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Topic Subject: The Shattered Spear Inn
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posted 17 January 2011 05:55 EDT (US)   
Welcome to the Shattered Spear Inn. Grab a table, or a stool at the bar, soldier, and accept this first horn of beer on the house.

You look like hell, son. Been in battle recently? I know, I know, been there myself once or twice. Or forty times. One loses count. So, soldier, have a tale to tell? Start talking. News here comes slowly, so the only entertainment we get these days is from soldiers passing through with tales to tell, or old Hamish there singing. Heard his voice? Rutting bulls are more pleasant.

So belly up to the bar, soldier, and leave us with a fine tale to drown out the bleating of old Hamish. Any short tale of battle may be told here. In fact, any short tale of any kind would be appreciated. Here's a beer to wet your whistle, and to help you get started.

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 01-17-2011 @ 06:20 AM).]

posted 07 June 2011 10:51 EDT (US)     26 / 60  
Greetings, mighty warlords. I have a proposal that involves liberating this tavern into a more open venue for discourse on the use of the electric stylus, not just the actual product of its use. - ie discussions on writing itself. What say you?

"The difficulty is not so great to die for a friend, as to find a friend worth dying for." -Homer
"You see, this is what happens when you don't follow instructions, GKA..." -Edorix
Guild of the Skalds, Order of the Silver Quill, Apprentice Storyteller
Battle of Ilipa, 206BC - XI TWH Egil Skallagrimson Award

The word dyslexia was invented by Nazis to piss off kids with dyslexia.
posted 07 June 2011 12:06 EDT (US)     27 / 60  
This is an inn, General. It is apparent that you are more used to a praetorium, or to a command tent, so I shall explain it to you in simple, soldierly words so that all is clear. We gather here in this inn to hear tales of battle and to drink of both beer and ale- with the occasional wine. Good food and good company is all that is required, and we have both in abundance.

Look about, young warlord. What do you see, or better still, what do you not see? Nowhere is there a sign limiting the discourse to only tales, though that is the main reason we gather here. Thus commenting upon the tales entertaining us is not forbidden.

So sit down, generalis, and the servant will bring you wine. And please, feel free to speak your mind! All that is asked is that thy comments be considered and wise, and in a character fitting with this inn.

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
posted 07 June 2011 21:34 EDT (US)     28 / 60  
Then I shall leave my technical questions here in the future.

"The difficulty is not so great to die for a friend, as to find a friend worth dying for." -Homer
"You see, this is what happens when you don't follow instructions, GKA..." -Edorix
Guild of the Skalds, Order of the Silver Quill, Apprentice Storyteller
Battle of Ilipa, 206BC - XI TWH Egil Skallagrimson Award

The word dyslexia was invented by Nazis to piss off kids with dyslexia.
posted 23 August 2011 04:47 EDT (US)     29 / 60  
The Conqueror Unseen

“There we were, my mate and I in Bylazora,” said the man who bellied up to the bar. “Well, at least I was in the city. My comrade, Aulus Albinus, stayed outside in a tent in the woods- the fool- while I seduced the duimvir’s wife and made myself very comfortable in that old Macedonian town.”

He paused, and took a sip of the proffered tankard of ale.

“The Macs had a nice set up in town, but were concerned. You see, the Romans, of which I am a proud citizen, had a gang of peasants roaming the northern hills. You heard correctly- peasants. Farmers, scratchers of dirt. Only one band of them, but more than the garrison of militia hoplites holding law and order in town.”

“My job was simple- I roamed the town by day, hawking wares like any merchant, which was how I met the lovely and disillusioned woman married to the dear mayor. By evening we would meet in a dank inn off the main thoroughfare where we would make passionate love, and discuss the events of the day while basking in the afterglow. Then she would rise, dress, and depart back to her husband while I would rise, dress, and take a walk to the woods.”

“Somehow, she never put it together. She would speak of the dustiness and clutter building up in the Temple, and how the priest seemed to have an aversion to cleanliness. Then the Temple would burn down. The stone stables were shot through with rot; the next day they collapsed. The wooden barracks was in dire lack of a good coat of paint; then the fire hit. Aulus was kept very busy.”

“The militiamen knew not what to do, nor did the mayor. So the townsmen became unhappy with this situation. The smithy went up in flames, then the theatre. The governor’s house burned with him in it, leaving a grieving widow in much need of consolation.”

He laughed.

“I consoled her, all right. And sparked her grievances against the Macs, who were too busy fighting in Greece to send aid to little, poor Bylazora. She, being a rich and noble woman when not sharing our bed, spoke with other rich and noble women. It did not take long after that for the town to become seriously angry. And I mean seriously.”

“Many felt the town was cursed- so much destruction. A governor was sent once, but he died outside the walls. Aulus was on the ball, I tell you. And a few weeks later, he struck again.”

“Whispered words were worth more than daggers in the dark. I tell you this, that you may understand. It is not always the generals and their armies which bring cities and towns under the banner of another lord. Sometimes it is men such as I. For after the latest task of Aulus, the town leaders got together. They had had enough of sending their men and coin to a faraway king and getting nothing for their tribute. They decided to keep their tribute, and renovate their town on their own. Hurrah for the rebellion, says I.”

“The militiamen were evicted. Others came from the masses to join up. Bylazora declared its independence from the Macs, and began a wonderful but brief season as its own lord.”

He laughed again. “I say it was brief, because it was. A wonderful summer of independence, before Pollonius and his bag of gold arrived. It was not long afterwards that the bag of gold disappeared into the coffers of the rich and noble, my woman included, and Bylazora was flying the red banner of the Romans. Those peasants that were wandering about came into town, stiffening the shift of allegiance. My work was done.”

Curtius sighed. “I will miss Bylazora, but I am no longer needed there. Olympia will find a new lover, and I my new orders. Aulus and I are off to Byzantium, to see if we can work our magic upon the Byzantines as we had upon the Bylazorans. Who knows, maybe next time we speak I will have gotten magnificent Tylis to overthrow her Thracian kings for Roman rule…”

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
posted 07 September 2011 02:49 EDT (US)     30 / 60  
The day Brutus came to town

Go South, they said. And we of the Dark Forests, tired of the gloom and the rain, obeyed. We went south. And a bit west. One warhost overran Alesia, Lugdunum, and Massilia, while we of ours went and relieved the Snail-Eaters of their Italian possessions.

The Romans did not like this, and brought war to us. This offended us greatly, so we paid them back in kind. Arretium and Ariminium fell before our masses, and not long afterwards we were camped before the city of Rome herself. The blue Romans came to offer their aid to their brethren; we slaughtered them and chased them back to Capua and stormed the place to boot. Then we went back to Rome and camped around it.

While our warhosts were so occupied, Cassius Brutus brought an army through the Alps to besiege our newly-conquered town at Patavium. He caught us fairly- our warhosts were far south along the peninsula, and none remained behind. In the besieged town was but a handful of Axemen (one hundred fifty strong), a half-squadron of light riders, a gang of battle-mutts, and three gaggles of peasants. That was it. Outside stood Cassius Brutus, with a full warhost of hastati, principes, and even artillery. Eighteen hundred men strong, against our thousand or so- most of ours being peasants and farmers.

It was a foregone conclusion that Patavium would fall. Our hetman, a broad-shouldered farmer with the odd name of Serapio, decided he could not win. Seven hundred head-knockers versus a professional army? Even with the Hammer of Tor and the Magic Spear of Woden we would lose. Such is life. His mission as he saw it was not to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, or any such illusions. No, he would grant his men Valhalla- and weaken Cassius as best he could. Vannius and his army were already hustling towards us. Patavium would fall before he arrived. So Serapio decided we would leave as few of the green bastards for Vannius as possible.

Already in the beginning things went wrong. Serapio had wanted to put the head-knockers in the town square, and have the Axemen off to one side with the battle-dogs off to the other side. The horsemen- pitifully few!- were to exit the city and strike Brutus from the rear.

That was the plan.

But Fate has a way of shredding the finest of plans. The headknockers refused to move from the walls. So did the mutts. The Axemen went willingly enough, as did the horsemen- but those were true warriors. The rest stayed at the walls in the desperate hope their numbers would somehow dissuade the Romani from coming.

Brutus had built three rams. These he did not use. Instead, he used his ballistae to batter a hole in the wall. Thanks Woden for that! The stones did what Serapio could not- they got the peasants moving. The farmers ran for the town square- and almost made it. The men of Brutus followed up the breaching with a concerted rush and caught the farmers before they could fully withdraw from their foolish positions.

The warhounds were released, in a desperate attempt to divert the hastati attention from the dying farmers. It worked! Well, almost. The hastati continued killing the farmers, but were themselves dog food. An entire cohort of them.. Munch munch munch. The peasants got away.

Things were going the way Cassius Brutus wanted. His men had multiple breaches and had driven the farmers from the wooden walls. He unleashed the rest of his army to mop up. That is when his Horse of Fate threw a shoe.

The Axemen had moved to the Town Center, since the headknockers were too stupid to do so. There, with a mighty war cry, they fought the lead units into a standstill, and drove them away. Twice. And behind, under the very eyes of Brutus himself, the horsemen finally rounded the village to fall upon his stone-throwers with a vengeance. We slaughtered them all. And when Brutus tried to catch us, we ran. Our little ponies were much faster than his heavy chargers, so we escaped.

Brutus then went into the town to rally his flagging army. Four cohorts were already panicked. He brought them to their senses, and led the charge against our heroic Axemen himself.

We sent him screaming like a despoiled virgin! All but himself and two guards died on our chopping blades, and these two were hurried along their merry way by the cavalry. Oh what a grand sight!

Then the Norns turned from us as well. The brave horsemen, flushed with their success, tried to further that by returning to the fray. The army of Brutus- what was left of it, was trying its luck again in the marktplatz. And again, their courage was no match for our own fury. The lead elements broke, and the cavalry, thinking it a fine opportunity to punish their cowardice, charged from the rear.

But they were too far away. By the time the first riders reached the fleeing troops, they were no longer fleeing. Oh how our men died! They pulled back, and barely made it to safety.

Meanwhile, on the far side, Serapio and his headknockers broke three cohorts of hastati, one after another. The dogs fled our little knives, and he, being the baddest fool with a knife ever seen, gave chase. He chased those cowards clear out of the city, and onto the plains beyond, slicing the throat of any Roman who fell behind. He had no hounds to set upon the chase, those beasts having been slain earlier, but his men were wild with fury and filled with joy at the chase. He and his men became the hounds, and they chased the foe away.

The horsemen and Axemen tried to repeat that glorious moment. Here is where they found Valhalla. The principes were no half-trained farmers given swords. They were soldiers, professionals. They would not break. It became a battle of will, and numbers. They had more. We sank down in defeat, battered with scuta, stabbed with gladii, and pierced by pila. Our men died bravely, but they did die.

The only survivors of Patavium were Serapio and his hundred fifty headknockers who had chased the Romans from the field. He returned after his hunt, sated with blood, and found our town in flames.

Brutus had returned. He was disgraced, and angry at the loss of so many of his warriors and the destruction of his stone-throwers. He ordered the town put to the sword.

That is sad, but what happened to Brutus was sadder still. Of his eighteen hundred soldiers, less than five hundred survived our defense. And a month later, Vannius and his army arrived to pen him inside the walls. Brutus sits there yet amid the stench of death and decay he himself ordered, while Vannius builds his own rams.

And elsewhere, we Germani repaid Roman bloodlust in kind. Rome fell- we put it to the sword. Tarentum fell- it was likewise slaughtered. Croton fell- and was slaughtered.

Italia is ours. Our ghosts have had their thirst for vengeance slaked with the blood of those who made them ghosts.

Go South young man, the gods said. We did.

“Whatever happened to Serapio?” asked one of the men in the Shattered Spear Inn.

“He plied his trade as a farmer for a while,” the speaker replied with a shrug. “But after feeling the rush of battle in his veins, scratching dirt held no more interest. He is a mercenary now, selling his knife to whomever wants him.” He raised the beer offered by the innkeeper, winked at the man who had asked, and added, “or telling tales to any who offer a beer for their telling.”

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
posted 19 September 2011 01:35 EDT (US)     31 / 60  

Cassius Brutus met his fate in Patavium. We knew this, but his buddies did not. Cassius had come from the east, somewhere in the Dalmatian Alps. So our High King Ricburgis the Conqueror sent five squadrons of cavalry to scout the way while he brought up the warhost.

Our leader was a kid named Rando. He was a young sprout, of humble origin. I heard his dad was a blacksmith, but that did not matter so much when Ricburgis the Conqueror was calling for men who could ride, and calling in such numbers that even blacksmith’s sons were welcome. Rando was a good kid, if a bit thirsty for the blood.

We were a scouting force- big enough to handle small bands of skirmishers, brigands, and the like, but too small to handle an army. If we found the enemy, we were to shadow and report. Ricburgis would bring up the warhost and flatten them. This was our task. And in it, we failed.

Oh, we found the enemy, alright. We broke camp a bit late one day and saw them. They were there before us- fifteen cohorts strong, led by the cousin of Cassius, Flavius Brutus. Now we were to shadow and report. Rando took one look the hastati in their lines, javelins gleaming in the sun, with the velites deployed before and the principles behind, and he sneered.

“Deploy for battle.”

We thought him mad. We pleaded, “Rando, kid, there are five hundred of us and over fifteen hundred of them. It is folly to offer battle!”

Rando pointed to the sun, and to the pass behind us through which we came. “Those slopes are still heavy with snow. If we thunder through them now, we risk an avalanche. The sun will not be setting soon- on those narrow trails, those footsloggers will be faster than us. It will be worse for us when night falls- we ride poorly at night. No, Njål, we cannot flee. We must fight, and fight well.”

The kid was right. We were trapped- not his fault, but it was his responsibility. And by the gods he was dealing with it like a man born to command. He put me and Torgrim far off to the right, with Leif and Otgar far to the left. He himself, with the horse-tail standard, would meet them in the middle.

I guess he thought if we spread out along the hills, we would be better able to escape. He would focus the enemy’s attention on himself, sacrificing himself to allow us the time needed to flee. Nice thought, kid. But you being the son of a blacksmith and all, you know little about being a horseman! We stick together, for better or worse.

We stayed.

Rando was right. The enemy saw his standard and went for him. Then they noticed us, standing there on the far flanks minding our own business, and made a fatal mistake. The Roman commander got greedy. He ordered half of his army to face me and mine, and the other half to chase down Leif. He himself would take the glory of capturing our standard.

I think deep down Rando knew this would happen. The Roman choices were indeed limited- they could go for me and Torgrim, allowing Rando, Leif, and Otgar to escape, or go for Leif and let the rest escape. Or go for Rando, and let the other four escape. Last, the Roman could split his forces and try to get all three.

For Rando, the Roman choice was breathtakingly beautiful. He stood there, alone but for his squadron, and watched the splitting of the Roman forces take place like a parting of a Green Sea. The waves of Romans peeled away to reveal a single general gleaming in the setting sun. It was a thing of beauty to behold.

The Roman sat there. And sat there. And sat.

Rando charged.

I did mention that the enemy was hastati, principles, and velites, right? You know what they had that we did not, besides numbers three to our one? They had feet on the ground. We had hooves. Rando veered from the sitting general and plowed into the back of the principles facing us just as Torgrim and I charged the hastati. Those three cohorts went to panic right there, lighting off the rest like oil kicked into a bonfire. We chased, and Rando piled into those who tried to regroup. It was not even a contest before this batch of Brutus was heading for the hills.

Leif and Otgar had been playing a similar game of cat-and-mouse, only they were the mice. Now Rando had all three of us thunder into the men facing Leif. Not even a contest. They broke, but fewer of them managed to break out of our tightening Batavian Crescent.

Brutus managed to rally what was left of his southern wing. But his army was a joke, now. Battered, tired, beaten. Our warhost, though a bit frayed around the edges, was pumped up on victory and joy.

It was not even close. We thundered down upon those hapless fools and drove them into flight. Brutus died quickly, and his men followed shortly thereafter. Not a one made it out alive. That is what happens when footmen try to catch horsemen. Rando knew that, and was counting on it.

We had the locals build a monument there. Two large swords, crossed. We let them use the armor and weapons of the Roman corpses as materials with which to make it. On it we had a plaque made.

“On this spot Flavius Brutus and fifteen hundred men trapped and attacked Rando of Raurica and his five hundred horsemen. Rando handed them their balls on a silver platter less than twenty minutes later.”

Oh, by the way, can you guess who is the Man of the Hour? He is spearheading the army moving into western Greece now. Which reminds me, I have to get back. I am the new scout commander. I can only hope to do as well as that blacksmith’s son who is now the son in law to Ricburgis.

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
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Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
posted 23 September 2011 01:48 EDT (US)     32 / 60  

“Scyles was one of those Scythian horse-pluggers who came over to our side for a sack of gold and some sweet words. As such, old Ricburgis didn’t trust him in war against his former people, so he sent him over to newly-conquered Gaul to plant towers while the warhosts were off to the Rainy Isles to put paid to those tattooed raiders. The fool got himself promptly ambushed by an army of rebels. He fought them off, but it was bloody. Needless to say, he was not welcome anywhere near our warhost. Worse, our own warlord Ariogasius married a young filly. On his wedding night, with too much booze in his belly, he went to take his bride and ended up dying in the saddle- as many an older warlord tempted by young women were likely to do. That made Scyles our commander.

None of us were happy with that.

Ari was a footslogger like most of us. He had four bands of spearmen, two chosen axe men, and a band or two of Norse Vikings in his warband. Scyles, being a Scythian, had three mobs of archers and eight gangs of horseclods. He merged his warband with ours. We were not happy with this, either, but there was no war on with the Gauls dead and all, so we put up with it.

Then the Spanish decided to besiege Narbo. Scyles, being the man on the spot, drove us like mad toward Narbo. We could taste Spanish blood already, yet the fool drove on past the Spanish raiders, through the Pass at Roncevalles, and took the Spanish town of Osca. To hell with Narbo, he said to us. Ricburgis is sending more men to deal with those. They want Narbo? That little worthless village without even a port to the sea? Let them have it. We shall take their precious Osca instead. Then they have a choice- leave Narbo alone, or watch us take their home cities from behind them!

We grumbled and moved close to mutiny, but the horse-plugger was right. The Spanish lifted their siege of Narbo and returned to take back Osca- along with another army. Reinhard brought the news in- I had never seen that weathered face so filled with anxiety. Two Iberian armies were coming at us- each as strong as were we, and we here in a burg where the horses of Scyles were useless.

Scyles knew it too, so he ordered us to march. And we marched- straight at the Spanish. I had never seen the like- a full Spanish army ahead, deployed for battle. Bull Warriors, swordsmen, spearchuckers, and a lot of horsemen. Behind them, coming onto the field, was another warhost just as large.

We were in our formation- a line of spears flanked by the axemen, those Norse fools and cowardly archers behind us, and our own horsemen in columns on either side like those Macedonians do. A wise man would bring us to the best terrain and fort up. Scyles thought differently. He pointed to the enemy and issued a single-word command.


Our spears went high as we broke phalanx and began to march. We were attacking a warhost twice our number. By the gods we were quaking now, knowing Valhalla was just around the corner. But we marched on, determined to bring down as many of these mountain boys as possible to give Ricburgis and whoever he was sending time to get there.

We were close now, so close we could smell their sweat. They were laughing. We were grim. Then Scyles spoke again.


I had never seen the like. The horsemen instantly charged forward at full gallop. They smashed deeply into the slow-moving Spanish, who had only just begun to move forward. The Spanish rode light, dapper, dainty ponies, well known for their turning ability and agility. Our stallions raped them and drove them to cry rivers of tears. The veterans of Scyles decimated their foes within a minute, and annihilated them a minute later. Then they turned onto the Spanish infantry who stood and gawked at the ease with which their vaunted horsemen had been destroyed. They too broke and ran, squealing like pigs before the slaughter.

Scyles chased them into the second army, which was just then having a hard time understanding what had just happened to their first army. He plunged on, destroying their horsemen to the last man, then beginning on the foot warriors. They too broke, and Scyles and his horsemen hounded them off the field of battle.

I had never imagined such a fight. We spearmen and axe wielders hardly got a blow in. Our blades were still virgin, and twice our number was on the run. Hardly a Spaniard survived.”

The teller took a deep draught from his tankard.

“I might not have thought much of that Scythian horse-lover before, but I have a gang of mates who would rather crush your skulls than hear a bad word about him now.” He cackled. “And we now know how to settle such matters with a single Scythian word.”


|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
posted 22 November 2011 02:45 EDT (US)     33 / 60  
The Battle of Aquincum

We were five bands of the finest horsemen Macedon could put on the field. Newly recruited, to be sure, but with training from the hardened priests of Ares, we felt like veterans. We were cocky, and confident, and sent north to harass the Germani coming down the Balkans and threatening to join in the campaign we were conducting against the Dacians who had been raiding our northern outpost at Bylazora. Deukalos the Wrathful was punishing those raiders, and the Germani were going to join in on the wrong side.

That could not be allowed to happen, so Deukalos sent word to Thessalonica. Antigones replied by sending us north. We marched swiftly toward Aquincum, which a golden-tongued Ambassador had bought for our crown. We found a Germanic army inside. They were many; we were few. So we besieged them.

I think we were there for a year and a half, camped outside the town, and having a great time ravaging the land and hunting in the nearby forests. The Germans were slowly starving, but since they were far more than we- and most of them were spearmen that are deadly versus horsemen in close quarters like city streets- we decided to let them starve. But the Germani had other ideas- they had gotten a scout out who was bringing down a second German army.

We were outnumbered about eight to one. That was a bit too many for Conon, our boss, even though he was a hoary veteran horseman. So he pulled us back towards the ford over the Danubius to await an opportunity to strike. But the Germani were clever, and fresh, and came on after us. We were in the open, and the horses would go no further. They were warhorses, and smelled a battle. More stubborn than mules, those critter were. So it would be a battle there south of Aquincum.

We chose our ground. There was a huge rock in the middle of a field.

“We shall set up here,” determined Conon. He looked to me and added, “Kylos, you take another band and your own and set up far to the right. I will remain here to the left with the rest.”

He need say no more. We all knew what he was planning. We carried out the orders, and awaited the Germani.

They came on, a wall of spears stretching across the horizon. Behind them were many bands of women- evil creatures with big knives and bigger breasts- the one to lure you in, the other to cut off your manhood when you do. We hated those hags. And behind the moving forest of spears we glimpsed some banners- at least two nobles. Men who would grow no older, if we knew our Conon.

We waited. The horses were impatient, but we mortal men knew that Death was coming and had no hurry to meet him. We let the Germani come.

Carolus and Vannius were the nobles, we learned later. Rookies. They did as Conon had thought. Carolus took half the army and went towards Conon. Vannius took the other half and came against me. I let them come, then faded back.

Conon waited as well, but did not fall back. He waited until the Germani had the big rock in the middle of their lines. Then he struck- at the army of Vannius that was coming at me. Conon fell upon the flank of the spearmen with two bands, and his third struck those screeching hags behind them. You could not count to five before these broke. Conon then carried on his charge against the next warband facing me. Again it broke quickly.

I cast my own forces head on into those bristling spears- a suicide charge one might think, but they would be wrong. The spears had already lifted to turn the formation against Conon. We hit their exposed rear.

They disintegrated.

“Conon! Horsemen!”

The call caught our commander’s attention. He saw cavalry rounding the rock to our rear. He feared it was Carolus moving to save his nephew’s warband, but it was not. It was lightly-clad swordsmen riding tiny ponies. He detailed one band to charge them.

The Germans scattered like sand before a heavy wind when Milos plowed into them. By the gods it was a massacre. Our heavy warhorses took those little ponies and raped them savagely. Milos ended up letting the pitifully few survivors flee before rejoining us.

The Army of Vannius had evaporated. We were very busy chasing down the survivors and destroying them. We did not think of Carolus- his warriors were on foot and far behind us as we slaughtered and slew endlessly. Then we were thinking of letting the horses rest while the Germans tired themselves out marching to us and their deaths.

Carolus had other ideas. He had the idea that if he could kill Conon, the rest of us would fall apart. So he spied Conon hacking down some women and charged his comitatus at him, thinking to win the battle in a single blow.

Oops. I mentioned he was a rookie, did I not? He charged Conon without realizing our disposition- the rest of us were in a very large, very wide box formation around our commander. One horn blast from Conon’s trumpeter and we were in motion. From ahead, from the flanks, from the rear, we came charging. Carolus never stood a chance. Milos hit him from one flank, while my lads careened into him from the other. Portos hit from the rear, and Conon and the other bloke hit him from the front. Carolus was completely surrounded, and little better than the men he faced. No surrender, no escape. He and his men went down hard, and they went down swiftly.

We did not take the time to celebrate the death of this rookie. We deployed our forces, for now the footmen had finally caught up. We rested while they marched, but it was a short rest. Luckily, it was only half an army we faced, and most of that those vocal females. We crunched the spearmen protecting them in the standard way- luring them against Conon while the rest of us made rest to pounce on a flank. It worked again, then we were chasing down fleeing fools once again.

I swear by Ares, my horse never tires of chasing cowards! We killed and killed and killed that day. The women we brained or tried to capture alive, but every man among that warhost was brutally and efficiently reduced to dogfood. Four men survived the battle- bodyguards of Vannius. They survived by being fleeter of foot and quicker of wit than the man they served. They were disgraced men, and would never serve another, so we let them go to return to enjoy our captives.

Five hundred of us, against almost five times our number, and by the end of the day, we were still over four hundred and the enemy was either dead or enslaved.

Praise Ares! And pass the ale. I thirst!

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 04-07-2015 @ 08:19 AM).]

posted 21 December 2011 03:46 EDT (US)     34 / 60  
The Siege of Ancyra

It was in the winter of the year 225 B.C. and Tiberius Maenius was on his first command as a member of the House of Scipii. He had been singled out by the great commander Gaius Scipio during the siege of Sparta. Gaius, known as "victor" by his subjects, raised him to the nobility for deeds of unmatched valour against the Greeks. To secure his place as a man of Scipii, Tiberius could not fail in his assignment.

Ancyra was undoubtedly the back-end of nowhere on the frontier. Tiberius was sent with twenty-five hundred men to secure the outpost for the glory of Rome. It was a simple matter, the wooden palisade did not hold long against Rome's mighty legions. The local warlord was hung from the North tower for his defiance of Rome, and the subjects of the town settled into their roles as subjects of the Empire.

Tiberius stood upon the roof of the warlord's hold. His men milled about the town, tearing down old structures and assisting the residents in civilizing the place. As he turned to step down from his perch, a plume of dust in the distance signaled the return of his scouts. Rumor had it that the barbarians of Pontus were milling for war, and it would not do to be uninformed. It was not until the scout reached the square that he realized something was wrong. The scout was swaying on his horse, an arrow through his shoulder. Tiberius quickly descended the stairs to meet the scout.

"Sir, the rumors of Pontus were a lie! Egypt masses for war!" shouted the scout as soon as Tiberius approached.

"What!?" exclaimed Tiberius, "Egypt was our trusted friend and ally! Surely you must be mistaken. Perhaps it was a Pontic trick."

"There can be no doubt sir, the arrow that hit me bore a message." said the scout.

The scout passed a bloodstained papyrus roll to Tiberius with a salute.

Tiberius unrolled the papyrus, reading the message:

"The wise and magnanimous Pharaoh sends his greetings! The time has come to accept that your pitiful society is no match for the might of Pharaoh. Surrender your lands and kneel before us, that you may become our subjects rather than be annihilated."

"There's more sir," said the scout. "The Egyptians must have ten thousand men marching this way!"

"What!?" said Tiberius. "Repair the gaps in the pallisade!"

And so it passed that the Egyptian army surrounded Ancyra. Tiberius knew that his force was greatly outmatched. He had a few battalions of archers and some Principes from Gaius Victor's forces. The rest of his force consisted of Greek mercenaries and turncoats, unfit for anything more strenuous than guard duty. Would they hold? Could their loyalties be trusted? They had to, there was no retreat.

It was sunset, and Tiberius stood on the roof of the warlord's hold, looking out at the Egyptian army. Chariots and archers were lined up in impressive formation. Lines of Egyptian slave-soldiers presented spears as battering rams thundered forward from all sides.

Tiberius stood upon the roof and addressed his soldiers:

"Brave warriors of Rome! The servants of Pharaoh stand before you and think themselves your equals! They should think again! We are gravely outnumbered here, and there is no retreat! Should this town fall, every man here will be put to the sword! Show no quarter! I have triumphed against men far more dangerous than these! Of the enemies that have stood before me, none may boast of victory! So take up your sword and shield, string your bows, and prepare for battle! By this time tomorrow, your sword arms will ache from overuse!"

The soldiers cheered, but Tiberius knew it was halfhearted at best. They knew what was at stake, and they knew how hopeless it was. And so the battle for Ancyra began.

"Archers, form ranks and fire at will! Principes, lock shields and form a perimeter around the center of the town! Greeks, lock shields and present spears on the roads to the center!" shouted Tiberius. He took his contingent of heavy cavalry and positioned himself in a gap between houses, ready to charge into the flanks of the enemy and break them against the Greek spear-wall.

The Egyptian army advanced, their footsteps thundering like the forges of Vulcan. The slave-soldiers locked shields and presented their own shields, but their lack of armour and tightly packed formation presented easy targets for the Roman archers. Arrows fell like the bolts of Jupiter, and still the Egyptians marched. The rams had barely to kiss the flimsy wooden palisade before it fell to pieces. In the space of but a few heartbeats, the wall was breached in a dozen places. It was at this point that the Egyptians answered the arrows of Rome with a storm of their own. Arrows and rocks fell like rain into the Roman ranks, some aflame. thatched houses caught fire and bathed the scene in a grisly light. As if the flames of Tartarus had risen, the fire consumed friend and for alike. The slaves of Egypt paused, unsure of advancing into the flame until a group of cavalrymen behind them drove them on with whips. The battles lines met with a crash that must have been heard in Capua as Egyptians by the score died on the points of Greek spears. Tiberius saw his chance, and signaled the charge through the houses into the slave-drivers. Their light armour and whips could not withstand the Roman charge, and the few that survived fled the town. Without their masters driving them onwards, the slaves of Egypt broke ranks and ran, being cut down from behind by a withering hail of arrows and Pila. The shout of victory died in Tiberius' throat however, as a counter-barrage of arrows fell among his bodyguard and killed several of his men. He saw that Egypt had sent more than slaves into the fight, as the armoured men of the Pharaoh's Guard took the field and marched though the walls, rank upon rank of spearmen and bowmen armoured in bronze scales.

If the Pharaoh's Guard were in the field, than a member of the Pharaoh's own family must be commanding the Egyptians. And then he was spotted: Ptahhotep Euregetes, renowned for his impetuous nature and reckless disregard for strategy. Euregetes would throw men into the meat grinder until there were no more men left to throw, and so Tiberius saw a glimmer of hope.

Seizing the initiative, Tiberius signaled the charge, and the Roman battle line advanced like a tidal wave. The Egyptians still outnumbered the Romans 2:1, but Tiberius had a plan. The Roman line locked shields and advanced into the Egyptians, knocking aside their spears and engaging in bloody hand-to-hand combat. While the Romans and Pharaoh's Guard fought in melee, Tiberius gathered his Greeks and marched around the battle, coming upon Pharaoh's bowmen from the side. These were no common slaves to be swept aside by the charge though, and the fight devolved into an unorganized chaos with no clear battle lines. Tiberius led his cavalry out of the fray, and left the city through the front gate. Knowing that Euregetes would not pass up an opportunity to flaunt his superiority, he passed just within bowshot range of him and turned back towards the city. As predicted, Euregetes followed with all his force of chariots.

The Egyptian chariots rolled forward with blades spinning on the wheels. The rattling of the chariots and the sound of the blades slicing the air was terrible to hear. Outnumbered 3:1 by chariots, Tiberius knew that his days were numbered if he was caught. Tiberius sent his swiftest horseman ahead to relay a message to the Romans in the shield-wall: When the chariots come through the gates, do not flee! Their coming is but the message of Mercury to signal our victory! With the force of a hurricane, Tiberius passed back into the city and into the rear of the Pharaoh's Guard. Without missing a beat, Euregetes followed. The visceral sounds of chariot blades cutting flesh mixed with the screams of the wounded, sending a cacophony of agony into the air. The Greeks locked shields and presented spears after Tiberius passed through, and Euregetes impaled himself on the spears, still chasing the cavalry.

Seeing their general fallen to the Roman line, Pharaoh's Guard lost the last of their resistance and turned to flee. With a shout of triumph, the Romans charged, cutting down Egyptians as they ran.

As morning came, Tiberius stood again upon the roof of the warlord's hold listening to reports from his aides. At the last, eight thousand Egyptian soldiers and slaves had met their end upon the field. The wall was a ruin, and half the town was burned to the ground. The Roman dead numbered almost one thousand eight hundred, no few of them Greeks.

Ancyra had been defended from the treachery of the Egyptians, at the cost of many Roman lives. A frontier settlement with little value either tactically or economically was the sight of as bloody a battle as had ever been fought in those parts.

Ten years later would see Ancyra a very different place. The rubble of the old wall had been replaced with strong stone ramparts, the warlord's hold with a governor's mansion. A temple to Vulcan had been erected in the center of the city, in memory of the battle fought there. To this day, the city maintains a mixed guard of Greeks and Romans, to keep marauding Egyptians at bay.

Tiberius Maenius went on to rule over the entire House of Scipii, after being named Gaius Victor's heir.
posted 19 January 2012 17:04 EDT (US)     35 / 60  

"Ho there, Barman," cried the Carthaginian as he entered the tavern "I seek a pitcher of wine in return for a tale of Fortuna's intervention in a great battle".

"It was several years ago when we of Carthage landed a force on the shores of Sicilica to retake Libyaneum from the Blue Romans. Their garrison consisted of a two-starred general, four hastati squadrons, two archer units and a single group of light horsemen. This information imparted to us by an agent we had planted there several seasons beforehand. We layed seige with a four-starred family member, four light infantry, three light cavalry and a unit of onagers. On the day of our assault we deployed before the walls and our illustrious general ordered the onagers to fire. As the weapons were cranked into the ready position, our spy reported that the enemy commander was riding towards the city gates. At the moment the onagers fired, the first shot impacted against the gates. The second shot, however flew over the gates and impacted in the centre of the advancing generals bodyguard unit. Imagine our joy as word came that the enemy leader had been struck by the wayward rock and had fallen. Without their general the defenders morale crumbled and an easy victory paved the way for the benificent influence of Carthage to spread across Sicily."

"Now wheres that bloody wine i asked for?"
posted 06 April 2012 16:40 EDT (US)     36 / 60  
"Hey you,barman. What does a soldier have to do to get a horn of beer here?" said a tall, muscular man with pale complexion and long, blond hair.

"No one is given a drink here before he shares a tale of war with his fellow drinkers" answered the barman loudly, trying to be heard through the noise of the drunk warriors.

"Ok then. I will tell you of a great battle between us, the mighty Saxons and the lazy Toga-Wearers. It was the winter of 394 AD or 1147 AUC, as those useless roman calendars say. Our large Northern army had just landed in the shores of this damned rainy island, called Engeland or Brittania. Our army was split; one half of our forces including two units of axe-wilders and three units of mounted sea raiders had been raiding the province of Kent, while the other, consisting of a couple of Saxon keels and some levies headed north, towards Eburacum or Jorvic.

I was part of the first army, a proud axe-wielder.We marched across those large, rainy forests near Londinium,until we were ambushed by a large Roman army of a few Comitatenses and some steppe horsemen, who I believe are called Sarmatians.We knew that our light raiders would stand no chance against those horsemen ,so they tried to lure them away from the battle.Then, we charged head-on, so that the roman infantry wouldn't throw their javelins. These weaklings, the Comitatenses, couldn't withstand a proper germanic charge and broke almost instantly, since their armour couldn't help them.

Unfotunately, our damned mounted raiders, sea scum as they were, had routed.So, the Sarmatians hit us in the rear,killing and capturing many, as the axes couldn't face those heavy horses.I myself was captured and recruited as a foederati in the roman army" he said proudly, opening his cloak so that everyone could see the roman embleem on his armour.

"Now, where is my beer" he added, sitting back on his stool.

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
posted 17 August 2012 18:05 EDT (US)     37 / 60  
"You did not serve under Petreius."

"Yes I did! In the fifth cohort, stationed at Ilerda. Look at this!"

The young looking milite lifted his sleeve, eyes glossed from the heavy drink in his right hand and filled with indignation.

"Look at it!" he nudged his shoulder closer nearly touching the older man's cheek. The centurion turned to glance at the rather large scar travelling down the soldier's sword arm and asked "Am I supposed to be impressed? I have scars from nearly every single war crazed tribesman from the river Elbe to the Danube. I'm supposed to melt in front of something you probably got fleeing a Spanish whore?"

"I got it while almost losing my arm to a man of the fourteenth!" the young man continued, relentlessly trying to talk above the din of the musky tavern and the centurion's indifference.

"...ripped the javelin out and shoved it back down his..." a man sitting downwind of their conversation perked up as the young soldier began to rise from his chair waving his arms emphatically at the centurion. He wore an ordinary faded grey tunic and no signs of wealth and had been staring into his half empty mug for most of the night. A couple of pink lines crept up from under his short graying beard which was obviously meant to hide them

"You men ever heard of a place called Cantabria?" he said to his drink but neither the mead nor the men replied. The two kept arguing until the barkeep barked them both down and asked "Where was it you said you're from, soldier?"
The man looked up from the earthenware mug with heavy lidded eyes painted red with mead.

"I served in Cantabria for the First Legion Augusta" drunken arguments and laughter droned in the background in harmony with Hamish's howling as silence crept around him. Not immediately, but close to, the seats across his section of the table, along with the table directly behind, went quiet as the various legionaries and auxiliaries looked up from their drinks and turned, however slowly, from their conversations toward the grey man's voice.

"Cantabria, is that somewhere in Germania?" the young milite asked.

"Northern Hispania, stupid grunt" the centurion growled.

"Well... we were stationed in Germania before redeploying to Hispania Tarraconensis..." the old centurion gave him a hard look.

"You're a deserter" he jeered curling his lips in disgust. The grey man's eyes grew wide and deep as he turned to the old soldier.

"Say that when thousands of savages melt out of the tree line and ghosts chase your heels through endless forest" the grey soldier snapped, suddenly awake from the attention, his eyes lit with a flame that had been dead all night.

"When, in the dark, the tree branches flash silver, turn to spears, and when all the leaves of the forest become arrows. I wish, brave centurion, you could have stood with us those weeks".

"I fought in forests before, boy. Don't lecture me about fighting enemies that won't line up nicely for you."

"Let the man speak Gaius, one war story at a time" the barkeep put his dirty rag and mug back on the table and leaned in to urge the soldier to continue.
"Go on son, you can speak here" but he knew it was dangerous to continue. Desertion wasn't just dishonorable, most of the men from his cohort were caught and executed yet some managed to make it out of Tarraconensis. Perhaps he should have stayed in Cantabria and try to assimilate among the mountain tribes but even that was hazardous.

"We marched north towards the river Asturia" He looked back into the murky mead and saw the mountains again. The grass was green from revitalizing spring rains and the air was cool as birds flew high under a warm sun. He could hear the clinking of the ringlets of their loricas. Their supplies weighed heavy on their backs but the soldiers felt nothing because they carried Rome on their shields and her glory in their swords.

"We were led by Marcus Agrippa set to stop the Cantabrian raids" though the Centurions would whisper, at times, that there was gold hidden under the Asturian mountains.

"Our optio died the first night in the forest" as they bedded down, just as they all began to pass under the gates of sleep howls and screams cut through the trees; A grand cacophony of not quite human vocals.

"Of course we drove off the savages..." that night was also his first kill. He hadn't even managed to get his clothes back as he clambered out of the tent, but he found his sword and lopped off the fingers of one of the attackers. Yet the barbarian over powered him all the same, blood spilling from his missing fingers, shrieking to some unseen deity as he crushed the roman's throat into the roots and dried leaves. Moonlight shone off of the savage's drenched matted hair and painted face. His eyes gleamed wildly, craving to steal every inch of life from his foe now desperately groping through the loam for his missing sword or a loose rock. His fingers wrapped around something solid, jerked as hard as he could, wrenching it into the air and plunged it into the temple of his assailant. All grace abandoned, he rolled on top of the painted warrior and with even greater fervor found himself pounding a roman helmet repeatedly into human skull until the man stopped twitching. Later he would discover the weapon that saved his life belonged to his optio.

"Almost every night followed this way and though we posted guards some of them would disappear and the attacks would proceed regardless" rumors spread that the missing guards were actually deserters but most of the bodies turned up at some point during day. Those that did not, however, left the men wondering.

"By the time we made it through the forest there was barely a day of sleep between us. Most of our supplies were destroyed, stolen or exhausted and we couldn't be certain if any of the runners made it back to the garrison outpost. Scouting was deemed a death sentence" He licked his lips remembering how quiet the plains felt. Mountains rose to north and east of them and the grass was a grayer scraggly cousin of the lowlands. The entire tavern was silent by that point and even Hamish picked up on the mood though a little confused in his drunken stupor. The grey soldier laughed bitterly to the ceiling.

"Gods, we hadn't... we hadn't even made it to the river. But they finally gave us what we prayed for. Thousands of Cantabrian warriors along with their Asturian allies and damnable cavalry. Their warlords proceeded to welcome us to their homeland and wish us a speedy trip to the afterlife" Arrows skirted the clouds as Roman archers loosed death into the enemy ranks. Scores of them fell though they raced across the field, swords flashing in the midday sun, their bodies painted like their shields with meaningless symbols, unshaken by the barrage. He readied his pila with the rest of his unit, grasping the wood shaft trying to keep hold of the countless drills he'd performed. On the order he released, just like in the practice range, and watched the javelin pierce a bare-chested warrior. The second order was given and the roman line erupted in fury towards their enemy. He stabbed ingloriously at human flesh as his shield handled the brutality of a curved blade. But the barbarian kept his balance, blood pouring down his naked thigh, and swung wildly at his head. The legionary caught the blow again, pushed from his heels throwing the warrior off enough to make a clean strike biting deep into his belly.

"Our lines held for a time and we had mustered enough courage to believe we could keep it that way. But we had no idea our cavalry had already routed along with our archers and our skirmishers" The legion commander left them there to buy him time to escape. Over the sound of cracking shields and screams of dying men he could hear a thundering. The air grew very still as the man to his right dropped his shield and turned to flee while a falcata dug its way past his shoulder blades. The man to his right spun groping at a shaft emanating from his throat. He looked confused as he pointed to the distance before falling into a pile of bodies .

"The Cantabrian cavalry hammered into our left flank and began barreling across our entire battle line. As soon as we saw men breaking formation we panicked and made a hard retreat back into the forest" He leapt over the corpses, men falling around him with arrows and spears in their backs. He tripped once, foot caught against some belt, and hit the earth. An arrow struck with a soft thud into an already dying soldier a foot a way from him and another to his left. He pushed with his hands, fingers pressing into blood soaked mud, got his feet to running and took off for the trees. Their dark vaulting canopies beckoned and offered refuge. As wild cavalrymen whooped like dogs behind him a centurion waved his sword frantically at the deserters commanding them to stand their ground. When the centurion took to cutting down the first coward ahead of him, the desperate soldier, too exhausted to veer left or right, reached for the pugio on his leather belt. The old legionary had seen him, readied a bloodied blade bandying it between his red crusted hands. An arrow protruded from his shoulder and blood dribbled out of his eager smile. The centurion intended to die on that battlefield but he had made it so close to the trees, their branches bending and leaves whooshing in the wind. The land turned grey as clouds huddled over the sun.

"We cut our way to the tree line" he remembered how naked he felt with only the dagger in his palm small enough to conceal. The centurion flashed his sword and swung as the deserter rushed to meet the attack. He stepped right, dropping his shoulder, the cold blade slipped cleanly along his cheek biting into bone, but he dug into the centurion's lorica throwing the soldier off his feet. With graceful efficiency he plunged the dagger into the man's throat, blood streaming down his own face, and at once bounded up past tree and branch, over root and fallen limb.

"The battle was lost and with it the Aquila. It rained very hard that day and the greater part of that week. Most of my unit made it out of the battlefield but escaping was the easy part. I've never seen any of them after that" and with his final words, the spirit of urgency expended, he downed the remnants of his mug; perhaps a better lament he'd ever given his fallen friends.

"Here you go friend" said the barkeep breaking the long pall of silence as he offered him a fresh drink. Life snuck back into the tavern as men turned in their chairs, Hamish picked up a new raucous tune and conversation began again. The centurion sauntered off his seat and with a sour look slapped a couple of coins on the wood table.

"I'd rather not keep company with cowards" he grunted as he walked away, a bit wobbly but with stiff determination. Even the young milite inched from the table but offered a last sympathetic glance as he remembered what his commanding officer would say "fear was a poison". The grey man got up from his chair.

"I think I've had enough" he'd certainly said enough.

"Come back to us soldier" the barkeep replied, "perhaps you'll see better days".
posted 20 September 2012 16:16 EDT (US)     38 / 60  
Ave bartender! Is that Hamish I hear there in the back? Surprised that the old fool hasn't drunk himself to death yet.

'tender, send ol' Hamish there a drink!

*Hanish raises his new tankard in thanks.

To a hundred more ales you old fool!

Ay is Hamish's response.

Soldier, have you tales to tell of great battlers fought, great pains suffered, or great gains made? I have an ale with your name on it if ye can dazzle us with a tale or two.

Ay, this I do have good man but I'd like a tale in return for my efforts! Ale I can afford, my purse is full of Aurelii and denarii from conquest but my ears have heard little more than the sounds of death for sometime now.

My name is Titus and my little companion here is my boy.

I am not a boy, I am the son of Isis, I am your GOD! Kneel before me fool and ask for forgiveness lest I smite you where you stand!

Forgive the scrawny thing. Seems I've been unfortunate enough to have been graced with a son who's lose in the head. Give him a cup o' the sweet wine that he may sleep in a drunken stupor while we speak.

I was a centurion in the army of the great Gaius Iulius Caesar. A greater general the world has never known! The man was a master of the battlefield as if Mars himself had possessed him. The soldiers believed in him and they would have followed him to the gates of Tartarus itself if he did ask us. That is not to say that the great Legio X did not meet with hardship.

The year was 57 B.C. And we were once again called upon to preserve the freedom of those barbarians allied to Rome who had been wronged by their brothers of the Belgea clan. Unknown to us was the ambush that was set in waiting for us by the river Sambre. As we set camp near here viewing it as a suitably fortifies blue area to defend should we be attacked, we were ambushed! Boduognatus, the leader of these Belgea Celts, had his troops attack in a mass charge, and through sheer numbers, surprise, and brute strength, they managed to route our cavalry and auxiliary units! We were hard pressed to survive this bloody onslaught but through Caesar's orders and superior Roman discipline, the legionnaires were able to reform and ready themselves for the rest of the battle. Our forces had been heavily reduced and we were now severely outnumbered but we are Romans and we do not flee! Having repulsed the initial wave, we were ordered to form up into three groups, two containing three legionnaire units and the third two. My cohort was stationed in the center with the one other cohort under the command of the centurion Apulius to our right. On both wings were the other two groups. And Caesar himself was statione behind us to lend his support wherever was necessary.

Battle was soon met again and the barbarians came our way sending their measly war bands this time. We are easily able to handle these ut it soon turns put they are mearlie a diversion. Their chief had sent his noble cavalry to our left flank whereby I was told they nearly succeeded in collapsing if it was not for Caesar's quick action.That too was merely a screen for the true intentions of sending forth his champion spearman and sword men. My cohort was approached by a unit of spearmen whom we had a great deal of trouble with. Tey proved to be tricky bastards to battle as they realized the advantage they held over us and kept their distance far enough so that they could poke at our shields and armor while we could do nothing but wait. We started to take casualties a we had a few raw recruits with us to refill our depleted cohort. The young ones began to waver and our line began to become disjointed. I yelled to them "Get back in formation or I promise I'll give you reason to move!" The poor lads still smelled of mothers milk but such is the way of war and I'd been introduced to death at a much younger age than they. In my anger I didn't notice that opportunistic shit who stuck his spear head straight through my calf and that's when I lost all sense of reason. In a blind rage I turned on him. I parried his next jab, rolled right, and stuck my gladiolus to its hilt in his throat! For a moment, all went silent as the men registered what happened. The first of their champions had been felled. Before the moment ended I yelled to my men "Charge!" and so they did. Me and my men laid into them, Locked shields, pushed, jab, repeat. Through my battle lust I could not hear Caesar's order to reform the line and so I kept pushing. We pushed so much that we separated ourselves from the main host which created a large gap in our lines. So preoccupied with the butchers work that I didn't see those elite swords coming in to cut us off my filling our gap! Thank Jove for Caesar's bravery! Never have I seen a general who was so brave! He saved us that day as he rushed into our gap and fought with us side by side and man to man. He was one of the boys at that moment yet greater still as he seemed like Dardanian Aneas who once killed the noble Turnus. Never have I heard of a general before or since who thrower himself in with his infantry as ours did! In the face of Caesar, the enemy wavered, upon hearing his war cry, they ran like dogs with their tails between their legs! Victoria, Victoria, Victoria! Jupiters handmaiden had granted us victory over those units in the center so we quickly went about and flanke the remaing barbarian forces which we dealt with quickly enough. Despite beig outnumbered two to one we achieved victory. That Celtic warlord escaped our grip but one cannot fret too much about these things as we did not expect Battle this day.

Upon battles end our glorious general calls us forth before him. To those who fled he has them on camp duty without delay for the next month. FOr our dead he held great funeral games. For those of us who accomplished extroardinary feats he rewarded an when all seemed said and done he called me out... He announced that I was to receive A punishment of forty lashes for breaking the line and charging without orders. At this the men said nothing. He said I was to be stripped of te rank of centurion. At this many men showed displeasure. Then Caesr said "You shall receive for your actions the rank of Praefectus Castrorum! At this the men shouted an cheered! And as camp prefect, said Caesar, you cannot be punished in front of your legionnaires so you shall not be lashed but shall receive no wine rations for the month! To which I answered "I'll take the lashings instead if it's all the same to you sir, can't live without my wine." To which Caesar ended with "Don't push your luck Titus Modius Excingus, be happy I don't strip you of skin and title."

And now we find ourselves here in your Shattered Spear! So I say let us celebrate! The boy is out, the wine has dulled his senses! My men and I still live! And best of all I've risen up in the world! A round on me Bartenr and let all b merry! Send me a wench so that I may relieve myself and feel the rush of being alive still one more day!

[This message has been edited by markc1989 (edited 09-20-2012 @ 04:23 PM).]

posted 26 December 2012 19:59 EDT (US)     39 / 60  
**An easterner enters with a mighty war bow and arrows aplenty**
"In-keeper a flagon of water if you please. I have ridden long and hard and I wish to wet my dry throat with water."
"YOU FOOL! I said water! I do not drink wine!"

'Ah a group of fellow scruffy soldiers eh'
**Takes a seat with his pitcher of water**
If you scruffy lot are exchanging battle stories then I dare say I've been in more battles than you but I've certainly been in many. Nay! I shaint lie but I have a mind to exaggerate my tales fellow soldiers and warlords.

Do you see this bow gentleman? This bow was gifted to me when I reached my manhood. Out in the far reaches of the eastern slopes. When boys become men, they receive three items to which they shall treasure till the end of their days. On a boys seventeenth birthday he receives a war bow fashioned to his liking. The design of the bow is that of the bows used by the savage tribes living on the wasteland above the flowery kingdom of the Chin. The second item that a boy receives on his birthday is his companion for life; his horse. I was taught at a very young age that if you treasure a being more than your horse then do not be surprised once your horse fails on a crucial moment in your life.

Yes yes good friends. This advice is indeed true for I have seen many foolish young men treasure their wealth far more than they treasure their horses. Why I knew of a young man that was careless to his horse in favor of a women. This bewitching she-wolf tricked him into looking after her more than he looked after his horse! Needless to say during the next battle he participated against the scheming yellow pasted westerners his horse became lame during the climax of the battle. He was slain where he fell underneath his lame horse. What a foolish foolish boy! Had he taken better care of his horse he would never have been faced with that situation. **sigh** I am straying from the topic my good friends and for that I apologize but we easterners do love our horses. They are our pride and our children.
As for the third item that a man gets on his name day it is a status as in society. It is bad luck to gift a son with the family name until he has proven himself in battle. **pounds his chest** We have never had a coward in our tribe since our great ancestor Dilayao the brave instituted this law after his older brothers after having got the family name were later found to be cowards! This way all sons are brave because without proving yourself in battle first you shall never gain the family name. I killed my first man at the age of thirteen on the numerous raids our tribe and others performed each year on our Western neighbor the greatest weaklings in this world. How they boast all that wealth is beyond me.

It is true what my father said of them though, 'Cowards are the ones who value wealth and obedience over others with their false mirages hailing them as Gods Bah! We are the greater people my son. Though we are poorer then those weaklings that sit in iron chairs and declare loyalty from peasants we are still the greater people. We value our dignity and loyalty to our leaders because our leaders have proven themselves as men to follow. Take for example Wrothgar he was commanding men in battle when he was sixteen! Sixteen my son and even then he was a giant among our people. He was short compared to many men but his ruthlessness was unmatched by any. He has been to more battles than anybody in all of the tribes. Not a scratch has been left on his body, not a scratch. We follow great men like him, my son."

I was given the name Rydar when I was born and on my name day I become Rydar Of The people of Lyrie. Thus my journey as a warrior of the people of Lyrie began on that day. Within a year I had made my fortune as a leader among my people. Though I hate to brag about myself to foreigners I shall in this one instance indulge your curiosities. One fine afternoon day one of our riders came riding in camp like an army was after him. Immediately I recognized him because he was our scout in the borderlands. Apparently he had spotted a caravan of merchants from the cowardly westerners and they were hurrying toward their country with minimal bodyguards. The nerve of those rich spoiled people was astounding to our chief.

For my past achievements in battle I was put in command of our warriors which were about a hundred of us. My company of troops rode hard for the silk road that ran through our country. At the onset of sunset we came upon the rich fools we dared cross our lands without our permission. It was a slaughter. Those fools dare try to cross our lands and trample their rich spoiled feet on our lovely dune sands. No matter we gave them good clean deaths. But of course the westerners heard of our raid and sent an army against us. Wholly unprepared for this threat our borderland forces were quickly overrun. The Western dogs had money to employ mercenaries to fight for them while we only had our horses and bows to employ to the war. Our two forces met at the battle of the hills a few kilometers from the Mountains were our home were situated carefully hidden from any invading forces. I had command over the left wing of our forces some five hundred horsemen or so.

I am not good at obeying orders let me tell you good friends. Truly I am not. My job was to hold our left wing and to not get overlapped but once battle started the center collapsed under the onrush of the heavy infantry of the Westerners. On this I give grudging respect to them. They have remarkable heavy infantry and their commander the best commander I have ever fought against knew this. His plan was to smash our center and divide and encircle our two wings. His plan would've been complete that day if it wasn't for my foolishness. Taking half of my horseman I smashed onto the rear of the Western forces and it seemed everything was going great. But due to my carelessness I shattered the plans of our commander. He knew that our center would never hold against the brunt of the other armies attack. So he had formulated a plan to draw the invading armies forces into a small gap just behind our army where we would have the advantage because my people were champions of one on one battles.

But due to my foolishness the center of our army was forced to give chase to the bigger army as they routed and this prompted us into the open where our smaller forces were easy prey for the much larger army who was quickly regrouping. If it wasn't for my other half of my forces our army would've been annihilated on the spot. Once they saw the Westerners routing the battlefield they had rushed to the bridge to cut off the enemy from crossing the bridge and regrouping. My horseman chased the routing troops and them thinking that they would be safe once they crossed the bridge were shocked just as much as I was of the other half of my horseman waiting for them next to their safety. With a cry of despair they rushed the bridge in their thousands and as one they were cut down from a charge from the rear and their front. I was..... reprimanded severely for my mistake.
I shall tell you more once I have wet my throat good sirs and had a good nights rest for I have been on the road far too long and I'm tired. Goodnight sirs see you tomorrow
**gets up and walks to his room**

"When I am in the battlefield, I love it more then when I am in my house"-Khalid Bin Walid
Questions, Questions, you always ask questions-Teacher
Why sir, questions are the basis of human intelligence-me

[This message has been edited by Khalidbinwalid (edited 12-26-2012 @ 08:01 PM).]

posted 05 August 2013 17:13 EDT (US)     40 / 60  
The Virtues of Thrace

The man who swaggered up to the bar had arms and a bare torso seamed with scars, though his face appeared curiously untouched. The explanation, a well-used and oft-mended full face helmet, hung from his belt. His long hair, dyed a dark green, trailed down his back, and his voice was loud and boisterous.

"Hail friends! Barman, I need wine! Leave your little cups and tankards and pass me the jug, for there is not a man in this pub who can match a thracian's thirst!" This last was bellowed as a challenge to the rest of the patrons. When the Thracian saw that he had the room's attention, he continued speaking.

"Many fine stories have been told tonight, for many fine drinks. It is only right to make my own contribution. Now, some old soldier spoke not long ago of the town of Ancyra. It is indeed a small backwater to warrant so much bloodshed, and I know not when he was there, but I, I and my comrades were there, fighting for the family of Brutus.

Now, you look at me and can see I am of Thracian stock. The men of Brutus are the lords of my people now, as is their right of conquest. But when they had beaten us back from our walls they brought their roman way of fighting, with their "armor" and "good Roman discipline" and many of my companions went on our way, earning our living and our drink with our rhomphaia. As it is the right of the strong to rule over the weak, I bear the green romans no ill will, and their gold gleams as any other man's does. Perhaps I even feel some affinity for them, as any who can beat a Thracian into submission must be a worthy warrior, and we march under similar colors."

A long pull at his jug interrupted the man's speech. He smacked his lips and went on.

"Another man who had noticed the gleam of the roman gold was our commander, Ininthimeus of Amastris. The pontics had been staunch friends and allies of the green romans for years, perhaps Ininthimeus came over to the roman side because he was sickened by his people's betrayal. Perhaps he was swayed by promises that he would escape the roman blades, unlike the rest of his family. Perhaps, as I think most likely, he was swayed by roman gold; I cannot fault him for it, as I know that shining lure well." A loud bellow of laughter burst forth from the Thracian's lips.

"But surely you are all wondering about the fight! Well, Ininthimeus was sent against the walls of Ancyra, mayhap to prove his loyalty. He had to raise a mercenary army for himself, some men of Illyria, very far from their homes, some hoplites, three groups of my own Thracian warriors, and one of Bastarne, so similar to us that it makes little difference. Any army to conquer the world, my friends. We marched on Ancyra, and what do you know but it was just filled to overflowing with pontic scum."

"Now," said the Thracian, with a look around "I see very few men of the East here. Let me tell you why. It is because this is a soldier's tavern, my friends, and in the armies of the east it is the horses that fight, not the men! Take the horse from an easterling and what is left? A weak-kneed man in colorful trousers, soon to turn brown, with a paltry spear and a shield woven from branches. But they are many, by Ares, yes. And there were many in Ancyra that day. Sixty, and sixty, and perhaps twelve times sixty huddled behind the walls, pretending to oppose us. But we were men of Thrace, to whom battle is glory! Another jug, barkeep, this one seems to have run dry!"

The mercenary gave another sweeping look around at his audience, daring anyone to challenge his coming words.

"Much has been said here tonight about "flanks" and "tactics" and other such nonsense. Faugh! That is not the Thracian way of warfare, my friends! Scream your exultation to Ares and then there is nothing left but to charge, and find either an enemy's blade or plunder and glory! Such is our way, and so we took those pitiful easterlings! A full charge through the gates, into the packed mass of them, as soon as the spearmen had moved the ram aside. Glorious battle! We hewed them down by the hundreds, and none could stand before us. Their captain, a cappodocian horseman, huddled in the town square like the coward he undoubtedly was. We hacked until our rhomphaia flung blood with every swing." The warrior looked down into his jug, and his voice took on a somber tone.

"I say we cut the easterlings down like dogs, but numbers can overwhelm even a Thracian warrior, my friends. Our men were falling, by the time the cowards broke and ran for the square we had lost about half of our number to their spears. But," he said, taking an extra long swig, "we drink to their memories and tell of their glories, for that is the Thracian way. Once the enemy had run for the square, our General called us back, and sent the hoplites up the street to point their hedge of spears at the foemen. The men of the east could not pierce their ranks, but were certainly pierced themselves! Each of their charges from the square was more desperate, each with fewer men, as we Thracians stood back and laughed and clattered our blades against our shields in derision. Finally their captain made his charge, and there was nowhere to charge but onto the spears of the Greeks! He died as easily as his men. Soon after Ininthimeus ordered us all in to finish it, and we cut them down to the last man. As it should be."

The green-haired man had all but finished his second jug, and became almost morose. "But after the fighting was done, well, we expected plunder and looting, who does not? But Ininthimeus...he ordered the inhabitants put to the sword. His own former countrymen! Perhaps there was someone in the city who had done him ill. Perhaps he just wanted to prove his loyalty to his new masters. I know not. A Thracian arm never wearies of battle, my friends, but even a Thracian warrior can tire of slaughter...." His voice trailed off, and he poured the dregs of his jug onto the tavern floor.

"For Ares, who brings us glory! ...And for Dionysus, who helps us forget what we have done to earn it."

The Thracian retired to a corner of the room, and was soon snoring fitfully. Even in sleep one hand clutched his trusted romphaia.

So many have met their ends at the sharp point of a skirmisher's javelin...
posted 17 March 2014 13:33 EDT (US)     41 / 60  
The Siege of Rhodos, 193 BC

“I tell ya,” said the mercenary swordsman, “it was right after those cowardly Dacians broke their pledge of fealty to our king, not before.”

The other man, a giant Northman armed with both axes and a sword bigger than most men’s legs, shook his shaggy head in disagreement. “You have it wrong, Piotr. The Greeklings had a force on our Kreta. Lugonis the Mad encamped our army on the port- and ended up ambushing the Greeklings who blundered into our encampment. Those Greeklings were allies with the stupid hillmen of Dacia, who were then forced to chose between remaining under Cadwr’s Protection and thus abandoning the stupid Greeks, or declaring themselves independent, dropping our protection, and remaining true to the Greeks. They chose poorly.”

“I know the Greeks did,” Piotr replied. “You were there, Ulf. Tell me.”

“Not much to tell,” Ulf replied. “Captain Budic had already laid siege to the town of Rhodos by the time we showed up and were added to his army. He was grateful- we Norse terrify the little men of these regions, and the cavalry we brought with us gave him a flexibility he had not dreamed. And of course the extra swordsmen were always welcome.”

“I heard Enestinus the Cunning was also there,” Piotr said. “I had served under him in the Levant, at Sidon. Good commander, paid well.” From a merc, this was high praise.

Ulf nodded. “He was there. We had landed by the big statue and moved to join Budic at the walls. Enestinus landed just after us. His task was to guard against that horde of Greeklings outside the city. If they pounce on us, he pounces on them. At least that was the theory…”

“Heart attack?”

Ulf shook his head. “Greek maidens. Three of them. Kept him so busy in his tent that his whole gang missed every bit of the action. Not like we minded, though- we tore up that Greekling horde, took the city, and tore up those inside as well. He pleasured three young women- we raped two armies and an entire city.”

Piotr roared with delight. “You must tell this tale now, Ulf. You must, or I shall die in agony caused by the delicious frustration of not knowing!”

“All right, my friend, to save your life I shall tell you. But I caution you not to expect too much- the battle was over in less time than it takes a constipated man to empty his bowels after a bottle of retsina.”

“That fast?” Piotr said with a plummeting humor.

Ulf winked. “Yes, that fast. We took the field early in the morning. Budic knew the best place to mount the walls was directly ahead, and he knew that Elasus the Greekling knew that as well, which was why Budic put us off to the right. Budic also knew that there was that pesky relief army out there- somewhere off to the right. His plan was rather brutal- attack the relief army, draw out Elasus, then pop him too. It almost worked.”

Piotr signaled for another beer. This part of the tale he knew- how the relief army had faded back into the hills and Elasus had worked up some kind of arrangement by which he intended to catch Budic in the middle of a Greek vise. The Greeks had some archers and cavalry- nothing like what Budic brought to the party- but they had a lot of Armoured Hoplites who could make mincemeat out of Chosen Swordsmen if given a chance.

“We deployed with our siege ladders- towers would have been better, but they take too long and often our lads dance around uselessly like ballerinas when the sergeants can’t get an accurate count. So Budic went for the ladders, and a good thing he did. The first thing he did was drop the ladders where he wanted them then moved our lads to intercept that relief army.

“To our surprise, Elasus was not the Cunning Fox we had thought him. He was a scared jackrabbit who signaled his relief army the very moment he saw us deploying. That army erupted out of a crevasse near our flank. The Armoured Hoplites marched stolidly in, thinking their pounding, relentless cadence would cow us into submission. By the gods were they wrong! We shouted for joy!

“It took Budic less than thirty seconds to redeploy. Most of that was passing orders to the cavalry to turn around. The swordsmen were swarming at our left flank, which was now our rear. A horn blowing was enough to bring them into the fray. The hoplites oriented on them and forgot our cavalry, who pounced like leopards. Again and again within minutes. The relief army marched out of that crevasse and directly into our jaws, and we chewed them up thoroughly! None made it to the city they intended to save, and none escaped our crimson-covered blades.” Ulf paused in contemplation. ”I think we lost about fifteen men in total.”

Piotr’s jaw fell open.

“They expected a walkover,” Ulf reasoned. “And they gave us one. After that, we swarmed the walls. Elasus having fled them at the demise of his great relief force. Idiot. But to be honest, he had not much of a course. Our Swordsmen had their pick of the wall to attack, and ladders move quite quickly. The men of Elasus had to march along the walls and pass single-file through portals- we had no such hindrances. We swarmed up the walls.

“My band of Norse Mercs was the third up. We put the fear of the gods into the bastards atop the walls, then climbed down to the ground to come up the gate from inside. The Armoured Hoplites there would have been better used blocking a road or a street- they were bloody useless swordsmen. We cut them to pieces.

Elasus himself was not much better. He and another horse unit- Greek Cavalry, of which I have heard much and none of it any good- were in the main square, a huge place lined with exotic buildings. Our swords held them at bay until others had opened the back door and let in the heavy chariots. These came in on the opposite side and unleashed a bloodbath upon the unsuspecting Elasus. He fled the square without even dying- I found him in a public toilet later and collected the fifty silver for his head. He cried at the time- how could we take his city, when he had sidelined our prince with three temple whores? Budic took the man’s wife and eldest daughter for his pleasures, and gave me the other one.”

“So while Enestinus dallied with Elasus’s temple whores, Budic and yourself were dallying with the females of Elasus’s family. Awesome!”

“And drinking his wine, and wearing his clothes, and eating his food,” Ulf replied. “A grand time. Of course the dogs of Rhodos wanted to bark and bite- but Budic showed them what it means to be a dog who bites the hand of his new master. He slew every other man, and sold the survivors into slavery. The women of Elasus he kept as souvenirs.”

“And you, my friend?” Piotr asked wolfishly. “did you too keep the daughter of Elasus as a souvenir?”

Ulf grinned. “I sold the tart the very next day for the silver with which I paid for our drinks!”

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
posted 12 November 2014 22:58 EDT (US)     42 / 60  
"Hail, barkeep. Get me a beer to quench my thirst; i've just come a long way", said a man as he walked through the doors with a soldier's gait. Grabbing a stool at the bar, he looked around and, observing the relative scarcity of fellow patrons, remarked "quiet 'round here, ain't it?"

Nodding as he poured the man's drink, the innkeeper replied "business has been a bit slow of late".

"I remember this place being a lot noisier back in the day. I used to come here regular, 'til I got shipped out to Greece a few years back. Barely a night went by without some drunken fool belting out a rousing, and probably embellished, tale of his adventures and glories in the wars. 'Course I couldn't contribute any of my own, seeing as I hadn't had any yet."

"Haven't had much of that for a time. Things have been peaceful for a good while now. No war, no gallantry, no tales to be told. No sir, things have been mighty quiet. People come in, have their drinks, start the occasional bar fight for a change of pace, but no more than that, alas."

"Then you're in luck, barkeep, for i've just got back from freshly-burned Thrace with a tale to tell."

"Didn't know there was a war in those parts. Go on then, soldier, and you'll have another beer on the house."

Chuckling, the man replied, "hardly a war at all, really. It was on and over faster than a lad's first lay, though it turned out to be just as thrilling and baffling."

Turning in his seat so the few other men in the inn could hear him, he began his story.

"As I say, I was shipped to Greece a few years back. Just to help put down a minor revolt, no interesting story there. From what I was told, the way the governor shrieked in his report to Rome, he had the emperor thinking the whole province was about to explode, so he sent our legion to put out the fire. Turned out, the "uprising" was a pissant little pack of bandits, a few landless peasants and runaway slaves, terrorizing traders on the road between Larissa and Athens. The local garrison should'a been able to handle it just fine, but the governor was one of those pampered Senate types who never sat on a horse in his life and couldn't lead an army to a whorehouse, never mind a battle. Got the shit kicked outta him by a little pack of brigands wielding butter knives, and then called us to clean up his mess. Needless to say, the governor is now enjoying an early retirement in his villa outside Rome.

I was put out, to put it mildly. The way things were going, I thought i'd never see a war. My father had been a soldier, fought in the civil war, fought the Brutii all over Greece and then helped kick the Scipii out of Sicily. Even fought under Manius Julius, now the Emperor of Rome. I grew up hearing his tales, and wanted some of my own.

A couple years later, my chance arrived. While we were still farting around in Greece, keeping order and ensuring no actual rebellion ever surfaced, which it never did, the Thracians decided to try and take our little city of Aquincum, up in Dacia. They were smacked down so hard they'd probably never have tried it again, but Emperor Manius wanted to really drive the point home. So while we were sitting on our asses in Athens, we got orders: march on Tylis and burn it to the ground. We cheered; finally, some real action.

There was just one Thracian army between us and Tylis. Wasn't that big either. Why they started a war with Rome, I did not know. Might even have just been some rogue lord acting alone, I thought. All's I knew was Thrace was wide open to us, with hardly anyone to defend it. We swatted aside their little joke of an army and strolled to Tylis, our enthusiasm somewhat dimmed, thinking it'd be a walkover. We were in for a surprise.

Turned out, the main Thracian armies, including their king, were up north around Porolissum or whatever you call it, thinking we'd invade that way, since that's the way from Aquincum where the war started. When they found out we marched from Greece instead, they hurried home and got to Tylis just before us. We found a city packed to the brim with pissed off Thracians. Far from being scared, we were thrilled. 'Here we go', I said to myself.

After a quick siege, we marched on the walls with ladders and towers. My cohort had ladders. I didn't envy the first men up. It's rare any of them survives more than a moment. I was in the middle, so by the time I got up we already had a foothold.

I set foot on the wall and found dozens of men, Roman and Thracian, lying dead all around me, with more dropping like flies. I'd been in small battles before, like the bandits of Larissa, but this was when it hit me I was finally in the real thing. Then this huge Thracian with an even huger sword came at me before I could blink. How I won that first encounter, i'll never know; I just found myself with my gladius deep in his gut before he was even able to swing. Now the shitstorm was on. After a few more one-on-ones, me and some other guys managed to form up and stop the free-for-all so we could fight the way Romans are meant. I was next to the edge, trying to fight and avoid looking down at the same time. A Thracian would slash at me, i'd block, stab, kick him over. Block, stab, kick him over, block, stab, kick him over. I've no idea how long this went on. Felt like a day, but might've been just about the time it takes to have a shit, which a lot of men on that wall were doing anyway, judging by the stench. Finally we were the only ones in that section. We could see our comrades winning their fights on other parts of the wall. We ran into the nearest tower to kill the archers shooting at our men still on the ground outside, then made our way down into the city.

The rest of our men were already coming in through the gates, which were now ours, and overcoming the spearmen guarding the entrance. By the time we were all out the tower and gathered on the street, the spears were crushed underfoot and our comrades were marching down the main road to the city center where the king was. We took another route, to avoid clogging the road and to be sure no one could sneak around behind our men. When we turned a corner, we found a pack of Greek horse charging right at us. We braced ourselves and waited. A score of us died in a moment, I saw a friend of mine get his face crushed under a hoof, but most of us weathered the storm and the horses lost their momentum, so we struck back, killed most of them and sent the rest running away squealing like the girlymen they were.

Finally we made it to the plaza in front of the palace, and that's when the real fight began. Our men who'd come in the gates were already in the square fighting a force three times their size, including the king and his heavy cav. Didn't look like they were gonna hold. We were exhausted by now but we couldn't leave our comrades to their fate, so we charged, hit the Thracians from behind 'fore they saw us coming. What a slaughter it was, both ways. Made the fight on the wall look like a little boys' game. I took a spear to the leg, but I ignored the pain and kept going; luckily I didn't need to walk much, since we were all packed to the point where hardly anyone on either side could move; we'd kill one man and another'd appear in his place with his sword up 'fore you could blink. I stabbed and stabbed 'til I thought I could stab no more, and when I raised my gladius for what'd probably be the last time 'fore I dropped, I found there was no enemy. The fight was over, and men began to cheer all around me. I was too tired to join in.

That was my first real battle; up 'til then i'd only fought little gangs of rebels and bandits, little fights that'd last about the length of a meal. The gods alone know how many men I killed that day. I wouldn't even try to guess. I'd never seen so much blood in one place. That was only the beginning though, because now, on the general's order, we vented our wrath on the city's population. I did things that day that i'll never forget, or speak of even to other men who were there.

After that, the war was essentially over. The Thracians' main armies were wiped out in the battle of Tylis. The new Thracian king sued for peace, but our general, the emperor's son Marcus Julius, wouldn't grant it. Thrace was to be totally destroyed. We headed up to their other main city, Campus Getae, defeated its small garrison and put that one to the sword too. After that it was over, and Thrace became another province of Rome. Now our army is passing through here on the way north, where Germania's Briton overlords have been making threatening moves toward Rome.

And that's my tale, gents. Here's hoping that, as more soldiers pass through here, there'll be many more to come", said the soldier as he raised his free beer.

[This message has been edited by Kawada Shogo (edited 06-20-2017 @ 02:40 PM).]

posted 23 December 2014 01:48 EDT (US)     43 / 60  
“Now, this ain’t no shit,” said the wiry little Briton to his large Norse companion, who simply lifted his ale and matched it with a lifted eyebrow. “There we were, four hundred lost souls, facing those Germani with their terrible axes and awful bowmen. But we had chariots, and they no spearmen…”

The Norseman snorted. He shook with passion, scaring his smaller comrade, then fell down. He rose slowly, and only with help of the counter to which he clung, as he slowly regained his feet.

“What in Brigantia’s Realm was that?” said the Briton. His eyes shot wide with terror.

“By Mjolnir, I do not know,” said the Viking. “One minute I am listening to you bore me with your predictable tale of chariots chewing up Germani, and the next I was in a huge battle of my own- and died!”

“Well, thou does live now,” said the Briton.

The barkeeper was more pragmatic. “No dying in here until you pay up. Speaking of which, three denarii, please. Afterwards you can die as often as you wish.”

Ulfgar paid with a curse, and then with coin. Gustaf was a good barkeeper, who put up stoically with the tales of slaughtering his countrymen. He knew just as many Norse and Britons ended up under Germani feet if not more, but those tales were better left unsaid since his fighting days had passed long ago. Still, a quiet smile to himself was not amiss.

“So you up and die in a battle before my eyes, and spill not a word of it?” the Briton shouted. “What kind of shit is this?”

Ulfgar’s legs were still wobbly. “Real shit, Monkio,” he cursed. “Damn, that axe hurt!”

Monkio looked about- no axe in sight other than the great battleaxe Gustaf had mounted on the wall behind him. Looking closer, Monkio noticed that the steel was more blue than before, and a piping of red rimed the edge now. He could have sworn that was not there an hour ago, when he first thought about stealing that axe.

His eyes grew wider, while those of Ulfgar grew narrower. He glared at the barkeeper. “You were there, you son of a bitch! You were there! And you struck me down!”

Gustaf polished a fired bierstein and whistled while he did so, studiously ignoring the raving Nordmann. “I have no idea what you are babbling about. I think you have had just a bit too much to drink, to be honest.”

Ulfgar eyed him seriously. “No, no more wine or mead. We were there, in that narrow valley. You and I, and about forty others. That big fetcher Cormand led us against the Romani. We formed a wedge- you were on my right. I remember bitching about it, because I should have been on your right- more honor.”

Gustaf looked to Monkio with a plain and open expression that said “he’s nuts” just oh so subtly. And he shrugged, then resumed polishing the glass.

Ulfgar pounded the counter so that the biersteins jumped. “I see it in your eyes, barkeep. Cormand gave you the right- and put me to your left. Then the Romans marched up, and pitched their little toothpicks at us. Some of us fell, some of us caught the javelins on our shields- which then became useless. But you and I, barkeep, we caught them in our hands and threw them back. You nailed their centurion- I the standardbearer. Then they charged.

“What a glorious fight that was! Cormand smacked left and right with his great sword, cleaving those portable walls like paper. Your axe did the same, while my sword was smarter- and sought eyes and knees and elbows to wound, then the slash for the kill. We were pushed back, but at a heavy price in Roman blood.”

“He’s nuts,” whispered Gustaf, polishing yet another mug now. “But I like how he makes me a hero.”

Monkio nodded slowly, so that Ulfgar did not notice. There was no concern for that- the Viking was lost in his tale.

“Then the Romans parted, dashed upon our wedge. Their commanders realized they were throwing away lives, and each man has but one. Except you, barkeep. The Romans drew back, and sent forward a couple of very tall, very slender men in dresses like women. These men raised their hands, and shot thunderbolts into our ranks where they did not bathe us in fire and flame.”

“As I said, nuts,” said Gustaf with a whistle. He picked up a new beer mug and continued his routine.

“I am not crazy!” Ulfgar roared. “I was struck by that lightning, though by the gods I do not know how you managed to deflect the bolt aimed at you back onto the caster. That… that man flew back, scorched and burned- but not before I saw the pointy ears. The Romans had made a pact with the Alven folk and gained two of their wizards.”

“Cuckoo,” whispered Gustaf lowly, twirling a finger lazily about one ear.

“Cormand died under the arcane barrage, but you- Barkeep. You rallied us. We slew the evil ones, and then in our fury we fell upon the Romans- who fled! Many we slaughtered. And at the height of our victory, you felled me! Why?”

“I never left this tavern,” Gustaf said stubbornly, and pointed to the row of polished drinking vessels as proof. “And I probably never will. But for now, the counter is closed, and I am off to bed. Good night.”

“’Night,” said the crowd in reply. Ulfgar watched the bartender disappear up the stairs, eyes stabbing daggers at the crippled man as he limped away.

“By the gods, I swear every word was true,” he swore loudly.

Monkio handed him the mug of mead Gustaf had thoughtfully left behind. Ulfgar drank it in one shot.

“Maybe it was but a dream,” he finally admitted. “Maybe the thing was simply in my head.”

Monkio nodded, and turned to his own drink. He said nothing more that night, too lost in his own thoughts ever since he saw the livid pink scar running along the shield arm of his friend that was not there when they came in this night.

He had seen scars like that before- burn scars, caused by lightning dancing across the skin.

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 01-12-2015 @ 09:58 AM).]

posted 09 January 2015 16:10 EDT (US)     44 / 60  
The door opened suddenly, the blistering cold and snow following the weary traveler inside the inn. He tossed a worn-out mandyas over his shoulder and sat at an empty table. He clearly was a soldier, albeit with peculiar equipment: a small kopis hanging from his side, a pinewood cavalry kontos painted red, a small, leather-coated pelte shield and two smaller machairai in a shoulder sheath. A dirty, battered bronze cuirass carrying a painted “A” letter could be seen beneath his cloak, and a Boiotean helmet covering his grey hair.

“Hey, innkeeper! Get me a cask of fine Chian red, and I shall tell you my story, as per custom”, he shouted at the owner, so as to be heard over the shouts and songs of other warriors who enjoyed the warmth of the Broken Spear Inn.

The innkeeper rushed to the cellar, ducked to avoid a flying horn of ale and filled a cask with ruby-red Chian wine. The traveler took a sip of wine, relaxed on his chair and started talking loudly.

“I am Alcetas of Pherae, a Thessalian-born nobleman. I was to inherit the family lands when my father would go to Ades. Then, everything changed. Philip the Second of Macedon decided to bring the other Hellenes to his heels, so he wished to be elected tagus, which means ruler of all the Thessalians. His goal was to utilize the famed Thessalian cavalry against his rivals, Athens and Thebes. While my family voted for Philip, I went against their decision, so I was disinherited. The next day, I left Thessaly for Persia, to become a mercenary cavalryman, owning nothing but a horse and my weaponry.
So, I was hired by Memnon of Rhodes to serve the Persian Emperor. I served in many satrapies, from Ionia and Egypt to Hyrcania and Carmania in the East. However, I always had my eyes fixed on Hellas. I learnt of Philip’s rise to becoming general of all the Greeks. I also heard of Philip’s murder and his son’s rise to power. That is when my most important battle took place…

I was stationed in Ephesus in Asia Minor with sixty more mercenary riders and five-hundred mercenary infantry, all Greeks. We received word that the Macedonian general Parmenion had crossed the Dardanelles and had taken up position near the coast. At the same time, he had dispatched a small (according to our informers) force to make the cities and villages of northern Aeolis provide food and shelter for his forces. Because of this, we were ordered to check their progress, engaging this small force if possible. So, we gathered enough provisions to last for ten days and we marched north.

After six days of forced marches, we met fleeing farmers who informed us that less than three-hundred Macedonian light troops, peltastai, had made camp about four hours away. Our commander, an Achaean called Mnesicles, ordered us to leave our supplies under the protection of one-hundred mercenaries and march without rest, in order to assault them when it would be dark. We, the cavalrymen, were scouting the road ahead, while the heavily armed mercenary hoplites marched in loose formation behind us. After approximately four hours, we arrived at the Macedonian camp. It seemed lightly defended, with just a dozen sentries and a small palisade, over which a man could jump.
Mnesicles gathered our troop and ordered us:
-“I want the cavalry to create a perimeter around the camp, so as to chase anyone who tries to escape. Since we don’t have archers, I want the infantry to leave behind the shields and the helmets, as we must attack rapidly and jump over the palisade. Don’t try to form a phalanx, just kill us many as you can. We outnumber them, we have better armour and they don’t know we are here, so I expect it to be quick.” The men, veterans of more than twenty battles and a dozen campaigns, nodded in agreement. After all, we had done this before.

So I, along with the rest of the cavalry, remained away from the Macedonian camp, while the infantry rushed towards the encampment. They roared, and then charged towards the palisade, most of them jumping over it, while some of the boldest ones launched their spears and killed most of the sentries. From inside the camp, all we could see was fire and smoke, while screams and cries broke the silence of the night. After a few minutes, I spotted some men trying to jump over the palisade. I signaled at my decarchy, which means ten soldiers, and we charged with lowered lances towards them. However, as we approached them, they cried out for help, shouting the password for the night: “Dias Nicator”. I halted.
-“What has happened”, I asked.
-“There were no peltastai”, answered one man. “ Instead five-hundred phalangitai and two dozen toxotai”, he added.
Pikemen and archers, I thought. I realized that we had to intervene, otherwise our comrades and Mnesicles would be slaughtered, and nothing matters more for mercenaries other than their brothers-in-arms and their leader.

-“Tell the rest of the cavalry to attack the camp”, I ordered one of my men. “The rest of you, follow me”, I told to the rest of them. My intent was to go inside the camp, find and rescue Mnesicles and try to save as many men as possible.

We galloped towards the settlement. The nearer we got, the easier it was to assess the situation. And it was desperate. Archers had been stationed in watchtowers in the middle of the camp, form where they rained their arrows against our men. My horse jumped over the palisade and landed in the back of the Macedonian pike phalanx. They had been pressing our men really hard, with only three pockets of resistance remaining. As I was searching for Mnesicles and his distinctive blue Phrygian helmet, I noticed that all the archers aimed at the middle pocket, so I assumed that that was Mnesicles’ location.

-“Charge them from behind!”, I ordered my men. They roared and we galloped with lowered lances towards the Macedonian phalanx. My spear impaled a Macedonian rear-ranker from behind, then got stuck inside him, so I dropped it and drew my sword. I urged my horse to go through the rear ranks of the phalanx, but I was quickly surrounded by pike-armed phalangists. I avoided three sharp iron tips and slashed to one Macedonian’s head. The heavy kopis edge cut through bronze like knife through butter and blood splattered all over my horse. I parried a pike-thrust from my right, then felt three-four strong blows on my shield that almost made me fall from my horse. I looked and then threw my shield to a charging Macedonian, as it had been pierced by four flaming arrows. Suddenly I lost my grip of the horse and fell on the ground with a heavy crash, blinded for a few crucial seconds. The moment my sight grew clearer, I saw a shield at point blank and then passed out.”

The soldier took another sip from his cask and continued:
“When I finally woke up, I was in chains and seated in a tent. In front of me sat three Macedonian officers; two (phalanx commanders) and between them, a mercenary who apparently was the leader of the Macedonian host.

-“I am Agasias of Massilia”, he said. “You were lucky to survive, Thessalian, even though your foolish charge did not succeed”, he added in perfect Athenian accent, probably acquired during military service.

-“What happened to the rest of us and what do you want from me?”, I asked.

-“I wish to hire you into my service”, he replied. “Now, regarding your comrades, they are waiting for you outside in case you refuse my offer”, he said in a threatening tone.

-“In that case, I am serving you now”, I replied. After all, I was nothing but a mercenary now. And mercenaries value their lives more than their honour. So this is how I joined Parmenion’s and, in reality, Alexander’s III service.”

-“And what of Mnesicles? Did he survive along with the rest of his force?”, asked the innkeeper.
-“They had been crucified outside Agasias’ tent, with the word Medoi, which means Persians, carved on their forehead”, replied Alcetas.

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
posted 16 March 2015 12:54 EDT (US)     45 / 60  
I serve in the personal guard of Vibius Dolabella, one of the finest generals in the service of the Scipii and Rome. I've fought alongside him all over Africa and the Mare Internum. The battle I am about to describe was one of the most difficult and perhaps the most interesting of those many battles, and it took place five years ago on Crete.

At that time the Scipii had a severe shortage of governors and generals in the east, in our provinces along the western Anatolian coast and Greek islands. Aulus Scipio was holding down the fort in Pergamum but that's really all we had. Most of our efforts were focused in the west, where we were at war with Numidia and Spain and had riots and rebellions to put down in Sicily and the former Carthaginian lands. Our hands were full. We were at war with Greece too, but the Brutii were handling them and we simply couldn't spare anyone to contribute. We had taken all their islands from them but didn't have the manpower to invade their peninsula. Our war with Greece was purely a naval war, protecting our ports and shipping in the Aegean Sea. Then two things happened. First the Greeks landed a huge force on our island of Crete, and then the Egyptians, our trusted allies, treacherously invaded our Anatolian provinces.

General Dolabella at that time was serving as governor of Lepcis Magna. We had assumed for a while that we would be sent to Spain, where the Scipii were on the defensive. Then after the Greek and Egyptian invasions, we got our orders: we were to push the Greeks in Crete back into the sea and then go on and conquer the Egyptian island of Cyprus, the last island in the Mare Internum not yet ruled by the Scipii. An army was being assembled for us in Pergamum, so there we went.

We engaged in one small battle in Anatolia, but Aulus Scipio had already defeated the first Egyptian invasion so there wasn't much to do there besides training the new recruits. We got our new army and sailed south, toward Crete. One Greek army was besieging our city of Kydonia, while two others were ravaging the countryside around it. Altogether the Greek force was three times the size of our own. But we had a lot of Cretian archers, the best archers you'll ever find anywhere, so we figured that would close the gap. If you've ever fought the Greeks, you know that their slow-moving clusters of spearmen are regarded as sport by archers.

We landed on Crete and immediately engaged the first of the three Greek armies. We hoped to fight each of the armies one by one before they could have a chance to gather together, but the first one was simply too large for us to engage head-on; we had to cut them down to size from a distance first. Our archers significantly whittled down the forces of the first Greek army, but the second managed to join it and replenish its numbers before we could crush it. Still, although their overall numbers were much higher than ours, their individual units were much smaller and less cocky than they had been, so our troops could use their greater speed and mobility to defeat each individual band and send it scurrying before being overwhelmed and surrounded by the larger force. This was Dolabella's plan. So, after our archers and slingers exhausted their missiles, the infantry marched forward.

Although the Greeks were much reduced in numbers by our storms of projectiles, it turned out these Greeks were hardy veterans, and well-armored ones too. I didn't envy our infantry. As a cavalryman, my job was easy; there isn't a lot for cavalry to do in a battle against Greeks. After we wiped out their horses and missile troops, all we had left to do was hunt down the runaways. The plan was working overall, our troops were overwhelming the individual Greek units and preventing envelopment, but they weren't breaking as fast as Dolabella had hoped they would. Meanwhile our units were getting smaller and smaller.

Eventually the Greeks mass-routed, and we cavalry made good sport of finishing them off. Not that they had anywhere to go anyway, as we were on a smallish island and we had cut the Greek navy off from it, but we wanted to be as thorough as possible. Those few who escaped were lucky, as Crete is a Greek-speaking island where they would be able to blend in to the population. But more of the routers escaped than we would have liked, because as we were mopping up, we saw the massive third Greek army marching upon us and we had to quickly regroup.

It wasn't looking good. Our troops were in good spirits from the crushing of the first two armies, but they were much reduced in numbers. They were also physically exhausted from both the fighting itself and the rushing back and forth all over the battlefield, so we wouldn't have a speed and mobility advantage this time. The Greeks were fresh, and I could see they were heavily armored like the last ones, plus they had numbers on their side. I knew we were in for a hell of a mess. The cavalry would have to get involved this time if we were to have a shot, but that's extremely risky against Greeks, even when you attack them from behind, because first of all they can turn their spears around and secondly you can get bogged down fighting and their friends could sneak around behind you. Anyway, we had no choice but to fight one way or another, so we regrouped our troops and braced ourselves.

It was a disaster, even by the standards of our expectations. Those Greeks were seasoned veteran troops, probably from the wars with the Brutii on the mainland, and they had every advantage. There was no weakness our troops could exploit. We managed to wipe out a few bands and send a couple others running but we couldn't get the upper hand. Our troops, tired, outnumbered, out-armored and demoralized, soon broke into a mass rout. Dolabella tried to rally them but it was useless. Luckily they were still Romans so a lot of them managed to outrun the Greeks on their way off the battlefield. But the battle was clearly lost.

We in Dolabella's guard told him it was time to go, back to the ships. But to our shock, he said no, that we had one last advantage and we would definitely win. I wondered if he had gone insane, from either the stress of losing the battle or the baking heat of the mid-summer day, or perhaps a combination of the two. An advantage? He and we dozen or so remaining members of his personal cavalry guard were the last Romans on the field, against a mass of Greek spearmen. What advantage did we have? Were we going to sneak up and kill them while they were busy doubled over laughing at our stupidity? Then he pointed to the west. I looked, and there was the Kydonia city garrison, marching into the battle.

I had no idea the Kydonia city troops were going to come to the battle. Apparently Dolabella had managed to sneak a messenger into the city, or perhaps they had noticed the battle by chance and hurried to get there in the nick of time. Either way though, I thought they were too late. The Kydonia garrison consisted of four lightly-armed and lightly-armored auxilia units and some town watchmen, to be added to an army consisting only of our small general's bodyguard, against a huge force of Greek armored hoplites that had just swept a Roman army off the field. I told Dolabella this, I said they got here too late and wouldn't have been much help even if they'd gotten here earlier, and we should send them back to Kydonia and ride back to the fleet ourselves.

Dolabella then told me to look around the battlefield. I did, and suddenly I saw what he saw. Although we were still facing a large army of Greek spearmen, they were scattered all over the field from chasing down our runaways. They hadn't expected our reinforcements any more than we had. Moreover, they had become tired, from running around in their heavy armor in the midsummer heat chasing our Romans off the field. Our auxilia were fresh, and their light armor made them fast, against the Greeks who, being tired, were even slower than they usually were. We just might have a chance. Dolabella said to me that our first defeat ironically was the only reason we now had a chance of victory. We would use the auxilia to overwhelm one band of Greeks after another, surrounding each Greek phalanx and cutting it down before another one could get anywhere close.

We put Dolabella's new plan into action and it was a resounding success. The auxilia wiped out an army multiple times their size by exploiting the chaos of the previous Roman rout. Over and over the auxilia surrounded one unit of exhausted Greek hoplites and massacred it, then moved on to the next until there were none left, hardly suffering any casualties themselves. The few Greeks who escaped the auxilia were cut down by us cavalrymen.

In the end, only a handful of Greeks, mostly from their first army, managed to get away, and Crete was once again ours. Our routed army came back, and wasn't too severely punished, since Dolabella is lenient for a general and was in a good mood after our victory. Our excellent medics, trained in the academy at Thapsus, were even able to save a good number of the injured. We didn't even have to request reinforcements, we could just continue our mission and go on to Cyprus, since the Egyptian garrison at Salamis, according to our spy there, was small and weak anyway.

Crete was the last Greek incursion on Scipii lands, before the Brutii conquered their homeland, overwhelming the weak garrisons left behind by those thousands of Greeks who had come to die on Crete.
posted 07 April 2015 07:22 EDT (US)     46 / 60  
“Barkeep! A beer, if you will, or a mead if you don’t. None of that red Roman swill or cheap Gaulish piss, either. I have a tale to tell worthy of your best.”

The big blonde bear of a man with his hair in ratty braids turned to face the denizens of the inn. His fur-caped figure screamed of strength and brutality of the animals, yet in his eyes one could make out the intelligence of Man. He blew the froth from the proffered beer and took a deep draught.

“Ah, that is more like it,” he said with a broad grin. Large, strong teeth emerged with the grin. Then he placed the bierstein down and threw back his wolfskin cape.

“We had lost the battle by Father Rhein to keep the Romani from our lands,” he announced to those crowding in closer to hear his tale. “Torgeir the Small thought himself a big man, but the one they call the Mouse tore us in half and cut Torgeir down to size. Then they marched forward.”

“We did not sit still while they did this, by Tor!” the man bellowed. “We gathered up the remnants, swept them into a small army of veterans, then added to them raw recruits from the east. By the spring, when the Romani were ready to march, we of the Dark Forests were ready to meet them.”

The power of his voice locked attention to the big man’s tale. The Shattered Spear Inn faded, and the dark forests of Germania emerged from the shadows. One could see the Roman cohorts marching through the terrain in column, while the light horsemen of the barbarians shadowed their advance. Every once in a while a man would join them, and another would race away, to keep Otgar the Bald informed of the enemy progress into his lands.

The Romani were few in number, but every bit equal to our horde. They were twelve veteran cohorts, escorted by four squadrons of heavy cavalry. That was pretty much equal to our four squadrons of Noble Cavalry, and while our eight warbands of Spearmen were not veteran like the Eagles, they were no slouches either. They had seen the demon of combat and survived, and in doing so became less flesh and more steel. We had several bands of Chosen Archers, two of Chosen Axemen, and our trump- the Berzerker Gang of Joris Nail-Biter. In numbers we were clearly superior, in experience they had the edge. Any battle fought soon would otherwise be a toss-up to be decided by the generals, and it was in there we would fall and die.

Otgar the Bald was not an inspiring leader, but a cunning little fox. He might do well on the battlefield. He has had his moments. The Mouse, however, Titus Calvus Mus, was a genius who would wipe our superior numbers from the Order of Battle with a few select maneuvers, cutting a portion of us from the warhost to chop us to pieces while the rest of us were reeling from his brilliance. We had underestimated him and his troops once- and Torgeir along with a significant number of us paid the price for ignoring battlefield experience.

Never again.

Otgar briefed us one night, a few days after the Romani began moving again with the coming of spring. He pointed to a wide meadow three days march away.

“Here, my friends, is where we are going to annihilate the invaders,” he said quietly, but determinedly. Those of us who heard his words had no doubt of his sincerity, though we did doubt the veracity of the statement. Defeat the Mouse and his veterans on the field of battle, yet unknowing if they had been reinforced during the winter or not? Madness.

“Forget the Mouse,” Otgar said. “And forget his son as well. Go to this clearing,” he commanded us. “Study the ground. Study the ground as the invader will see it. Devise how you will be emplaced, and how you will maneuver to surround and break this foe. Run the race you will encounter after the battle, chasing the fleeing cowards after our victory. Go. Do this.”

We thought Otgar mad, yet he was our war king, so we did as he bid.

And sure enough, three days later, the Romans marched out of the forest and saw our gleaming ranks drawn up awaiting them. They deployed in their shining armored formations opposite us, positioning their Gallic auxiliaries on their flanks. Then they marched forward in step, so that the ground shook.

I do not know who commanded them this day, but as Otgar said, it was not The Mouse. Nor was it the Mouseling. Whoever the fool was, he must have been an old-school Roman, the kind who showed up to the battlefield and just let the legions ‘do their thing’ with no direction or interference from above.

It did not work. They marched up under a storm of our arrows. They were significantly weaker by the time their reared back their arms to let fly their little spears. We charged.

Some of us fell to their little spears, but many more made it through their barrage unharmed. We skidded to a halt before them and let our spearmen resume their phalanx. Our cavalry engaged theirs, but behind the wings of our spearmen hid our axemen, who now charged into the stalled Roman cavalrymen to plant their axes deep into horseflesh, hack the thigh of a rider in half, or cut the forelegs from a proud mount. The Gauls could not stand the onslaught of our horsemen and their axe-wielding buddies and soon fled.

The axemen regrouped and now the slaughter began in earnest. Joris and his crazy bastards were making noise behind the spearmen, but Otgar kept them there, away from battle. Their presence was enough to turn the blood of the nearest Romans to water. With Joris biting the rim of his shield in anticipation of being released, and our axemen on the flanks, spearwall in the front, all it took then was the return of Harald and the horsemen slamming into the cohorts from the rear to seal the rout.

The Romans broke and fled. As Otgar had advised, our warchiefs had studied the ground and followed hw they thought the Romans would flee. Now we chased, and unlike the Romans, we did not stop. We were faster than them. We knew where they were going to run and got there before them.

It was a lucky man who swam across Father Rhein to safety on the other side. Fewer than twenty men of the entire army managed that.

“So what happened? How did the veteran army that trounced Torgeir in the fall become suddenly such easy meat in the spring? Well, my friends,” the bear of a warrior said with a laugh, “for that you can thank Frank the Knife. He and two others snuck into the Roman camp some days before the battle, disguised as slaves fetching water. The other two mixed a paste of Nightshade and mushrooms into the wine of the Mouseling, while Frank disappeared into the muddle of the camp.”

“The Mouseling died in convulsions,” the narrator continued. “The Mouse declared three days of mourning, followed by the death of every Germanic prisoner they would take. These were to be burned at the feet of the Mouseling, slaves for the afterlife.”

He paused, finished off his beer, and slammed the stone mug down. It was quickly refilled.

“That night Frank struck, slitting the throat of the Roman general and ending his line. He had waited, you see, to hear who the next in line for command would be once his knife fell. That was to be Centurion Burrus, a man known to us as a traditionalist A good choice for us, in line with Otgar’s plan.”

“Frank left his disguise as a drover behind and donned the white tunic of the bakery staff. Armed with a tray of bread, a bottle of tainted wine, and his trademark dagger, he entered the command tent to deliver the food and drink before turning to go. He did not go far, awaiting only the proper amount of time to let his poison take effect before returning. He passed by the drugged and sleeping guards, pausing only long enough to slit their throats lest they awaken prematurely, before sliding silently into the commander’s bedroom.

“The Mouse was asleep. Frank ensured he would stay that way forever.

“The next morning, Burrus was shaken with anger. His scouts reported the meadow, and our campfires. Two plus two. He attacked, and you know the rest. And the moral of the story?”

He paused to glance about, then downed his beer.

“A single dagger in the dark combined with incompetent commanders can do far more to destroy an entire army than either alone.”

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 09-01-2015 @ 09:48 AM).]

posted 01 September 2015 02:24 EDT (US)     47 / 60  
A long-haired, battle-scarred Gaul sitting unnoticed in a dark corner suddenly took a deep swig and stood up, facing the room.

"I've got a tale for you warriors! I was in the army of Belenus when he marched south from Mediolanium to the lands of the Romans."

Some quiet murmurs swept the room.

"Yes, that army. I'm one of only a handful of survivors. Not because of cowardice, mind you; I fought hard and was prepared to meet the gods, but I was knocked out in the middle of the battle and woke up after it was over to find a sea of dead Gauls and Romans, mostly Gauls, around me. But i'm getting ahead of the story.

Our army started out much more successfully than it ended. We were eager to fight the Romans, we were brave, we thought no one could defeat us. We looked forward to conquering the Romans and settling on their rich and abundant lands, and nothing was going to stop us from doing so.

I was in Belenus's greatest battle, at Ariminum. Before we got there, Belenus's spy had reported that the city had a small garrison, mostly town watchmen, and would be taken easily. We arrived to find that an army even larger than ours was present inside it. Our spy's head was hanging above the gate too. So we laid siege, but Belenus sent for reinforcements before we were to storm the city. We were brave, but not stupid. We could beat Romans in an open field, but fighting a Roman army of equal size on narrow city streets is something else entirely. Urban warfare suits their fighting style; the open fields best suit ours. So we sat outside the city and waited. But the Romans decided they weren't going to wait for our reinforcements, they were going to come out and fight right away.

The men were ready to fight them right there in front of the city, but Belenus to our surprise ordered us to fall back. He wanted us to fight in the woods a little ways off. A lot of us were angry, we thought we would look like cowards running from the enemy. But Belenus knew the Romans were fielding their best troops and we would need to be creative to defeat them, even out in the open. He also wanted to trick the Romans. He wanted them to THINK we were cowards, and come running at us with their guard down. The Romans are arrogant, you see. They think themselves the greatest people under the sun, and the rest of us as silly, stupid barbarians who would run in fear if a Roman legionary so much as directed some foul language our way. It suited Belenus just fine to let them think this; we would show them in the end what we really are.

So we ran out into the woods, many of us grumbling as we did so. But Belenus, though he was young, was a great war chief and knew what he was doing. He knew that this was only the first of many great battles, and he wanted us to be smart, and kill as many of them while losing as few of our own men as possible. To those of us with doubts, Belenus reminded us that we weren't fighting some hill tribe, but the most fearsome enemy the tribes of Gaul had ever faced, and we would have to be creative to win. By the time the Romans finished filing out of their city, we had already taken up hidden positions in different parts of the trees. Belenus made sure some of our men would be visible in different spots so the Romans would run at them, not seeing the rest of us hidden in the brush and ready to leap out at them once they ran past us.

A couple of our ambushes were discovered before they could strike, but this was fine because we had so many of them in so many spots, set up in a careful pattern, so that we were able to surprise the Romans from behind even then. Some of our men would move from their hidden positions as the Romans came by and head in the opposite direction, luring individual Roman warbands from the group. The Romans started out cocky, but they got scared fast once they found their individual warbands surrounded by screaming Gauls, with none of their own Romans close enough to come to their help. Even I couldn't believe how fast they started running away pissing themselves. Were these the famous Romans we were expected to be so afraid of, who threw their weight around the world and gloated of their superiority?

We massacred the Romans in those woods. We lost a few men, but Belenus's tactics won us a glorious victory that the bards will sing of in Gaul for years to come. With the Romans stumbling through the trees and cut off from each other it was as easy as hunting deer. Only a few dozen Romans made it back into the city, and we followed them quickly, smashing the gates open with our ram and bursting into the city like a spring flood. They didn't have a chance. We sent much of the city's people back to Gaul in chains.

We were proud of our victory, but we also became cocky, we thought we were invincible and it would always be this way, that we would walk over the Romans all the way to their last city. Our reinforcements arrived and Belenus set them to garrison duty and the rest of us marched to the next city of Arretium, singing war songs and pumped for battle, for victory.

It was not to be. Oh, we got to Arretium fine, laid siege and set to building rams. There was a Roman army in the city, smaller than the one in Ariminum. We expected that this would be a similar slaughter. But then from behind us came more Romans, a massive army with another flag, the purple flag of the highest chiefs of Rome. Their soldiers looked even tougher than the red Julii soldiers, with better armor and weapons. Between the purple army and the Arretium garrison, we were outnumbered 10 to 1, so we beat a quick retreat. The way back to Ariminum was blocked, so we had to go around Arretium to the west. We figured we would take the small Roman city of Segesta, get some reinforcements from Gaul and then come back down and attack the purple army from a better position, on ground of our choosing.

But before that could happen, before we even got to Segesta, the purple army found us again, and so did another red Julii army. We were surrounded again, and this time we had no retreat. So we decided, we would fight to the last man, take as many Romans with us as we could, and be welcomed by the gods as heroes.

That was what the men thought, anyway. Belenus actually still thought he could win. I guess he had gotten cocky too. They say Belenus never lost a single battle, even when outnumbered. He had defeated everyone who challenged him, from small rebellious tribes to the great Roman army of Ariminum. Belenus tried the same tactic from Ariminum again; we found some trees and set up ambushes. But this area was less wooded, more open plains. Still, we tried setting ourselves up in a way that we could divide the Romans and isolate their warbands from each other, so we could surround and slaughter them. We still thought we were going to the gods, but we weren't gonna go quietly.

It was a glorious battle. I was right earlier about the purple Romans; they were even more fierce than the red ones. Much more. Even when we cut off and surrounded isolated warbands, most of the time they just would not break, not before others could come to their aid. Our horsemen fought bravely and struck at their weakest points whenever they could, but the Romans had tougher horses and killed most of ours. Once we lost the cavalry, we had no chance. We killed many Romans, but we lost many more. Few of us routed, most of us died where we stood with spears and swords in our hands.

I didn't see the end of the battle. As I said, I was knocked out at some point, hit in the head by a Roman shield. When I woke up, it was night, it was raining and I was surrounded by the dead. It was impossible to walk without tripping over a dead man, either Roman or Gaul. I was covered in blood but I couldn't tell how much of it was mine. I made my way north, alone, until a few days later I found a handful of other survivors and they told me what happened. Belenus died in a heroic final charge straight at the Roman general, I'm not good with Roman names but it was Something Maxentius, who was also apparently a consul, a sort of temporary king the Romans have. And by the gods, he took that king down with him. The rest of our army died bravely too. Few ran away; they knew there was no point, with Romans in every direction. In all there were maybe a dozen survivors. The brave army of Belenus was no more.

As for me, i'm on my way back home now, to Gaul this side of the Alps. Rumor has it that Vindex, one of the greatest war chiefs in all of Gaul, is putting together an even mightier army than that of Belenus. Perhaps I'll join them... And perhaps this time the purple Romans, cocky from their victory, will see their luck run out as ours did."

[This message has been edited by Kawada Shogo (edited 09-01-2015 @ 02:41 AM).]

posted 11 March 2016 20:08 EDT (US)     48 / 60  
Everybody in Armenia remembers the twenty terrible years. Well, how could we forget? It all started when our longtime king, Artaxias, died. We were by no means a wealthy people, but we lived in peace and security under his rule. We farmed, we traded, our land was free of hunger and strife. Then Artaxias's son, Rusa, ascended the throne.

Rusa felt that peace and stability wasn't enough; he felt that Armenia deserved an empire. He was envious of the wealth of Parthia, Egypt and Seleucia, and wanted for Armenia to take it and become the richest and most powerful kingdom in all the land. Artaxias was content to rule our mountains and make the best of it, while staying out of the way of the larger kingdoms that surrounded us. But Rusa was an adventurer. Even before Artaxias died, Rusa led a campaign to conquer the independent city of Phraaspa in our east. That was one thing, but Rusa wanted more. So, as Artaxias was getting old and dying, and Rusa's power and influence was growing, he began raising armies to prepare for his campaigns as king.

Soon after Artaxias died, Rusa's campaigns began. The first thing he did was lead an army south to the Seleucid lands. He won several great battles and conquered Hatra, after which he marched on the great city of Seleucia. But this angered the kingdoms that surrounded us, who didn't want a new empire rising in their midst and who decided to carve us up before we could become strong. One by one every kingdom in the region declared war and attacked our land. First Parthia, then Pontus, and finally Scythia.

I mentioned that Armenia is not a rich land. Our country is rugged and mountainous, and we depended on trade. When all our neighbors attacked us, we lost all our trade. Not only that, but their armies freely rampaged across our land, trampling our crops, taking our herds and looting what they could find. While we fought them off from our main cities, there was no money to raise the men to expel them from the country altogether. We fought when we could, and we won some battles, but we were nearly helpless. Our farmers couldn't farm, our merchants couldn't trade, refugees crowded the cities, and our people fell into hunger and destitution. Even the wealthy bartered their treasures for whatever food they could get. Law and order broke down, and rebels and bandits roamed the mountains and valleys together with the foreign armies. People did whatever they could to survive.

This went on for many years. Sometimes we gained the upper hand and conditions improved a little, but never for long. All Armenia's resources were invested in our armies to the south, which struggled to fight the Seleucid, Pontic and Parthian armies all at the same time without enough money to pay the soldiers they had or recruit new ones. Rusa had exhausted the treasury when he first raised his armies, believing that victory would be swift and gold would flow into our land, providing the basis for more. It wasn't so simple. But they couldn't just turn back either. Without conquering the wealth of the south, Armenia would be ruined. Rusa had gone too far to be able to stop without complete victory. If he stopped then and returned home empty-handed, he would be overthrown by his own people, assuming he still even had a people to rule.

Finally, after years of fighting, the deadlock was broken when the armies of Rusa, Liapos of Tomisa, and Aramu conquered all the rich Parthian cities to the south. They pillaged everything they could carry and then marched back north with their soldiers and gold to free Armenia from the misery that the Pontic and Scythian hordes had wrought upon us.

It was then that I came of age and joined the army. I lived in Kotais, the son of a family of farmers that had been driven off their land by the Pontic armies. I had never known a single day of peace or without hunger. I hated Pontus and wanted to fight back. So when Rusa's brother, the crown prince Aramu, arrived in the city with his depleted army from Parthia and called up new recruits, I was one of many who eagerly joined him.

The Pontic army in Armenia was enormous, so we had to be careful if we were to defeat it and bring an end to Armenia's years of darkness. We lured the Pontic army to a bridge over a river near Kotais. The Pontic troops outnumbered us by a large margin and were confident that they could win and conquer us once and for all. They stormed across the bridge with everything they had.

We massacred them. Thousands of them. Not a single Pontic soldier made it out alive. Oh, it wasn't easy. Many of us died. We were greatly outnumbered and many of us were new recruits. But numbers matter less when the larger army is squeezed into a small space, and we were fired up by years of hatred at the ruin they had brought on our people. We surrounded them at our end of the bridge, with archers on either side firing on the bridge as they crossed, and a wall of spears greeting those who made it to our end. They were unable to overcome us. The river was so filled with Pontic corpses that we worried it might block it up and cause a flood.

This wasn't the only battle we fought, but it was the most decisive one. After the battle of the Kotais bridge, Armenia's years of suffering ended. Wealth and food flowed from the rich lands to the south, and our mountains and valleys were freed from the armies that ravaged them for so long. The rebels and bandits were crushed, farmers returned to the fields and merchants began to trade once more. We then took the war to Pontus and exacted a terrible revenge on their people. We won many great battles, often against overwhelming odds, and conquered one mighty city after another, taking everything they had and enslaving their people. An army driven by vengeance is unstoppable. Pontus belongs to Armenia now.

Rusa died a long time ago, after twenty years of rule, soon after we defeated the Pontic army at the Kotais bridge. Armenians call the reign of Rusa the twenty terrible years. The common people still hate him for what his ambitions brought upon us, although the kings and nobles, at least in public, praise him as the father of the empire. To be sure, the empire that Rusa dreamed of has indeed come to fruition. Parthia, Seleucia and Pontus are gone. The king of Armenia rules a domain stretching from Susa to Pergamum. Recently Jerusalem was conquered and our armies are now marching to Egypt itself. We now enjoy a golden age of power and prosperity, with goods from every corner of the world flowing into our little land.

But was it worth it? I am only a soldier; I will leave it to the writers of history to judge that. Now I am on my way to Alexandria, in the army of Argishti the Conquerer, grandson of Rusa. There is no doubt that without Rusa, we would not have what we have today. But I will never forget those twenty terrible years.
posted 14 April 2016 12:44 EDT (US)     49 / 60  
Night was falling, and a man in a worn traveling cloak with an army tunic beneath it was walking the streets in search of an inn with decent food and drink. Someone pointed him toward the center of town, toward a place called the Shattered Spear Inn, where soldiers gathered. "Sounds like just the sort of place for me", he said and set off in that direction.

When he got near the inn, he could hear singing and laughter inside, so he quickened his pace, eager to sit and sate his thirst. As he approached the door, a drunken man stumbled out, barely able to walk. When they passed each other, the drunk tripped and fell right onto the traveler.

"Oh, sorry", the drunk slurred as he moved on. The traveler, his mind on a drink, didn't pay him a second thought as he walked into the establishment.

Entering the building, the first thing he noticed was an old man singing off-key near the back of the room while other patrons laughed and jeered. Walking past tables where people were talking to each other in German, Latin, Greek, Egyptian and every other language known to man, the traveler took a seat at the bar with the weary sigh of someone who had been walking for hours and finally had a chance to rest his feet. "Give me a mead, please."

As his drink was being poured, the man reached into his cloak for his money to pay for it... only to find nothing there. It took a second for it to dawn on him what had happened. "That SON OF A...!", and the barkeeper could tell by the look on his face that he wasn't faking it to get a free drink. The traveler ran out the door, but the drunk from earlier was long gone and nowhere in sight.

"Never mind about the drink; i've been robbed", he said angrily, and he made to leave, resigned to going to bed with an empty stomach tonight.

"Now hold on there one moment", said the proprietor. "I can see by your clothes and that gladius on your hip that you're a soldier. If you have no money, that's not a problem. We have a policy here. Any man who comes in with a war story to liven up our evenings with gets a free drink."

The traveler turned back around, thought it over and returned to the bar.

"All right then, I suppose I could do that." Sitting down, he thought for a moment as he went through the memories of his experiences in the wars. "I've been in a number of battles, each of them interesting in its own way. But only one of them truly makes a thrilling tale."

The sounds of conversation gradually died down as the other patrons (including old man Hamish), having noticed the situation, looked over with interest to hear the soldier's story. He took a sip of his drink before proceeding, and then launched into the tale.

"Okay, so, the battle of Caralis. At least we call it that, but it wasn't actually in Caralis. It was just a little east of the city, near the southern coast of Sardinia. We were a smallish army, under the command of Kaeso Floarianus, a sharp young man who had just recently married into the House of Julius. He's a true soldier though; he didn't just get the command because of that.

The situation was, the Julii were racing the Scipii toward Carthage. While the Scipii were fighting the Carthaginians in Sicily, old Flavius Julius decided that the Julii could get to Africa first by using Sardinia as a stepping stone. So, he gave the command to Kaeso, who put together a force that was not very large but respectable enough. The bulk of the Julii armies were aiming for Greece, hoping to cut off the Brutii there. I'm not too keen on that political crap, though. But i'm a soldier, so I go where i'm told and fight who I have to. I was put in Kaeso's army, and we set sail for Sardinia.

Sardinia is fairly unremarkable, not the sort of place where you expect a major battle to happen. But just in case, we had a spy with us to investigate the island, and we sent him ashore to the city before the army disembarked. He reported back that the island's capital, Caralis, is just a little town and was defended only by a few town militias and peasants. So, we besieged Caralis and started building rams, expecting a walkover.

What we didn't know, was that a Carthaginian fleet was just on the other side of the island, with a full-size army aboard. That army, under the command of Bomilkar, one of the most powerful men in Carthage, came ashore as soon as they found out what we were doing. They raced around the city and attacked us from the north.

As I said, our army wasn't very large. We weren't expecting a serious fight; we thought that the Carthaginians were focusing their efforts on Sicily and that Sardinia would be lightly defended. We were wrong. The Carthaginian army was comprised mainly of light infantry, but they outnumbered us greatly. In addition to the main army, they also had their Caralis garrison coming at us from our left. Which was nothing to be worried about by itself, but while we were already so outnumbered it was cause for concern. Still, we wouldn't have had such a hard time of it if it weren't for the elephants. I had never seen an elephant before that day. Have you ever had an elephant charging straight at you? There is no sight in this world more certain to make a man lose control of his bowels than that. It was the elephants that scared us more than anything else.

The battle went badly right from the start. We had two cavalry units: the general's bodyguard, and a unit of equites. Kaeso sent the equites off to a patch of woods to our left, where the Carthaginians had a squadron of Numidian mercenaries trying to sneak around and flank us. At the right moment, the equites sprung the trap and charged, but got massacred. The Numidians were expecting them, I suppose. Either way, we lost the main part of our cavalry, while the Numidians only lost a few men. Things weren't looking good.

The next thing that happened was that the Carthaginians' slingers, mercenaries from the Balearic Islands, started peppering us with stones. They focused on our velites, which I guess they were worried could be a threat to their elephants. But they took a lot of us hastati down too. There was nothing we could do but sit there and withstand it, waiting for the main Carthaginian force to get to us so the real fight could begin.

We didn't have to wait long. They reached our lines and charged, elephants and all. Men were being thrown high into the air like rag dolls. Others were being crushed underfoot. Our velites threw javelins at the elephants, which helped, but we were still greatly outnumbered. Meanwhile those Numidians were throwing javelins at us, and we could do nothing to stop them. We did our best to hold the line, while General Kaeso tried to motivate and encourage us, but he had his hands full too. A squadron of Carthaginian cavalry tried to flank us from the right, and he was doing his best to keep them away from our lines.

We managed to withstand that first wave. The Carthaginian infantry broke first, the elephants broke second, the cavalry broke last, and they all pulled back. We then charged forward with the hope of killing as many of them as we could. But they quickly regrouped, so we returned to our defensive position.

We were down one unit, though. One of our cohorts had gone too far into the mass of fleeing enemies, so they got surrounded and massacred. The rest of us saw it happen. The elephants rampaged through their cohort and tore it apart, and the infantry finished them off. Not a single man from that cohort survived. Then the Carthaginians turned back towards us. We all braced ourselves and waited for the second wave."

At this point the tavern was dead silent except for the man telling the story; all other patrons, with the exception of a Briton who had passed out in a corner, were listening intently to the story. The soldier took another swig to wet his throat before continuing.

"We didn't think things could get any worse, but then about that time, the Caralis city garrison showed up to the battle, over on our left flank where they joined the Numidian horsemen. The entire Carthaginian army charged a second time. Again, elephants and all.

I still don't know how we survived that second attack. It was all we could do to stay in formation and hold. Man to man, we were better than the Carthaginian infantry, but they had us so outnumbered, and they had plenty of cavalry in addition to elephants. Kaeso had driven the cavalry back the first time, but they returned with the second charge. We infantrymen held the line and beat back everything they threw at us, while General Kaeso again fought off the Carthaginian cavalry, and our velites again tried to drive off the elephants, killing a couple of them.

The Carthaginians broke and fled again, gradually. It was on our right flank where they broke first. Those of us on the right then ran over to the left to help our comrades fight off the Numidian cavalry and the Caralis garrison militias, while Kaeso and his few horsemen went and ripped through the Carthaginian infantrymen that were running away. Finally we drove the Carthaginians off the left flank too.

But they still weren't done, no sir. If we still had the equites, they might have been, but we didn't, so we couldn't follow through on our victory. We infantrymen tried chasing down the Carthaginians, but we just couldn't finish them at the same pace that cavalrymen could. So, the Carthaginians reformed and prepared to come at us a third time."

Another sip.

"The good news was, this time they didn't have the elephants. The elephants were still there, but they'd had enough. Our velites' javelins, and us legionaries' miraculously unbroken lines, had made the animals decide they didn't want to fight us anymore. Several of them were already dead, and the rest went out of control. They ran around aimlessly and tore up the Carthaginians' own lines, while we Romans cheered. The Carthaginians had to kill some of their own elephants to save themselves. But then they once again turned back to us.

By this point we were seriously battered, our numbers badly depleted, but we were still determined to hold the line. The Carthaginians came at us for one last charge. This time they damn near beat us. They didn't have the elephants this time, but they still had Bomilkar's heavy cavalry guard, much larger than Kaeso's, which charged us head-on. But we held that line. We never broke, not one of us. The Carthaginians broke, for the third and final time, and we chased them down once more.

Kaeso and his handful of cavalry did most of it, but we infantrymen, though we had little energy left in us, managed to overtake and wipe out a good number of the Carthaginians. We wanted to be sure that as few of them as possible would make it back to their ships for us to fight again later. Kaeso and his guards nearly killed their horses rushing all around through the trees trying to catch every Carthaginian they could find. Our velites, with their last few javelins, managed to kill the handful of remaining elephants, ensuring that we wouldn't be facing them again.

Some Carthaginians did manage to escape, including Bomilkar himself. But his army was destroyed. Against all odds, we had held our position and never broke, and shattered a Carthaginian army three times our size. We had no cavalry, we had no archers, we had no high ground to aid us in our defense, while they had abundant cavalry and elephants too, with more infantry than we could count. We were just a few cohorts of infantrymen, a few velite skirmishers, and the general and his guards. But we beat them. We lost about 250 men, while we counted over a thousand enemy dead. We melted down some Carthaginian armor and used it to build a monument to the battle, marking the exact spot where we had stood and, impossibly, held that line."

He took one last, deep draught and drained his flagon, and then sat in silence. Conversation slowly picked back up as the other patrons began discussing the story they had just heard, and the innkeeper said "that was one hell of a story, soldier. Order as much as you like. Whatever you want is on the house."

[This message has been edited by Kawada Shogo (edited 04-14-2016 @ 08:17 PM).]

posted 07 May 2016 10:26 EDT (US)     50 / 60  
“Hold the line! Hold the line!”

"I hate that phrase. barkeep, give me a beer and I will tell you why. Thanks. Now, folks, gather around and here how it was that day on the Red River. No, it was not known then as the Red River, and is no longer known by that name, but that is what we called it that day we made it Red. Now, to Hold the Line, the most unnecessary thing to shout to spearmen.

This was shouted and repeated as our long spears were held at the ready. We were four warbands of spearmen, arrayed shoulder to shoulder at the edge of the ford, awaiting the attack of the enemy. Hold the line! Do you know what happens to spearmen who do not hold the line? Death, that is what. So shouting to spearmen to hold the line is both stupid and unncessary. we will hold that line or die trying.

That was a distinct possibility. Behind us were four bands of archers. That was supposed to make us feel better, but we more often then not those arrows found their way into our backs. They were of no comfort to us. Death marched toward us from the front, or found itself piercing our backs as well. Life as a spear grunt is never pleasant.

One would think Steinar Strongarm would know better. He rose to command due to the ill-placed archers cutting down his father the last time we faced these fools. Yet here we were, eight bands of men of two sorts- neither trusting the other.

I cannot blame the archers for hiding behind us. First, because Steinar put them there, and second, the last time they were put on the flanks, they got crushed by the Spanish cavalry. They were once eight bands. Now we had barely four.

Steinar himself was with his gallant horsemen, four bands strong and hiding in the small woods to our left. You would think that stupid and cowardly, that a commander of men such as us would be more at home among our line of spears, ready to encourage us should we fail or exhort us to greater efforts should we waver. But no, Steinar was a horseman and horsemen had no part in the coming struggle.

The Spanish were before us. Their army reached back to the horizon, like an anthill on the move. They were everywhere, and their numbers were mind-boggling. Their army had actually grown since Randar the Brave had gone down, while ours merely withered.

Steinar was a fool to give battle against this mass of angry barbarians.

That is what we thought.

A ram’s horn sounded. We of the Line shook our spears defiantly, that being our task. Hold the Line! The cry was repeated. Behind us we heard shuffling as the archers moved to our left. We hardly noticed, as the approaching Spanish had our full attention. Slingers first, then swordsmen with their javelins. They lined the banks as they waited for the crushing weight of their army to come to bear. We thought ourselves dead men already.

The slingers were cut down. Four waves of deadly arrows fell among them as they deployed. They were scantily clad Baleareans and died in droves. The few remaining men broke and scampered away before our archers could adjust their aim. They need not have bothered. Our archers were already emptying their quivers into the ranks of armored and half-armored swordsmen opposing us.

We too were on the move. Dieter, our commander, called for a retreat. We expected this, so it was no rout. The band on the end pivoted and stepped forward, while our band, left center, pivoted to the right. Next to us, the right center pivoted to the left, and their flank mirrored ours. We were now away from the exit of the ford, but in a Birds Flight formation. Any crossing the ford would find themselves in a pocket lined with pointy death.

Moreover, those crossing would be under the deadly rain or the archers, now unmasked from shooting into our backs. We began to feel confident. We had a chance. The Spanish could not swim, so it was cross at the ford or die. They had the numbers, and too much pride. They advanced.

“Hold the line!”

The Spanish warbands making it across into our pit were decimated and shaken by the time they arrived. We began to see the wisdom of Steinar. All we had to do was hold the line and the Spanish would die.

We fought well, we spearmen. We held the line. There were several times we nearly broke, but the bloody archers- those with no more arrows to spend- charged in among the holes to carve blood from our foes. That gave us the time to regroup, and present a passable spear wall once again.

The Spanish were heaped hip-high before us. Those in front of our spears were pressed onto them by those behind, trying desperately to escape the rain of our archers. This was the moment Steinar had been waiting for.

Oh, the Spanish could see him and his horsemen. They could see him from the start, and assumed he was merely poor at hiding. Little did their prince know that Steinar and his band were bait, positioned away to ensure they would think him cowardly, and thereby we too were cowardly, and that they could easily press us away from the ford.

They did manage to press us somewhat. There was a small break between our left center and the right center bands. This widened as the Spanish flowed around our phalanx to come at the sides. But we held the line, and with the help of the expended archers, more Spanish than Germani died.

It was close though.

But we held, and closed the gap. Steinar drew them to himself like flies to honey, and we slaughtered all who came before our spears.

Their prince could feel it too, the wavering of his men as their best became dead meat, growing cold at our feet. He charged in, to exhort his men to battle, and to open again that cleft in our center that so promised victory.

I claimed the life of the Prince. His horse charged at our line, at my spear. I merely lifted my weapon and braced the butt into the ground. The Spanish prince did the rest, impaling himself on my bladed staff. He stiffened as the point pierced his strong mail, then slowly toppled from his elegant horse.

That caused those nearest him to wail, and lose faith, and become scared. We spearmen fought on. A ram’s horn sounded again, and this time the cleft in our center opened again, slowly. The Spanish found hope anew that was almost immediately crushed.

Steinar led his cavalry- and the other three bands the Spanish had not seen- into the fray. They charged the gap we created for him. The Spanish blood turned to water in their veins as four hundred hardy horsemen bore down in a cloud of thunder upon them, lances lowering for the kill.

It was too much. Their prince was dead, and their best lay at our feet, or in the river, their leaking blood turning the waters a vibrant red. Those few with fight still left in them quavered at the thundering approach of our horsemen. Their faces went white with fear, and their will to fight evaporated.

The Spanish collapsed. We followed Steinar across the ford, carrying the battle to the Spanish then, and slaughtering all we came across. They sought only escape, and few fought back. If any. We killed and killed and killed until we could kill no more.

Steinar had won us a needed victory after the death of his father and the loss of half our army. He made that up by destroying the entire Spanish army. There was now no force of any size that can stop us now.

“A toast, to Steinar Strongarm, and the might of the Dark Forest warbands!”

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 05-07-2016 @ 10:42 AM).]

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