Discussion in 'Civ3 - Stories & Tales' started by Vanadorn, May 21, 2004.
Could we see a picture, if you've taken any?
Absolutely fantastic! This is the first story I've read, and it's very nice. I'm going to Italy for 2 weeks, I hope there's more text then
I myself can't see why anyone would write such huge amounts of text, but that's just because I don't enjoy writing. The reading part is for me
@ Smellincoffee: Unfortunately, I'm past this area in the game. Never thought about taking pictures as I went along, didn't think I'd have this much fun writing again. I've paused this game shortly after I started writing because I was asked for screenies. So I'm writing to catch up to where I am and then, whammo - screen shots galore. If I posted one now, it would not be pretty.
@ Paasky: I made a deal with myself when I started writing this that this time I wouldn't stop until I was finished. I haven't written for fun in over 6 years. Most of what I write now is for work. I always wanted to write professionally but never had the staying power to finish a story or stay on track. In hindsight, it was mostly because I was too immature to actually apply myself. Well, I'm 34 now, so I'm a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and much more patient. I enjoy writing and am having some fun in penning this down.
You don't have to write, just read. I'll post more either tonight or tomorrow.
Thanks again to everyone.
From the side of the Furious Thundercloud, Thrium and his crew watched as cavalry from Alexandria rode across the plains to attack the beleaguered defenders of the stronghold, Bonampak. From behind the walls, hundreds of Mayan soldiers swarmed out of the city gates, hurling their javelins with deadly accuracy at the invading Egyptian hordes. The Roman galley had dropped anchor here some 2 days ago after shadowing the Egyptian forces as they rode across the northern countryside, hacked their way through the meager Mayan defensive lines, and beeline their attack force at the city of Bonampak.
Kirus, Thrium’s deck master, gave a low whistle. “Yep. Them crazed cavalry that Egypt’s got are sure dangerous in the field.” Even with the withering fire the yellow clad riders were taking, more than enough of the horseman were able to close the distance to the exposed javelineers. Spears flashed and swords chopped. The lightly armored Mayans were scattered by the cavalry charge. Before they were able to regroup, the Egyptian cavalry had swung around and crashed into the demoralized warriors again.
“Don’t seem right to me, Cap’n.” The crew grunted in assent with Kirus remark. “Ain’t we friends with them Mayans? We’ve got a goodly number of Legionnaires on board with us. Could help.”
Thrium shook his head, shooting a meaningful glance to both the deck master and the Centurion, both of which seemed eager to set boats and row ashore. “We’re going to be doing nothing more than we’re doing right now. It’s not just the Mayan people we’re friends with, but the Egyptians as well.”
“I’d rather be ‘friends’ with a pile of scorpions than cuddle up to those bronze skinned better-than-yous.” “Here, here” and “Huzzah” cried the crew and the soldiers, some of them spitting over the rail in the direction of Egypt.
“Well, I’m not asking you to be friends with them, just asking you to remember that Rome is not just us in a boat, but everyone we’ve left back home. They all count as well, and since Lord Caesar didn’t give me order to attack, we won’t.” Captain Thrium stared hard at his crew, daring them to refute his statement. Downcast eyes and murmuring assents met his looks. “Mates,” he continued, “don’t think I’m happy with what we’re seeing there. But we’ve got a job to do, and our job doesn’t include us putting to shore and spanking the Egyptians.”
Kirus rubbed his chin. “Gotcha Cap’n. It’s just been 4 months on the Thundercloud, and maybe just getting anxious for some action.”
“It’ll come,” assured Thrium. “Maybe sooner than we’d like, but it’ll come.” He turned back to distant battle. A second and third brigade of horsemen rode at the walled city. Cavalry charges were met by tired defenders. Javelins filled the air. Mayans fell beneath Egyptian weapons.
The sun moved across the sky, and still the attacks came. As the cavalry charges regrouped for more runs, bands of heavily armored fighters stormed the walls. Swinging flails wildly about their heads, spearmen were hard pressed to defend themselves, their bronze and wooden weapons torn aside and smashed under the vicious onslaught of man, horse, and iron. The Mayan dead were mounding both in and outside Bonampak’s defenses. Ladders were hoisted to the low battlements, Egyptian fighters reaching the tops on many occasions only to be hurled back by a fresh surge of Mayan spearmen.
Thrium’s crew watched until the sun was low against the western horizon. “Haven’t seen any of those Mayan spear throwers attack in a few hours now,” he said.
“Not since they masterfully turned the tide of that double cavalry charge,” the Centurion remarked. “Brilliant. Hurling their spears into the second charge while simultaneously splitting their defenses to hold the first charge at bay. Masterful skill there.”
“Bah!” snorted Kirus. “Wasn’t too effective since the damn Egyptians slaughtered them to a man.”
The Legionnaire shrugged. “Tactically it was sound. Kept the cavalry charge from reaching the walls, thereby giving the spearmen ample opportunity to defend against that fourth wave.” Checking the distant wall with an experienced eye he added, “I hate to say it, but I think Bonampak’s defenses are down to the 700 or so spearmen we see massing about the gates. After that, only the stone works and greybeards will keep Egypt out, and I’m telling you that can’t.”
Thrium gripped the rail tightly, channeling his frustration into the unyielding wood. “Mustn’t break orders. Mustn’t break orders.” Over and over, he muttered the words, struggling to keep to his word. Despairingly, he watched as the remnants of Egypt’s cavalry drew themselves together for a final massed charge. Well over a thousand horsemen formed lines 2 deep, their spears and swords waving in anticipation. Faintly, they could hear the howls and jeers of the soldiers as they whipped themselves into a fury.
Looking up to the crow’s nest, Thrium yelled back, “Pratius! What’s up?”
Pointing towards the southwest, the lookout replied, “Reinforcements! Mayan reinforcements racing to the city!”
Thrium shaded his eyes and tried to see what Pratius did. There, off in the distance, down the long road out of Bonampak towards the Mayan heartland, he caught the glint of fading sunlight on metal. “I see them!” he cried. “Pratius, can you tell me what they are and how many?”
The lookout learned over the crow’s nest, pausing as he guessed on the size of the force he was seeing. “Captain! Easily 3,000 units. And not spearmen…but they’re wearing metal armor and carrying large pikes!”
A cheer went up from the crew of the Furious Thundercloud. “Pikes! Neptune’s Beard! Pikes!”
“Seems that Caesar sent more than good wishes to the Mayans,” noted Kirus. “If I’m not too mistaken, but the pike is a ROMAN weapon. Take that you yellow whoresons!”
The crew continued their cheering until the Centurion bellowed, “Take care, countrymen! Mars is a fickle god.” He pointed to the redrawn cavalry lines. “I doubt that the Mayans bend a knee to Mercury, so unless their warriors are flying, they won’t get there in time to help break this charge. And if this charge succeeds,” he drew his finger across his throat, “the Egyptians will take the city and sortie out against the upcoming pikemen. Without walls and defenses to help them out, there’s more than enough yellow clad forces to cut those poor bastards to shreds.”
From the distance, they heard the warbling cry of the cavalry charge, and groaned as the Egyptian forces galloped towards the remnants of Bonampak’s defenders. Spears were set and thrust out. Shields were presented. Mayan voices cried out. The horses drew closer, closer, closer.
Contact. Horses smashed into the fragile Mayan line. Spears lashed out. Swords rose and fell. Mounts were upset, bodies tumbled. Soldiers from both sides lunged towards each other. Spears and swords gave way to knives and stones. Horses were crippled, their legs broken by set spears. The odd archer from atop the walls fired into the melee, dropping still mounted riders from their saddles.
The frantic battle raged on. The lines of both sides were lost in the scuffle for some time. Eventually, Pratius called down, “They’re retreating! The Egyptians are retreating!”
The decks of the Furious Thundercloud echoed with the cheers of Roman spectators. Sure enough, the forces of Egypt were struggling to flee from the determined defenders. Maybe one in five still lived, while easily twice that number of Mayan spearmen remained standing. Turning the attackers away, with the last light of the sun dipping below the horizon, the tired, yet victorious, spearmen reentered the city gates of Bonampak and closed them at the backs of the retreating Egyptians.
“Those pikemen’ll get to the defenses of the city in more than enough time now.” Kirus smiled.
Nodding, Thrium replied, “Ain’t no way Cleopatra’s going to have that much of an opportunity again.” Turning to the rest of the crew, he added, “And even though we didn’t string bows or draw swords, I think a little victory wine would go over well for the crew.”
“Here, here!” “To the Captain!” “To Captain Thrium and Rome!”
Looking back at the darkened landscape of Mayan territory, Thrium watched as torches were lit around the battlements of Bonampak, illuminating the rejoicing men who fought there, and the waving flag of the Mayan empire.
Still flying over one of her cities.
Gaius Pellias tried to keep his knees from knocking. Sweat bathed his brow as he struggled to draw enough breath. He felt his heart beating like a drum, threatening to fly out of his chest it was pulsing so strongly. The heavy breastplate felt too tight about his body, the padding beneath too warm. His flesh felt aflame and his eyes refused to focus.
“Relax, damn you! Your rattling like rocks in a basket!” Vario Pellias, known to his soldiers as The Viper Centurion, gave his son a serious once over, taking in the youth’s measure from head to toe. He adjusted the straps as needed, sliding the armor into better positions and taking stock again. Twice more he had Gaius remove bits of armor from around his arms and legs only to replace them again after a brief inspection.
Finally satisfied, Vario gave his son a hard clap on his clad shoulder. “You look good, boy. Very good.”
Looking down as his plated form, Gaius shook his head. “Zeus’ Boils, dad…”
“Don’t swear at me you worm! I’m still your father and commander.”
Nonplussed, Gaius continued, “Dad…sir, getting recognized and promoted is stressful enough. Getting it done by Caesar is even more so. Doing it while clad in all this armor is even more so again! No one, I mean no one, ever needs to have this much armor!” He slammed himself in the leg with his gauntleted hand, raising a loud clang. “I fell like I’m going to either pass out or piss myself.” Seeing his father about to explode, he quickly added, “Sir.”
“Damn it, boy. You’re going to be the first, the FIRST, soldier ever awarded the title of knight. A knight, damn it! Not a regular, not a pike man, not an infantry.” Vario pointed out the window to the warhorse prancing out there. “You’re going to be on a horse. That horse. A horse bred for one thing, to carry you into war. You’ll not be a spearman, a horse warrior, or one of the Mars damned cavalry that Egypt has been spewing out like dregs from the vomitorium!”
Striding back, the Viper Centurion gave his son a hard blow to his chest, staggering the unready youth. “Damn. In my father’s father’s time, I can’t imagine any legionnaire that wouldn’t kill his own mother to be in your place. All this iron is needed, boy. We’ve been watching the Egyptians and their war against the Zulu. Their cavalry is great. Better than great. They’re disciplined, focused, and unyielding. But, as good as they are, they don’t wear enough armor. Plus, they’re horses aren’t nearly as battle hardened and strong as ours.”
One of Caesar’s slaves stuck his head in and said, “2 minutes.”
Snarling, Vario snapped, “I know how much time is left, you eunuch! I can hear the music playing. Get out of here!” The slave slunk away, quickly shutting the door behind him. “Damn weakling,” he swore.
Trying not to smile, Gaius tried to calm his volatile father down. “Take it easy, sir.” Vario turned his attention back to his son. “I’ve also studied the Egyptians. I’ve been riding since I’m 6. I can fight with sword, spear, and long spear better than anyone in my class or the class above mine. But I also know that maneuverability is one of the main strengths on fighting from horseback. All this armor, my god what is there, some 30, 35 kilos? This armor is going to kill my steed's ability to get out of the way.”
Grabbing the long cloak, Vario slung it across his son’s shoulders, fastening the ends to the paldrons with short chains and hooks. “Yeah, but just cause the armor slows you down, doesn’t mean it’ll slow down your steed. Trust me son, I don’t want to have to light a candle to Hades for you. This armor’ll save your life.” Taking the helm from the bench, he placed it smartly on Gaius’ head, fastening the leather chinstrap and giving the helmet an experimental shake. “You look great.” From behind the door, the musicians had begun to blow their trumpets, signal for Gaius to make his appearance.
Stepping behind him, Vario pushed the armored youth to the door, whispering, “Go make us proud, boy!”
Grabbing the latch, Gaius whispered back, “As you command, sir.” Smiling, he opened the door, cueing the steward there to call out, “Gaius Pellias…Knight Errant!”
Most of the higher-ranking officials in Roman politics made their appearance at this historic occasion. Local magistrates and councilmen stood near the recently appointed lords, barons, and counts that Caesar had invited. Centurions, captains, colonels and generals lined the reed-strewn path to Caesar’s throne.
His head high, shoulders squared, Gaius strode confidently across the room. He kept his gaze fixed, his eyes locked on the feet of Rome’s king, ignoring everyone he passed on either side of him. Reaching the dais, he lowered himself to one knee and said, “Gaius Pellias, Knight Errant of Rome. How may I serve you and thereby serve Rome?”
Caesar rose to his feet. Reaching forward, he drew Gaius’ sword from its scabbard, presenting the blade to the massed audience. “You serve me and serve Rome by accepting the oath of fealty.” He paused, letting his words hang in the air. “Are you willing to accept this oath and be bound by its scriptures?”
Caesar lowered the naked blade to Gaius’ shoulder, resting its flat edge there. “Do you swear to honor the crown of Rome and defend it with your life?”
“Do you swear to honor the country of Rome and defend it with your life?”
“Do you swear to honor your sword and shield mates and defend them with your life?”
“Do you swear to honor your name and your family and defend them with your life?”
“Do you swear to honor the people of Rome and defend them with your life?”
“Do you swear to try with earnest desire to live a life that is full and true, good and just, honorable and honest, valorous and pure, to the best of your abilities and defend these ideals with your life?”
“Then by the power vested in me, as ordained by the gods above and the line of my family, I dub thee Sir Gaius Pellias, Knight of Rome and Captain of the 1st Roman Heavy Cavalry.” Caesar tapped the sword tip once on the new knight’s shoulder. “You are to be awarded all rights and privileges due to this position and standing, and let all here now bear witness to this fact. I give you Sir Gaius Pellias. Rise Sir Gaius and accept your due.”
Numb and dazed, Gaius rose to his feet and turned to face the crowd of Rome’s elite citizenry. As one, their voices cried out, “Hail and well met, Sir Gaius Pellias, Knight of Rome.” Through the din of the hundred cries, Gaius was able to hear the distinctive sound of his father amongst them. Scanning the crowd, he caught sight of the Viper Centurion still standing in the back of the audience chamber. Squinting, Gaius was just able to tell that his father’s cheeks were wet with tears and the same eunuch he had berated earlier for weakness was drying the gruff centurion’s face.
Will you look at that, he thought. Gaius quickly bowed back to Caesar and then made his way back across the room as fast as he can to shake hands not with lords and ladies, but with the man openly paying him the respect and honor he had sought all his life.
Best written story I'v read in here. You should seriously consider taking up writing again as more than a hobby. (after you finish this thread, of course). Great job and keep it up! Hail the mighty Caesar and Vanadorn his trusty scribe!
The Caesar is incredibly long-lived, I must say...
The Egyptians have cavalry and you just now have knights? :eek (Or do you mean Ancient Cavalry, since they've built the Statue of Ra?)
Misfit: thanks for the complements. The problem with your own writing is that often you end up thinking it sucks.
Smellincoffee: If you notice, I killed off the original Caesar (I affectionately called him Julius) right after Senator Gracus kicked the bucket, And we now have a new Caesar (I affectionately refer to as Marcus). The game went through definate stages: expand (senate), conquer (julius ceaser), intelligent growth and consolidation (marcus aurileus). Unfortuneately I made some blunders eventually - That's when Commodus takes the throne. It was not a good time for Rome, but I am getting ahead of myself.
And no, I'm not that crummy of a Monarch player that Egypt would have cavalry and me knights! Yes, it is the Statue of Ra (Zeus of course, but they know Zeus like we know Mgundomugo!). In the story I couldn't call it Ancient Cavalry, because, well, who refers to something new as ancient? I tried to give enough hints as to the type of cavalry and where it came from.
At this point in the game, I had just developed Chivalry and was going for Engineering next. Going to make a run for Invention/Gunpowder before Cleo gets it. Our military was still average. She was hammering the Maya cities on Bonampak and Palenque and fighting the Zulu near Ngomo and Intombe. And she was definately making headway. Have to get my knights up to speed, my remaining Legionnaires to the north, and churn churn churn out pikemen.
More coming soon and thanks again to everyone who's reading and commenting - it makes this that much more fun!
I look forward to seeing what lies ahead- even if they're blunders.
In my current Monarch game, I'm playing AS Egypt, on Firaxis' standard world map...so far I own Europe, Asia, Africa, most of the islands, and I'm preparing to invade South America (China) and Australia (Greece).
Watch out for those Greecian Australians! A Phalanx of Boomerangers is the worst thing to fight against!
“So wot’s it say?”
Omani squinted, struggling to make sense of the cursive script on the broadsheet. “It’s calling for any who want to serve Rome and take up arms.”
“Wot’s that mean, take up arms? I’m not working in no graveyard movin bodies, I’m not.”
Omani glared at Minimus. “You are dumb, that I understand, but you don’t have to remind me every time you open your mouth.” Pointing at the broadsheet, he continued, “Taking up arms, means becoming indoctrinated into the army. Joining the soldiery.”
Minimus stared at the writing, his expression belying the fact that he couldn’t read. “Becomin’ a soldier, eh?” He rubbed his fleshy chin and neck with a free hand. “You know, I used to be a big member of the militia. Being a soldier don’t seem that bad.”
“Yeah, I also remember you got tossed out for sleeping on watch. You also lost you last 2 jobs for sleeping on duty as well.”
“Humph! I was sick. Had the sleepsies and the gray aches real bad. Wasn’t my fault.”
Omani smirked, “Sure it wasn’t.” Scanning the rest of the page, he grunted. “Wow. 100 lira sign up fee and payment of 30 liras per month for a 3-year pledge of service. That’s for regular soldier. Engineers are good for 40, Front line infantry can make 50, and…no that can’t be right.”
“It says that those who squire can make 40 lira, and leading up to knight can make 160 lira a month!”
“160 lira! Oy! Where do we sign up?”
Omani held up his hand. “That’s for a knight. Which we ain’t. I’ve been around horses and never rode, and you’ve never ever seen a horse closer than a bow shot away. No. We’ll probably get pledged as soldiers to start.”
“Well, it’s still 30 lira a month. And we’ll get a good 100 up front to spend as see fit.” Minimus clapped his hands together. “And frankly, I don’t see myself gettin another job again soon or gettin picked up for on of the worker gangs the new Caesar is puttin together. Beautifyin Rome. Can’t see Rome from here in Syracuse.”
“What did I tell you about saying stupid things?” scolded Omani. “Not the city Rome, the country Rome. Including here, dunderhead.”
“Wotever. I’m signin up. How ‘bout you?”
Omani paused, thinking long about the prospect. Deciding, he nodded once. “I’m in, but only if we’re in the same unit. Don’t want to be in a unit of stinking Lugdunumers and I’m afraid if you go elsewhere without me, you fall asleep and miss chow time.” Pointing down the street, he said, “Come on, it’s this way.” Both men left the broadsheets and town square of Syracuse and went to sign up for Rome’s army.
“Lord Caesar, you’re playing a dangerous game.”
Caesar (Damn, he thought, it’s hard not to refer to myself as Marcus Aurelius) looked across the table at Tiberius, his foreign advisor, and smiled faintly. “I know. War is not my forte, but diplomacy is. I can keep the peace amongst the other four civilized lands in regards to Rome, and still work the slow but definitive mobilization of Rome’s army.”
Tiberius shook his head and held his hand up. “Lord Caesar, I need to enumerate here. One,” he folded one finger into his palm, “Our treasury is not running as robustly as we’d like it to. True, there is an influx of trade do to your Beautify Rome program but there is still not a lot of leftover funds to pay for a larger military.”
“Two,” he continued, folding a second finger down, “Most of our Legion companies have not seen actual combat in almost 30 years. They’ve become glorified town guardians, more accustomed to keeping the peace and enforcing curfews.”
“Three,” another finger, “The cities of the Empire are beginning to bulge with bored citizenry. This has been a time of plenty, but also a time of sloth. Many citizens are growing irate and angry, seeing that their plots of land are smaller than their parent’s and smaller still than their grandparent’s. Your people need to be channeled to more constructive pastimes or we’ll have a number of required crucifixions on our hands.”
“Four, you only have 2 companies of knights. Two. Yes more are commissioned, but it takes much time to equip, mount and train them to be anything better than fools on horses. And frankly only Rome, Veii, Virconium, Lugdunum, Carthage, and Pompeii have the proper resources to train knights with anything approaching reliability and timeliness.”
Tiberius sighed, “And finally five,” his last finger folded his hand into a fist, “Cleopatra is no fool. Or at least her advisors aren’t. She will note your build up of troops. She will have her spies tell her where we are strong and where we are weak. She will see that we are massing on her borders. And that’s when the fist will fly, but it will strike Rome first. My adjunct, Marc Antony, has toured the Egyptian cities. He has seen their marvels and the happiness of her citizens. Pound for pound, we cannot compete with Egypt if we play it her way.”
Caesar nodded. “I understand your concerns. I really do. But what would you have of me? The plebeians are crying for succor. The knighthood is calling for justice. The senate cries for freedom. Meanwhile the ambassadors from Iroquois, Zulu, Maya, and Egypt knock on my door daily to find out where we stand.”
He snapped his fingers, pointing at Tiberius. “That reminds me. What’s with the Iroquois declaring war on Bmongo Zulu? Aren’t they aware that the Zulu are already at war with Egypt? Has their been some sort of alliance between Hiawatha and Cleopatra?”
The foreign advisor shook his head empathically. “No. It seems that the Iroquois are just capitalizing on Bmongo’s fractured attention. From what we’ve gathered, Hiawatha sent a large number of his mounted warriors to besiege the town of Swazi with intentions of capturing the most distant of Zulu’s territories.”
Holding his temples, Caesar rubbed them in small circles. “Headaches. Talking to ambassadors and kings and councilmen gives me headaches. Now is not the time to be weakening those that are fighting against a common enemy. Even an assumed one, such as Egypt can be. What is Hiawatha thinking?”
“Apparently he saw nothing past an opportunity and his own greed.”
“He may have just handed the war to Egypt then.” Disgusted, the Roman king settled himself back into his throne. “I’ll deal with the plebeians. Maybe some entertainment will turn their attentions away from the problems at hands. As for the treasury, we’ll have to tighten our belts and dip into the vaults. I know, I know,” he laughed, holding his palm up, “Embellias, Hades watch over him, would be screaming bloody murder if anyone dipped into the treasury, but it’s there for times like these, not to be save up and looked at.”
Tiberius said nothing, instead he just watched his Caesar thoughtfully.
“Another thing, my friend,” continued Caesar. “I want Scipio’s army brought out of Rusicade. I want the troopers there refitted and brought up to speed. Until we have more knights at our disposal, Scipio’s army is the best offensive unit we have. 3000 trained Legionnaires, all at the command of one man. Get them to Lugdunum, have them reinforced from promising trainees at Son Tasu’s War Academy, and then send them to Syracuse. If and when we strike at Egypt, it’ll be through Syracuse to their sea port city of Abydos.”
“Anything else, Lord Caesar?”
“Yes.” He just stared at Tiberius, watching his friend and advisor.
“What, Lord Caesar?”
“Keep on reminding me about the horrors of war. I’d hate to walk the same path my predecessor did. I don’t want to be the next Caesar and king who dragged an already tired Rome through another 10 years of bitter war.”
Tiberius smiled. “Don’t worry, my Lord.” He briefly laid his hand on Caesar’s shoulder. “I’ll remind you.” Breaking contact, he turned and left Caesar’s throne room to carry out his Lord’s wishes. But he didn’t get too far out of the chamber without hearing Caesar say, “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.”
Heavy indeed, he thought, realizing for the first time that the rigors of his job did not compare to what Caesar had to go through.
“Garangu, the Egypticans have launched another attack on our northern front!”
“How!?! Great spirits confound them! How?!?!”
“Mighty Garangu, what is the problem?”
Garangu, Most High Warrior and Chief of the Intombe defense force whirled on Prospero, fury in his eyes. “My problem? Problem?!” He snapped his hand down, slicing the air with his fingers. “You mean besides the fact the Rome will NOT send soldiers to help her good friend and neighbor?” His hands lunged for his dajalbi dagger, but through great force of will, stopped himself from drawing the blade.
Prospero remained still, more than used to Garangu’s wild explosions of temper, and waited for the angered Zulu Impi to calm down. Since his stationing in Intombe these last 6 months, he had seen the Zulu warriors fight with great passion and strength, but with very little cohesion or skill, often throwing themselves with wild abandon on the Egyptian forces in their lands; as if sheer numbers would suffice in driving the yellow dressed scourge from their homes. With leaders like Garanagu in charge of the defenses, it was no surprise that the Zulu’s had suffered many defeats in their war, regardless of how many glorious battles their fighters engaged in.
Cautiously picking his words, the Roman liaison said, “Rome is not unwilling to send soldiers, Most High Warrior Garangu, we value the Zulu friendship and camaraderie. As we speak, a mighty force is being assembled to aid in stopping Cleopatra’s desire for war. Our Caesar is engaged in talks with the Egyptians, talks that make it very clear that her aggressive actions and attitudes must stop or we will be forced to take actions.”
The Zulu sneered, his lip curling away in disdain. “Rome was once a warrior race, as we are. Rome was once able to wash the world in the blood of their enemies. Rome is waiting; waiting for the Zulu to fall before helping in our cause. Rome has become merchants!” He emphasized the last word, drawing it our so that it sounded like a curse. “Your Rome trades with Egypt. You give her gems and jewels and she fills your coffers with gold and silver. We know this. You cannot deny this as truth.”
Prospero refused to rise to Garangu’s baiting. “Yes we do engage in commerce with her, it’s no secret. However, that money goes to pay for our military and the build up of troops I spoke of. And as for the trade, it ends soon. Very soon. Remember, we used to trade dyes to Egypt but we stopped that. Now we are going to stop our trade of gems to her. The money Rome gets is nice, but without the influx of luxuries, the people of Egypt will grow angry. They will resent Cleopatra and her wars. And without the people behind her, she will be unable to attack are forcefully or continuously as she does now.”
“Garangu,” interrupted the Zulu scout, “the northern front. Another wave attacks us.”
“How does this happen? How did we miscount her troops on this side of the Mgombo River? The fords run deep with the late summer rains. The other soldiers should have been held off for days if not weeks.”
The scout swallowed. “The soldiers across the Mgombo crossed just this morning.”
Prospero frowned. “How?”
“Yes. How? Tell me!” Garangu eyes flashed angrily.
Nervously the scout continued. “The Egypticans were crafty. They made long lengths of walls and laid them flat. Then, they walked into the Mgombo and dropped stones in the water. They kept dropping stones until the rocks were above the water line. They kept doing this until the stones were higher than the land. Then, they lay the walls on the land and the stone piles and walked on the walls. They kept this up until they had enough walls and stone piles together to span the river. And then they crossed. All of them. Fast.”
The Zulu war leader was dumb struck, his jaw slack, his eyes wide. “What…how…I want to know how they learned to do that! I want to know why we don’t know how to do that! I want them stopped! Stopped! STOPPED!” The scout bowed low, backing away quickly, then turned and ran from the furious Impi.
Garangu stepped up to Prospero, bumping the Roman’s chest with his own. “Roman,” he snarled. “Tell your Caesar we need him. We need your Romans and your Roman war bands now.” The thrust his hand in the direction of the Mgombo River. “That River is no more than 2 miles from here.” Pointing the opposite direction, he said, “Intombe is less than 1 in the other direction.” Stomping his foot into the muddy camp site he added, “In less than an hour, this spot will be covered in blood. The war spirits will drink deep this night.” His hand reached out, gripping Prospero’s shoulder tight enough to make the stoic Roman wince. “I am no fool to think that I have enough men to stop the Egypticans here. But I will try. I will bleed myself and my warriors on the spears and swords of my enemy. I will do this until my enemy is dead and routed, or I am. Intombe cannot hold, there are not enough warriors behind its walls.”
He grabbed his fetished spear from the side of the table and strapped his hidebound shield to his free arm. “I do not ask you to fight. I ask you to take my fleetest horse and ride to Bapedi. I spare not one warrior, not one man, not one soul to carry this message to the council of chiefs there. Tell them what we have learned. Tell them to prepare to weather the storm of yellow arrows and Egyptican warriors.” Donning his feathered headdress, he scooped up a handful of earth and kissed it quickly, offering a benediction to the earth spirits.
The Impi warrior rose, stopping Prospero’s plea. “I ask you this because I have no one else to ask. When Bapedi is warned, go to your Caesar and tell him to liberate Intombe from Cleopatra’s grip. Tell your Caesar to go to war.”
Prospero met Garangu’s gaze with his own, taking the measure of this proud and determined warrior. Nodding, he clapped the Impi on the arm, squeezing him once as a show of respect. “I shall Garangu. I shall.” In the distance, the low sound of a growing battle was echoing through the hills. “May your ancestors guide you in this life and greet you in the next.”
Hoisting his spear over head, Garangu replied, “May the blood of your enemies run cold and the blood of your women run hot.” He strode out of the encampment to his already gathered war band and added without turning, “I shall see you on the plains of eternity, Roman. And not again in this life.” Without a word, the Impi company fell in behind Garangu and ran as only the Zulu were able to, to join the battle lines to the north against the Egyptians.
Watching them go, Prospero mounted on Garangu’s own steed, turned the horse’s head south, and galloped off to inform Intombe of the threat and then to continue on the Bapedi to do the same.
“May your ancestors keep you, Garangu. May Mars show you favor this day.” Bending low over the horse’s neck, he kicked the spirited steed into a gallop and rode away.
Poor Zulu. Is Rome ever going to help them, or is she just going to ask for a peice of Eygpt once the Zulu are done doing the hard work?
Where do you come up with the names of the characters? Are they historcally correct, they sure sound as if they are...
And if I didn't mention it before keep up the good work
Some are from history, others are bastardized versions of words that come from that area of the world, and others just "sound" right to my ears while writing. My job, as the writer, is to make them sound as if they really could have existed in the context of the story.
And although you have mentioned it, by all mean - please don't stop!
The senators Caesars all have fairly accurate historical names, i believe.
Keep it up, nice story
“Soldier Minimus, you are by far the worst excuse for a miserable bag of puke to ever crawl across my training ground.”
Omani shook his head. 8 weeks into training at the Syracuse chapter of the Sonus Tasuvius camp and barracks, and his rotund friend was still getting a dressing down by the squad commander. It seemed that everything Minimus attempted to do, he ended up failing over. Better soldiers than he had already quit the rigorous training, but Minimus accepted every harangue, every comment, every barb with grit and vinegar and refused to fold under the Centurion’s withering storm.
“When you’re right hand comrade steps forward and sets, you have to guard his position. Therefore you RAISE your pike to chest height, set your LEFT shoulder forward, and then take a half step BACK with your RIGHT foot. Mars cut off your balls if you foul this up again!”
“You yes me again about an order I give you and then screw it up, I will personally smash your feet into paste and feed your hands to the dogs. Do you get me!?”
Swallowing, Minimus answered, “I understand, Centurion!”
“Good.” He scowled at Minimus a few seconds longer and then yelled, “Company dismissed! Return your pikes to the armory and get some food.” Turning, he stormed off to the command center on the north end of the barracks, leaving his relaxing charges to their own device.
Omani clapped his friend on the shoulder. “Well, it seems you’ve managed to attract the Viper once again.”
“Ah, stow it!” Hunching his shoulders, Minimus tried to work the kink out of his neck. “Why’s he always pickin on me? Viper isn’t a good enough name for him, should call him, the Fanged Demon or some such thing.” A couple of the nearby recruits laughed good naturedly with Minimus ranting. “All I know is that 30 lira ain’t enough for the abuse that’s bein heaped on my poor head.”
Laying his pike in the rack, Omani shrugged out of his iron decorated leather vest and hung it and his leg and arm braces on his armor stand. “Hey, I’m happy with what I’m doing. Feel stronger, faster, healthier than I’ve been in some time.” Pulling his sweat-dampened shirt off his shoulders, he added, “About the only thing I miss is the taste of good wine.”
“Here, here!” “You’ve got that right.” “Wish I could get some now.”
Helping Minimus out of his our armor, the two friends waved farewell to the rest of their company and trudged off toward the camp kitchen. “I’ll say one thing about that nasty Viper,” muttered Minimus, “All those runs and punishment push ups he’s makin me do has certainly trimmed my waist line a bit.” He grabbed some of his still ample belly with one hand and gave it a jiggling shake.
Watching the flesh quiver, Omani smirked. “You’ve got at least 20 more weeks of pissing off the Centurion and punishment running to do before I’d be proud of that gut.”
Just outside the kitchen line, Omani stopped, grabbing Minimus’ arm. “Wha...,” he started to say before realizing that the lighter man’s waving hand was motioning for him to be silent. Omani was pointing to the command hut where some junior or private had left in a hurry and also left the door open. Just inside, the two friends caught sight of a large detailed map of the Northern Roman provinces. The borders of Egypt were clearly defined where they circled the Narrow Seas and the rich grasslands on the northern banks. Vario Pellias, the man they knew as the Viper Centurion, was drawing a large red “X” on the Egyptian city of Abydos.
Realizing that they were gawking inside the commander’s building, Omani shoved his beefy friend forward before either of them were noticed or questioned. Quickly they made their way to the camp kitchen where Omani guided them both to a table far away from other soldiers. Once seated, they glanced around, making sure they were out of earshot.
“Abydos! Minimus, do you know what this means?”
“Yeah. Oy Omani, you were right. We’re gonna attack the Egyptians.”
“Knew it was bound to happen. The yellow boys have to know we’re coming. Short of trudging through Zulu land or loading the galleys with troops, our best avenue is whacking Abydos.”
“Omani,” Minimus wrung his hands nervously, “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t wanna be a soldier anymore.”
“I’m serious! I’ve heard too many stories about the fights with Carthage from my pa an granpa. I know I’m gonna get killed or worse.”
“Get a grip, man.” Omani voice grew firm. “Don’t you shame yourself and don’t you leave me alone. We’re here together. Come on, you knew we were going to go to war. Even you’re not that blind.”
“No buts! You’re a good man, Minimus. Don’t let the Viper get you down or make you feel incapable. I can’t picture another person I’d want at my back besides you.”
“Omani. You’re stupid! I’m a jinx, a foul-up. I haven’t been able to do anythin right for years.”
“Hey, you’ve been my buddy and friend for a long time. We’ve done everything together and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let anything happen to you or go anywhere without you at my back.”
Minimus placed his palms flat on the table, sucking air between his teeth. “Pluto take you,” he swore. “You don’t make it easy, you bastard.”
“No I don’t”
The 2 men were silent for a few. “Soooo,” questioned Minimus, “you think they’re ready for us?”
Omani smiled, “No, I don’t. Cleopatra has been beating at the western borders of Zulu and Maya for so long now, she’s forgotten we’re here.” His smile grew broader as he added, “And what does the Viper tell us about forgetting where your enemies are?”
The heavy set man grinned as well, mimicking the Centurion’s gruff voice, “That’s where the whoreson’s will lunge in and rip out your jugular.” Dropping the accent, Minimus asked, “You sure about this, Omani.”
Nodding, his friend answered, “Absolutely. It’s going to be a cake walk.”
“Cake walk.” Minimus licked his lips. “I like the sound of that.” Both men laughed, rose from the table, and walked to the mess line to grab something to fill their bellies.
Looks like the story is about to become even more interesting.
Caesar tried to keep his gaze firmly planted on Cleopatra’s face and not gaze at her scantily clad, silk draped body. For the last 20 minutes, the two great leaders had been exchanging pleasantries over poached quail eggs and mulled wine on Cleopatra’s sun drenched terrace in her palace in Giza. The hot sun shone down on the jewel of Egypt’s country, the great streets and buildings of Giza stretching off in all directions. In the distance, the mighty aqueducts and dams rerouted water from the Mgombo River to the thirsty citizens. Every farm was tended by slaves and serfs. What hills and mountains were nearby had mines dug in them, Egyptian workers gathering for more natural resources to continue fueling the economy of Cleopatra’s country. Glancing around, Caesar was reminded of Marc Antony’s reports and found himself agreeing with the diplomat’s view on Egypt’s strength and superiority.
“Wine.” Cleo said, raising a silver goblet in one bronze skinned hand for her slave to fill. The shaved manservant stepped forward as requested, topped of the Queen’s drink and stepped back as quietly as possible. Raising the goblet to her berry red lips, the Queen of Egypt drank lightly, staring frankly at Caesar over the rim of her glass, amused at his discomfort. “Lord Caesar,” she said, putting a slight purr in her voice, “the sun in my land here is warm.” Idly, she ran her free hand down the length of her other arm, across the swell of her breast, and allowed it to fall across her hip. “Are you sure that I cannot entice you to removing your cloak?”
Ignoring the sweat that had pooled across his back and shoulders, and unsure if it was the heat of the day or the sexual teasing that he was forced to endure, Caesar shook his head. “As I stated before, Pharaohess, Ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt, my visit to you and your beautiful country is to be brief.”
Taking one of the small peeled eggs from the tray, Cleo brought it to her mouth, teased it slightly with her tongue, and then pursed her lips and sucked the tasty morsel in with an audible pop. Caesar swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. Cleopatra chewed noisily, purring again as she did so, smirking at the discomfort she was causing Rome’s King. Waving her hand, she said, “As you wish, Lord Caesar. It is your loss.”
Magnamously, Caesar nodded in her direction, all the while trying to keep his face from flushing and his eyes locked on hers. “Thank you.” Without turning, he motioned Tiberius to step forward, the foreign advisor doing quickly. Tiberius placed a rolled parchment into Caesar’s hand and then stepped back to Caesar’s praetorian guard standing nearby if needed. Unrolling the parchment, Caesar glanced at it briefly and then presented it to Cleopatra. “Our trade agreement for the last 5 years has come to an end and expired today.” He leaned in, laying the paper across Cleo’s plate. “And we have no desire to continue it.” Caesar leaned back, taking a drink from his own goblet.
Egypt’s queen scowled, her eyes dancing across the now expired trade agreement. Both her name and Caesar’s were scrawled across the bottom. “Has it been 5 years already?” She flicked one painted nail at the parchment’s edge. “It has flown by so fast. Let’s renew it for another 5 years.” Smiling, she called out, “Scribe.”
“Hold.” Said Caesar, his hand out as if pushing the approaching Egyptian scribener away.
Cleopatra scowl returned, deepened into a frown. “Hold? Whatever for? Egypt wants to renew the trade.”
“But Rome does not. There has been a decrease in Roman stockpiles and raw gems. To keep the markets from inflating, I cannot send anymore gems to Egypt markets.”
“If it’s about money, we can talk.” Glancing at the page before her, she tapped the figure printed upon it. “See here. It says we would send you 40,000 of your liras every season for 5 years.” Looking up, she said, “I’ll change it to 50,000 liras.”
Caesar shook his head. “Rome will not trade.”
“60,000 liras every season.”
“Lord Caesar, you are beginning to displease me.” Cleopatra no longer lounged across her chair; instead she sat upright, her shoulder’s square, chin set.
Caesar marveled that even scantily clad in semi-transparent clothing, Egypt’s queen still carried a command, a presence that billowed off her. “Pharaohess, maybe you don’t understand. Rome has no more desire to trade with Egypt.”
“Caesar, you don’t understand. Egypt needs your gems. We are willing to pay for it. Egypt also needs your dyes, but we have learned to adjust without cheap dyes coming across our borders. How much does Egypt have to give to get Rome to trade gems with us?”
Caesar smiled, trying to keep himself calm. “Rome requires Egypt to open her libraries to our philosophers and alchemists. We want to know the secrets of the ascension of your god Osiris and his role in your new, monotheistic religion. We want to know how you have learned to dam rivers, build bridges, and replant forests in areas that had been denuded. In addition, you will empty your treasury to Rome, and pay us a seasonal trade figure of 100,000 liras.” He leaned in, bringing his face close to Cleopatra’s shocked one, and whispered, “If you do all this, and cease your genocide of the Zulu and Mayan people, I’ll consider trading you the gems your fragile country so desperately needs to keep the peace.” With that he sat back in his chair, his sardonic grin still in place.
Cleopatra struggled to keep herself in place. He face became red, her eyes stormy. Her breath whistled through clenched teeth. With great effort, she forced herself to calm down. “You…you…how DARE you! You don’t give orders or demands to me. I am the morning and the night. The world trembles at my footstep. The gods themselves have graced my line and lineage since before the earth had formed, ordaining me as queen. Queen! You do NOT make unreasonable demands on me!”
“Do not raise your voice at me!” bellowed Caesar. His praetorian guard stepped forward, hands dropped to hilts and swords. Cleopatra’s guards fanned around their queen, while archers rose over the battlements, arrows nocked and bows drawn.
“Back off your dogs, Caesar,” she warned, “or I’ll bloody their nose and hang your carcass over the walls.”
One of Caesar’s guards muttered, “Yes, let’s destroy them sir, they are scum!” Caesar held his hand up, silencing any further comments.
“At ease men,” he said, his voice calm and even, “So, can I assume that you don’t accept my ‘generous’ offer?”
Cleopatra rose to her feet, her form quivering with rage. “No! No I don’t.” Her finger stabbed out. “Give me the trade goods I require, or I’ll crush you and your puny civilization.”
Slowly, Caesar rose to his feet. “Then I regret to inform you that our two nations are now at war.” He opened his hand, revealing a broken Egyptian coin, the break running directly across Cleopatra’s chiseled profile. As one, Caesar’s guards snapped forward, surrounded their King, and bodily lifting him, ran for the battlements.
“Fire!” Cleopatra screamed. “Kill them you thrice damned jackals!” Archers released their arrows, dismayed as most of them were deflected by hastily upraised bucklers and shields. The Madjai, Cleopatra’s own bodyguards, lifted the still screaming Pharaohess and shielded her with their own flesh as they raced to get her inside. She was dismayed to see Caesar and his men made the battlements and as one jumped over. “I want Caesar brought back to me! I want his hands in a jar! I want his eyes burned from his head! Remove his manhood and feed it to the crocodiles! Kill him! Kill them!”
“Pharaohess,” the Queen’s Madjai captain pleaded, “with what shall we give chase with? Old men with spears? Young boys with slings? All and everyone of our soldiers is on the front line, forcing peace in Intombe, besieging the defenders in Bapedi, ravaging the countryside near Bonampak and Palenque. There are not enough real soldiers here to hunt down Caesar and his guards, nor are there enough to chase away his legionnaires outside the city and still maintain order.” He pointed behind him. “Let him go. His troops will break on the walls of Giza if that is his plan. If not, then it will be some time before he can strike at our mighty empire. We know that Rome does not have the troops to attack us.”
Cleopatra had stopped struggling in her guards grasp as they wound their way through her palace to her chambers. Once safely there and only then, did they release her. “Let Caesar go.” She thought on this before nodding. “I can agree to this. Your words have merit. Leave me.” The Madjai bowed lowed, stepping out from her chambers. Once alone, she walked to the opposite end and knocked three times in rapid succession on the mahogany door there. She heard the sound of the bolt being drawn away and the door opened.
“Well daughter, how’d it go?”
Cleopatra looked down, her gaze contrite. “I failed you, mother. He did not trade and he declared war on us.”
Inside the door, an older version of Cleopatra stood. Her once youthful face was more fleshed out and lined, her hair less luxurious, her body less lithe. “You failed me?” The matronly woman shook her head. “No, daughter, you did not fail me. You failed your people. You failed Egypt.” Disgustedly, she grabbed the Pharaohess by the hair and swung her into the other wing of the palace. “You stupid harlot,” she snapped. “You spoiled brat. First Maya, then Zulu. Osiris save us, you almost pissed Hiawatha off as well. And now Rome.”
She shoved Cleopatra to the floor, stepping on her daughter’s hair, forcing the younger woman to bow at her feet. “When I assumed the mantle of Cleopatra, the undying Queen and ruler of Egypt from my mother, I had more respect for my people than you do.” She spit. “Daughter, we cannot fight Rome. Osiris save us, we cannot fight Maya and Zulu either.” Shoving the now crying queen with her sandaled foot, the former ruler of Egypt walked across the room to stare out the small window there.
“You place Egypt in a dangerous position. The people have come to expect certain goods at the markets. There will be much unhappiness. As your wars drag on, there will be much unhappiness. If our soldiers are defeated in the field, there will be much unhappiness.” She sighed. “Get up,” she ordered. “You will order the barons, counts, and governors of every city in every province to get every able bodied male between 15 and 35 together. You will issue armor, spears, swords, and flails. You will do this quickly. Then, I want all these men brought together in Giza, formed into companies of finely tuned soldiers, and thrown at the Romans.”
“What about the Mayans or Zulus?”
“Forget them. Whatever troopers we have there, let them hold what we’ve captured. All new troops go to support our southern border from Rome.” She rubbed her head. “19 months. You’ve been Pharaohess for 19 months and we’re at war with 3 nations. Daughter, you had better learn fast before Egypt is destroyed.”
Cleopatra walked next to her mother, the former Cleopatra and Pharaohess of Egypt. She folder her hands across her chest and tried hard not to cry. “Forgive me, mother.”
“Only if we can get through this, daughter. Only if.”
The cry echoed across the battlefield. Scipio’s Legionnaires, under the command of General Iuldias, waved their swords overhead as they ran across the grounds before the Egyptian city of Abydos.
Again the Roman General hollered his command, and this time was answered by 6 recently refitted catapults as they swung up and forward, sending their payload of stones arcing over the charging army’s head to land amidst the unfinished walls of the same Egyptian city.
The mass of Roman soldiery had been moving steadily up the wide roadways from Syracuse under the cover of darkness over the last 3 days. On the morning of the 4th day, hardy slaves, descended from Carthaginian stock, had pulled and worked long during the night to pull the mighty war machines into position. It was only after sunrise that General Iuldias was able to see that the Egyptian wall was not only high enough to protect the city, but was unfinished as well, allowing his troops full access to the defenders within.
The catapults wrecked massive damage on the defending spear and pikemen of Abydos. Men were crushed and demoralized beneath the punishing barrage. One well-placed shot smashed through the retaining wall of the main guard tower, sending it broken and crashing to the ground, killing the defenders within and those massed outside its base.
The Legionnaire army reached the disoriented defenders well before new battle lines could be established and fell with great abandon on them. Within 30 minutes the main gate and southern section of the city had already been cleansed of rebellion, with the native citizenry shocked and dazed at the efficient brutality of the Roman attackers. What few pockets of resistance did appear were quickly overwhelmed by the Roman forces.
When General Iuldias saw a new line of Egyptian defenders emerge from the west gates of the city, his orders echoed out once more. “Knights! Charge!”
Gaius Pellias and the 1st Roman Knight Brigade rode out from behind the pike and legionnaire lines that had been set outside of bowshot. Over 1000 strong, their steeds snorting beneath their armor clad forms, the knights drew up into two lines of tightly packed horse and men, and trotted across the battlefield.
The 1st line picked up speed, riding into a cantor then a gallop, pulling away from the 2nd line. Abydos pikemen were running everywhere, trying to arrange themselves in a way to counter the closing Roman threat. Unafraid, the knights set their lances, 14’ spears of treated wood and iron heads, and lowered the points to the defenders level. The 2nd line now picked themselves into a gallop, the distance between the 2 Roman attack waves some 300 feet.
Riding at the center of the 1st wave, Gaius Pellias, easily identifiable in his helm with the winged viper crowning it and the same standard emblazoned on his shield, cried out, “For Caesar and for Rome!” just before the heavy armored force struck the still disorganized defenders.
The knight’s lances stabbed through iron sheathed wooden shields, tore through leather and cloth jerkins, and punched through the Egyptian flesh beneath. What lances broke were dropped by the charging knights who drew their swords and flails instead, laying about them as they continued their charge amidst the pikemen. Once free on the other side, Gaius wheeled his troops to the west, offering a clear path for the 2nd wave to strike the severely battered defenders.
By the time both waves of knight had struck the battle lines and ridden past, not 1 man in 10 still stood, and those that did, more than 1 in 3 dropped their pikes and ran for the dubious protection of the now burning city. The 1st Roman Knight Brigade spent very little time wiping out the rest of the armed resistance in Abydos.
By the time the 5 companies of Roman pikemen, 4 companies of Legionnaires, and 2nd Knight Brigade arrived at the city proper, Abydos had fallen to the Roman invasion, its governors had been crucified, its remaining militia enslaved, and its yellow and black striped flag replaced with the red Roman banner.
And all this happened before the sun had set on the 1st day.
Separate names with a comma.