are barbarians, so I wanted to find a way to make them feel different through their culture, personality, fighting style etc. I'm glad that's paying off for the readers too.

    And yes, what are the Remi up to...?

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.

  16. #136
    Welsh Dragon's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 15th August 2020]

    “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR.)
    Chapter 22: Crossing the Axona


    Our first night we camp on the banks of the River Axona to the south of Noviodunon. Though the familiar feeling of sleeping under the stars amongst warriors and friends is certainly more comfortable than the luxury of the Suessiones' longhouse, I sleep poorly this night. The sudden advance of the Remi and our hurried departure from Noviodunon to face them is disquieting and I cannot help but fear that in my haste I may have missed something crucial. But there is little I can do about it now.

    In the morning we wake early. Though I am eager to press on and face whatever the Remi are planning, there are other matters that must be attended to first. Crossing a river with some 1800 warriors, plus oxen and carts laden with weapons, food and supplies is not a task undertaken lightly. To ford a river with so many could take all day for the unprepared. But in this the Suessiones' obsession with their pride proves to be an unlikely ally. Their pride it seems extended to bridge building and whilst it is a fanciful thing with far too many ornate carvings for my liking, it is also a sturdy construction able to take even fully laden ox carts.

    However a sturdy bridge alone will not see us safely across. As dawn's first light filters through the trees I lead a group of warriors, one from every clan gathered here today, to the waters edge. There are rituals to perform.

    Axona. Some may think it just a simple word, but to my people Axona has two meanings. It is the name of the river we seek to cross, but it is also the name of the goddess who protects it. Water is a very precious thing to both us and the gods, so it is perhaps no surprise that many choose to dwell on or near it. The Goddess Axona is no different. As with others of her kind she is the bringer of both life and death. River goddesses are powerful beings, able to shape the very land itself to their whims. But they are also fickle, their moods as unpredictable as a summer storm or a winter blizzard.

    When they are happy they bless us. The waters of the river flows smoothly, nourishing our crops and quenching the thirst of man and beast alike.

    But when angered they may whip those same waters into a frenzy, the fury of a goddess smashing man or beast against the rocks or dragging an unwary traveller to a watery grave in the depths below.

    Only a fool would try to cross a river goddess's domain without first making an offering and seeking her blessing, and would be rightly struck down by the goddess's rage for his insult. I do not intend to tempt such a fate for my people.

    As Belenus fingers of light reach out to Axona, I kneel besides the flowing water, my hands cupped before me, and speak to the goddess for my tribe. My words are sacred, clearly spoken yet barely heard by the others nearby. My message is for the goddess and the goddess alone.

    In my hands I hold a small dagger. It is a simple thing, yet it has served me well these past few years and I feel some small pain in letting it go. But that is the nature of sacrifice. For an offering to carry weight it must mean something. It is a small price to pay to protect my people from the wrath of a river goddess. I have seen that before and have no wish to see it again.

    My prayer to Axona concluded I cast the weapon into the running waters and watch as it swiftly disappears beneath the surface with barely a splash. My offering is accepted it seems. It is a good omen for the day.

    As I return to my men and lead the first of my warriors across the bridge I know that those who can will be offering their own tokens to Axona, and many will say a prayer to her as they cross. I do not take offence. For while I know they trust me to speak on their behalf and that Axona will know my offering carries the weight of the tribes, it doesn't hurt to seek your own protection from a river goddess...

    Just in case.

    *

    Author's Note:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    After a bit of research I'm pretty sure the river south of Noviodunon on the Caesar in Gaul map is the river Axona, or as it's called today the Aisne. During the Gallic Wars the River Axona was the site of a major battle between the Romans (lead by Julius Caesar) and the Belgae (lead by Galba of the Suessiones.) Whether history repeats itself for Boduognatus at some point, only time will tell.

    But Axona was also the name of the goddess connected to this particular river. The Celts had gods and goddesses for many things. Some were more general, like Gobróig a goddess of wells and springs. Some had multiple roles, like Rosmerta goddess of fertility, plenty and abundance. Some represented important factors in the tribes life, like Belenus who is believed to have been a sun god. Some tribes even had their own gods, such as Intarabus of the Treverii. And then there were the really specific ones, like the gods of individual rivers and springs such as Axona or from more my neck of the woods Sabrina, goddess of the River Severn that flows between England and Wales.

    Given that the Celts named gods for individual rivers I figure that crossing such a river would be an event of some importance, especially for a tribe on the march as the Nervii are here. The ritual shown here is my own creation, but it's inspired by various things I've read over the years about Celtic practices and traditions.


    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.
    Last edited by Welsh Dragon; September 05, 2020 at 05:01 AM.

  17. #137
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 15th August 2020]

    The image of a cumbersome column making a slow river crossing got me worried, considering the reputation of the Remi (and that a river could be a suitable spot for a surprise attack). I like the way that you then show that the Nervii are focused on a different potential threat. As you said in your author's note, the ritual fits with what historians have written about Celtic traditions. I can only hope that that offering will be sufficient and that nothing will happen to change Axona's mood!

  18. #138
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 15th August 2020]

    A surprising twist indeed. I too thought the Remi would have planned something to sabotage the crossing but like Alwyn said, a more dangerous (potential) foe awaited. The versing of this chapter I find particularly pleasant, not a word too many nor too few. The ritual seems pretty genuine to representing Celtic culture so big kudos on the execution! A surprising, lovely, grounded chapter amid all the darkness and tension. Wonderful stuff! (I can relate to the warriors making their own sacrifice. Just in case. )

    Chapter XXXI: Éomer Returns
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  19. #139
    Welsh Dragon's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 15th August 2020]

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    The image of a cumbersome column making a slow river crossing got me worried, considering the reputation of the Remi (and that a river could be a suitable spot for a surprise attack). I like the way that you then show that the Nervii are focused on a different potential threat. As you said in your author's note, the ritual fits with what historians have written about Celtic traditions. I can only hope that that offering will be sufficient and that nothing will happen to change Axona's mood!
    Ah, the river ambush. Yes, I can see why you would worry that the Remi might choose that location to pull something, especially given the reputation they have. The Remi are a little further south, though we'll be meeting them soon. What they have planned? Well let's just say there's more than one way to trick an enemy, including telling the truth...

    I'm glad the ritual came across as believable. And I also hope Axona's mood doesn't change, especially as that's one of the main routes for the Nervii to expand so I'm probably going to be crossing that river quite a bit!

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    A surprising twist indeed. I too thought the Remi would have planned something to sabotage the crossing but like Alwyn said, a more dangerous (potential) foe awaited. The versing of this chapter I find particularly pleasant, not a word too many nor too few. The ritual seems pretty genuine to representing Celtic culture so big kudos on the execution! A surprising, lovely, grounded chapter amid all the darkness and tension. Wonderful stuff! (I can relate to the warriors making their own sacrifice. Just in case. )
    Funny story. This chapter (Crossing the Axona) was originally just a couple of lines at the start of the next chapter. But then I had the idea of the offering to a river god/goddess, started building upon that idea, the intro was getting longer and longer, and it kinda all span out of there. Ultimately I'm glad I did, as it seems like it's created more mystery and tension while also allowing me (and the reader) to explore the Nervii's culture a bit more.

    And yeah, I can also relate to warriors taking their own precautions. Who wants to get drowned by an annoyed river goddess?

    All the Best,

    Welsh Dragon.

  20. #140

    Default Re: “Toutatis Favours The Brave” (A Nervii CiG AAR) [Updated 15th August 2020]

    Hey Welsh, just started the CiG in my AAR and had a continued read of your AAR before. Worked great to get in the mood, just like a fine Whisky.
    Especially like your description of the land, all these little details about the culture, and the Author's Notes of course. Allow to challenge you in MAARC and do some advertisement for TFTB at the end of the campaign. Oh, and to give you a +rep, of course. Keep going!

    PS: River ambushes are a classic

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