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Thread: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated May 19, 2019]

  1. #21
    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]

    Good work on the Kingsblood Quadriga, I look forward to seeing it in action in future updates!

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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated 09/20/18]

    I don't check back here for a week or so and then this appears! Oh happy days.

    Two of my favourite things - Gary Jennings novels, and the Etruscans - this AAR appears to have both of them (or at least an influence) in abundance, and for that I shall give you reputation points and a most hearty subscription.

  3. #23
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Macstre Gaposal
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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
    Good work on the Kingsblood Quadriga, I look forward to seeing it in action in future updates!
    Cheers! Just to clarify, I didn't make that model. That's the cheiroballista mesh that came with the game, but I don't believe is utilized anywhere. I do want to eventually try to re-skin it to match the description in the AAR. Avle, though, is a custom VMD by me.

    Quote Originally Posted by McScottish View Post
    I don't check back here for a week or so and then this appears! Oh happy days.

    Two of my favourite things - Gary Jennings novels, and the Etruscans - this AAR appears to have both of them (or at least an influence) in abundance, and for that I shall give you reputation points and a most hearty subscription.
    Thanks! I'm a little embarrassed to say that I've never read Jennings, but I'll take the compliment nonetheless! He does Meso-American historical fiction right? (At least that's what it looks like from a quick glance on Amazon.) What books of his would you recommend?

    Update coming tomorrow.

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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated 09/20/18]

    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    Thanks! I'm a little embarrassed to say that I've never read Jennings, but I'll take the compliment nonetheless! He does Meso-American historical fiction right? (At least that's what it looks like from a quick glance on Amazon.) What books of his would you recommend?
    Aztec and Raptor (his Late Roman novel), both excellent and both without remorse on subjects that other authors would readily shy away from - Raptor is quite anachronistic in places, Roman uniform for example, but in general is bloody brilliant. One part of how he writes is what made this RP stand out as something akin, that being that both are documentary in nature; Raptor is told from the rediscovered writings of the main character, while Aztec is the musings of a native translated by a group of Spaniards for the king of Spain.

    I'd recommend checking out one or both if you can.

    Can't wait for the update.

  5. #25
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Macstre Gaposal
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated Sept/16/18]

    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 with the news that the Gauls have launched an invasion into Etruria. Arnth Velcha, commander of Tarchuna's armed forces and brother to Avle, has marched out to meet them. But Avle soon learns that another invasion is coming from the north and that Arnth will soon be trapped and outnumbered. Avle must choose between breaking a solemn pact and saving his brother. He chooses the latter...

    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 the Kingsblood Quadriga. When we first meet him, he's an undisciplined drinker, gambler and chariot racer.







    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.









    Terms Used:

    Rasnele: “For the Etruscans!”
    Caelius: September.
    Canthce: Censor
    Faltu: Soldier's cloak.
    Cacula: Officer's attendant.


    Chapter Two – City of Chimeras






    Arnth Velcha
    Autumn, 399 BCE


    Avle, it is the beginning of the month of Caelius here in Tuscia and at last we've arrived outside Aritim. Their giant bronze Chimera isn't as impressive as you'd think. Yes, I've looked upon it. I know that legend tells that to gaze upon the Chimera is a bad omen. I wasn't afraid. Instead I admired the tactical brilliance in choosing this symbol for their city and placing it at their gates. You must pass beneath it to enter the city. It would give an enemy army pause. I must say that the environs make a dreary, cold and clammy place...but enough about the people. The weather stinks too. Autumn rains drum the Tuscan earth into submission, until brown grass turns emerald green one last time, yielding its turncoat colors to the will of heaven. Wild boars invade the vines whose leaves have turned blood-red. Mossy tree trunks are ripped open and scraped by scarlet-pelted roe who are now shedding their antlers. The ground is littered with the fallen golden and green leaves of the chestnut, beech and oak. That's what autumn teaches us: To keep us off our guard, death masks itself in the vibrant colors of life.

    I had forgotten about the rains, and how quickly autumn comes in the hinterland. It's added weeks to our journey, forcing us to steer clear both of the steep limestone hills and the moorlands. There's pestilence in the camp. They say fire can keep the bad air away, but our fires do not last long. Many are coming down with marsh foot. I've ordered the cavalry to share their horses with the afflicted who must keep their feet dry. The moment someone's feet begins changing color, swelling, or starting to smell like a corpse, they are ordered off the ground. Yet after marching through hell, I reach Aritim and learn that amidst sickness and war and all that is falling apart...I can't even count on my brother's own moral turpitude. Avle, is it true that you are raising an army to come to my defense? Don't. Remember the pact. Go back to Tarchuna. Go back there and keep Velia---your sister and my wife---safe.

    You must believe me that whatever you muster, it will not be of any help. The strength of our armies has never been numerical superiority. We've never fielded large numbers and have been the minority population wherever we go. We've expanded from the Alps to the north to Compania in the south because of our discipline, piety, and mobility. If it was just about numbers, we could have armed our middle and lower classes and with hoplon and spear and quintupled the size of our heavy infantry. But a lax and poorly trained army never adds to an effective one. It always diminishes it. It's easy prey, routs quickly, and it steals your focus when you should be paying attention to the enemy. What I can raise should prove sufficient. The Velchae have ties with the Porsennas of Clevsin and Aritim. They should answer the call. But if I must resort to mercenaries, I will.

    But that's getting ahead of myself. Before we fight the Gauls, first I must fight with bureaucrats. The city elders of the methlum seemed confused as to why I was here. They acted as if their eastern frontier were some distant, mythical land and the Gallic invasion of northern Italy was nothing more than a problem for the Umbri. When I asked the methlum for men, they replied by offering to buy our corn and olive oil. After their crops in the fields were decimated by the early cold snap, the corn in their stores was inundated by the rains and spoiled by mold. I asked how else could they expect me to feed my army. They said they hoped I didn't expect to be furnished at the city's expense. Exasperated, I left the methlum and invited the canthces into my tent. They take the census and guard the enlistment rolls. They could issue a draft. I laid out a map for them, showing the half of our territory we lost to the Gauls over the previous two centuries, and asked them which half of their land they would like to keep when the Gauls invade this time. It was the strangest thing. They stared in bewilderment. They knew some of the city names, heard tales of those who conquered the land and drove back the barbarians, but they had never grasped the entirety of what's been lost. To be honest, I don't even think that they ever saw a map before. Their lives were confined to the fifteen leagues around their city that they taxed and levied. I dismissed them and went to the baths. Do you now see why I didn't want to enter politics? It seems these men of Aritim had chosen their symbol well: a beast that represented false hope.

    We're not much better. We too have failed to change as fast as we should've. I've been thinking of how we will need to adapt to fight the Gauls. We're matched in many ways. We both rely on shock combat to break the enemy lines, as opposed to the steady advance of the Greeks. Both use cavalry also as infantry transports. I've decided to modify the usual eight-ranks deep formation. We'll need something irregular and more maneuverable, and shape their formations to our measure, as water has to take the shape of the cup. Only we Etrusci can claim the combination of the Gallic charge with Greek discipline and we'll need to press this advantage. You'll call me a hypocrite but I am going to raise a contingent of axemen if I can. Yes, I've long up upbraided them for their uselessness in the new phalanx way of warfare. But the front ranks of Gauls have a combination of loose formation and heavy armor. Without a shield wall, axes can exploit the gaps and punch through armor where neither sword nor spear could. We must adapt. I am thirty one, I can utter such heresies. An Ionian has said that one cannot step into the same river twice. He said everything flows and the only permanence is change. Time has marched on without us and we have fallen behind.

    This is most evident here, far away from the hurley-burley of the port cities, where time stands still. Before dawn this morning I had elected to clear my mind by going hunting, but the weather did not comply. On the way back, I chanced upon a young girl who noticed my fine armor and faltu, and the ensign emblazoned on my shield, and in a queer dialect that sounded almost Raetian she asked if I was the king of Tarchuna. My caculas and I laughed. She was as adorable as you and I never were at that age. She had been playing as a shepherd, and said her dog was a lamb who was lost from his flock. I told her that her lamb could probably take my arm off if he wanted to. The girl said no, he wouldn't do that. He was a good lamb. I told her no, I wasn't king. I explained that the Velcha monarchy in Tarchuna ended two generations ago. Overthrown by the Spurinnae, who instituted the Mechl Rasnal [This is their word that corresponds to our own Res Publica. - G. Sulpicius Peticus]. She thought that a king must have called the thunder that brought the rains, as King Larth Porsenna did when he fought alongside Tarquin Superbus to restore his rule over Rome. I wish the legends were true that Tin had given Etrusci kings the power to summon lightning in battle. It would mean far less recruiting time. The girl asked if that's why I was here, to raise an army to take back his kingdom from the Spurinna pretenders? I laughed again. I said no. While the wise know that monarchy is the natural and best form of rule, for it is found everywhere among all peoples, a republic can be acceptable if it restores the peace and happiness of a people. And though our families did feud for a while, we were friends now. In fact, when my mother was widowed, a man with a stout heart named Metru Spurinna raised me as his own son, and now I'm married to Metru's daughter. She seemed to know the name of Metru. There was an Ode to him written here. I said that he died fighting the Romans at Veii. What's Veii? She asked. I said it's the only Etrusci city-state that still has a king. It's across the river from Rome and it's been under siege for seven long years. It must have been the King of Veii who brought the rains then, she deduced. Is that why he is raising this army then? To avenge my father Metru against the Romans and break the siege? I laughed again. But the laughter died quickly this time. How could I tell her what I told the city magistrates the day before, and what I will tell you now: that at this moment the Senones have crossed the border and are within reach of Sarsina?



    I could not fill her head with ravenous Gauls. What right did I have to steal thing young chimera's false hope from her? I said yes, that's why. I let her believe that I am come to do exactly that, to fight the faraway Romans. And I will win. Because Romans are wicked, and good men always defeat the wicked. I let her believe I will avenge our father, because no one ever dies without reason. It was all as true as her dog was a lamb.

    In the end, I told Aritim's methlum that if they won't lend out their men, to at least double their own city guard and get every smith and armorer in the city ready. I won't reach Sarsina in time, and as Sarsina doesn't offer much in either supplies or booty, the Senones won't stop there. Every town and city in their path will need to prepare their defenses. The Ligures seem not yet to have moved, but they could. And when they come, this girl of eleven will be raped and enslaved, and I will not be there to stop them. Time wants to stand still, but war tips Sartre's hour glass, and thus hastens all things to their end.

    In our folly we thought that we could be young. We the errant youths, who as clay un-fired have been thrust into the kiln of a smoking world. We the errant youths, who had diadems placed upon tender brows and were told, “Child, now lead your elders.” We the errant youths, who will know the weight of our office before we ever know ourselves. Our juvenescence died on Veientine plains, and like the blood of our fathers, now silts the Tiber.

    Rasnele, brother.


    Continue to Chapter Three...
    Last edited by Skotos of Sinope; December 15, 2018 at 01:52 PM.

  6. #26
    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated October 16, 2018]

    Bravo, bravo! Excellent writing, and a great sense of foreboding; can't wait to see how this progresses although, by reading the prologue, I can't see it ultimately ending well.

  7. #27

    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated October 16, 2018]

    Holy damn, dude! That is absolutely top-notch. And you ended that in an amazingly powerful and brilliantly executed way. Everything in that last paragraph is exactly as it should be, and certain expressions have a perfection I would only expect from published works of properly good authors! In particular, I like the phrase "Our juvenescence died on Veientine plains, and like the blood of our fathers, now silts the Tiber."

    Normally, after such praise I would find a few little things that could be improved, or even typos I noticed, just to be constructive, but for the life of me I didn't notice a thing worth changin'! Keep up the good work! (I'd rep you a thousand times over for this installment, but I can't until I've spread some around. Rest assured, once I can, it comes back here!)
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  8. #28
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Macstre Gaposal
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated October 16, 2018]

    Quote Originally Posted by McScottish View Post
    Aztec and Raptor (his Late Roman novel), both excellent and both without remorse on subjects that other authors would readily shy away from - Raptor is quite anachronistic in places, Roman uniform for example, but in general is bloody brilliant. One part of how he writes is what made this RP stand out as something akin, that being that both are documentary in nature; Raptor is told from the rediscovered writings of the main character, while Aztec is the musings of a native translated by a group of Spaniards for the king of Spain.

    I'd recommend checking out one or both if you can.

    Can't wait for the update.
    Whoah, those two books sound right up my alley. Wishlisted. The whole 'found text' concept I got from reading 'I, Claudius' and Gore Vidal's 'Julian'. Because Claudius was supposed to be writing in Greek, Robert Graves could explain Latin terms and phrases and so on. I thought I could do something similar with Peticus as an outsider writing for a Roman audience, and thus giving background info on the language and society. But I'm now subtly backing off the idea since I'm concerned his commentary track is a bit disruptive to the narrative flow. So I'm thinking most translated words will now be found under the 'recap' section at the beginning of each post, with Peticus probably just adding color and opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by McScottish View Post
    Bravo, bravo! Excellent writing, and a great sense of foreboding; can't wait to see how this progresses although, by reading the prologue, I can't see it ultimately ending well.
    Thanks, man. Yeah, Arnth is the only one who can really understand the scale of the threat. Definitely dark times ahead. Both Arnth and Avle have an insight the other lacks. Avle sees the political complications that Arnth doesn't, but Arnth knows that militarily this is going to be far harder than Avle realizes. BTW, I've just read through your entire AAR series of “One Man's War”. From beginning to end, it just flew by. From the first post to the...first. LOL. But seriously, it was a good opening and I hope you can pick it up in EB, or elsewhere. I see what you meant about having an interest in the Etruscans. And I know what it's like to start an AAR only to find out that a DLC/mod isn't what you needed.

    But your AAR reminded me of something I've been struggling with, and maybe you (or anyone else) could give some input. You used the period and culturally correct 'Tusci' in your AAR post and, well, I'd been struggling with what to have Etruscans call themselves since starting this. Obviously even though I used the word “Etruscan” in the story, no inhabitant of Etruria ever called themselves an “Etruscan”. I didn't want to use the native “Rasna/Rasenna” since I think that would be too confusing, especially for the casual reader who might just dip in to catch up every few weeks. And the Romans had several names for them, 'Tusci, Etrusci...” so which one to choose? As a default I ended up just using “Etruscans” as a placeholder. But now I'm thinking that since Peticus is doing a translation, it makes sense (and is the least confusing) for the word to be “Etrusci”. What do you guys say? Or am I over-thinking this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Holy damn, dude! That is absolutely top-notch. And you ended that in an amazingly powerful and brilliantly executed way. Everything in that last paragraph is exactly as it should be, and certain expressions have a perfection I would only expect from published works of properly good authors! In particular, I like the phrase "Our juvenescence died on Veientine plains, and like the blood of our fathers, now silts the Tiber."*

    Normally, after such praise I would find a few little things that could be improved, or even typos I noticed, just to be constructive, but for the life of me I didn't notice a thing worth changin'! Keep up the good work! (I'd rep you a thousand times over for this installment, but I can't until I've spread some around. Rest assured, once I can, it comes back here!)
    I'll take that compliment and throw it right back at you. You could take a travel guide book to Yemen and turn it into poetry. BTW, reading Sands has really got me to step up my game. I was thinking to myself that if Kilo can write about the desert in such a captivating way...well, these guys in my AAR are going to be marching through Tuscany, one of the most beautiful places on earth, so I better have something to say about the scenery. So the opening of that chapter is directly in your debt, sir.

    But as far as that last paragraph goes, this post grew out of a kind of contrast I wanted to highlight. While researching, I found a lot of scholarship about how insulated the Etruscan interior was from change, as opposed southern Etruria near the coasts. But at the same time, war seems to be the great catalyzer of change. Everyone is forced to grow up faster. Nothing is the same afterward.

  9. #29

    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated October 16, 2018]

    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    The whole 'found text' concept I got from reading 'I, Claudius' and Gore Vidal's 'Julian'. Because Claudius was supposed to be writing in Greek, Robert Graves could explain Latin terms and phrases and so on. I thought I could do something similar with Peticus as an outsider writing for a Roman audience, and thus giving background info on the language and society. But I'm now subtly backing off the idea since I'm concerned his commentary track is a bit disruptive to the narrative flow. So I'm thinking most translated words will now be found under the 'recap' section at the beginning of each post, with Peticus probably just adding color and opinion.
    Obviously I can only speak for myself, but so far I am finding the interjections from Peticus to be nice. I think the way you've been adding them has made sure they don't break flow oddly, especially as you're not giving translations of all words within text, only ones where it would be okay to have a very brief aside for definitional purposes. (e.g. "Rasnele brother!" is left alone at the end there). As always, you do as you think best, as it's your work and should first and foremost suit your wishes, but at least from me, I think the in-text descriptions so far are well done, and if you keep them to that amount and with that care in placement they don't seem to be awkward or jarring.


    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    But your [McScottish's] AAR reminded me of something I've been struggling with, and maybe you (or anyone else) could give some input. You used the period and culturally correct 'Tusci' in your AAR post and, well, I'd been struggling with what to have Etruscans call themselves since starting this. Obviously even though I used the word “Etruscan” in the story, no inhabitant of Etruria ever called themselves an “Etruscan”. I didn't want to use the native “Rasna/Rasenna” since I think that would be too confusing, especially for the casual reader who might just dip in to catch up every few weeks. And the Romans had several names for them, 'Tusci, Etrusci...” so which one to choose? As a default I ended up just using “Etruscans” as a placeholder. But now I'm thinking that since Peticus is doing a translation, it makes sense (and is the least confusing) for the word to be “Etrusci”. What do you guys say? Or am I over-thinking this?
    Personally, I think it would make sense to have a couple words corresponding to different things. When Peticus is doing translation of a word that refers to all the people of that area, it would seem to me that "Tusci" or "Etrusci" would be most appropriate. However, when there are parts where the Estruscans are speaking amongst themselves, wouldn't they usually not be referring to the overarching ethnic group "Etruscan", but rather to specific affiliations to cities or areas? (That is a genuine question as I am not a historian [though McScottish is; maybe he'll know better ]) I would think that they would call someone "Veiitian" or Velusnian" before they called them "Etruscan". That is just my two cents though, and as I said, I'm no historian.


    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    I'll take that compliment and throw it right back at you. You could take a travel guide book to Yemen and turn it into poetry. BTW, reading Sands has really got me to step up my game. I was thinking to myself that if Kilo can write about the desert in such a captivating way...well, these guys in my AAR are going to be marching through Tuscany, one of the most beautiful places on earth, so I better have something to say about the scenery. So the opening of that chapter is directly in your debt, sir.

    But as far as that last paragraph goes, this post grew out of a kind of contrast I wanted to highlight. While researching, I found a lot of scholarship about how insulated the Etruscan interior was from change, as opposed southern Etruria near the coasts. But at the same time, war seems to be the great catalyzer of change. Everyone is forced to grow up faster. Nothing is the same afterward.
    Well I'm not sure your feeling that you needed to step up your game was warranted (your game is high enough already ), but I'm certaily glad about what came out of it. The chapter opening is indeed quite nice, and does an excellent job of fleshing out the setting more, as well as presenting some of the problems that setting presents (trench-foot, sickness, wide detours, etc.). I also liked that you weave into some of the description little bits of ideas from Arnth himself, which provides a subtle form of character development. Regarding the last paragraph, I still have nothing to add. It's literary gold in my opinion!


    EDIT: There actually was one small thing I noticed, but I forgot it because the sentence afterward is too cool! In the last paragraph the sentence "We the errant youths will know the weight of our office before we ever knew ourselves." has a small tense mistake, and is missing one word in order for it to match the pattern of the previous sentences. My suggested edit would be the following "We the errant youths, who will know the weight of our office before we ever know ourselves."
    Last edited by Kilo11; October 20, 2018 at 05:08 AM.
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  10. #30
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Macstre Gaposal
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated October 16, 2018]

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Obviously I can only speak for myself, but so far I am finding the interjections from Peticus to be nice. I think the way you've been adding them has made sure they don't break flow oddly, especially as you're not giving translations of all words within text, only ones where it would be okay to have a very brief aside for definitional purposes. (e.g. "Rasnele brother!" is left alone at the end there). As always, you do as you think best, as it's your work and should first and foremost suit your wishes, but at least from me, I think the in-text descriptions so far are well done, and if you keep them to that amount and with that care in placement they don't seem to be awkward or jarring.
    Alrighty then. If that's the consensus then I'll leave it as is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Personally, I think it would make sense to have a couple words corresponding to different things. When Peticus is doing translation of a word that refers to all the people of that area, it would seem to me that "Tusci" or "Etrusci" would be most appropriate. However, when there are parts where the Estruscans are speaking amongst themselves, wouldn't they usually not be referring to the overarching ethnic group "Etruscan", but rather to specific affiliations to cities or areas? (That is a genuine question as I am not a historian [though McScottish is; maybe he'll know better ]) I would think that they would call someone "Veiitian" or Velusnian" before they called them "Etruscan". That is just my two cents though, and as I said, I'm no historian.
    Good point and yeah, that's something that did slip my mind the last few posts. Early on, I had given a lot of thought to having everyone refer to themselves only according to their city-state. (Realistically, they would have.) But I was worried about confusing the casual reader and throwing too much at them at once. I decided I would focus on what made Etruscans unique as a distinct identity from their neighbors before I got too much into each city's unique identity. However going forward, I'll be leaning toward the latter. Clearly they shouldn't be thinking of one another as part of a common people, anymore than Athenians and Corinthians did. That's why it's so hard to get them to coordinate a common defense against the Gauls. A few exceptions: This will be gone more into detail later, but Avle and Arnth were raised by Metru with more of a “Etruscan national consciousness”, which others will remark upon as very unusual. They have contempt for the provincial attitude of other Etruscans. For example, the phrase 'Rasnele' (For the Etruscans!) has a special meaning for the two of them and wasn't a common saying. (It would be as baffling to others as a U.S. marine shouting “For the people of North America!” as he headed into battle.) Another exception will be Ramtha in the “bookend” of the plot (60 years later). In speaking to Peticus, she will think of herself both as a Tarchunan and an Etruscan because war and conquest have forged those identities in her. But for everyone else, yeah, realistically they will for the most part refer to themselves by their city state.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    EDIT: There actually was one small thing I noticed, but I forgot it because the sentence afterward is too cool! In the last paragraph the sentence "We the errant youths will know the weight of our office before we ever knew ourselves." has a small tense mistake, and is missing one word in order for it to match the pattern of the previous sentences. My suggested edit would be the following "We the errant youths, who will know the weight of our office before we ever know ourselves."
    Maybe. I'm not sure. I may be wrong here, but I think it might be grammatically correct because it's not a conditional statement. (i.e., one clause is not a result of the other, and so you'd need tense agreement.) They refer to two separate events: knowing themselves and knowing their office. Like saying “I will die before I've ever truly lived.” is not less grammatically correct than saying “I will die before I will ever truly live.” Hmm, now that I think about it, I wonder if they both should be in perfect tense? “..will have known the weight of our office before we have ever known ourselves.” I could change it either way. I'm not wedded to the phrasing.

  11. #31

    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated October 16, 2018]

    My thought with the phrasing was really about the sound of things (I'm a stickler for the cadence of things). I think the little edit I suggested makes the rhythm* of it fit better with the preceding sentences, but the final decision is up to you.


    *How in the hell do you spell "rhythm"? I tried like nine different variations, and they all look completely wrong!
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  12. #32
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Macstre Gaposal
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated October 16, 2018]

    Oh, I see what you mean. Yeah, that does roll off the tongue better. Edit made.

  13. #33
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated October 16, 2018]

    Recap


    The Story So Far:
    The Gauls have begun an invasion of the Italian peninsula, and Etruria stands as the first line of defense. Only the most powerful Etruscan city, Tarchuna, has come to her defense. Arnth Velcha marched out to rally the cities of Etruria---only to find himself isolated and caught in the path between two advancing Gallic tribes. Meanwhile his brother Avle Spurinna flies to Cisra to raise a secondary force and save his brother before it's too late...

    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 the Kingsblood Quadriga. When we first meet him, he's an undisciplined drinker, gambler and chariot racer.







    Ramtha Spurinna: Wife of Avle.









    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.








    Terms Used:

    Fabulonia: henbane.
    Aplu: Apollo.
    Lars Apana: The “spirits of our fathers” and guardians of the household. Equiv. to 'Lares Patrii' in the Roman religion.
    Satelles: Sworn bodyguard. A city's most elite warriors, they are “devoted”, i.e. take a religious oath to die in battle rather than flee.
    Aritim: Modern day Arezzo
    Cisra: Modern day Cerveteri.



    Chapter Three – At the House of Masks (Part One)






    Avle Spurinna
    Autumn, 399 BCE


    Ramtha, my mewling wrist hurt terribly today, and I thought I would not be able to write. It has since been splinted, and I've been given fabulonia. It appeased the pain a little, but not enough to let me write. Yet it also left me too talkative to stay my tongue. (It's no wonder why they give it to oracles in the sanctuaries of Aplu.) So I'm dictating this.

    I haven't heard from Arnth since he left Aritim. Instead, I've gotten missives from two cities where he'd stopped, apologizing for having turned him away and emphasizing their neutrality. For myself, I've been traveling day and night. Rome is behind me, and at last I am entering civilization once again. Mud brick and wattle and daub have yielded to stone, marble, and terracotta. The meandering rabbit warren of streets has yielded to our own grid plan of city blocks, rationally aligned to the four quadrants of the starry vault. And the air...gods, the air is clean again. While our Roman cousins live in a boggy swamp choked with burning trash and blood-drinking flies, we build our cities on majestic mountain tops where the sun engilds, and the wind chases the bad vapors away. After a half-unfurled lifetime, I'm back at Cisra, where salt spray intermingles with evergreen sap. Cisra, firstling of my heart, where I spent the early years of my life. Cisra, at one time both my torment and my refuge.

    We've never spoken of my childhood, you and I. I suppose men aren't quick to regale to women tales of times when they were weak and vulnerable. But I was both. I was not three years old when I was stolen away to Cisra. They bundled me up in a blanket and set off in the pitch of night. I would be twelve before it would be safe enough for me to return. Somewhere in between, I became Avle. I don't know why the memories rise up in me so strongly now. Perhaps it's to appreciate the irony. Here I had fled for my life, and it is here where I will assemble my army. As we rode toward it today and it came into view, I remembered how I felt when I first saw it.

    That night I was taken from my parents was the first truly solid memory in my mind. I had barely learned to say my own name, and yet my grandfather was telling me not to use it. Before that night, there are only half-remembered sounds and sights: my family being awakened before dawn, the crashing noise of hurled stones through our shuttered windows, my mother having a servant carry me down to the storeroom where we were to play the quiet game until dawn when father's satelles would arrive to protect us. The first word I ever saw had been scrawled on a rock. I asked my mother what it said. She had no sentiment in her and did not shield me. "Roman whore.", She answered in a voice devoid of emotion. I did not ask who had written the words, or why they hated us. No child thinks of himself as dangerous. All children feel helpless as baby doves, at the mercy of adults. But I was indeed more dangerous than I could have imagined. My birth had rekindled an ancient war between two houses. I did not understand why.

    Why were supporters of the Spurinnae and Velchae families clashing in the streets? Why were relatives and prominent supporters disappeared, and others found strung up with messages hung around their necks? Why did others flee the city or seek shelter in safe houses? Why did our guard, with torches alight, patrol the street each night in some neighborhoods, and the Velchae do the same in others? Each year the clashes got larger, usually around festivals and anniversaries, when vinum flowed from bucchero decanters and tempers burned behind false smiles. I can recall only one joyful memory before that night, the only memory of my father. I would let it nourish me as mother's milk until we met again nearly a decade later.

    I can still recall the ride down the Salt Road, two days and nights without stopping, and I can still feel the carriage come to a halt when we reached the outskirts of Cisra, and my saucer-wide eyes spying the colossal estate that would be my entire world. The aged house belonged to my mother's family. It was always a place for exiles. It was a sixteen room house not dissimilar from the atrium-style houses found in Rome, but if you looked closer, you would see the portions of the house that had fallen into ruins and then rebuilt or abandoned over the ages. Who knew how old it truly was. The walls, sun-dried clay bricks covered with a stone veneer, were built over giant polygonal stones, only visible from the south. The Greeks call that style "cyclopean" because they believe only giants could have moved such giant slabs of stone. On the oldest portions, you'll find scratchings in an alphabet not dissimilar to our own, yet impossible to read. The house did not belong to this age. Everything about it felt wrong, out of place in the present. And the scale of the house, cavernous and labyrinthine, made a small child feel smaller. Cobwebs grew in corners no one could reach, and no matter how often the servants cleaned it, everything was always covered with dust. This must be what Aita felt like: a dead place, for dead people.

    The largest room was a reception hall with an atrium, an altar to the Lars Apana, and a bronze chest set before it which held sacred objects connected to the ancestors. The ancestral relics were meant to anchor their spirits to those living. On the altar were the wax death masks of that august line. We had a few at our house, everyone does, but this house had dozens. Some were so old that they had deformed with time into blankness. I looked upon them, half-melted and hideous, and wanted to run away. I knew the face that held the place of honor in the center. Like me, he had fled here too. But he had come a century before, not hiding in a carriage, but in a royal train with his sons Titus and Aruns. He was not fleeing Tarchuna as I was. He was fleeing Rome. It was the face of King Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. He would never again look upon the city he once ruled, and I wondered if the same fate awaited me. Those faces would supply me with nightmares for years to come.

    I set my bags down and shuddered. I asked my grandfather, Papa Larth, how long we were to stay here. "Until it is safe." he said. He stayed only for a few weeks before returning home but promised he would come back to check on me from time to time. Before leaving, he introduced me to my "keeper" as I would call him, another boy eleven years my senior. Like many Romans, he was at Cisra for his education. As his family owned the property, he would serve as host and would watch over me and protect me from harm. The boy introduced himself as Gnaeus Tarquinius, my cousin. I noted that he was the only person I had ever seen who always carried a sword. He smirked as he boasted that its blade was fashioned from siderus, a type of heavenly iron that fell from the sky. "So you mean it's made from something the Gods threw away, then? Their garbage?" And I returned his smirk with one of my own.

    Those first few years were the hardest. Gnaeus was my only companion, always with me, watching. Periodically I saw him taking notes in a wax tablet. He wrote back home daily. I once asked Gnaeus why he was always watching. He did not answer. I asked him why he always carried the sword. Was he a soldier? He smirked sarcastically as if I should have known something so obvious. No. No, in Rome, the Tarquins aren't allowed military authority and generally aren't trusted with going to war. Oh, they can hold political office, but they are kept powerless to levy troops or bear arms in battle. And when there is a war, their family is the first to be on a list of those to be...detained. Above all other questions, I would ask Gnaeus, "When can I go home?" He grinned and told me that I would be informed when it was time. He was haughty, and I understood why other Romans despised the Tarquins: they still carried themselves like royalty. Once they were Etrusci, now they viewed themselves as more true Romans than the Romans themselves, unpolluted by the new republicanism and its vulgar assault on tradition. I decided early on that I hated them too, and I held a special hate for Gnaeus.

    I searched for any distraction to fill the too-quiet house. Thankfully, I found it in an education expected of a future leader of Tarchuna. Papa Larth arranged for the best tutors in the Three Etrurias to be summoned. I began the Etrusca Disciplina by memorizing the sacred books of Tages. From the Libri Fulgurates I learned the brontoscopic arts of interpreting storms. From the Libri Rituales I learned how to found and organize a city, how to divide it into curiae and set up the magistracies and the art of governing them, how to assemble an army and its camp and knowing the signs that favored war or those that favored peace. I learned botany, geology, and zoology, and trained to see the patterns of nature, to know that even the veins in a leaf are pregnant with purpose and that nothing was accidental in the creation of the world. Lastly, I studied the Libri Fatales and learned that we are only here for a fixed time, and all that we are given we must one day yield back to our creators. I learned to read Greek before I learned to read my native tongue. I picked up a dialect of the family's archaic, aristocratic variety of Latin with all its fossilized grammatical and spelling inconsistencies and its infinite potential for obscenities. [So that explains it. – G. Sulpicius Peticus] I was introduced to sophists and acquainted with the infant arts of logic and rhetoric. I learned to ride and to box and the manifold chords of music that the Pythagoreans said ordered the heavenly spheres. You'd think I would detest the dull toil of my education, but I didn't. It reminded me that my future was in Tarchuna, and every lesson was a step closer to home. But every day I avoided the atrium and the death masks that haunted it. I chased migrating butterflies, grabbed wet fish out of brooks with bare and eager hands, and did my best to torment Gnaeus at every opportunity. Most of all, I learned that life was lonely.

    Through it all, I carried with the one memory that made me feel I wasn't alone. Well, it wasn't quite a memory, as I did not know from where it had come. It was more of an impression. I was sat on a man's knee watching the triga race. He cheered and gripped me tight when his chariot team won, and I cheered too, though I knew not why. I did not see his face, but I knew this was my father. He was waiting for me, and when it was time, I would return, and we would once again watch the races together.

    When I was in my ninth year, grandfather Larth returned.

    “How have you been getting on, boy?”, he said as he tussled my hair.

    I told him I wanted to go home. I tried to jump into his arms but had grown too heavy. He said it was not yet time, and didn't elaborate, saying merely that, "Sometimes old sores fester longer than expected." I was now clever enough to listen for hushed tones when I walked into a room and began piecing together what they didn't want me to know. I now knew that the war between our houses was because of me. And I dared Papa Larth to deny it.

    “Where did you hear that, boy?”

    I ignored the question, and followed with another of my own: If it was indeed because of me, why wasn't I exposed at birth? That was what they whispered. That this all could have been prevented if I had not been allowed to live.

    “Unlike the Romans and Greeks, boy, we Etrusci raise all children who are born to us. We do not engage in infanticide, and those that do have to stand before the tevarath.” A fury flashed in his eyes.

    I pressed on, daring him again to deny what I'd heard. They said my father was already contracted to the daughter of the Velchae, that this all started when he broke his word to them and married my Roman mother instead. I asked Papa Larth why did father join our house to the Tarquins? He said that our families had been allies for over a century. But I knew that wasn't the real reason, and so I stood in front of him, blocking his way. Larth picked me up and moved me aside. He then bent down. "What is more important, boy? An oath or a family? Oaths die, and no one weeps over them. Oaths are all orphans. They have no fathers or sons. A man's duty is to his family, and Metru had to do what was in the best interests of his family, even if it meant blackening his honor. Even if it meant danger in the short term, he secured his family's safety in the long term."

    This I would always remember, it is why when the time came to decide between an oath I swore and saving my brother, it was no choice at all.

    “Those are all the answers you will get for now, boy. Come along." He took my hand and pulled. "There are some very powerful people for you to meet tomorrow, boy, and we have to get you ready. They've come from as far away as Latium and from beyond the Tyrrhenian sea. Tomorrow will be the most important day of your life."

    And it was, in a way. But all I could remember thinking, as I was presented before princes and potentates, was that my father was nowhere to be found.


    Continue to Chapter Three, Part Two...
    Last edited by Skotos of Sinope; February 07, 2019 at 06:26 PM.

  14. #34

    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated October 23, 2018]

    Loved it! The paragraph about oaths and families was interesting and thought-provoking, and the phrase "Oaths are all orphans" is a sharp one!

    One small point: Would he say that people have "come from all corners of Italy"? Maybe that's accurate for the time, but it seems like a more modern term for the regions of the Italian peninsula.
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  15. #35
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Macstre Gaposal
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated October 23, 2018]

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Loved it! The paragraph about oaths and families was interesting and thought-provoking, and the phrase "Oaths are all orphans" is a sharp one!

    One small point: Would he say that people have "come from all corners of Italy"? Maybe that's accurate for the time, but it seems like a more modern term for the regions of the Italian peninsula.
    Yeah, looks like I'll need to change that. I thought I remembered 'Italia/Italy' being in common use during the period. I even checked and saw that Thucydides used it in the Peloponnesian War. He refers to “Ἰταλία” (Italia) as a "χώρα”, which in that context is most often translated to mean land or country. But looking at it now, it seems that the term only referred to what we would call southern Italy. I originally didn't want to use regional terms because I don't have a map ready yet and I worried they would be confusing. But it looks like I'm going to have to unless I want to be anachronistic. I'll get around to making that edit this weekend.

    I'm glad you liked Larth's line. It's an interesting conflict, having to choose between your honor and your family. Add to that the fact that people weren't careless with oaths in that period, and we know that Metru never broke his word apart from this one case.

    Anyway, chapter three has about the same length as the prologue, so there's two more parts coming. After which, I think we'll move firmly beyond setting the stage and things will become more a bit more action heavy.

  16. #36

    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated October 23, 2018]

    Quote Originally Posted by Skotos of Sinope View Post
    Yeah, looks like I'll need to change that. I thought I remembered 'Italia/Italy' being in common use during the period. I even checked and saw that Thucydides used it in the Peloponnesian War. He refers to “Ἰταλία” (Italia) as a "χώρα”, which in that context is most often translated to mean land or country. But looking at it now, it seems that the term only referred to what we would call southern Italy. I originally didn't want to use regional terms because I don't have a map ready yet and I worried they would be confusing. But it looks like I'm going to have to unless I want to be anachronistic. I'll get around to making that edit this weekend.
    What do you use to make your maps? If you're familiar with GIMP and want some assistance I could make you a template map of the Italian peninsula with landscape features in separated layers so that you can include or omit them at pleasure. It's a handy way to work with the mapping and offers a pretty nice degree of freedom of modifying maps at a click. Just let me know.
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  17. #37
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Macstre Gaposal
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated October 23, 2018]

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    What do you use to make your maps? If you're familiar with GIMP and want some assistance I could make you a template map of the Italian peninsula with landscape features in separated layers so that you can include or omit them at pleasure. It's a handy way to work with the mapping and offers a pretty nice degree of freedom of modifying maps at a click. Just let me know.
    I may take you up on that. Right now I'm using Adobe Illustrator for the map. I've got the template but I'm waiting til next pay day to renew my Adobe CC license, so that's why it's not ready. LOL. I will keep your offer in mind, k.

  18. #38
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Macstre Gaposal
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated October 23, 2018]

    Recap


    The Story So Far:
    The Gauls have invaded Italy. Only Tarchuna---the jewel of Etruria and birth place of the Roman kings---stands in their way. Avle Spurinna has now returned to his boyhood home at Cisra in the hopes of raising an army to save his brother and drive back the Gallic horde. While there at the house where Lucius Tarquinius Superbus spent his final years, Avle finds his mind turning back to his childhood...

    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 the Kingsblood Quadriga. When we first meet him, he's an undisciplined drinker, gambler and chariot racer.







    Terms Used:

    tebenna: An Etruscan fore-runner of the toga.
    Lars Apana: The “spirits of our fathers” and guardians of the household. Equiv. to 'Lares Patrii' in the Roman religion.
    Cisra: Modern day Cerveteri.



    Chapter Three – At the House of Masks (Part Two)



    Continued from Chapter Three, Part One...

    They dressed me in the finest of linen that day, Ramtha. A purple tunic with gold thread embroidered throughout. For shoes, I wore red calcei repandi boots tied with lingula. My hair, which they had me grow long, was braided in the old aristocratic style. They pierced my ears and adorned them with gold discoid earrings. The piercer, who was also a barber and a tooth-puller by trade, botched the job and I bled for some time. I would never willingly wear earrings after that, despite how common I looked without them. Gnaeus said I looked as tarted up as a sacred prostitute in a temple of Venus. I told him to leave his mother out of this. At no point was I informed as to the reason for the occasion, only trained in whom I would meet and what I was to say. My grandfather told me not to be nervous, but since he kept mentioning it over and over again, I began to suspect that he was saying it more to himself than to me. I assumed that it could only mean that I was going home. I asked when my father was coming, if it was before the other guests or with them. Papa Larth didn't answer.

    The visitors began arriving close to midday. Their guards were to wait at the gate, however, as were their weapons. The first among them, to my surprise, was my uncle Numa Tarquinius: father of Gnaeus, senator, and head of the Tarquinia gens in Rome. He had a noble brow, though a weak chin and scars from acne along his cheeks and nose. He said I was getting taller, though I knew he had never seen me before. Now, I don't necessarily dislike liars. But I do dislike lies with neither imagination nor thought behind them. Next came a representative of the Volsci, bristly-bearded and unsmiling. I wanted to ask him if his people really had warrior maidens who could walk on water. Third came a man who was taller than all the rest. He was pale, with a sunburned neck and wiry hair. He carried himself in a curious demeanor. Aristocratic, but not haughty like the Tarquins. I asked Papa Larth if this man was a Gaul. Grandfather snorted and said no, he was Prince of the Umbri. Prince Metli, as he was called, had an easy manner and smiled at me. The Umbri were once supposedly Gauls who took on our civilized habits and those of surrounding tribes. They speak a similar tongue to the Volsci and the Sabines. Following the prince was an envoy from the Aequi who smelled like he slept in the stables and waddled in such a way that I suspected he had traveler's diarrhea. I noted that these were all peoples that were once allies of Rome when the Tarquin's ruled it. Next came the Etrusci delegations which were quarrelsome as always: The ambassador of Aritim refused to be seated next to the Veientines, and the ambassador from Felathri demanded to be placed on a couch closer to to the host's couch than either of them. As for Viesul, they seemed equally contemptuous of all their soft, southern kinsmen. They kept to themselves and simply drank and ogled the nude serving boys and girls. I asked Papa Larth why Orgolnius, zilath of Cisra, did not attend. He said they did not find him trustworthy. Orgolnius saw the Veientines restore their monarchy and desired likewise to make himself the king of Cisra, but the Tarquins opposed him, and now he bore a grudge.

    Lastly came the delegation that had traveled the furthest. I was introduced to a man I'd been told was called Hermocrates, a representative of Syracuse. Determined to forge an assertive foreign policy, Hermocrates organized the Congress of Gela and is the architect of the “Sicily for the Sicilians” policy. I shook his hand. We always shake hands when meeting Greeks. It shows how civilized we are to adopt this strange greeting of theirs. Today all delegations would be speaking Greek. But to the Syracusans, Larth warned, I must remember to only speak the Doric dialect I had been coached in, specifically Corinthian. It wasn't that hard to remember. Replace every sigma sound with a tau and shift the etas to long alphas. It just meant sounding like the choruses that were sung in Greek tragedies, which were all in Doric. I was not worried. Papa Larth was though. He gripped my arm tightly and reminded me that the Syracusans had just concluded a war with the Athenians. They'll take any Atticisms as an insult. We could not afford to offend Syracuse, he emphasized. Tarchuna and Syracuse have long warred for control over the Tyrrhenian Sea. I knew this well, of course. It wasn't just Tarchuna, but our family in particular. We made our fortune in maritime trade, which is a polite way of saying we were pirates and freebooters and slave-traders. Two centuries ago, it was a Velthur Spurinna who assembled a fleet and nearly seized the whole of Sicily. Accompanying Hermocrates today was a clerk named Dionysius who was always whispering in Hermocrates' ear. His eyes were always shifting around the room. I knew this man for a schemer even then, though I could not have guessed how high he would rise. That clerk is now the Tyrant of Syracuse.

    After being introduced, I was to wait in my rooms while the assembled party banqueted. At least I didn't have to sit under those frightening death masks and try to eat without gagging. Afterward, we were all to reconvene in the courtyard. There they had set up a curule chair with a canopy over it for me. I was confused, as I was not even a citizen yet. A place of honor such as that should go to a ruler of a city or head of state. But I sat. I found it all quite hilarious and decided to imitate the snooty manner of the Tarquins. I sat ramrod straight and held my chin in the air, nodding as one by one the envoys came before me and offered a gift as I gave them an audience. They asked me how old I was, even though they surely knew. They asked me to name my ancestors and their deeds, which they knew as well. They asked me if I'd been trained in war, or law, what kind of girl I found pretty, and I blushed. Each sang the praises of the fair women of their land. It was all a strange affair, and the longer it went on, the more unsure of myself I started to become, though I took care not to show it. Who did they think I was? A zilath's son is hardly royalty...well, technically I am, but still. Being a Tarquin is paper royalty at best. It means less than nothing. After they had finished, they retired to the reception hall, where I was told if all went according to plan, they would be signing something.

    Hours passed. I walked the courtyard until the sun sank low and then I returned to my room to take those painful earrings out and massage my aching feet. I then looked out my window and saw the delegations mount their horses and depart. Papa Larth and Numa then called me down from my rooms and seemed elated. They both told me I had done well. Only Felathri and Aritim did not agree. "Agree to what?", I asked. "Agree that...you'd done well of course!" He then tussled my hair and laughed. "When is my father coming?" I did not realize it, but I had slapped away Numa's hand from my head. Larth cuffed me and told me never to disrespect macstre Numa like that. He added that he had never said that my father would come. If I had gotten that into my head, it was my own fault. Both Larth and Numa are dead now, so I don't know if I will ever find out what transpired that day. What was the purpose of such a conspiring, of dressing me up like a prince and then signing some secret document? Larth had said it would be the most important day of my life, and I suppose in a way it was. But not in the way he meant it. Something in that day sowed the seeds of rebellion in me.

    Perhaps it was a new found sense of my importance. Perhaps it was a righteous rage at being used, imprisoned, kept in the dark. Perhaps it was a fear that my father had forgotten about me, and I was now on my own. Up until then, I accepted without protest the contempt they offered me. Were the Tarquins any better than me? The city they had ruled was a cesspool. That made them no more than petty kings of that cesspool. True, vast was their dominion and conquests. But in the end, what was Aruma? Even Rome's own founding myths say that their city was founded by kin-slayers, criminals, rapists, and runaway slaves. But then again, I suppose that half of that applied to me as well. Little by little, their habits were becoming my habits. By that point, I had now lived here longer than I had in Tarchuna, heard Latin spoken more frequently than my native tongue. Would I one day forget where I came from? Would I go native, become Roman exactly as the Tarquins did? I swore that I would not. I vowed then and there that I would not let them turn me into whatever they had planned for me.

    That day, I began plotting my escape.


    Continue to Chapter Three, Part Three...
    Last edited by Skotos of Sinope; February 07, 2019 at 07:09 PM.

  19. #39

    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated November 01, 2018]

    Very nice update, and to my shame I can't yet rep you for it's awesomeness. Hopefully by the next one I'll have spread some around and can give you a bit as well!

    I have no large comments or suggestions, but I did notice small typos here and there. To save some space here on your thread I'll put them in a contentbox.
    Typos

    In the recap you say "Gallic hoard" where it should be "horde".
    In the description of Avle there should be an "an" before "undisciplined drinker".
    In paragraph three when talking about the doric dialect: "Replace every the sigma sound and shift the etas sound to long alphas."
    Next paragraph: "They asked me how old he I was..."
    Next paragraph: "Both Larth and Numa are both dead now..."
    In the paragraph where he sneaks to the track: "Gnaeus didn't reach to draw his sword."
    Next paragraph: "I asked Gnaeus if if I was a hostage."
    Next paragraph: "And so, while while everyone else slept, I went down to the atrium."
    Paragraph where he speaks to the death mask: "I ask for a chariot so fast that none could can/might ["could" is not the right grammatical form here, I think] catch me. I ask for it to speed me home, so that I can go home and protect my family from the danger I have caused."
    Same paragraph: You don't put Peticus' comment in italics, which you had in earlier installments, and which I for one found quite nice/helpful. Maybe throw those into italics real quick.


    Well, I think that about covers it. It's just little things, and I honestly can't think of a thing that might need changing with regards to the story or overall writing. Keep up the good work and I'll be eagerly awaiting the next installment!
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  20. #40
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Macstre Gaposal
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    Default Re: The Last Chariots of the Tarquins (A Tarchuna RotR AAR) [Updated November 01, 2018]

    Recap


    The Story So Far:
    The Gauls have invaded Italy. Only Tarchuna---the jewel of Etruria and birth place of the Roman kings---stands in their way. Avle Spurinna has now returned to his boyhood home at Cisra in the hopes of raising an army to save his brother and drive back the Gallic horde. While there at the house where Lucius Tarquinius Superbus spent his final years, Avle finds his mind turning back to his childhood...

    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 the Kingsblood Quadriga. When we first meet him, he's an undisciplined drinker, gambler and chariot racer.







    Terms Used:

    triumpe: Shockingly, in Etruscan this means a “triumph”.
    Turan: Goddess of beauty, love, mirrors, and self-image.
    farthan: A divine element in each person, it can correspond to the soul, the rational faculty, or guardian spirit.
    Tages: Prophet of the Etruscan religion. Appeared in the form of an infant with the wisdom of an old man.
    Truia: Troy.
    Achle: Achilles.







    Chapter Three – At the House of Masks (Part Three)




    Continued from Chapter Three, Part Two...

    Despite my show of impudence to Numa, my performance on that day seemed to put me in their good graces, and I now elected to use their newfound affection for all it was worth. I became the perfect Tarquin, utterly devoted to my new family. Whereas before I would avoid the masks of the Lars Apana, I now offered sacrifices of wine and incense daily. No one would know that I still refused to pray to them. But everyone seemed to notice the change in my attitude. I even stopped asking when I could go home. Soon, Numa was inviting me to go riding and hunting with him. I would hint now and then that I wished I could ride more often, adding that my riding was so unpracticed as to be unbecoming of a Tarquin. Before I knew it, I was given the use of one of Numa's bay colts. Each day when I went riding, I would go riding further and further. The plan was simple: One day I would say I was going riding, and then I would make for the Ciminian forest. Those ancient mountainous woods stretched all the way to Tarchuna, marking the boundary between Latin and Etrusci territory, and were rumored to be haunted by the god Selvans. Selvans harshly punished trespassers. When angered, the mountains would fume and smoke and bring forth lava from the earth. No one would pursue me there. Even Roman consuls had orders not to enter on pain of death. With Numa's permission, I had my own key made to the stables. Gnaeus grew suspicious, and his smirks seemed to contain a hint of menace, as if to say, "I know you're up to something, though I can't say what." I didn't care. I only got bolder in my plans. I decided it was safer if I went at night and told no one. In the weeks leading up to my escape, I practiced crawling out my window, and sliding down the terracotta tile without making a sound, and climbing down the cyclopean walls. I learned to step as lightly as a mouse. I discovered just the right way to open the stable door so that it didn't creak. I prepared a sack and placed it under my bed. Within it was enough food to last a week, a net for fishing, and a change of clothes that I had stolen from a slave.

    The night I chose was after the Ludi of Tin, when an evening of late drinking would ensure heavy sleeping. I waited until I saw the light of the downstairs lamp go out. I listened for the ceasing of footsteps. When silence fell, I flew like a Tuscan roe. I was outside and at the stable door in seconds. If a wolf had chased me, I could not have been faster. Once I was on Numa's colt, I rode and rode. I had done it. Wind coursed through my long hair, and I smelled the air of freedom for the first time.

    I did not stop to think that I had never been out on my own in the dark and that I might lose my way. When "away" is the only direction that matters, you won't get far. I didn't get beyond the city limits before realizing I was hopelessly lost. I had no idea where the forest was, nor where the Salt Road lay. I cursed my stupidity as the night chill began to set in. When I ran out of insults for myself, I went to the only place I could think of: I went to the circus. I tied my horse to the post outside and entered the stands. Men with torches were re-sanding the track, wetting it and leveling it out again for the next day's Ludi races. I picked up a bucket and began filling it with litter, hoping that in my stolen slave's clothes I might be mistaken for someone's bondsman. But no one cared. And so I sat there alone in empty stands and wept. Like a fool, I half-hoped that my father might show up. Sometime before dawn, that's where Gnaeus found me.

    He took me to the atrium where Numa and the others were waiting. Numa had a whip in hand. He sat me down in front of the altar of the Lars, made prostrate myself before the masks and commanded me to beg my ancestors for forgiveness. I refused. I told him I would rather he make use of the whip he was brandishing. Numa did not budge. I knew he couldn't physically harm me. I should have considered that they would find even worse ways to punish me. If I would not pray to Tarquinius Superbus here, I would join him in his tomb.

    I still had not completed my divination education. Each man must be as a priest over his own household, and each magistrate must be as a priest for the city-state. That's what the Disciplina means, or at least it used to. I had already been trained in the interpretation of birds, the examination of livers, and lightning strikes. I'm sure you've already guessed where this is going, Ramtha. The final step is the divination of the specularii. It is catoptromancy, divination through mirrors. It wasn't the highest form of divination, that was brontoscopy, but it was the most dangerous because it was self-divination. [This Etrusci rite of passage involves being placed in an ancestor's tomb for three days in the darkness, where they will stare into the Mirror of Turan until their ancestor reveals something to them in the glass. Because it is in the pitch black, it is thought that the mirror is illuminated from the world beyond, and reflects not your physical image but that of what they call your "farthan", a divine double of yourself that exists amongst the Gods, akin to the Greek concept of the “daimon” or our own “genius”. The “farthan” is what the Gods created you to be, what you were always meant to be. I think the only revelation that can be learned through this superstition is that after three days in darkness, anyone's mind will begin to slip. – G. Sulpicius Peticus] And so I was locked in the tomb of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. Again, I did not pray to him, as we are supposed to in the rite, to ask for a vision as we look into the mirror. It was a contest of wills. I refused to ask, and he refused to show.

    I shouted to the walls that I would see darkness and only darkness, and no one could make me see otherwise. I called to Turan and said her mirror was but a vanity of glass and bronze, with no power to show me anything. I was bold and impious as a boy could be. I proclaimed that I refused all visions, and I denied his shade any authority over me and that my blood was my own. I repeated this again and again. But as hours gave way to days, I noticed that the air became stifling and I felt myself becoming light-headed. I don't think what happened next was a dream. As I was repeating my impieties, suddenly I heard a laugh. And in the mirror I saw, in an unnatural light, my blood draining out of me, as it would pour out of a freshly slaughtered lamb hung in a butcher's stall. I saw the blood draining and collecting on the floor, before forming into two track marks. I stood up, and I followed the tracks. I passed through the tomb walls and the necropolis until I reached the road. I walked on. A mist surrounded me, and all I could see was the two wheel-tracks of blood.

    I came upon two men bathing in a river, with vultures circling above one of them. A woman looked on and lusted. I followed the tracks further until I came to the man with the death mask's face. Tarquin the Proud. He had a radiant crown on his head. I saw him receiving scrolls from an old crone, clad in animal skins and leaves. She burned three in front of him, taunting him until he agreed to her price. I knew the story: the Sibylline Books of prophecy supposedly purchased by Tarquin the Proud in Cumae. "Is that the one? You said that one prophecy could only be canceled by another. You said that Tages prophecy wasn't inevitable. Tell me how both can be true, how a people can both die and not die, and I will meet your price" He asked. She replied, "As the oak must kill the acorn, and the hatchling kills the egg, and the butterfly kills the caterpillar, so too must a people die that they may be reborn."

    “How? Tell me how. Please.”

    “When this age ends, another will begin. The book foretells His coming, during the last age of Cumean song. A divine child destined to usher in a second age of heroes, and death shall have no dominion over him. A second Achle will make war upon a second Truia. Gods will co-mingle among men again. And then the oxen will be unyoked, and after the land has bled, it will bear fruit again." He handed her a purse of silver, and she relinquished the scroll.

    Next, I saw a man riding out into battle, as nations fled in terror before him.

    I walked on, following the tracks, and heard the cries of a baby beneath the soil. I dug and dug and could not find it. I then looked in my hand and saw I held a horse goad. I beat the earth, and it cracked open. Out flew an eagle, followed by a flaming phallus. I then came upon a barbarian woman with veiny-blue skin and red hair. With a hammer, she was forging the bronze linchpins of a chariot wheel. She then held the wheel up, and it was dripping with blood. She looked at me and laughed. "Your farthan is not your own. You are an empty cart," she said. It seemed I walked for days. But finally, through the mist I saw the towering walls of Tarchuna before me. But as I got closer, I saw that it lay in ruins.

    There was a crowd walking, a solemn mourning procession, full of wailing and tears. I asked a man whose funeral it was. He said it wasn't a funeral procession, it was a triumpe. Who's triumpe? I asked. And he looked at me sadly and knowingly. I searched the crowd for my father. Finally, I found him, grabbed him and embraced him. I looked at his face, and he seemed puzzled as if he didn't know who I was. Then his face began to melt into the death mask of Tarquin. I now saw him weeping over the scroll he had purchased. We were back at the house in Cisra, a hundred years ago, and he was in his exile, the last days of his life. "It was supposed to be me. Was I not the reason why the eagle led us from our city to the seven hills? How could I not be the one the book foretold? I did all the prophecy commanded...but it was not me." Tarquin said. "But he will come. One day. He must."

    I awoke then. I was back in Tarquin's tomb. The rock that had held the tomb shut was open, and silver shafts of moonlight poured in. That must have meant that the three days were over. I was not to speak of what I'd seen, nor was anyone supposed to see or speak to me until the sun rose. While everyone else slept, I went down to the atrium. The embers of the hearth burned and cast a dim and eerie light. I stepped up to the altar of the Lars Apana, and looked upon the grotesque death mask of Tarquin the Proud.

    “You won't stop, will you?” I asked it. From before I was born, something was guiding me. A road set down before me, tracks laid down in blood. “You won't let me go until you have a willing servant? So be it.” I held my hands out, palms upward in the ritual posture.

    “Father of my fathers. I have been here for nearly ten years. Not once have I prayed to you. Not once have I honored you. Yet you want me for some purpose. I can feel it. But I have my price. So here is what I ask of you in return: Let me go home. Let me return to my family. I know that blood will follow me wherever I go. But spare them. I ask for a chariot so fast that none might catch me. I ask for it to speed me home. Give me horses with divine speed, as fast as Turms Aitas [The Hermes of the Underworld, fleet of foot with his winged shoes, who can outrace death itself. -- G. Sulpicus Peticus]." And then a voice whispered. Was it my voice? It sounded like it was, but it was beyond my will. It said, "Do this, and you will have from me what you want. I don't care anymore. Set me above all other men, if you wish. Set me above all mortals."

    I looked deep into the death mask of my ancestor. A trance came over me. I began shaking, and before I knew it, the world went black. They found me the next morning, collapsed in front of the altar. The last thing I remember was that flickering in the dim firelight...I thought I saw the face on the death mask move, its eyes turn and look into mine.

    Three days later my father arrived. And even before he said a word, I knew why he'd come. The feud was over, and I could now come home. But my father would no longer be mine alone.

    Continue to Chapter Three, Part Four...
    Last edited by Skotos of Sinope; February 12, 2019 at 06:40 PM.

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