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Thread: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

  1. #1

    Default "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    Good day all,

    this is a first post. My desire would be to have some feedbacks from the chaps here. Decided to post it here first since I didn't do it as an AAR per se. Little note, I'm not an English native. I still think my written is more than adequate in the form but lack of use on a daily basis makes it, sadly, prone to grammar mistakes...

    Tks in advance.

    “I would want you to go get an eye on the narrow point of the river, which is about two mille passus away; see if the water is completely frozen and if the enemy could cross there…” The tribune put his finger on the map, at a point where the Danubo River was bending to the left. The Decurion nodded while looking at the map.
    “I don’t think we’ll find any trace of their passage, sir, with today’s snow…” added Centurion Messinus. Dexus lifted his head from the map.
    “I disagree, Centurion. We have to find where those germans are crossing and if they did. Even with the new snow, there should be traces of the passage of a large group of men.”
    “You are right sir. Apologies…” Dexus looked at the seasoned veteran. He saw what looked like sincerity. With a sign of the hand, the Military Tribune dismissed the Decurion who stood at attention before leaving the tent.

    Septimus Varro Dexus went to the other table to get the wine and two cups before inviting the Centurion to a chair, by the furnace. “Centurion, may I inquire as to why you accepted this posting?” the Tribune said while offering a cup of wine and sitting down himself. The Centurion took a sip of wine before speaking.
    “Sir, the Legatus asked me to, sir.”
    “The Legatus asked you to leave the 1st Cohort to come here?” The Centurion smiled. There was a lot of prestige to be in the first cohort, to be Optio of the 5th Century of the 1st Cohort was even better…
    “Sir, the Legatus told me he needed me to become (Decimus) Primus Pilor so I could help you in your first assignment outside of the Legion itself, sir.” Dexus wasn’t really surprised that the Legatus would have wanted him to have some of the most experienced hands to advise him but to ask an Optio from the 1st Cohort to leave such a prestigious posting…
    “And you decided that because the Legatus asked you, not ordered… Or was it an order?” Messinus laughed.
    “He asked me, sir… he didn’t ordered me…” The Centurion smiled to the young Tribune. “Sir, I saw you in action before. I saw you with those Alpine spearmen Auxilia at Langobardi five years ago, with Legion I Adiutrix and and the Ala Ulpia contarium Auxiliaries. Then, when Legion III Italica was formed and arrived on the Danubo and both of us were transferred, I saw you doing good again when you were now in charge of an Alia Auxilia. Actually, you probably saved my ass at Olivia…” Dexus was surprised at the last comment.
    “You were in the 4th Cohort?”
    “Yes sir! I was Pilus Prior of the 4th, yes. Almost full of recruits…” Dexus knew that the 4th Cohort was one of the four dedicated cohorts to the less experienced men, including recruits. Usually, solid, experienced Centurions and Optios were in charge of those… During an engagement, the 4th Cohort’s 1st and 3rd Century were flanked on the left side because the 2nd and 4th, who were supposed to take that left flank, were delayed by german light cavalry. Dexus, in command of an Ala of thirty horses, took the decision to leave the two centuries deal with the german cavalry and, instead, rammed the infantry that was attacking the left flank of the 1st and 3rd. He knew the 2nd and 4th would survive; they already were taking the advantage, but they couldn’t take their place in time. Centurion Messinus, being on point, on the left side, as he was supposed to, was hard pressed. He thought it was a matter of time before he’d go meet is wife across the Styx… Only once that Ala crashed in those barbarians’ back that he knew he would see the sun come up again.
    “I didn’t know it was you…” said Dexus.
    “No consequence, sir. But, when the Legatus asked me to come here, with you? My honor couldn’t let me stay at the main camp…”

    The silence held for a long time. The two men, separated by close to twelve years of age… and rank, just look at the fire while sipping their wine. Dexus’ mind always was going back to tomorrow’s assignment of the scouts… “Centurion, you think the germans crossed the river?” Centurion Messinus looked at the Military Tribune.
    “I don’t know, sir. And apologies, again, for earlier, when I questioned your affirmation about…” Dexus interrupted him.
    “No apologies necessary, Centurion. I grew up at the bottom of the Alps and I know that new snow cannot cover everything…” Dexus smiled.

  2. #2
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    Welcome to TWC!

    This is a good start. I like the way that you start your story in the middle of events, focusing on two characters. You provide the important information gradually, which works well. First we find out that they're anticipating the approach of the enemy, then we find out who the enemy are, and so on. I like the way that these characters have a history, the Centurion previously saw the Tribune in action. The hints about your characters work well (like the comment about solid, experienced Centurions and Optios being in charge of the 4th Cohort).

    I suggest leaving a blank line after each paragraph and after each line of dialogue. This avoids the appearance of a 'wall of text'. I'm looking forward to your next update! In the meantime, I suggest introducing yourself to other writers by posting on other current stories. This can encourage other writers to post on your story. It has other advantages too, when you have 25 posts (and have been a member for a week), you can do additional things such as edit your posts and vote in polls.

    If you have questions about things like formatting and signatures, I recommend Shankbot's Unofficial Guide for New Members. If you have questions about writing or would like to chat, there's the Writers Lounge. If you're interested in articles on writing, you may want to look at the Critic's Quill.

  3. #3

    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    Tks for the links Alwyn. They are bookmarked and read already!
    Here is the second part of the story.

    When Military Tribune Septimus Varro Dexus got out of his tent the next morning, he was glad to see that it wasn’t snowing. The stork on his breastplate shined under the pale winter sun. He went directly to the small Ala detachment. He originally was assigned eight horses but one of them died three weeks ago due to an infection and cold weather. As he was approaching, he saw the Decurion and two of his men looking at a horse front legs and hoofs. “Any problem Decurion?” The man turned and stood at attention.

    “We saw an injury on the front right leg, sir.” Dexus bent to look at it. The wound was small but seemed to be infected. He grew up around horses and knew a lot about their care. The horse was shuddering under the cold, being forced to stand still. The Tribune knew these came from southern Italy and wasn’t really accustomed to cold weather.

    “Take it back to its stall. With only seven horses, we cannot risk another one dying…”

    “At once, sir!” answered the Decurion. He turned toward the cavalry man and gave the necessary orders. Dexus was just walking among the horses and the men. Just last spring, he was in command of an Ala and he loved it. When the Legatus ordered him to take command of this place to keep an eye on the easiest ford, he lost his cavalry command to be in charge of a mixed force of regulars and auxiliaries.

    “Decurion, don’t engage any enemy. If you see anything, come back here and report.” The Decurion nodded.

    “Yes, sir! I am not to engage the enemy!”

    Dexus continued making his morning round. He knew the scouts would leave in about ten minutes so he had time to walk around the whole camp before they left. “The whole camp…” he thought. “My whole camp…” he thought again. It still feels strange even after two months being in command. It was a small contingent, it was true, but it was the culmination of his young career so far. As he was walking around the camp, he was looking at the men doing their duties. Here, at the edge of the area that was under the responsibility of Legion III Italica, there was him… and his little command. First, there was the 10th Cohort. After the 1st cohort, the 10th was the strongest; from where usually men were picked to go into the 1st. Even the helpers were veterans in the 10th! Then, there were two centuries of Ligurian Auxilia. Those men were almost as equipped as regular legionnaires. These were tough and solid fighters! Also was attached two centuries of Alpine Auxilia. Those spearmen were necessary because of the quality of the germans light cavalry. They weren’t numerous but in a pinch; it was easier to secure a flank with a small wall of pikes instead of gladius. He also has a Century of Celtic javelins. That light Auxilia unit was very mobile. He would have preferred archers but there was nothing he could do about that. And finally, there was the small Ala of cavalry. It was used mainly for scouting and courier. In total, it was nine hundred and thirty five men he had under his command…

    When he arrived at the southern gate, he saw that the Ala was ready to depart. Dexus walked to them and repeated his instructions and the target of the mission. The Decurion saluted before making them leave the camp. Centurion Messinus arrived at the Tribune’s right side. “Good morning, sir”

    “Good morning Centurion Messinus! It is a fine day today!” The veteran man looked at the sky and saw that despite the clouds, it wasn’t looking like it would snow.

    “Yes, sir. Just to tell you that there is nothing to report, sir. All Centurions made their status reports. No death during the night. Three men, across all the troops are sick but the medicus said that it’s nothing serious.”

    “How about the watch last night?”

    “They saw nothing but, just like the last few nights, the moon never appeared in the sky… They couldn’t see far enough over the ford to detect anything. Apparently all was silent though…” Dexus looked at the Centurion with a satisfied face.

    “Very well Centurion! How about we go eat something? Get the other Tribunes in charge of the Auxilia units and also, all the Centurion! We shall break morning bread all together!” Messinus smiled at his commander.

    “Yes, sir! Right away, sir!” he said before turning half face to gather the officers. Dexus looked at Messinus leaving a few seconds before going to his tent, smiling.

    When he entered, he told the staff to prepare food for twelve people. In his home, in Mediolanum, his dad usually would break morning bread with the top employees every morning. When he was ten, his dad would also make him eat with them. Each day, he saw how his dad, a very wealthy horse and stock trader, a man of the equestrian class for generations, would review the operations of the place on a daily basis. At the same time, he saw how his dad was imposing his leadership. Dexus always had the impression that it was because of that, because of his type of leadership, that the family business was so successful. The history of the family always talked about a wealthy and stable business conducted by his ancestors but now, it was beyond everything they ever got. He knew that maybe the fact that her dad married the daughter of an influential senator probably tipped the scales… but it didn’t change what he saw, every morning, at the family mansion…

  4. #4
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    I like the way that Dexus is trying to be a good leader by following his dad's example. The details of the different cohorts are good. I hope that the medicus was right!

  5. #5
    Swaeft's Avatar Drama King
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    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    Hello, welcome to TWC!

    I have enjoyed a bit of Roman history from time to time so I'm glad this piece of CW showed up! I see politics at play already, as well as a man trying to prove himself. I'm sure this will turn out to be very exciting. Looking forward to seeing more!

    As for the feedback, I think your English is good - there aren't any particular areas I have to pause and wonder what you're trying to say, and nothing impedes the flow of reading, so I think you're all good here. Detail wise the character interactions are nicely done, and I believe the historical ranks make this creative writing much more immersive. Good job!

    Swaeft's Scribblings (Library)| Swaeft's Snaps (Gallery)| My Blog (The Lensation)

  6. #6

    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    Tks for the comments. Here's the next part

    “Make sure that all are well clothed, Lucius…” was saying Centurion Messinus to Centurion Lucius Pius, the leader of the 3rd Century.

    The morning meal was going on for over an hour and Septimus Varro Dexus was a happy man. Since it began, he saw men in good spirit, eating and drinking with gusto. At the same time, he got their reports about the last night and what they had planned for today. Being the sixth day of the week, it was only regular daily duties, which included training as well. Being here, in this camp, overlooking one of the fords over the Danubo made all other duties of construction being rescinded. Legion III Italica was building a big fortification, ten mille passus away. It was to be one of the main defensive points of the Limes Germanicus. Not here though… Suddenly, a series of screams outside: “Alarm! Alarm!”

    All at the table got up and went outside. The Optio of the 5th Century was running toward his tent. “Sir! Sir!” Dexus saw that the lookouts in the towers of the western gates were pointing at something outside the camp. “Sir! Sir!” The Tribune stopped the Optio.

    “What is it?”

    “Sir! Hundreds of men! All coming out of the forest, three stadiums away!” As the man was saying that, the horns started to ring all over the camp, calling the men at arms! Centurion Messinus talked first.

    “They must have taken advantage of the moonless night to cross at the ford, sir.” A servant gave Dexus his helmet and he started to put it on.

    “Bring the 1st and 4th Century at the gate with the Ligorum centuries!” Dexus looked at Messinus right in the eyes. “ Centurion, send the Alpine Auxilia at the southern and northern gates. Assemble the remaining Centuries here; we’ll keep them on reserve for now…” Messinus looked at his commander and nodded.

    Dexus, accompanied by clerks, started walking toward the western wall. Prima watch was almost over now. This meant that the rotation was being prepared. “Who got the watch?” asked Dexus to Messinuns.

    “It was the men from the 6th Century, sir.”

    “We’ll bring the Celtiborum to the western wall as well…” Messinus nodded and transmitted the order to a clerk who started running to give the order.

    The camp was in full animation. From every tent, legionnaires were emerging, all dressed for combat. All over the place, Aquifers were showing their colors, telling the men where to go. Dexus was feeling queasy; it was the first time the alarm was sounding for real… He saw that Messinus was now putting his helmet as well while a man was giving him his scutum. The old Centurion was wearing a calm demeanour but the eyes were steel like as he was looking at what was happening around him…

    When the group arrived, the men from the 1st and 4th Century were starting to arrive. The Optio of the 1st, the second in command under Messinus, a bull built man with a giant scar on his face, called Volonius, was barking orders to the men. The Centurion of the 4th was also doing the same while the Tribune in charge of the Ligorum centuries seemed to be overwhelmed while his Centurions were assembling their men. Dexus quickly turned toward the young man. He arrived in front of him and said: “Come with me!” Dexus decided he preferred the men not to see the one that would be leading them in such a state of mind. It usually was one of the first steps for a Military Tribune. The career started first, as an intern, learning mainly administration, then, if he was satisfactory, he would go to lead foot troops Auxilia. He would then become the leader of a small Ala of cavalry, usually Auxilia as well. Then, if he was lucky, he would become like Dexus was at the moment: a vexillatio.

    The entire group started going up in the towers to get an eye on the group of men that has been signalled. When Dexus saw them coming, he wondered if his command would be cut short…

  7. #7

    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    Already a stadium away from the forest line, hundreds of german barbarians were coming toward the camp. Walking in the snow, they were shouting and taunting the guards. Dexus couldn’t believe his eyes. “About fifteen, maybe seventeen, hundred, sir” said Messinus in a calm voice. Dexus swallowed with difficulty. They were outnumbering his vexillatio almost two to one… “And they are not rabbles, sir…” added the Centurion. Dexus could clearly see that those weren’t rabbles… All had shields and swords and axes… there seemed to be a group of them staying a bit behind; they would be missile troops… Dexus knew too well, from experience, how good those barbarians were with bows… Among the troops in front, he could distinguish that two groups seemed to hold something long and rather heavy: long logs to use as rams…

    “Centurion, make sure the men are close to the walls so they could avoid the first volleys of arrows…” said Dexus to Messinus.

    “Yes, sir!”

    Dexus started to look away, to the south and north, and was relieved to see that nobody was coming from there. A doubt started to creep in… “Centurion, make sure they’re not coming from the east as well!” Messinus shouted orders. The Tribune was getting twitchy; he knew he would smell and feel blood today… He started to go down the tower and the group followed him. Once on the ground, he looked at the men preparing themselves at the gate. There were three hundred and twenty men there, all in formation. When he felt Centurion Messinus was at his side, he turned toward him. “Messinus, send two centuries at the southern gate to support the Alpine Auxilia, do the same for the northern gate. We will wait to see if there are troops coming from the east before moving the rest of our forces.”

    “Yes, sir!” Messinus turned to the clerks that bolted as soon as they knew their tasks.

    “How long before they are at the gate, you think?”

    “About ten minutes, sir. Those rams seems to be heavy to carry…” Dexus looked at the Centurion. He only seemed eager to fight. The Military Tribune, on the other hand, if he was eager to do so as well, was also a little scared; will his first ever command would end prematurely… He turned to the Tribune leading the Ligorum troops.

    “Now, son, go to your men and make sure they are ready for contact. Today, you will live more than you ever did before! Cherish this day by not showing you are scared… because your men will hate you for it… and me as well!” The young Tribune stood at attention and saluted before leaving.

    Messinus was watching his commander and smiled internally. He always thought he was a tough son of a whore, who believed his duties are less important than his own shame… “Death is only a passage into the path to the gods…” he thought.

    Dexus looked at the Centurion of the Celtiborum. “Bring your men up in the towers. When they can, fire at will but once you are out of ammunition, get out of there. Go toward the Preatorium and wait for orders. Just stay out of range of their archers…” Dexus then turned back to Messinus. “I think we’ll open up the western gate…” The Centurion looked at him intensely.

    “Sir, do you think that’s wise?” Dexus started to draw his gladius. He looked at it for a few seconds before putting it back where it belonged.

    “They will break the gate at one point anyway; we can’t stop them doing it so, instead, we will choose when it will be broken down…” Messinus understood the idea. “We will form a V shape, just behind the gate then we’ll let them in, funnelled in such a way that they will be stuck between two sets of scutums and gladius…”

    “Alright, sir.” The Centurion wasn’t keen on the idea. He was then slapped a second time in the face when the Tribune spoke again.

    “And I’ll be with you and the 1st Century too!”

  8. #8

    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    Story pass the half way mark with that post.

    The enemy was at the gate. Using their shields, they protected the first ram and the men using it on the western gate. The Celtiborum emptied their sheaf and started going down to the ground; their Centurion guiding them toward the northern gate. The Germanic archers were hard at work. Dexus was on the southern side of the gate, with the 1st and 4th Century. He received a scutum from the hands of Messinus: “You will need this, sir!” he said in a tone that said no discussion was possible. On the northern side of the gate, was the two Ligorum Auxilia centuries. They were ready for the contact too.

    Dexus was looking at his men, his command. He saw them tense, eager and ready for the coming fight. “Prepare yourselves, men!” Dexus screamed! The Centurions shouted orders. Optios were shouting encouragements. Dexus then calmly told Centurion Messinus: “You ready?”

    “Yes, sir!” said the Centurion without turning his head.

    “Open the gate!” screamed Dexus. Both doors opened just when the bearers of the ram were swinging the big log backward. The now opening doors took them all by surprise! For two or three seconds, they didn’t move. The four Centurions at the gates screamed the order and a full volley of pilums was thrown at the attackers. Only after protecting themselves from the projectiles, some orders seemed to be shouted. Once the volley was over, the barbarians started to bolt forward for hand-to-hand combat.

    The contact was brutal! All lined-up with scutums in front, the legionnaires and ligorum auxiliaries received the brunt of the push. The attackers were in a funnel and all the space beyond the gate was occupied by rows and rows of scutums and gladius. Volleys of arrows and stones started to arrive through the now opened gate. The men behind the very first lines lifted their scutums and shields to protect themselves.

    “Change the line!” screamed Messinus after a minute of contact. Dexus, right by his side, was fighting hard and followed the lead of the (Decimus) Pilus Pilor. Dexus took a step back while the Centurion took his place at the front. The fighting was savage.

    As he was getting his breath back, Dexus called one of his clerk. “Go see if the enemy went to the other gates!” As the clerk started running, the Tribune saw one of the column move forward; the front man was dead and another took his place. This, he saw multiple times before he heard Messinus calling for another change of line. Dexus took the Centurion’s place in front. He was now facing a giant of a man, with dark brown hair, a shield and a gigantic axe. As he placed himself he needed to put his scutum in front and high. The blow was hard and he felt the vibrations going through in his entire left arm. As he was fighting, he could hear Messinus bark orders and talk.

    After about thirty seconds, Dexus felt a push on his back. “Sir! Let me take the place!” It was Messinus. Dexus took a step back as the Centurion was taking his place. Dexus felt his left arm all numb from that axe blow. He tried to dismiss the feeling as he turned. The clerk was in front of him now.

    “Sir, all the other gates are secure, no enemy went for them!” As he was listening, Dexus took a sip of water and saw the 1st Century was, in some columns, only five men deep. He took three steps backward and saw that it was the same for the 4th Century. He took a decision.

    “Tell the Alpinorum auxiliaries to come here, both centuries… and quick! And ask the Centurions of the 2nd and 3rd Century to come here on the double as well!”

    “Yes, sir!” the clerk responded before running again toward the other troops. Dexus redirected his attention to Messinus who just received a blow to the head. Without saying anything, the Tribune just bolted to take the Centurion’s place in front so he could recuperate a little from the hit.

    When he was firmly in place, he started to fight again. Screams and blood filled the air. Barbarians and Romans alike were fighting for dear life…


    When the order was given by Messinus, Dexus was surprized to see the Tesserarius, the third in command, of the 1st Century take his place. Stepping back from the front line, he saw Messinus standing there, wiping blood off his face that was pouring from under his helmet. “Are you ok?” Dexus asked.

    “I’m ok, sir! Just a scratch!” He took the Tribune’s arm and pulled the man a little behind. “Sir, the 1st and 4th centuries are on the verge of collapse sir!” Dexus looked and saw that almost all the columns were now five men deep and, for some, even four deep.

    “I sent for the Alpine centuries…” As he was saying that, he saw the 2nd Alpine Auxilia arrive. The Centurion came to him directly. Dexus didn’t waste any second. “Centurion, take your Century and replace the 1st Century of legionnaires! I’ll go get the other to replace the 4th…” he added to Messinus. Without saying another word, he lifted his scutum high and started walking toward the north side of the gate to go see how the Ligorum Auxilia centuries were faring. “Hold the line men!” he screamed at the top of his lungs. “Hold the line! New men are coming!”

    As he was passing the 4th Century, he was finally able to see the Ligorum Auxilia centuries. They took hard hits too but it seemed a bit less than the legionnaires… The 2nd Auxilia century was abreast with the 4th legionnaire Century. Dexus quickly saw why the auxiliaries fared a bit better, they were against swordsman only; no one german was wielding giant axes like on the other side… He passed them and went to get the Centurion of the 1st Ligorum Auxilia. “We’ll get some new men! Can you hold a bit longer?”

    “Yes, sir!” said the Centurion.

    “We’ll put the Alpine Auxilia in our place, we’ll go recuperate for a minute or two and then come here to take your place!”

    “No problem, sir!” answered the Centurion before turning his attention back at the fight.

    Dexus saw the 2nd Century of the Alpine Auxilia coming at fast pace. He made them signs to follow him. He saw the spearmen lift their shield as they started to be in the opened space of the gates, where arrows and stones still were coming through… As he was telling them where they would need to go, an arrow went through his scutum and through his left forearm. He felt the sharp pain going through but he worked overtime to try and dismiss it. He then called both Optios of the legionnaires’ centuries and told them the sequence that would come soon. Merely sixty seconds later, both Optios and both leaders of the Auxilia troops barked their respective orders. The switch was made in a semi organized chaos…

    The contact between the spearmen and the germans was hard. Using their spears, they created space for the legionnaires to go back while making it possible to take their place. Messinus and the Centurion of the 4th Century started to bark orders so that the men would move to the northern side of the gate, as Dexus was telling them to do by waving his right arm up up in the air…

    At that moment, the Tribune saw the Centurions of the 2nd and 3rd Century coming to him. He signaled them to go to the wall so he could get his scutum down a little; his wounded left arm was killing him… “Centurions! I want you to take your troops plus the 5th and 6th Century with you! You’ll get out by the southern gate and I want you to flank the bastards!” The centurion of the 3rd looked at him.

    “Are you sure you don’t want us defending the gate, sir?” Dexus looked at him with a deadly stare.

    “I gave you an order! You are to go out and crushed those barbarians from behind!”

  9. #9
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    Good updates! The ordinary routine of the camp contrasts well with the alarm and the action afterwards. I hope that the daring flank attack will be enough.

    I wonder if you're interested in entering this story in the MCWC XX.

  10. #10

    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    “The 4th is down to forty eight men able to fight, sir. Half of the dead and wounded from the archers and slingers… The 1st is down to forty two still capable of fighting” said Messinus to Dexus when the latter arrived.

    “That much losses?” Dexus shot back.

    “Yes, sir. The hit was powerful, they are tough... The archers are murder too!”

    “And the Ligorum Auxilia, do you know?”

    “By the looks of it, I’d say they are down to about half strength, sir. Their lorica hamata are not as strong as our segmenta.” Messinus’ speech was interrupted by a man in the guard tower falling to the ground, an arrow lodged in his throat. It was at that moment that the Centurion noticed the blood in front of the Tribune’s scutum; all fresh and coming from where a broken arrow was protruding. “Are you wounded, sir?” Dexus dismissed the last question.

    “Never mind that, Centurion. Do you think the line will hold?” ‘Messinus accepted the dismissal of his inquiry.

    “Maybe…” Dexus then started to tell him about the four centuries he sent out by the southern gate. The Centurion was discovering something in this young Military Tribune; ambition in battle!

    “Until then, we must prepare the men to replace the centuries from the Ligorum Auxilia …” said Dexus.

    Leaving Messinus to go to the Centurion of the 4th Century, Dexus lifted his scutum again and went behind the men: “Hold the line men!” he screamed. He noticed that the flow of arrows and rocks was thinner than the last time he passed; they were running out… He was happy about that because it meant that the movements from the four centuries outside the walls would be easier… and faster too!

    Arriving at the southern side of the gate, he grabbed his clerk by the shoulder and looked at him straight in the eyes. “You will take the horse that is wounded and you will go to the Legion. Tell the Legatus we are under attack and need help… If not only fresh troops to replace our losses…” The man looked at his commander with fear in his eyes.

    “Yes, sir!”

    “Leave the camp by the eastern gate, you should be able to leave unnoticed…”

    Before going back with the 1st and 4th Century, he looked at the Alpine Auxilia centuries and saw that they were holding the line firm. “Not having to deal with relentless volleys of projectiles does that…” Dexus thought as he lifted his shield high again to pass on the other side of the gate. He noticed that it was harder than before to keep the scutum in position; the pain was more intense… It was at that moment that he received a rock right on the helmet…


    When Dexus regained his senses, he noticed he was laid on his back, by the wall. A medicus was in front of him. The Military Tribune noticed he didn’t have his helmet anymore and that his face seemed like it was bathing. “Leave me alone!” he told angrily at the man.

    “Sir, let me bandage your head, at least…” begged the medicus. Dexus saw the Optio of the 1st Century by his side. “Optio, tell Messinus to replace the Ligorum Auxilia with his tr…” The Optio interrupted the Tribune.

    “It’s already done, sir. Three minutes ago, right after we were able to bring you here…” It was at this moment that Dexus realized that the Optio was bleeding profusely from the right shoulder despite bandages.

    “Are you all right, Optio?” He saw the man smile sadly at him.

    “I can’t lift the arm… Centurion Messinus told me to be your messenger.”

    “The Tesserarius took your place?”

    “Yes, sir. Your orders?” Dexus looked at the medicus.

    “Are you done?” he asked, angrily.

    “Yes, sir…” answered the man, sheepishly. Dexus proceeded to get back on his feet. The Optio gave him his helmet, his face grimacing at the pain of lifting his arm by a few uncia…

    Once he was back on his feet, he noticed that the medicus also bandaged his left forearm. The scutum was lying on the wall, with a lot of blood on it. He noticed the broken arrow wasn’t there anymore. He put his helmet back on and grabbed the shield. His left arm was sending sharp signals of pain, like his head… He turned his attention to the lines. He noticed that the Ligorum Auxilia centuries were resting a bit. He was hearing the centurions bark orders for line changes. He started to walk behind the men and screamed: “Just a bit more, men! Just hold on for a little bit more!”

    As he finished his encouragements, he heard an order coming from beyond the gate, in Latin: “Throw Pila!” A series of screams erupted from the germans troops! The four centuries outside the wall would push soon! Dexus screamed to the Ligorum Auxilia Centurions: “Prepare to push forward!” He saw them order their men to prepare themselves. Again, Dexus screamed but this time, at his troops that were in front: “Prepare to push forward! Prepare to push forward!”

    At that moment, he saw the line take a step back! It was the four centuries, arriving in the back of the barbarians, that have pushed the sea of men toward the troops at the gate… Panic and pain screams erupted from the germans... Dexus took his gladius and lifted it high in the air, putting his scutum in position at the same time. “Push forward men! Push forward!!!” Both Ligorum Auxilia centuries passed him on his left and right respectively. He heard Centurions all along the line screaming the men to push forward!

    The legionnaires and their auxiliaries bolted forward into a massive effort! Screams all over the place! Men were falling, dead, but, they were mostly germans… Panic ensued; they started to flee! “Push more men! Push more!!!” Screamed Dexus!

  11. #11

    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    This is the last part of the story. Please, feel free to comment...

    “Tell the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th to pursue, keep the rest inside... and clean the entrance so we could close the gate…” said Dexus to Messinus. The Centurion screamed the orders.
    Dexus was looking at his men. While the centuries outside the walls were in pursuit, he needed to take care of the ones who held the line… He could see the carnage that took place in such a small space… Bodies, romans, allies and barbarians, were piled up on the path… Blood soaked the ground so much that the earth was mud despite the freezing cold…

    About ten minutes later, he saw Messinus come to him: “The pursuit is ongoing, sir. They have order not cross the ford; to come back here instead…”

    “Very well…” Dexus looked at the Centurion who had a bloodied face, just like him. “Do you know our losses?” The Centurion took a piece of cloth from under his wrist plate.

    “Here are the ones I have for now.”

    “How bad is it?” the Tribune asked.

    “The 1st is down to thirty nine men able to fight, the 4th is down to twenty seven men able to fight. As for the Ligorum Auxilia, each Century have about twenty five men able to fight. The last barbarian push cost them a lot; they were facing men with axes and who didn’t want to quit… The Alpine Auxilia are good though. The losses are about thirty five men total, across both centuries…”

    Dexus looked shocked… “That many?” Messinus sighed heavily.

    “Yes, sir.”

    Dexus stayed silent for a long time, looking at his Centurion but also at the scene. He was smiling to his men, trying to comfort them with his sight but he was truly shocked… When he spoke, his voice was tired: “I didn’t think it was that close…”

    The Centurion looked at his commander. “Sir, it was so close… it was almost too much…”

    “I have sent one of the clerks, during the battle, with the injured horse, to tell the Legatus we were under attack…” Dexus’ scutum fell to the ground; his hand and arm couldn’t hold the heavy shield anymore… not to mention the realization of how close it all was…

    “Sir?” said Messinus. “I think you need some rest sir… and you need to get that arm checked too!”

    “I might do that soon…” The gaze of the Tribune scanned the area of the gate where the battle took place. He saw that the clean-up was almost done so that the gate could be closed again.


    In the afternoon, Septimus Varro Dexus was resting in the Preatorium. The medicus told him that the arrow entered his forearm but not that deep. As for the head, he told him he took a severe blow but that there shouldn’t be more than a tiny scar and some headaches for a few days.

    He finally decided to read the complete report of the losses. The troops that took the brunt of the assault at the gate were now at less than 50% strength for the 1st and 4th Century. The Ligorum Auxilia centuries were at 43% and 39% strength respectively. As for the Alpine Auxilia, the losses were about 18% total. The four centuries that did the flanking manoeuvre lost about 10% of their men. The only unit that suffered no losses was the Celtiborum Auxilia. Overall, the losses were of about 20% of his troops.

    On the other side though, the story was different. The estimated barbarian force of about fifteen to sixteen hundred men took a much harder blow. If the missile troops were relatively unscathed, the ones that tried to break the line at the gates suffered immensely. The scavenging detail brought back around one thousand swords and axes and spears. The number of bodies in and around the funnel of the gate alone was about seven hundred! An Ala that came from the Legion, eighty cavalry strong, numbered at around two hundred the number of bodies in the woods; that was the work of the centuries in pursuit… No prisoners were taken… They also found the scouts Dexus has sent earlier that day; all slaughtered…

    As he was reading the report, he heard horns outside of his tent. It was the ones of the guard tower signaling the arrival of friendly troops. He got up and as he was going to get his helmet, Centurion Messinus arrived in the tent. “Sir, the Legatus is arriving with what seems to be two full cohorts, sir!” Dexus’ face colors seemed to drain instantly.

    “The Legatus?” Messinus looked at the man who was now ghost white…

    “Yes, sir… But don’t you worry sir! You did good!” Dexus’ eyes seemed to implore the veteran fighter.

    “You… you really… think… so?” Messinus smiled at the young commander of men.

    “Oh yes, sir… You did real good!”

    The End

  12. #12
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
    Content Director Patrician Citizen

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    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    I'm sorry to see that your story has ended, I was enjoying it! It sounds like the charge of the four centuries was a decisive intervention. I was worried when Dexus was hit by a stone that he'd wake up surrounded by bodies and a ruined camp. I wonder if you have ideas for other tales.

  13. #13

    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    As I said in the very first post, this pretty much was a trial run, to see if there was enough quality in my writing before going any further...

    As for ideas for other tales, I think it might be something to look at with a more serious eye... The idea of making a "life story" is something... desirable maybe... I use DEI with Rome 2 and maybe make a game where I could place him somewhere would be interesting... Starting in Empire era would speed up things. The question is, though, where would I put a story like this? A novel like story, without screenshots... AARs all have screenshots (at least, all the ones I read got them)...

  14. #14
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    If you're writing a novel like story based on a campaign or set in the world of Rome 2, you can post it in the Rome 2 AARs forum.

    AARs usually have screenshots, but they don't have to McScottish's AARs often don't have screenshots (or have only a few). An example is Seaxan Dćgrēd (Saxon Daybreak/Dawn), which has a few images from other sources, not from the game as far as I know. During the last couple of years, chapters of our (probably) longest-running AAR, The Last Pagon Emperor have no images.

  15. #15

    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    Tks for the links and suggestions Alwyn. I took a first look but will dive into the links more during the week.

  16. #16
    Turkafinwë's Avatar Cheerful Nihilist
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    Nov 2013

    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    I agree with Alwyn, it's always sad to see a story end. I too enjoyed this one and will tell you that your writing is more than adequate for writing larger stories (or shorter ones, the length of the story doesn't say anything about the quality of it). The interactions between Messinus and Dexus are heartwarming and interesting and your descriptions of the battle and details concerning the structure of the Roman military bring the story to life. A really charming tale and I will repeat Alwyn's invitation wondering if you are interested to submit this tale to the MCWC XX? The MCWC is a great way to promote your own material and attracting other writers to read and give comments on your story as well as finding some wonderful stories yourself.

    I'll be waiting with anticipation for your next creation!

  17. #17
    Swaeft's Avatar Drama King
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    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    So I've just managed to read this in one go (it held my attention really well!) and I really like it. I do love the roman era stuff, so I may be a bit biased there. The authentic feel and the way the characters converse are a big plus for me. It was indeed a short and sweet story. Your English comes across quite well for a non-native speaker, bravo for that too. It would be a privilege to read more of your work if you have the time

    Swaeft's Scribblings (Library)| Swaeft's Snaps (Gallery)| My Blog (The Lensation)

  18. #18

    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    Am overworked atm and didn't come for about 10 days to discover two comments!

    First tks for taking the time to read it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    I will repeat Alwyn's invitation wondering if you are interested to submit this tale to the MCWC XX?
    I thought a lot about that and this story, as it is... There are things I don't like and since summer is hell on a stick for me (work/children/holidays), it will not be something that would happen. I just don't have the time to rework it in a significant manner... As I explained, this was, pretty much, a "proof of concept"... The idea to rework something from this character would be something I'd look toward doing though... Maybe something a tad bigger in scope of the character developpement inside a save instead of making a custom battle and write about it (like it was the case for that story).

  19. #19

    Default Re: "A First Command" (pretty short story - few chapters)

    ...and I must do two posts 'cause I didn't managed to make a multiquote one! lol sorry

    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    The authentic feel and the way the characters converse are a big plus for me.
    This! Sir, you've made my day! That is before I came to the comment about my English... I am always stuck between a rock and a hard place there since for work, I work "English English" and American English" which are... different Maybe less pronounced since I'm from Canada (we speak American and write English! ) but, even pushing fifty and consider myself to be "fluent"... I still always feel uncomfortable about the quality of my English...

    As for having the time, not in the summer... unless I start a save in Rome II along the lines of what I wrote in my comment to turkafinwë.

    Again, tks for the comments! It is well appreciated!

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