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Pax Romana

Discussion in 'Civ3 - Stories & Tales' started by Vanadorn, May 21, 2004.

  1. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    “So how is it that you learned our language?”

    Malocti drew in a deep inhalation from his pipe, savoring the rich tobacco before exhaling. “We learned your speech from the honorable people who follow Shaka Zulu. The people of Zimbabwe have many buildings with scrolls and learned men. It is from them that we have learned the speech of your people.”

    “Amazing!” Rumius lowered his hoe, thankful for any excuse to stop working in his fields. “I’m fairly sure that no one knew of any peoples past the dark men to our west. And yet you’ve been there all this time.”

    Malocti nodded, the huge disks in his distended earlobes swinging in time. “We have learned many things since the ancient days. Things that we would be willing to trade with the Romans. The concept of many gods is something that we would be interested in exploring with you. We know of the great spirit jaguar and of the other forces, but the fact that these forces are governed by beings as men are governed by kings?!? Preposterous!”

    The Roman farmer smiled. “Nah, it’s a fairly old concept. However, I’m more interested in those coins you’re carrying. You’re telling me that those copper and bronze disks are just as valuable as either gold or my livestock.”

    “It is called currency. And each piece is stamped with the face of our Great Instigator, Smoke Jaguar. It is easier to “buy” things with these coins if everyone agrees to their worth.”

    Rumius spit. “Makes no sense.” He surveyed the lush land around him, his eyes drifting towards the distant city of Cumae. “But then again, I’m just a farmer. No one pays much attention to a farmer.”

    The brown skinned Malocti laughed. “My friend,” he said, once able to control his giggling voice. “In my land, those who till the soil are looked on with great respect. You would be given the attention there as your iron skinned warriors are given here.”

    “That’s a hoot! Me? As important as a Legionnaire? Ha! You do have strange customs Malocti.”

    Still smiling, the Mayan traveler lifted his woven rucksack back onto his shoulders and grabbed his long thin javelins, propping the wobbling spears onto his shoulders. “Well Rumius,” he said, “I have truly enjoyed meeting with you. If you are an example of the types of people the Roman’s are, I think we’ll get along fine.” Looking at Cumae himself, Malocti asked, “Is that a place where I can talk to one of your chiefs? Perhaps he might be willing to trade knowledge with us.”

    “Cumae? Yeah, the governor’s there. Should be able to sit and talk with him. The impressers have stopped the mad draft amongst the plebeians for the army since Carthage fell. Word is that Hannibal has set up shop further north near some place called Utica.” Rumius spit again. “So, the training grounds are pretty empty and the people are still feeling pretty good since we toppled them damned Carthaginians.”

    Malocti looked deep in thought, watching the distant city with hooded eyes. “You are saying that your people have attacked and beaten an entire city?”

    The Roman gave a bark of laughter. “One? Heck no. Try six. It was the last one that was tougher to crack than a senator’s grip on a conversation. But it makes sense, it was their capital.”

    The Mayan traveler silently fingered his javelins. Finally, he said, “Maybe there are more things we can learn from you Romans. Any people that can attack another and capture many of their cities are the types of people we want to be friends with.”

    Rumius nodded, swinging his hoe back to his fields. “Ain’t that the truth. The world needs more friends.”

    Malocti waved. “Thank you again, Roman.”

    “Any time, Malocti!”
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
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  2. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    OUT OF STORY

    Once Carthage fell, Hannibal had 4 cities left, his new capital was Utica. They went up in a straight line, hugging the eastern shore of the land mass, running north. The northern most city was Rusicade, and from the yellow of the next border, Carthage was butted up against Egypt.

    I've always hated fighting against her, for some reason, she always domianted in every game she's been in if you leave her alone long enough. With the Zulu's polite on my western border, the Mayan's travelling to find me and trading tech (yeah! they're gracious!), I would need to seriously get my new slave units to work on fixing up the land that I've taken from Carthage, finish wiping Hannibal out, and then take some 20 turn break or so before smacking Cleo. Gotta do it soon before Feudalism and pikemen.

    Interesting note, Zulu have horse and iron, I have horses and Iron, carthage only has iron (no more horses, they're mine now), and the Mayans only have horses. But we each only have 1 source. Rather light on resources, but it paid off in my favor.

    New chapter in a few days. Should be the fall of Carthage as a civ and finally a meeting with Cleo. Thanks again for reading.

    /END OUT OF STORY
     
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  3. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    MARKETPLACES COME TO ROME.

    “Wool shirts, get your wool shirts here!”

    “How much?”

    “Only 30 lira.”

    “30! Ha, I can get it down the road for 20.”

    “Whoa, whoa there citizen. My wool is from the hills of Pompeii, where the sheep there are fed the finest grasses, this side of Zimbabwe.”

    “Ha! Most likely they’ve been beaten with sticks and raped by Carthage dogs, but I’ll take one off your hand for 22.”

    “Woman, you take me for a fool and insult my stock. If you weren’t so ugly that I take great pity on your husband, I wouldn’t drop my price to 27 lira.”

    “Ugly! Are your eyes blind! Or is it that fact that your wares seem so cheap to you, that everyone is ugly. 25!”

    “Hmm. Maybe 26 and then leave my shop you crone.”

    “26 it is.”

    *****

    “Shop keep, I’m desperate to find some spices. Most of the vendors do not have any, but those that did say, told me to speak with you.”

    “Ah, my fine friend. You have indeed done well in finding me here. I feared that my final wares would have gone unsold, and have found myself returning to Veii. Indeed I have the spices that you require.”

    “Excellent! His lordship Baraxus, Caesar’s military advisor, has grown very fond of the way that both pepper and cayenne powder flavor his foods. As his lordships personal cook, the responsibility of failure would fall to me if I could not season his dinners to his liking.”

    “I understand perfectly.”

    “My lazy slaves have done nothing to help me in this matter, all claiming that there is no real spices to be found anywhere in Rome. So here I am. And it would seem that they were not entirely unfounded in their statement.”

    “No, citizen. There are precious few spices available. What little I have come all the way from the Iroquois nation, no mean feat for me to bring them here to Rome from Niagara Falls. I can sell you a small measure, say 3 coin’s weight for 900 lira.”

    “900 lira! Are you insane!”

    “Citizen, citizen. Please. Did I not just say the rarity of these spices? Did you not tell me of the need you have for them? Did I not say that all I have left is what I have for sale? 900 lira is the price.”

    “Bwa…B-b-but…How, how can you charge 900 LIRA?!?!”

    “Plebian, lower you voice, please. I charge 900 lira because that is what it costs. I have to risk crossing the unfamiliar lands of the Zulus, the same people who close their borders to everyone who dares to cross into their nations space. And then once across, there is a blinding desert, with no water as far as the eye can see. On my last trip, barbaric riders from Burgundy chased my caravan for over an hour until we were able to lose them when the sunset. And then there is the crossing into the jungle home of the Iroquois, fierce warriors wearing birds on their heads and riding swift horses with a skill that would put any people to shame. Although not as angry as the Zulu, the Iroquois look poorly on visitors, so our stay there must be brief. A brief stay means small chance for trade.”

    “Shop keep, that is well and good, but the price! The price is just too huge!”

    “Then don’t pay it.”

    “But Baraxus NEEDS the spices.”

    “Then you either tell Baraxus to learn to do without…”

    “I can’t do that!”

    “Then you will pay the 900 lira!”

    “I cannot pay that much for what is no more than a handful of flavored dust!”

    “Citizen, again your voice is raised. If you cannot lower it, then I will have to call the Legionnaires over. Lord Caesar still has martial law in place since the uprisings and looting a few years ago. He, nor any vendor here, take kindly to rabble rousers who seek to disturb the peace.”

    “Can I pay you 400 lira? That’s all I have on me.”

    “Tell you what citizen, because you cook for Baraxus, and we have chased the Carthaginians to the end of the earth, I will make you a deal at 850 lira.”

    “But I only have 400!”

    “Then I suggest you go back and get more.”

    “I have no more to give.”

    “Then it is too bad. Excuse me, citizen. SPICES! SPICES FOR SALE! LAST DAY, 3 COINS WEIGHT REMAINING!”

    “Stop! Stop! Please stop! I’ll buy it, I’ll buy it!”

    “Excellent. I’ll hold your 400 now, to keep me from selling the rest of my wares, and you go off the get the rest of the money.”

    “I’ll be right back! Don’t leave.”

    “Hurry citizen, we’re only here for another 2 hours!”

    *****

    “I’ll take the red dye and the yellow one.”

    “Fine choize you made t’ere.”

    “Hey, shop keep! How much for a half pound of the orange?”

    “Eh, let’s say 11 lira fo’ the ‘alf pound.”

    “Can I give you 10?”

    “Yeah, 10 iz real good. T’anks!”

    “Shop keep, do you have a light green dye?”

    “I gots sump’tin t’at looks like grass. ‘ere. Wut ‘bout this, huh?”

    “Great! Just what I want.”

    “I’m so glad that Caesar has opened up these marketplaces. It makes it so much easier to find what we need without trying to find different peddlers and merchants all over the damn city.”

    “Yeah! You gots t’at right! You’re happy, we’re happy, and even wit ‘aving to pay the extra taxes to Caezar, t’erez more money to be had by all.”

    *****

    “Sir, this is the last of the monthly tax collections. 576 lira.”

    “Thank you, Centurion. Leave it there.” Embellias’ fingers slid back and forth over the abacus, the polished bead clacking lightly on their stretched wire guides. Glancing at the cramped column of figures he scratched into the vellum sheet, he frowned. “That can’t be right?” he muttered.

    Taking the copper scraper, he rubbed the top layer off the vellum, along with his list of tax revenues from the new market place. Once clean, he began the laborious task of re-adding the tax receipts. For the next hour, only the click of the abacus beads and scratching sound of the stylus as Caesar’s domestic advisor scribed a new column of numbers. Upon finishing, the grey haired advisor gave a low whistle.

    Quickly plotting forward, Embellias came up with a yearly estimate of revenues. Scribing it done, he stared at the number for a few moments, a smile breaking across his face. “It’s so big,” he muttered. “So much money. We’ve never had this much of a surplus before.” Clicking the abacus quickly, he came up with a new figure and wrote it under his first.

    If Draxium wants to invest money in another series of experiments, ideas, or theories, I believe that the coffers of Rome can more than accommodate his required costs. Embellias placed the last of the tax revenues into the vault, locked the door behind him, and snatching his notes from the table, ran off to inform Caesar of the countries new found riches and the future prosperity of Rome.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
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  4. biggamer132

    biggamer132 King

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    Excellent story Vanadorn. I kind of got hooked there...
     
  5. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    Spying a glint from under the rubble, Trilus dropped his shield to move some of the still warm remains from the burned building out of the way.

    “What’d ya find there, Trilus?”

    Waving the last of the ash and dirt aside, the Legionnaire withdrew a beaten silver pendant from the ruins. “A bit of treasure, Jaxum. Another bit of treasure.” Holding it briefly to the sun, Trilus admired the way his new found riches shone in the light before placing it in his belt pouch.

    “Lucky sod, you are there.” Jaxum took his helm off, wiping the sweat off that had pooled in his hair. The two legionnaires surveyed the ruins about them. Most of the buildings were knocked down to their foundation stones; those that still stood were mere skeletal frames, fire scorched and blackened. The streets and thoroughfares were still identifiable between the piles of broken stones and burning wood, and it was down these roadways that the victorious Roman forces were marching.

    “Jupiter stake that cur Hannibal to a rock for running away again.” Trilus spit, raising a brief dust cloud from the remains of a plebeian’s hut to his left. “At this rate, every fishing village from here to Hades is going to be searched and torched until he just gives up.”

    “Ya got that right.” From up ahead, they heard the wailing of the liberated citizens of Utica. “Stupid whoresons. If they’d have just given Hannibal up, or not fought us so hard after we marched in, they’d be in a different state then now.”

    “Jaxum, ever give any thought to what we’d be doing when Hannibal is finally caught?”

    The Legionnaire thought for a moment, placing his helm back on his head. “I don’t know really. Guess we’d have a big parade then crucify him. I’ll say one thing though, there’d be no more of these uprisings in these cities anymore.”

    Trilus remained quiet, only the sounds of their sandaled feet crunching on the broken roads of Utica and the cries of its citizens coming from the pens ahead. “Yeah. I guess.”

    Where the two main streets of town met, the town square was cordoned off with barricades, rubble, and fencing, effectively walling the remaining thousands of Carthaginians within. Most of the people were dressed in dark red rags, their hair filthy and unkempt, their bodies thin and malnourished. Over 200 Legionnaires guarded the mass of starving prisoners, their forms tense, their weapons naked in the sun.

    The second palace of the Golden Lion, just to the east of the holding pens, had been burned to the ground during the siege of Utica over a month ago. Bands of enslaved Carthaginians had spent over a week clearing the rubble away, leaving the basement open to the sky. Carthage nationals had rioted last week, putting the Antium 3rd and 4th spear company that was enforcing Lord Caesar’s martial law to death. The flag of Rome had been struck from the city walls and a battered but still proud Carthage flag had been reflown over the broken gates.

    Trilus and his fellow Legionnaires, already on leave from their original successful campaign on liberating Utica in the first place, were recalled and force-marched back to the city. The staunch defenders tried to hold off the returning Romans, but composed of mostly untried farmers, older veterans, and desperate women, the fragile resistance fell under the Legionnaires’ blades.

    Upon reestablishing Roman order, all Carthaginian citizens were rounded up and placed in the holding pen in the center of town. Then the granaries were emptied and sent to the front to support the troops there fighting Hannibal’s dwindling empire. Crosses were set up around the pen. Rioters, rebels, and complainers were taken from the pen and crucified. Each day that the people complained, all food and water were withheld. The citizens of Utica were being starved into submission.

    Meanwhile, Trilus and over 500 other Legionnaires were sent through the rubbled streets, looking for any who escaped the initial incarceration. Each day, hundreds and thousands of Carthaginians died, their bodies were dragged from the pens and dumped in the mass grave; the former basement of Hannibal’s palace.

    Reaching the holding pens, Trilus looked on with cold, bothered eyes at the fellow human beings within. Their swollen bellies, parched lips, hollow eyes. He took in their dying, jaundiced forms and tried to see them as something other than people, tried to see them how Caesar saw the citizens of Carthage: mere numbers representing population and how is the most efficient way to reduce them to an easily manageable size.

    He grit his teeth. “You know what, Jaxum?” he asked, his voice catching as he watched another fellow human being die in the pit below.

    “What?”

    “I can’t wait for this war to be over. I hope it’s soon. I hope it happens before I forget what it’s like to not be a soldier.”

    Jaxum stared at his friend, unsure how to respond at first. Then, he laid an understanding arm on Trilus’ shoulder and turned him away from the misery of Utica’s populace. “I hope so too.” The two men left the town square and returned to their job of searching the desolate ruins of Carthage’s shattered empire.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
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  6. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    “Sabratha has fallen, my lord.”

    “Excellent.” Scipio flipped the edge of his cloak back, pulling the sodden material off his sweating form. “Damn hot in these parts.”

    “That it is, my lord. According to the Carthage dogs who been kissing up to us, it’s this hot all the time, year in, year out.”

    “What, no snow? What about winter?” The Roman general lifted his wineskin to his lips, taking a large pull in an effort to slake his thirst.

    His adjunct smirked. “My lord, it is winter.”

    “Zeus’ Boils! I forgot!” He returned his skin to the table, taking more of a look at the map stretched out there. “You know, I was convinced we had Hannibal here. Every fishing village, hovel, rat hole, and township from here to hell after has been conquered, search, garrisoned, and folded into Rome’s embrace. Sabratha was it. The last stronghold of Hannibal and the Carthage nation.” Scipio sighed, the past 10 years of tiring warfare sounding in his drawn out breath. “I’d like to know how he pulled this little trick.”

    “Don’t know, my lord. But you’ll get him.”

    Sighing again, Scipio turned his full attention to the map and his army. Every place that was once of Carthage, now flew the red flag of Rome over it’s ramparts. Temples were prevalent in every city. Legionnaires and Roman trained spearmen kept the peace. Carthage children learned Latin and Roman history in Caesar sponsored schools. Many of his soldiers, those that chose retirement, married into Carthage families, having children of their own.

    But it’ll mean nothing until Hannibal is destroyed! He thought. As long as he still lives, the rebelliousness will never go out of these people.

    “General Scipio, sir!” His thoughts were interrupted. Looking up, he saw one of his scouts ride up on a Syracusian steed. A second horse followed, mounted on it was the strangest dressed man he had ever seen. His skin was dark bronze to brown in color, his head was shaven. A molded and firmed cloth hat or some sort covered his head and framed his face. His chest was bare except of a bandoleer with arrows and a strangely recurved bow across his back. His feet were sandaled and his clothing was limited to a faded yellow wrapping skirt of some sort.

    “What’s the problem, Frimius?”

    “Nothing, General Scipio.” Frimius dismounted quickly, offering his aid to the strange man that rode with him. By the unsteady way he slid off the horses back, it was obvious to the Roman general that the stranger had never been astride a mount before. “General,” Frimius began, “This is Nahotep. He is an Egyptian from a town named Giza to our north.” The stranger nodded at this. “He has some news for us as to the possible whereabouts of Hannibal.”

    Scipio strode to within 2 paces of the Egyptian. He noted his utter lack of body fat, his corded muscles, his callused fingers and hands. The Egyptian’s eyes were clean and confident, his bearing one of strength. “Nahotep, eh?” He nodded. “Can you speak our language?”

    “Yes I can.” The Egyptian’s voice was a deep baritone, sounding as confident as his bearing appeared to be.

    “What can you tell me of the Carthaginian known as Hannibal?”

    Nahotep remained silent, taking in Scipio’s measure. After a pause he said, “What do I have to tell you of anything for? You and your Romans and your iron weapons have wrecked much havoc on the people from Carthage. Hannibal was a quiet neighbor to us, his people would speak to us of the horses they had and how their running would sound throughout their lands. For years, we have watched these people become crushed under your attacks. You and yours are no better than the Mayans are to our west.”

    Frimius froze, his mouth open in shock. Scipio’s guards were dumb struck, unbelieving that anyone could speak to the 2nd most powerful man in Rome that way. The Roman general said nothing, his eyes locked on Nahotep’s. Both men tried to stare each other down, and the seconds passed by. Eventually, it was the Egyptian who blinked first. Scipio grinned.

    “You’re right, Nahotep.” He held up his hand, silencing the surprised gasps from his soldiers. “You are not a citizen of Rome, nor do you have to answer to me.” Nahotep smiled. “However if you do tell me what I wish to hear, I will pay you the reward if the information you disclose proves to aid us in the capture of Hannibal.”

    Nahotep’s smile grew broader. “Reward? How much.”

    Scipio took quick guess on the Egyptians weight. “Let’s say one-fourth your weight in silver.”

    “Make it one-half.”

    Scipio thought. “I’ll not dicker with you, we’re not trading silk shirts for incense here. One-half your weight in silver if the information is true and comes quickly.”

    Nahotep nodded. “The Golden Lion ran with a long line of other Carthaginians when it was heard that your people were coming. Over 10,000 strong they were, composed of Numidian warriors, mounted spearmen, and all sorts of women, children, and men. Most of the townsfolk from Sabratha fled with him. They followed the great long sea until they arrived at the hills where the black skinned men hunt sheep. He and his kind were running like Ra himself were driving upon them.”

    That explains why Sabratha seemed to have too many empty homes for the amount of citizens we rounded up. Scipio rubbed his chin, glancing back at the map on the table. Tracing his finger down the waterway known as the Spartan Sea, he ended it in the unmapped area marked as “Lands of the Zulus”. The cartographical symbols showed the land to be filled with many jungles and hills, which would make catapult fire difficult at best. Hmm. But if he’s down to this, we won’t need anymore than a few companies of Legionnaires to bring him to heel.

    Looking back at Nahotep, who was staring at the map strangely, Scipio said, “Frimius, ride to this location, take the Syracuse road by way of Utica. Tell me if indeed Hannibal is setting up a stronghold there. If so, come back and we’ll march.” The scout saluted, mounted up and rode away fast. "You, Nahotep, will be our guest until he returns with either good news or bad.”

    Scipio idly drew his gladius, admiring the iron blade in the tropical sun. “If your advice has been correct, you will be paid and set on your way. If you’ve played me false...” he stabbed the short sword down; burying the 1st 4 inched into the oak table. Nahotep blanched. “If you’ve been wrong and therefore insulted me before my men for no reason, I will slice you in 4 and send your bloody gobs of quivering flesh back to your Caesarina in 4 different baskets.”

    The Egyptian was silent, his bronze skin a bit lighter than earlier. “After watching what you and your Romans have done to the Golden Lion,” he said, his voice less sure, “I assure you by Geb’s Beard, my words are true.” Scipio nodded. Nahotep turned to go, pausing to say, “And Cleopatra is our Queen, our Pharaohess send to rule by mandate of Ra. Not our Caesarina.”

    Scipio motioned him to stop. “Queen? What is a queen?”
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
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  7. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    /OUT OF STORY

    Destroyed the last Carthage city and didn't get the you've wiped them out message. A turn later, the mystery settler walking around popped a quick city just between Zulu and I.

    As to Egypt, she had Monarchy (lucky me) and wouldn't trade. So gonna have to study it myself. Also, at this point, could tell that Maya and Egypt and Zulu had all been in some recent war with eachother (strange city names with different colors and red bars on the foreign advisor screen). Maya is friendly to me, Zulu is gracious to me, and Egypt is annoyed. Plus, I just dislike any game with Cleo in it. Guess who I attack next?

    Hope people are enjoying the read. End of the ancient age is coming soon.

    /END OUT OF STORY
     
  8. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    “Lord Caesar, there has to be a better way.”

    “Ha!” Caesar laughed. “Right Gracus, like your fanciful dream of this republic you keep talking about.”

    Senator Gracus slapped his open palm onto the map or Rome hanging in the throne room. “No one man, no matter how great, can and should rule a land mass of this size. You NEED a representative form of government. Hence, you NEED the Senate and my call for a Republic.”

    Caesar swept his arm, spilling scrolls and pens from his desk. Amidst the clatter, he shouted, “I am Rome! Me! I am the Emperor! It was me and my family, from the very beginning of time, who’ve struggled to make damn sure that our people wouldn’t perish from the earth. I’m the damn Emperor and I say what goes!”

    The senator growled low in the back of his throat. “You fool! Already we’re choking on the effluvious of too many citizens. After seeing the beauty of Giza’s aqueducts, the joy of running water, the cleanliness of its people, you instead waste your time trying to cobble together some pseudo-religious claptrap about the mandate of heaven? Like you’ve needed heaven’s approval for anything! You should be struggling to figure out HOW Cleopatra built those tremendous ramp ways!”

    “Have you seen the numbers from Embellias?” the Roman despot shouted back. “Do you have any idea how much money is being squeezed out of our coffers? All these precious libraries, granaries, temples, marketplaces; who do you think and how do you think this all gets paid for? The local governors are skimming off the top! Not just a little, but sometimes more than half the damn taxes are ‘disappearing’!”

    “If you would retire some of your military, there might be some extra money to pay for these improvements.”

    “And how does that stop my pockets, the treasury of Rome, from being picked?” Caesar picked up a scroll from the floor, shaking it under Senator Gracus’ prodigious nose. “I need the people to recognize me as more than just their Emperor. I need them to recognize me as their leader, their King. Someone who has been placed where I am to watch over them. Someone who if they displease, will anger not only me and my guards, but also Jupiter and Helios. Hestia and Venus. Mars and Neptune. Right now I lead by fear of one man. I want to lead my people by fear of god!”

    “If you would just try to understand my thoughts on this.” Gracus turned to stare out the window into the recently paved courtyard of Caesar’s castle. “If you were to have control of the empire, with the guidance of the Senate, you could exact more commerce, taxes, and production from your people. The plebian already vote for their senators, this would allow them to not only for their voice amongst your advisors, but to vote for a voice in the actual running of Rome.” He turned back, scowling. “And if they take an active part in the running of their country, then they’d be less likely to rip it off by filching the tax money!”

    “You are so naïve! People are sheep, the need to be led. No one wants to go through the effort or running the country, they’d rather appoint an underling to do their work while they spend their time shopping at the market. So then what do I have? An overblown government with many layers of bureaucrats doing the minimal amount necessary but each drawing a large salary. Luxuries for all!” crowed Caesar. “Riches for the already rich! Power for the already powerful!”

    “Power in the hands of the people where it belongs!” cried Gracus. “Not in the hands of a man who waged war because some work gang was set upon by our one time peaceful neighbors to the north. A war of genocide! Zeus’ Boils Caesar! You obliterated an entire people off the map! And for what?!? Pride? You could have taken our people back, fought Hannibal in the field, taught him a lesson or two, and then called it quits. Instead, you send every second and fourth child to you training camps, dress them in iron, and throw them at every walled fortress and hamlet that flew Carthage’s flag.”

    “My people wanted to go! It was our brothers and sisters that were taken. Children were lost without their fathers. We had to punish them for their crimes. Every Roman that died was worth a hundred Carthaginian. Every field burned required a city of theirs torched. My people, Roman people, OUR people demanded that I strike at Hannibal. Strike him hard, often, and with a furious anger that would keep him from ever attacking so much as a falafel stand ever again! Can you not see how they love me for my decision? Hannibal is dead, his body crucified and quartered. Did not the plebeians add on to my already glorious palace? I say that the time is ripe.” He thrust his fist into the air. “The time has come that every Roman, whether native or captured, know that I am here as a matter of divine providence. I am here because the gods will it so.”

    “Dramatics.” Gracus turned in disgust, walking back to the map. “Always with you it comes down to dramatics. At least my plan would benefit the people of Rome.”

    Caesar walked next to him, staring at his empire marked in red. “Call it what you will, Senator. My plan will benefit Rome as well. It will benefit them because I will it to. You and your senate can still stay on, but with no more powers from me. Maybe one day, if the people turn against me or my family to come, you can have your chance at a Republic.” Caesar chuckled. “But both of us will be long dead before that day comes.”

    The old senator sighed, smiling slightly. “Dead, huh? Sorry my friend, but I plan on living a long time past you. I know that if Pluto calls me first, you’ll have the pleasure of dancing on my grave, and I refuse to let that happen.”

    Caesar laughed. “Dance on your grave? Ha! By the time you pass on you stubborn mule, I’ll be too addled to dance.” He paused. “At the very minimum, I’d at least spit upon it.”

    “Caesar, Caesar, Caesar,” smiled Gracus. “At the age I’d be, and the bladder problems I’d have then, you don’t want to know what I’d do on your grave.”

    Both Emperor cum King and leader of the Senate spent a long time laughing in the way only old friends and enemies could.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
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  9. Smellincoffee

    Smellincoffee Trekkie At Large

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    I'm enjoying this very much, keep it up! :D
     
  10. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    “
    “Ambassador Malocti, from the Mayan Empire. Ambassador Ngomi, from the Zulu Republic.”

    “Gentlemen, gentlemen, please come in. What can Rome do for you?” Senator Tiberius embraced each of the visiting dignitaries in turn, his grip firmly clasping their arms in a show of strength and support.

    Malocti huddled tighter in his woven grass shirt, trying to keep his deeply tanned form from shivering. “Senator Tiberius, you do Smoke Jaguar and my people a great service by speaking to me.” The Mayan ambassador lowered his still strong form into the proffered chair. “It has been some time since my people were able to return the kindness that the Roman’s showed. Your gift of the Caesarian Laws and the professed Civilized Gracusian Code has helped our king, the Great Instigator, in establishing a less corrupt government for our people.”

    Tiberius bowed his head; “You humble us in your praise. Senator Gracus had a dream, a dream of Rome. Alas his passing these last few years prevented him from realizing his vision. However, before he died, he was able to pen his life work, his codes of civilized and moralistic society, down for this and future generations to learn from. Plus, Lord Caesar did not see this as charity, but as knowledge, learning from the most trusted and respected man he’d ever known, to be shared with all.”

    “And how is your King Caesar? Does he still suffer foul humours in his chest?” Ambassador Ngomi removed his outer wrapping, hanging the weather beaten cloak across his walking staff and propping them against the whitewashed walls. Scanning quickly, the tall Zulu strode to a low divan of Carthage Oak and lowered his lanky form upon it. Reaching into his dark stained shirt, he withdrew a pipe and small pouch of tobacco, quickly filling and lighting the pipe weed.

    Tiberius gave a small smile. “Pluto has held off Lord Caesar’s trip across the river Styx for so long, but the coughing and pains are almost constant. Lord Caesar will be traveling to the Elysian fields soon.”

    Both visiting ambassadors gave low murmurs, offering their condolences in their own way. “But worry not,” the Roman advisor continued, “for soon Rome will have a new Caesar, our Lord’s eldest son Marcus. He has been well trained for this since before he was bloodied in battle, he will do both our Lord and Rome proud.”

    The Zulu drew in a deep lungful of his pipe smoke, savoring the rich flavor, and blew it out. He offered the pipe to Tiberius who took it gratefully. “If Lord Caesar’s replacement is as good of a choice as yours was for Senator Gracus, then it will please my people and those who speak well of you.”

    “Mine as well.” Malocti took the pipe from Tiberius, also drawing a lungful of the sweet smoke. Giving the Roman a hard stare, he asked, “It is good that friendly nations can sit and talk under a flag of truce. Not all nations understand that peaceful neighbors are something to be treasured, not disturbed as hive of bees.”

    Ngomi nodded. “Yes. Some nations feel that all the world is theirs and that we are just in their way.”

    “Would you be speaking of someone in particular?” Tiberius lowered himself to his own chair, sighing as he knew where this conversation was to go.

    “You know that I speak of that bi*ch Cleopatra and her foul people.” Malocti tapped his foot angrily. “For as far back as our great calendars go, marked at the beginning of the 4th age, it was noted that in the same year that a great light shone in he north sky for 2 days, that men in yellow on wheeled horses rode across the forested landscape and attacked our people. They came for blood and spoils. They attacked our warriors, burned our fields, blocked our roads. If my people hadn’t had the strength of Quetzalcoatl, then there would have been great death on those days.”

    The tall Zulu growled. “She has always been rude to our Khans. Her family has always made demands of us, demands that we would pay only to avoid the horrors of war. We are a warrior nation; proud, free, and strong. But it was the great Shaka who taught us that a warrior nation does not always have to be at war to be great. However, our youngest hunters and fighters are growing tired of Egyptian men trampling across our land like they own it. Egyptian warriors striding our iron rich hills as if they owned them. Bah!”

    The Mayan shook the pipe at Ngomi. “Walking the lands is bad enough, we’ve had to deal with that rudeness ourselves for years. Now! Now, she sends warriors out from rich Alexandria, the jewel of her country, to attack us again! Our people are ill prepared for her wily assaults. But if her arrogance and unwarranted warmongering isn’t brought to heel, then the day will draw anew when the Red Spirit will draw our javeliners back into the battles again.”

    “Gentlemen, gentlemen, please!” Tiberius made lowering motions to his agitated guests. “Please, relax. One of the things that my people, the Roman people, had to learn was that war, fought for emotional reasons, is a long, drawn-out, blood soaked, unpopular, messy and disgusting affair. Don’t be so quick to sharpen your plowshares and arm your people.”

    “You are strong. Your people fill your lands. The dogs of Carthage no longer bark on our eastern borders. Shaka wants to know if he was to war with Egypt, if the Roman warbands would also answer this call.”

    “As does the Mayans. War is coming between Egypt and us. Together we are as strong as her, but Rome alone outmasses Egypt again. Will Rome not march to war with Maya and Zulu?”

    Senator Tiberius took in the earnest look and stiff poses of the visiting ambassadors. Sadly, he shook his head. “Friends. Brothers. Be calm and lend me your ears. Shall you suffer the slings and stones and arrows hurled at your people without defending yourselves? The answer is no! But to align Rome with you against Egypt? That…that…that’s mad in some way. How could that happen? There has never been anything like that before. For an undertaking like this, an alliance, it would require much more than just the work of kings and senates. There would need be treaties and formal declarations. I cannot begin to fathom how multiple nations would even coordinate such a huge undertaking.”

    Ngomi stood up. “It’s not a thing for thinking, but for doing.”

    “And I’m telling you that it would not be easy to do.”

    “Then make it easy.”

    Tiberius sighed. “And how would one do that?”

    Ngomi stood seething, unwilling to concede the point, but unable to come up with a solution. Slowly, the Mayan ambassador raised his head. Staring at Tiberius, he said, “We are a simple people. Zulu is a poor nation. Rome is a rich nation. Would Rome be willing to pay for the establishment of another country? A Mayan country, a Zulu country, a place of land within your borders that is not Roman?”

    Rising, Malocti began warming to his subject. “It would require many pages to establish, but some sort of permanent emissary or ambassadorhood of some sort.”

    “Are you speaking of an embassy?” Ngomi asked.

    “Yes, yes, exactly,” Malocti agreed excitedly. “If there were permanent embassies between our nations, it would go a long way towards establishing whatever protocol is needed to these alliances that we want.”

    Tiberius shook his head. “Let’s say I can get Embellias, Rome’s minister of finances to agree to the cost, it would not be in place in time for Rome to help you out in your struggle against Egypt.”

    Ngomi smiled. “Not now, but as a warrior people, I know that my children’s children will spill the blood of Egypt and on that day, we will want the Roman’s as shieldmates.”

    “Will you not help us now in our fight with Cleopatra?”

    “Rome cannot. But I will look into these embassies as soon as possible.”

    Ngomi slung his cloak across his shoulders. “The word of the Romans is good enough for me. Either way, our Impi warriors will sharpen their blades this day and strike Egyptians tomorrow. I know that the javelins of Maya will fly amongst the yellow dressed men. All I am saying is that while Cleopatra’s attention is turned to the west, her defenses will be weak in the East.”

    Malocti returned the now empty pipe to the Zulu with a sheepish grin. “We’re not forcing Rome to ally with us, but if Cleo’s hatred and disdain of all that is not Egyptian is not quelled, the day will dawn when Egypt will seek to try her mettle against Rome.”

    Tiberius followed the two ambassadors to the door. “What if we could convince Cleopatra to lay off her attacks? What if we could convince her to choose peace?”

    “Convince the sun to eat the moon.”

    “Convince the lion to befriend the zebra.” Ngomi laid his dark hand on Tiberius’ troubled form. “Forgive our acid words. Whatever Rome can do for us will be more than enough.” The Zulu representative left.

    Malocti also gripped Tiberius’ shoulder. “Maya will not forget that Rome has always been our friend. May the Red Spirit revisit your people soon.”

    Shutting the door behind their departed forms, Tiberius lay his head against the cool mahogany. Gracus, Gracus, he thought. Why did you have to die now? How am I to keep the peace across nations? Why do I have to handle this situation?

    He rolled his head back and forth across the doorframe, trying to find some way to approach both the new Caesar and the old Caesar on this turn of foreign affairs, and wondered what advice he’d have, if any, when they asked him for it.

    Whatever Rome can do for us… Ngomi’s words came back to him. I don’t know if Rome can do anything for you. For on some level whatever Rome does; Egyptian, Zulu, Mayan, someone is going to be unhappy with Rome.

    Gathering his meager scrolls and maps, Tiberius marched off to Caesar’s chambers to inform and advise the King of Rome of the situation at hand.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
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  11. biggamer132

    biggamer132 King

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    Again, an excellent story Vanadorn. When does the next part come out?
     
  12. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    Hopefully in a day or two. Thanks for reading and enjoying. It's nice to be writing again (it's been some 6 years since I've taken the time out to write something that wasn't associated with my job!). About the same time that Egypt, Zulu and Maya all went to war with each other, I needed some turns to consolidate my holdings. So couldn't risk sending a stretched, worn out, and un supported army into the field against Egypt - she who's military was average in comparison to mine. And I had easily a good 40% larger empire.

    Keep on reading.

    V
     
  13. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    Thrium strode along the deck, checking the hawser lines for the 8th time. The taut ropes held the mainsail steady, the stiff fabric filled with the easterly blowing wind. The bright green docks of Rome’s harbor fell behind the stern of the Furious Thundercloud. Assorted fishing skiffs and low barges for clamming gave way for the massive Roman galley.

    With a double row of benches, up to 68 able seamen could operate the massive runners to power the long ship when Neptune chose to deny winds. The lower holds were fully stocked with oranges, salted meats and barrels of fresh water.

    Looking behind, Thrium watched northern quarters of the massive city fall away. The ancient walls that guarded the city in antiquity’s past were vaguely identifiable as straight lines in the heart of the financial and the industrial sections of town, no longer useful as the population of Rome was easily 3 or 4 times greater than was originally built to house.

    Even the Furious Thundercloud’s crew was a polygot mix of sailors and longshoremen. Dark haired Carthage halfers scrubbed the decks near Numidian net flingers. Roman citizens with the bronzed skin marking them as Syracusians were trimming the sails and lighter skinned Roman’s from Ceaseraugustus were lashing the barrels to the decks.

    “Captain Thrium!”

    Thrium turned to the shouted call, waving at Kirus, his deck master. Striding easily on the gently pitching deck, Thrium asked, “What is it Kirus?”

    The weathered deck master spit a wad of gum he had been chewing into his hand and said, “Captain, might I finally be asking where it is we’re going?”

    “We’re taking a trip around the Cape of Victories, past the long seas, and up the northern lands to an Egyptian city called Thebes.”

    “Thebes, eh?” Kirus examined the gum in his hand, satisfied with its consistency, and began to use it to aid in the splicing of two lengths of rope together. “Seems like a long way away.”

    “No, it won’t be close, that’s for sure.”

    His fingers moving deftly, Kirus continued, “Wouldn’t it be easier to just take a trip up there? Heard tell that the Utica Imperial Roadway was finished not too long ago.”

    Thrium grabbed a loose coil of rope from under a rowing bench and methodically began recoiling its length. “Well, seems that our new Lord Caesar doesn’t take kindly to Egyptians trespassing on our lands, so wants to avoid giving the Egyptian’s a reason to do the same to us.”

    “So we’re going to sail there?”

    “Yep.” Laying the neatened coil down, Thrium strode towards the aft, Kirus following. “Lord Caesar said that we’re to sail to Thebes, see if it can be done, then continue sailing around the Egyptian landmass. He’s looking for an additional route to Maya.”

    “Hmm.” Kirus looked over the stern rail, watching the city of Rome disappear completely behind the Venus Hills. “I guess if that’s what we’re doing then that’s what we’re doing.” He checked his splicing, seemed happy, and added, “Seems odd that the largest ship ever built in the history of Rome would just go on a jaunt around the Cape of Victories just to map the northern lands. Heck, not even lands that we own.”

    Thrium remained silent, staring at the wake his ship left behind.

    “Of course,” the deck master continued, “I’ve heard tell of some fierce fighting down near an Egyptian town called Giza and another one called Alexandria. Seems that Zulu and Mayan soldiers have been attacked by Egyptian soldiers. Heard it was pretty bloody. Some type of battle or some such.”

    Kirus stretched out his lengths, measured them, and continued splicing another strand. “I would wonder, if sailing into the waters of an already aggressive country who was battling other people, on a ship half again larger than anything we’ve ever built before, just to map and sightsee would go over well.”

    Thrium idly fingered his belt.

    “Yeah. I’m just a simple sailor. Don’t know much of this politics stuff. I’m sure you’re right, Captain. We’re just looking for another route to Mayan lands. Know how crazy they are for good Roman dyes and dye goods.”

    The captain smiled. “Yes they do like it, eh Kirus.” Checking the rudder lines, Thrium asked, “Say Kirus?”

    “Hmm?”

    “You know what they’ve got in Thebes?”

    “No Captain, what?”

    “A big statue. A statue to their king of the gods, Ra. Overlaid in Ivory.”

    “Ivory? You mean elephant teeth?”

    “Yep.”

    “Big statue? Like that colossal one you see in Carthage?”

    Thrium shook his head. “No, not that big, but huge. The Statue of Ra they call it. Supposedly have a bunch of fanatical warriors who train at the statue grounds, crazed horsemen who ride even better than the Iroquois do.”

    Kirus grunted. “Ra. Stupid name for a god king. What’s wrong with Zeus or Jupiter? Bah, Egyptians ain’t all that tough; just have really nice towns that’s all. My sister’s always going on about how wonderful the Egyptian cities are, how clean. From what I’ve heard of them, they don’t even have one good phalanx of swordsmen, they’re still using bronze weapons.”

    “Not true.” Thrium watched as the last of the far ranging fishing boats fell behind. “According to the Zimbabwe news criers, there’s a huge iron mine near Giza that the Egyptians weren’t even aware they had. Supposedly they’ve got a team of workers stringing along some roadwork to the mountainous mines.” He glanced up at the sun. “Won’t be long till they have their own iron clad swordsmen running around.”

    “Won’t be Legionnaires, that’s for sure.”

    Thrium grunted in assent.

    “Well,” continued Kirus, “guess that’s why the Zulu’s are so hot to breach the walls of Giza, gotta stop the iron from being used and exploited.” Laying his work down, Kirus adjusted the rudder and retied it into its new position. “Hope the Zulu can do it. Don’t want to think about Egyptians with iron.” He glanced at the massive galley, taking in its thick hull, long lines, and heavy build. “Wonder if our maps might help on that distant day when we have to be concerned about Egypt?”

    Thrium nodded. “Yeah, I guess our maps of Egypt might come in handy. Assuming we ever have a need to use such knowledge.” Pulling a thin copper flask of wine from his doublet, Thrium took a long drink and handed it to his deck master.

    Kirus took the flask, thoughtfully looked at it, and drank. “Yep. Assuming we ever need it, alright.”

    Both men watched the landscape of Rome roll by as Poseidon’s gentle winds carried the Furious Thundercloud further on its journey.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
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  14. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    Sonus Tasuvius lay his sword down, carefully replacing the ancient weapon back in its case.

    “Sonus, I can’t thank you enough for training my kids and my nephews.” Scipio’s hands shook, the palsy affecting his once youthful form, but the liver spotted skin still held strength, easily visible as he gripped the weapons master’s forearm.

    “How can I resist, General Scipio?” Sonus lowered his 50-year-old frame to his own cushioned chair, motioning Scipio to do the same. “As old men now, I can still remember the glory of our charges and the brilliance in your tactics.”

    The veteran general waved his hand. “You don’t have to ingratiate yourself to me Sonus. I can’t hand out field promotions anymore.” He laughed. “I guess you’re stuck a Centurion until we rejoin Caesar in the afterlife.” He hoisted a clay mug of wine in honor of his former emperor.

    Sonus followed suit, both men drinking long. Sighing, the weapons master said, “I do so miss the call of war. The blaring of trumpets, the twangs of arrows, the whistling of catapults.”

    Scipio snorted. “Try the logistics of thousands of men and narrow roads. Not enough food and too many wounded. The aches, the blood, the tiring nights and hot days. No, I’ve seen enough of war to last my life and the lives of 5 other men.” He took a second gulp of his wine. “But I’m no fool. Rome is strong because its men are strong. And strong men need strong leaders and strong schooling.”

    “Not this again, Scipio.”

    “Why not? Just think about it, a huge military academy, a place where all of Rome’s men can gain he benefit of your knowledge of war and soldiering.”

    “General, it was your decisions that won the fight against Carthage.”

    “Yes, but as a good general, I listened to my Centurions. Especially a young brilliant man whose grasp of war and how men think during it helped me to make some rather excellent calls.” He reached forward, thrusting his knobby finger into Sonus’ chest. “You, you dolt. Zeus’ Boils! If you had the man power and control of your own army, we’d have been able to knock weeks if not months off some of our battles.”

    “It’s hubris and pride, Scipio, to have an entire academy based on me and my thoughts. I’m just one man.”

    “Bah, don’t give me that one man speech. Caesar was one man. Pompeii was one man. I was one man. Hell, even Hannibal was one man. All it takes is one man to change to course of the world.”

    Sonus grinned. “I can’t teach a thousand sons of Rome at once.”

    “Then teach 10 teachers the exact way you want things to be done. They will teach 10 and so on and so on. Write down your thoughts and some of your musings on past battles.”

    “My letters are atrocious. My hand is too accustomed to gripping swords and spears.”

    Scipio laughed, “Too true. I’m sure that there is at least one adjunct or scribe who can read your blocky letters and copy them again.” The old general stood up, his shaking hand reaching for his weathered walking stick. “I’ve already spoken with Caesar on this and he agrees. They’re talking of building your academy in either Lugdunum or Rome itself.” Leaning his weight, Scipio staggered away from the table and began walking across the training yard. “Imagine, a thousand sons of Rome learning under the tutelage of Sonus Tasuvius and his War Academy.” He sighed; his eyes closed imagining the spectacle.

    Getting up himself, Sonus stood next to Scipio, glanced at the hunched form of Rome’s greatest general, and closed his eyes as well. In the darkness of their minds, both men heard the cry of future legionnaires and infantrymen. They saw the colors of flags, the sharp red of Rome waving on standards held high. The cities of Pax Romana, benefiting from the accumulated knowledge of a generation of warfare.

    They stood that way for some time, imagining the future and what it would bring. “Yes," Sonnus whispered, trying to hold the images and sounds of the future warriors of Rome in his mind. "Tell Caesar I’ll start writing today. I’ll start teaching tomorrow.”

    Scipio smiled in victory, unaware that Sonus was doing the same.
     
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  15. Smellincoffee

    Smellincoffee Trekkie At Large

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    Did iron just randomly reappear in Egypt, or are they just now discovering iron-working?

    Good stuff. :)
     
  16. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    No, for some reason, she hadn't any roads to it. In southern Egypt and Northern Zulu There is a mountain range and hills. One iron source was in Zulu territory (near Zimbabwe), and the other was in Egypt near Giza. Zulu was hooked up, Egypt was not.

    Egypt and I were in middle ages. I had finished Feudalism and was going for chivalry, she had Monotheism and Feudalism. Maya and Zulu needed construction and Iroquois needed construction, map making, and monarchy. Carthage? Wiped out. The Arabs and the Incas are on here as well but still haven't found them.

    Zulu and Egypt had to have had a few skirmishes by this time. Lots of ruins in hte area and slave workers were seen on each side. My guess, the Zulu Impi dominated earlier on but now Egypt was much bigger and able to field a larger army. Sadly, the Zulu had reached their largest position by this point, and their decline beigns now.

    Thanks for reading. Trying to put the civ stuff in as I found it happening without coloring it with what happened next or changing the facts to make a better story.

    V
     
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  17. Smellincoffee

    Smellincoffee Trekkie At Large

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    Sounds good, enjoying this. :)
     
  18. gazdeluxe11

    gazdeluxe11 Chieftain

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    i just joined civfanatics and have read a bunch of the stories. i just wanted to put up a quick post to tell you not to get discouraged... i just finished the first page and its very entertaining. Keep going! Somebody (im pretty sure it was this thread) told you to stop, but hes nuts. Keep writing. :)

    -john

    just one question: they said that in order to get a promotion, he'd have to see caesar in the afterlife, but then they said caesar approved the war academy... is caesar alive or dead?
     
  19. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    Caesar was adopted as an honorific title in the Empire stage of Roman history (thank you Julius!). One would in effect be crowned "Caesar". What they (Scipio and Son Tasu) were referring to was the Caesar that they had lived and fought with in the war on Carthage who had passed on and was succeed by a new one. When you read Caesar, read it as you would King.

    And hey, welcome to CFC!! And thanks so much for reading and enjoying. Yeah, I pretty much ignored that guy. I get roughly 20 or so views a day on this thread, although I will admit that it has been goin up lately to 25 - 30. So yahoo for me.

    Next chapter in about . . .1 minute.

    V
     
  20. Vanadorn

    Vanadorn Motorcycling Paladin

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    Marc Antony whistled as he approached the huge building site outside of Memphis. Two tremendous structures, giant pyramids, were being constructed in the flat plains just east of the city proper. Swarms of workers crawled up and down the massive structures, ramps of sand stretched from the top to the ground. Oxen pulled giant carved stones to the top where they were settled into place with clever winches and levers by Egyptian artisans.

    According to Minister Ptolemy, Cleopatra’s foreign advisor, the massive undertaking had been going on for the better part of 2 generations and was finally nearing completion. Some 40,000 workers bent their skills to the pyramid’s construction in some fashion or another. Marc sighed. Nothing this grand was ever built in the Roman Empire. He was touring the Egyptian cities, part of his duties as Ambassador of Rome to the Egyptians after the founding of the Roman embassy, and he was not happy.

    Most of the cities of Egypt were well kept and manicured. Older homes and buildings were situated near the city centers, while newer constructions appeared on the middle and outer sections of towns. Wide roads, well maintained and cobbled, showed some forethought into the layout of the city designs. Residential homes were arranged in neat rows with narrow alleyways strung between them. The marketplaces were half again as large as Roman versions, with many dark and copper skinned slaves purchasing goods next to bronze hued Egyptians.

    When he walked the temple quarters, he had been surprised to see not only the standard shrines and homes of the expected gods, but to see a tremendous temple, great and awe inspiring, towering over them all. Spires thrust up from the great temple’s middle and pieces of colored glass made up fanciful shapes of people in place of proper windows. Inside was just as magnificent as outside, the deep echoes of his footsteps sounding against the smoothed granite floor. A choir of beautiful singing men and women, dressed in cotton yellow robes, filled the main great room with some hymn to the Egyptian god Osiris. In fact, none of the other traditional Egyptian gods were depicted in any place around Egypt unless as a lesser to Osiris. Most of the clergy he did talk to, referred to Osiris as the one god, he who was reborn and lord of all.

    Shaking his head, Marc continued his walk around the Egyptian pyramid site. Unsure if the concept of one god made him feel comfortable, he had left the cathedral to visit other places in Memphis. He took in the great gardens, lush and bounteous, lining the massive waterways and aqueducts. Fountains and pools were plentiful in every Egyptian city he had visited. It seemed that Cleopatra was fond of beautiful things, not surprising since they were the largest buyer of Roman gems and jewelry. At every opportunity, envoys and traders would buy up all the loose and leftover gem goods across the Roman Empire and sell them for a tidy profit to the Egyptian markets.

    Some guards walked the streets, most armed with simple bronze spears, but a few have lately been adopting the arms and armament of his own people; iron breastplates, longer spears and pikes, even a few well trained swordsmen were seen swaggering around the barracks. It seemed the iron flowing north from Giza was going a long way toward modernizing Cleopatra’s tremendous army.

    Stopping his walk to watch another stone settle on the smaller of the two pyramids, Marc reflected on the differences of Egypt’s and Rome’s army. Although Rome was much larger in land area and populated townships than his northern neighbor, the Egyptians had a larger corresponding military. Since each division, squadron and phalanx required trained men and support, one would expect the Egyptian people to be less affluent than they actually were. But each citizen was dressed well and in good health, most had homes to go to and goods in their arms, most had gainful employment or worked for the city itself, manning and working the lands around Egypt as needed. Baron Linnatiri of Memphis kept the taxes reasonable and the people content.

    Crime was still apparent, as shown by the gallows and chopping blocks he had seen, but a fair system of laws and punishment had been established in Egypt at least a dozen years before Rome’s own Senator Gracus had even thought to pen down his own civil codes. No, everything he had seen made Marc painfully aware that no matter how hard his people had been trying, they were still second to Cleopatra and her people. Less wealthy, less prosperous, less organized, less advanced, less happy. The only thing different was in regards to war. No one had waged as tight or as definitive a war as the Roman’s had.

    Taking one last look at the tremendous pyramids dominating the landscape, Marc Antony began his walk back to the newly established Roman embassy to draft his report to Caesar and struggle to present his findings in such a way that it would not bring too much shame on his kin and country.
     
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