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 Post subject: Men of Rome
PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2016 12:53 pm 
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Posts: 654
I have successfully retrieved my files and will now repost this TL here. For those who aren't familiar with the story, this TL was originally created by the late, lamented SergeantHeretic over on AH.com. When she gave it up and moved onto other storylines, she very kindly gave me her permission to assume its authorship. To me, this is an important story, because it is the first TL I ever wrote.

Prelude: Part I
Time: Unknown
Location: The columned, marble-covered forecourt of Olympus; white mist and scattered clouds are everywhere.

Iovi Optimo Maximo raises a thickly-muscled forearm and gestures. Thus are the spirits of three Romans willed to come forth before him. They are:

Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome
Germanicus Julius Caesar
Marcus Cassius Scaeva, Primus Pilus, Legio X Fretensis

After some moments of confusion, the three Romans realize where they are. Germanicus and Marcus Cassius Scaeva fall to their knees and bow their heads. Only Marcus Aurelius remains standing, a look of awe and intense curiosity etched on his face.

Jupiter begins to speak, his booming voice causing peals of thunder off in the distance.

"Men of Rome, hearken to my voice. We gave your people an Empire to surpass all others. For a time, we were content to see Rome expand and prosper. However, later generations were unworthy of this honor and so we withdrew our protection. Now, it has pleased us to give Rome a second chance at life. You, Marcus Aurelius were one of Rome's greatest Emperors. You, Germanicus Julius Caesar are one of Rome's greatest generals, second only to Caesar himself. You, Marcus Cassius Scaeva, Primus Pilus of Legio X Fretensis are the greatest centurion Rome ever produced. The three of you are charged with the task of restoring Rome to the greatness of her former days. To aid you in this task, Legion X Fretensis, its fortress and the city surrounding it will be transported and placed wherever we see fit"

With this, Marcus Cassius Scaeva's heart leaps in exultation.

"Now, speak your minds. We command you"

Marcus Cassius Scaeva steps forward and asks "Mighty one, what of my commander?"

"He is not up to this great task we have settled upon you. Germanicus Julius Caesar, stand forth!! You, Germanicus will command Legio X Fretensis, with Marcus Cassius Scaeva as your Primus Pilus. Furthermore, the men of the Legio will regard and obey Germanicus as if he had always been their commander. Now, Go and know that we will be watching".

As the three Romans fade from view, Jupiter cocks his mighty arm backwards and casts a great golden lightning bolt off into the distance.

Prelude: Part II
Date: MCCXXXXIV AUC / 9 BCE

In the camp of Legio X Fretensis, all is well and peaceful. The skies are crystal-clear, and there is a hint of a light summer breeze. Those legionaries not on guard duty have either retired for the night, or are drinking and gaming amiably with their fellows. In certain parts of the fortress, the only sounds to be heard are those of clattering wine cups, the clicking of dice being rolled, and the occasional dog barking. Little did these men know that when they woke up the next morning, the Legio would be facing a new and entirely different future.

Date: Iunius XIII MDCXXX AUC/ June 13th, 877 A.D

The great thunderbolt cast by Jupiter arrives at its target. It breaks, casting a vast hemisphere of radiant golden light over an area measuring some ten mille across. When the light dissipates, a Roman legionary fortress appears, along with a medium-size Roman city. Last to appear are a large, domed structure (the Pantheon), an immense rectangular building with elaborately-worked columns, a painted frieze and pediments full of statues, carvings and other artwork (the Temple of Zeus from Olympia) and a complex of other buildings, all of various shapes and sizes (the great Library of Alexandria and the Forum of Trajan).

Prelude: Part III
Date: Iunius XIII, MDCXXX AUC/June 13th, 877 AD
Time: before dawn

In the pre-dawn Tuscan darkness, the excited shouts of those sentries atop the walls of Legio X Fretensis' fortress spear the cool air. It is these men who first behold what has happened. Above the Porta Principalis Dextra (the fortress' main gate), two legionaries are talking excitedly to each other.

"By all the Great Gods, Lucius!! What was that??" Quintus mumbles half-forgotten prayers against misfortune and evil.

"I don't know, Quintus. It was as if the sky itself was ablaze with golden light". Lucius fingers an amulet at his throat and nervously shifts his gladius in its scabbard.

Quintus shakes Lucius by the shoulders and exclaims "Snap out of it, man!! Gather your wits and go let our centurio know what we have seen. He will surely know what to do."

With this, Lucius takes to his heels and runs off as if the Furies were pursuing him. In his haste, Lucius nearly trips over the doorsill of the watchtower above the gate. His footsteps echo faintly as Quintus hefts his scutum and pila while nervously eyeing the countryside.

Prelude: Part IV
Time: the morning of Iunius XIII, MDCCXXX AUC / June 13th, 877 AD
Location: The house of Germanicus Julius Caesar, Legatus Legionis, Legio X Fretensis.

In the atrium, Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome stands forth, the look on his regal face giving form to the thoughts that rise in his mind. He paces back and forth, repeatedly clasping and un-clasping his hands behind his back. To one side stands Germanicus Julius Caesar, Legatus Legionis.

The Emperor turns to Germanicus and says " Well, Legate. It appears as if what we experienced was neither a dream or the results of imbibing too much of your excellent Falernian wine".

"Yes, Caesar. That is true. I have been receiving reports from the sentries who were on duty last night, and all the reports are the same. A great golden dome of light suddenly sprang into being overhead, and extended in all directions. I can only imagine the panic in the city right about now."

"A most pertinent thought, Legate. Send word to the City Senate and also to the chief men of the city that they are to assemble this afternoon at the Princpia. You will also have the Praefectus Castrum and all officers in Legio X Fretensis above the rank of Optio there as well. I will address them as regards what has happened."

"Yes, Caesar. That does promise to be an interesting meeting. I will see to it at once". Germanicus salutes the Emperor and leaves him to his contemplations. Germanicus proceeds to his orderly room and says "Optio Gaius Octavius Drusus, attend me!!".

Gaius Octavius Drusus jumps up from his desk, renders a salute and says "Yes, Legate"?

"Inform the Praefectus Castrum and all officers in the legio above the rank of Optio that they are to assemble at the Principia this afternoon. Also, send messengers to the city without that the city senate and the chief men of the city are to be in attendance. The Emperor will address us in regards to what has happened".

"Immediately, Legate". Optio Gaius turns and leaves the room, hastening to carry out his orders.

Ad Locutio
"Men of Legio X Fretensis and of the City without, by the Will of The Gods we have been thrust forward to this time and place. Rome is all but gone, the Eternal City has fallen from greatness and we few are all that remain. Quirinus has tasked us with the restoration of Rome to her former glory. This will be the work of not just one generation, but many. To this end, the City Senate is raised to the level of the former Senate in Rome, to rank as such from this day forward. You centurions of Legio X Fretensis are urged to be on high alert until such time as the situation in the surrounding area can be determined."

--An excerpt from a speech by Marcus Aurelius to the men of Legio X Fretensis and the chief men
of the city on the afternoon of Iunius XIII, MDCXXX AUC.

Operations Order
Time: the morning of Iunius XVI, MDCXXX AUC/June 16th, 877AD
Location: In the Principia, headquarters of Legio X Fretensis

Germanicus Julius Caesar calls out "Primus Pilus, attend me"

"Yes, Legate?"

"I want you to send detachments of the First Cohort to explore the surrounding territory out to a distance of five mille* in every direction from the city boundaries"

"At once, Legate. For safety's sake, I will have the detachments each be composed of four contubernia"

"I approve. See to the disposition of the troops".

With this dismissal, Marcus salutes the Legate and leaves the Principia.

First Blood
Date: The afternoon of Iunius XVI, MDCXXX AUC/ June 16th, 877 AD
Location: the Via Principia Sinistra. 5 mille from camp

Characters: Centurio Quintus Darius Macro, Coh I, Cen II Legio X Fretensis
Decurio Sextus Justus, Coh I, Cen II, Legio X Fretensis
Tiro Publius Vagiennus
Legionary Titus Flavius Bassus

"Centurio Quintus, have you noticed that we have been followed for the last half hour?"

"Yes, I have, Decurio Sextus. Whoever they are, they're up to no good. Ther're also making a bad show of trying to hide themselves, as if that miserable bunch of Irrumatores* could ever hope to sneak up on us. Still, I don't like it. Pass the word to the men and be ready for action."

"Yes, Centurio". Decurio Sextus speaks quietly to the standard-bearer and orders 'Ad Agmine'** In less time than it takes to frame the thought, word passes through the ranks. The legionaries shift their scuta to the front and raise their pila to the throwing position, all movements being done with the easy familiarity of hardened veterans. Some 10 minutes later, the column rounds a small hill and sees a double-rank of armed men standing across their path. There are some sixty enemy troops on foot, armed and armored to varying degrees. There are seven horsemen to the rear of the formation; six of these are clad in mail, helmet and shield and carrying swords and spears. The seventh is mail-clad and bears only a sword and shield. He is also wearing an elaborate tabard worked with a design in gold & silver thread and a helmet with a simple nasal guard.

The seventh rider urges his horse forward and begins to speak. His speech is garbled by Roman standards, but what he is saying is this: "Who are you and what are you doing here? By my authority as Lord of the Manor, I order you to answer me immediately!!".

"Centurio Quintus, that is the worst accent I have ever heard. His voice sounds like he is talking with a mouthful of rocks. Can you make out what he is saying?"

"Decurio Sextus, I can only make out about one word in five of what he is saying. I think he wants to know who we are."

The leader of the armed men draws his sword and orders his men forward. Centurio Quintus observes to himself "This sack of merda is going to get more than he bargained for". He then shouts "AD CUNEUM"*** This Roman battlecry is the first to be heard in this area in more than 400 years. The enemy troops begin to charge, but just as they first move, a lone pila flashes out from the ranks. Thrown by Tiro Publius Vagiennus, it takes the enemy leader in the face and penetrates his head completely; only stopping when the joint block hits the upper jaw. The leader's lifeless body falls from the saddle. Loud cries are heard form the enemy ranks as Centurio Quintus next orders 'PILA IACE'***; the command is repeated a second time, and the two volleys result in six of the enemy horses being killed immediately, along with half of the enemy troops. The remaining enemy are barely ten paces from the Roman front when Centurio Quintus' voice bellows out 'GLADIUM STRINGE'....'PARATI"......'PORRO'****.

The next several minutes are consumed with a malestrom of violence, one of sword on shield and sword against sword. Decurio Sextus suffers a broken jaw when a thrown enemy axe strikes him in the left side of the face; his helmet's left jaw flap prevents the blow from doing any more serious injury, but is broken free in the process. Another legionary has his upper left arm laid open by a swordcut.

Four enemy troops manage to gain the Romans' left flank. Three of them are engaged by Legionary Titus Flavius Bassus. Each is killed with a single swift thrust of his gladius; one to the throat, one to the armpit and the final one to the kidneys. The fourth is simultaneously bashed between two scuta and dispatched with a single thrust of the gladii from each of the legionaries holding them. As suddenly as the combat started, the action is now over. The bodies of 67 enemy troops litter the field, along with six dead enemy horses. The seventh horse is off a little ways in a small thicket of woods. The assembled legionaries raise their gladii on high and exultantly shout 'ROMA VICTA', to mark the first battle won by Roman arms in more than 400 years.

Centurio Quintus surveys the battlefield and orders the enemy dead gathered up and stripped of all equipment. he next orders a work party to gather wood in order to burn the bodies. He orders one of his legionaries to take the surviving enemy horse and ride swiftly back to camp to summon aid. Finally, the medicus attached to the vexillatio sees to Decurio Sextus and the other wounded legionary.
*: A Latin obscenity
**: Assume Battle Stance
***: Form Wedge
****: Draw Swords....Ready....CHARGE

First Blood: Aftermath
Time: After the battle, the afternoon of Iunius XVI MDCXXX AUC/ June 16th, 877 AD.

As one contubernia marches off to gather wood for the rather-unpleasant task of burning the enemy dead, the remaining three array themselves in a circle around Centurio Quintus, Decurio Sextus and the injured legionary. Scuta were grounded and pila retrieved so that their points could be straightened. All eyes were alert and turned outwards, watching for further enemy action. Inside the circle, Centurio Quintus watched intently as the Medicus and his two assistants attended to the wounded men. Decurio Sextus' broken jaw was treated first by giving him a poppy extract for pain. Next, the bruised skin was gently rubbed with a healing ointment. Lastly, the jaw was wrapped securely to keep the broken bones from shifting. The Medicus' two assistants were seeing to the legionary with the swordcut on his right arm. He also was given a poppy extract for pain. This was followed up by fixing four silver staples through the edges of the wound at various points, then finally stitching the wound closed with fine silk thread that had been specially-treated for this purpose. A padded sling was made so that the legionary could rest his his arm while on the march back to camp. Meanwhile, two legionaries who were on the woodcutting detail happened to come across a small, thin man in fine clothing who was hiding behind a bush. He addressed them first in guttural Italian and then in bad Latin, his voice quaking in fear. What he said was this: "Please, I beg you. Do not harm me. I am unarmed". The two legionaries instantly take their prisoner back to where the other troops were gathered.

"Centurio Quintus, Centurio Quintus!! See who we have found. We caught him hiding behind a bush like a scared rabbit"

"Very well. Bring him forward. Good job you two on the capturing of him."

The man slowly realizes that he is in no immediate danger of being harmed or killed. His confidence returns somewhat and he gathers his thoughts before speaking in fractured Latin. "My name is Petrus and I am but a humble scribe. I was with my lord Ranulf when your men slew him in battle. I was accompanying him and his men on the march to see if we could discover what had happened after we saw a great golden dome of light in the sky early this morning". Upon hearing this, Centurio Quintus' face assumes a knowing look. Petrus continues to speak. "My lord Ranulf's castellum is but ten mille from here. We had made slow progress on the march, having been on the road for some eight hours before you found us". Petrus turns his head and spits. "Ranulf was a cruel man and oppressed his people greatly. His death will not be mourned. As for me, I am in your hands. What do you want me to do?"

Centurio Quintus says "I have summoned aid from our camp. It should be here in a few hours. Until that time, you will remain here with us."

Aftermath; Part 2
Date: later that same day

While Centurio Quintus is waiting for aid to arrive from the camp of Legio X Fretensis, he and two of his legionaries are exploring the land nearby to the battle site when one of the legionaries spots something out of the ordinary. It is a large outcropping of rock, perahps twcie the height of a man and five times that width at the base. From the side facing the Via Principalis Sinistra, it appears to be normal. But when Centurio Quintus rounds the other side of the rock, he sees something amazing. Instead of a broken, weathered rockface, he sees his own reflection, as if in a mirror or still pool of water. A mumbled exclamation escapes his lips as he beholds the rear of the rock, cut smoothly from top to bottom as if by a razor and more perfectly finished than could be done by a dozen men and a barrel of Jeweller's Rouge. The second legionary is heading back to where the rest of the troops are gathered when he notices something about the road: It just isn't there. The part they marched in on is there, but it suddenly stops. The end of the paving stones are sheared off clean, as from a blow by a headsman's axe. Centurio Quintus hears the legionary's exclamation and comes over to investigate.

"Steady up, man!! You're a Roman soldier, not some wet-nosed tiro!!"

"Yes, Centurio". The legionary still continues to finger the amulet at his neck, eyes scanning the countryside.

"All right, you two. Back to the others. We will wait until help arrives." After returing to the other legionaries, Centurio Quintus relates what was discovered. He orders "We stay put until help arrives. There's something strange going on here. No one leaves the immediate area". Centurio Quintus thinks a moment and then sends an order for the woodcutting party to return. Meanwhile, back at the camp of Legio X Fretensis, the captured enemy horse clatters to a stop at the main gate. The legionary riding him (being no great hand at horseback riding) falls to the ground while uttering a few choice curses about the miserable sack of merda bibulum he was riding. He is quickly ushered to the Principia, where the Legatus Legionis, Primus Pilus and Praefectus Castrum are in conference.

"Legatus Legionis, I beg to report" he says as he also renders a salute.

"Yes, what is it?"


"Legate, the vexillatio you sent out to scout the countryside encountered a mixed force of enemy foot and horse. They spoke no language I ever heard and then attacked us. We were outnumbered two-to-one and still managed to kill them all!! We only took two casualties. Decurio Sextus has a broken jaw and one legionary has a bad swordcut on his right arm." The legionary's cheast is heaving with excitement as he delivers his report.

With this, all three officers leap up from their map table. Legatus Germanicus' voice thunders forth "OPTIO GAIUS OCTAVIUS DRUSUS, ATTEND ME!!"

"Yes, Legate?"

"Alert the First Cohort to be ready to move out in one hour. Half of their Alae of Cavalry will accompany them to act as scouts and messengers. All are to be in full marching kit with four days rations." Optio Gaius and the legionary who brought the report salute and turn to leave, when the Legate halts them and tosses the legionary a small leather sack of denarii as a reward. He snaps to attention and renders yet another salute, his back as straight as a swordblade. "Many thanks, Legatus Legionis!!".

One hour later, the First Cohort and half-Alae of cavalry are assembled and ready to march, their centurial banners flapping in the afternoon breeze. Ther order to march is given, and they commence to moving out by column-of-fours.

The Romans are coming, The Romans are coming...
Date: Iunius XVI MDCXXX AUC/ June 16th, 877 AD
Time: An hour before dusk

Characters: Centurio Quintus Darius Macro, Pilus Prior Lucius Decumius Francus

Centurio Quintus, having just seen to the disposition of the troops on guard duty, has just settled down to eat part of his rations. Suddenly, a call rings out from the top of a nearby oak tree. The call is form a legionary stationed there as a lookout. "Centurio Quintus, Centurio Quintus, Ho there!! I have spied our reinforcements"

"Where away, legionary?"

"They will be here within the half-hour, Centurio."

"Good work, Legionary. Keep watch and apprise me of their progress."

"Yes, Centurio." With this, Centurio Quintus returns to his meal. He is just finishing up when he hears the sound of a cornicern blowing his trumpet. Immediately, he goes to greet the advance guard and finds that it is lead by none other than Pilus Pilor Lucius Decumius, Commander of the First Cohort himself. The two men exchange salutes and greetings.

"Hail, Pilus Prior."

"Hail, Centurio Quintus, what goes?. We received your dispatch back at camp and were promptly dispatched by the Legatus Legionis."

Centurio Quintus proceeds to give the Pilus Prior a detailed report concerning the action fought earlier today. After hearing it, Pilus Prior Lucius comments "Well done, Centurio Quintus. That so-called enemy commander seems like he had his head up his cloaca."

Centurio Quintus chuckles and says "Many thanks, Pilus Prior. I was about to have the bodies of those dead troops burned, but I judged it expedient to recall the woodcutting party."

"I see, Centurio Quintus. It will not do to have such a stinking mess close by to our marching camp. I will detail my Second Centuria to drag them a few stadia away and dispose of them there. I have issued orders for the rest of the troops to begin building the camp. In the meantime, what intelligence do you have for me?"

"Pilus Prior, we captured a man by the name of Petrus. He claims to be a scribe attached to the
column that attacked us."

"Very good, Centurio. Bring him in." Centurio Quintus motions to the two legionaries posted by the command tent. They leave and then return with the prisoner.

Centurio Quintus tells the prisoner "This is Pilus Prior Lucius Decumius Francus. He is commander of the First Cohort of Legio X Fretensis."

"My lord Pilus Prior. I am Petrus, a humble scribe formerly attached to the household of my late lord Ranulf. He was lord of this area until your men slew him and all of his men in battle earlier today. He had marched to try and discover the cause of that great golden dome of light seen in the skies but three days past. I was with him to document what was found, if anything."

"I see. Tell me of this Ranulf. What sort of man was he?"

"Ranulf was hard and cruel, being much-given to excess. He was headstrong and often thought little
before acting. His people were oppressed greatly, but none dared to speak against him."

"Tell me of his lands, Petrus.

"Yes, Pilus Prior. You stand upon them now; they measure some three hundred and fifty square mille in extent. They are some of the richest agricultural lands anywhere around. The ground is so very fertile that the crop yields are often 200-fold in excess of what was planted. The crops are principally wheat, corn, barley, oats and hay for fodder. There are also pear trees, walnut trees and a large vineyard."

"What else, Petrus?"

"My late lord Ranulf also had a silver mine in the hills just ten mille from here." Ranulf points in the direction indicated. "There are also significant deposits of lead nearby."

"Excellent. As Ranulf's castellum is no longer guarded, I claim it in the name of the Senate and the People of Rome. You will come with us to translate, but be warned. If you play me false, I'll pole your head above my command tent."

Petrus is escorted out of the tent by the two legionaries. Pilus Prior Lucius and Centurio Quintus now turn their thoughts to the building of a marching camp. Soon, the cool air of dusk is rent by the sounds of men hard at work. Spades and dolabrae chugg into the earth, while axes ring in the nearby woods as timber is felled for the camp's palisade. By the rise of the next morning's sun, the last spade of earth had been tossed and the last stake set into place. The camp is now complete. At noontime the next day, Pilus Prior Lucius Decumius Franco dispatches one of the cavalrymen from the half-alae attached to the First Cohort. His mission is to bring word back to the main camp of Legio X Fretensis; specifically to tell the Legatus Legionis of his plans to march on the enemy castellum and take it for Rome.

Date: Iunius XVII, MDCXXX AUC/ June 17th, 877 AD
Time: Mid-day

"Sin, Sin, Sin, Dex, Sin." The precisely-measured steps of legionaries on the march tell off the distance with near-mechanistic precision. At noontime, a brief halt is called so the troops can refresh themselves. The march is resumed and barely an hour later, the First Cohort is nearing its objective. Pilus Prior Lucius Decumius Franco agian orders a halt, and then disposes his troops into a tactical formation. He looks upon the castellum, and to his great amazement, he recongizes it as a Roman watchtower with an associated message station. There are also other buildings; these and the watchtower have been surrounded by a crudely-finished stone wall. Pilus Pilor Lucius calls Petrus forward and asks him about the castellum.

"Petrus, what opposition am I likely to face here?."

"My lord Pilus Prior, Ranulf took his whole force with him on the march. All that remain here are a few squires, old men and boys barely old enough to lift a weapon. Certainly, no one who can oppose you in any meaningful way. There is also a village of some 800 souls but three stadia away from here."

"Very good, Petrus. You will go forward with the advance guard and tell those in the castellum to surrender. They and their personal property will not be touched. Ranulf's property and treasury is forfeit to Rome. Tell them also that if any violence is offered to any of my men, i will take the place by storm and the offenders will be killed immediately."


"Yes, Lord." The advance guard goes forward and the cornicen blows his trumpet to summon those inside. A few heads peer anxiously over the gate, looks of fear and apprehension on their faces. Petrus goes on to repeat the Pilus Prior's demands.

Just 15 minutes later, the gates are thrown open and a young woman dressed in a long flowing blue gown and a white headpiece comes out. "I am the Lady Erminegar and I am the wife of Ranulf. I surrender the castellum to you on promise of fair treatment. There are none here able to defend us in any case. I wish to speak to your leader." Petrus translates this for the Romans; Lady Erminegar is subsequently conducted to the Pilus Prior's Command Tent. Petrus stands by to translate.

"I am Pilus Prior Lucius Decumius Franco, Commander of the First Cohort, Legio X Fretensis. I am told you are the wife of Ranulf?"

"Yes, Lord."

"You do know that your husband and all of his men are dead? They were killed in battle against my troops only yesterday."

"Yes, Lord."

"Since you surrendered the castellum willingly and without violence, you are under my protection. You may remain in your quarters is you so choose. You, your servants and your personal property will not be touched; you have my word as a Roman officer. I also want you to send word to all of the chief men in the villages hereabouts that they are to assemble here in two days time."

"Yes, Lord. it shall be done as you ordered."

"Very well, you may return to your quarters". Pilus Prior Lucius next orders the collection of all arms in the castellum. The headquarters optiones he dispatches to survey the contents of the granaries, barns and storehouses report that they are all filled to overflowing. A detail sent to confiscate Ranulf's treasury reports back in amazement. In addition to a large, iron-bound oaken chest filled with various items of jewellry and gold, there are four immense candelabra made of silver, each one being more than the height of a man. Finally, a locked door in Ranulf's quarters is forced open. behind the door is a large, dimly-lit room. In this room are piled silver ingots and bars, all of varying sizes. The survey detail counts the silver and finds that the total quatity is 200 talents worth.

The Spoils of War
Time: the evening of Iunius XVII, MDCXXX AUC/ June 17th, 877 AD.

The cavalry trooper dispatched by Pilus Prior Lucius Decumius Franco to carry messages to the camp of Legio X Fretensis arrived back at the marching camp of the First Cohort. He is ushered into the command tent, where he he gives a proper salute and makes his report to Pilus Prior Lucius Decumus Franco

"Hail, Pilus Prior. I beg to report."

"Hail, Legionary. Proceed"

"Primus Pilus, I gave your report directly to the Legtus Legionis himself. He instructed me to tell you that your orders concerning the disposition of captured enemy property are confirmed, and that you are to proceed as you think best, taking due care with regards to the safety of your command."

"Excellent news, Legionary. I see that you have been in the saddle for many hours today. You are relieved of duty for the next 24 hours so that you can rest and refresh yourself."

"Thank you, Pilus Prior."

Pilus Prior Lucius next summons Optio Marcus Junius Dubitatus. "Optio Marcus, I have instructions for you."

"Yes, Pilus prior?"

"Optio Marcus, later this morning you are to gather a number of wagons sufficient to transport all captured treasure and equipment back to the camp of Legio X Fretensis. I want you to see to the loading personally. Tell Centurio Quintus that he and the four contubernia attached to him are to provide the escort. Tell Centurio Quintus I wish to see him now."

"Immediately, Pilus Prior."

Centurio Quintus comes into the command tent and salutes the Pilus Prior.

"Centurio Quintus, I will be commending the actions of you and your men in the recent battle to the attention of the Legatus Legonis. Such conduct deserves to be rewarded."

"Thank you, Pilus Prior".

At dawn, Centurio Quintus and Optio Marcus see to the gathering and loading of the wagons. There are twenty in all, some loaded with the silver and gold from Ranulf's treasury and still others loaded with the weapons and gear taken from the bodies of those slain in battle. As the wagons are loaded, the morning activities of a Roman marching camp continue unabated. Wood is being chopped and stacked; men are seeing to their equipment and the morning meal is being cooked. Soon, the delicious smells of roasted meats, fresh bread and vegetables are wafting their way through camp, joined by the tangy odor of woodsmoke rising into the cool morning air.


Spoils of War, Part 2
Date: Iunius XVIIII MDCXXX AUC/ June 19th, 877 AD
Time: Mid-morning

The caravan dispatched by the Pilus Prior arrives back at the camp of Legio X Fretensis. Centurio
Quintus is immediately summoned by the Legatus Legionis to give a report.

"Proceed, Centurio Quintus."

"Yes, Legate. I am pleased to report that the caravan sent by the Pilus Prior arrived in good order. We encountered no enemy opposition along the way. As to the contents, there are two hundred talents of silver in the form of bars and ingots, two hundred librae of worked gold and items of jewelry in an iron-bound oaken chest and four immense candelabra of solid silver. The weight of these is two talents each. There is also a wagon of captured enemy equipment for your perusal."

"Excellent work, Centurio. See that the valuables are stored away under guard. Bring any armor, weapons and equipment to me that you think of interest."

"Immediately, Legate." A half hour later, Legatus Legionis Germanicus is attending to various administrative duties when Optio Gaius returns with a small detail carrying various items of enemy weapons, armor and equipment. These are laid out on a table for inspection. The legionaries are dismissed; Optio Gaius salutes and turns to leave.

"Optio Gaius, remain a moment."

"Yes, Legate?"

"I have read the report concerning the actions of you and your vexillatio during that battle with those enemy troops. Your conduct was in the finest traditions of Roman service. Those three legionaries of yours particularly distinguished themselves. I have recommended to the Emperor that you and they be recognized accordingly."

"Thank you, Legate. They will be pleased to hear that."

"You may return to your duties, Centurio." Optio Gaius Octavius Drusus is standing by in the legate's ofice. "Optio Gaius, attend me."

"Yes, Legate?"

"You boast a knowledge of arms, armor and metalworking, do you not?"

"Yes, Legate, I do indeed."

"I'll have your opinion of this captured enemy equipment."

“As you command, Legate." Optio Gaius spends the next half hour examining the equipment in minute detail. He also examines one of the saddles with a look of curiosity on his face. "Legate, the enemy mail is similar to ours in form but not in construction. Half of the rings in our mail are punched solid from a metal plate, while the others are made from wire with the ends riveted closed. The rings in the enemy mail are all made from wire with riveted ends, and the wire itself is thicker than ours to make up for being of inferior quality. The enemy helmets are but simple iron caps with attached nasal guards. Note the lack of protection for the jaws and the back of the neck. As for the finish, Bah!!. These so-called helmets look like they were bashed out with a tree stump and a rock. Whichever sack of merda bibulum made them should be taken out and scourged for this insult. About all they are good for is to use as chamber pots."

Legate Germanicus chuckles at the venom in Optio Gaius' voice. "What of the weapons, Optio?"

"The axes and daggers are what they are. I can find no fault in them, except that they are poorly- balanced. The swords however, are a different matter." Optio Gaius hefts the sword taken from Ranulf. "This one has a hilt fit for the Emperor, but the blade is absolute garbage. It is too wide and there is no point; the edge isn't fit to do anything more than chopping vegetables. Optio Gaius casts down the sword in disgust. "These spears were used as lances by the enemy horsemen? No wonder why we were able to kill them so easily. A lancea needs some real heft in order to take the shock of a charge, and these are too thin and light. The only part of the design I approve of are the sockets. These have a one-piece design, with the edges welded together. Ours have sockets with the edges just hammered together."

"Tell me about the saddle."

"Yes, Legate. It's like nothing I have ever seen before. Our saddles have four horns that our riders use to steady themselves by pressing against them with their thighs. This saddle doesn't have them. Instead, it has those two curious belts depending from the sides with those large metal rings at the end. Unless I miss my guess, the rider steadies himself in the saddle by putting his feet through the rings." A look of comprehension crosses Optio Gaius' face. "Those belts are so bloody simple!! Why didn't we ever think of that? They look to provide a much more secure seat."

"Thank you, Optio Gaius. You knowledge is valuable as always."

"At your convenience, Legate."

Acta Diurna
Date: Iunius XXII, MDCXXX AUC / June 22nd, 877 AD

It is reported that the Emperor has issued the following decrees for the better ordering of Nova Roma.

Concerning the issuance of coinage
The design and issuance of gold coins is solely within the purview of the Emperor. The design of silver, brass and copper coins is at the discretion of the Senate. The only proviso is that such coins will prominently feature the letters ‘SC' for ‘Senatus Consultum' prominently featured on the reverse.
Commentary: The Senate is considering this decree and is expected to confirm it within the week.

Concerning the disposition of captured enemy lands
All lands taken within the jurisdiction of Nova Roma are to be considered part of the Ager Publicus. Farmers and smallholders on such portions of that land will be given title and ownership of them, to be confirmed by payment (on an annual basis) of a 20% tax in cash or kind.
Commentary: This decree is now in force, as it is not subject to Senatorial action.

Concerning the issue of Citizenship
Men from the peoples and groups who come under the governance of Nova Roma and who join the legions will be granted citizenship upon the completion of their term of service. Their wives can apply become citizens at the end of five years, and all children they have are citizens of Nova Roma by birth. The basic requirements for the granting of citizenship in Nova Roma are a fluent ability to speak, read and write Latin, a familiarity with Roman customs, law and history, plus the swearing of an oath of loyalty and allegiance to Nova Roma. Citizenship will be granted immediately if the candidate performs some notable act of bravery while serving in the legions or for some great service to Nova Roma.
Commentary: The Senate is currently debating this decree.

Concerning service in the legions
The term of service in the legions is twenty years, with a further term of five years as a member of the veteranii. Legionaries shall receive the sum of one denarius per diem, and such other allowances as are decreed by the Emperor. After twenty years, a legionary will receive a cash bonus equal to the total salary received during that period. As a veteranus, a legionary will receive a bonus of 50% over his regular pay. After five years of service as a veteranus, a legionary will receive one hundred iugera of land. If a legionary dies in the service, his family will receive all pay, bonuses and land as if he had completed the full 25 years. If a legionary shall be discharged for reasons of injury, he shall receive all pay due for the remainder of his full term of service, along with the 20-year bonus and the 100 iugera of land. Furthermore, his medical expenses shall be paid by the state.
Commentary: This decree is now in force, as it is not subject to Senatorial action.

Awards Ceremony
Date: Iunius XXIV MDCXXX AUC/ June 24th, 877 AD

In the midst of the parade ground between the city and the camp of Legio X Fretensis, a temporary rostrum has been erected. The sides of the platform have been decked in imperial purple, fringed with gold. There is an elaborate wooden chair in the middle of the platform, and upon the chair is seated Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome. To his right are set the standards of Legio X Fretensis, their banners waving proudly in the afternoon breeze. To the Emperor's left are gathered the senior officers of the Legion, including the Legatus Legionis, the Primus Pilus and the Praefectus Castrum. After introductory rites and prayers by the priests of Iovi Optimo Maximo, the Emperor begins to speak. "Men of the Legion, we are gathered here today to honor the courage, steadfastness and valor of several of your fellows." The assembled legionaries spontaneously thunder forth "HAIL CAESAR, HAIL CAESAR, HAIL CAESAR". The Emperor resumes speaking after the cheers have subsided.

"Publius Vagiennus, of the Second Century, First Cohort, Stand Forth! For your exemplary service in the recent battle, you are promoted from Tiro to Miles Gregarius. For killing the enemy commander with a single throw of your pila, you are awarded a Corona Aurea. Accept also from my hand the ring of the enemy leader." At this, the Emperor hands over a massive ring of elaborately-worked gold set with a large carnelian.

"Legionary Titus Flavius Bassus, of the Second Century, First Cohort, Stand Forth!. For blunting the enemy attack on the left flank by killing three men with as many thrusts of your gladius, you are awarded a full set of nine silver phalerae and a scarlet vexillum banner trimmed with gold bullion, and embroidered with the name of your unit.

"Legionaries Sextus Claudius Rufus and Appius Sempronius Tuditanus, of the Second Century, First Cohort, Stand Forth! For helping Titus Flavius Bassus blunt the enemy attack on the left flank, you are each awarded a silver spear."

"Centurio Quintus Darius Macro, commander of the Second Century, First Cohort, Stand Forth!. For exemplary leadership in the face of the enemy, you are awarded a silver-encrusted oval shield."

"Additionally, each and every man in the Second Century of the First Cohort is awarded a bonus of four months' pay."

As the decorations are handed over by the Legatus Legionis, the Emperor clasps the forearms of each man in succession, in the typical Roman manner. Once the silver shield is given to Centurio Quintus, Legatus Legionis Germanicus commands the five men in a loud, clear voice "TRANSFORMA". At this command, Centurio Quintus and the four legionaries perform an about-face, turning to face the assembled legion. The Emperor suddenly raises both hands over his head, and at this signal, the assembled ranks of Legio X Fretensis break out in loud, boisterous cheering. The cheers echo forth intermingled with the sounds of gladii and pilae clattering against shields.

Politics, Roman-style
Date: Iunius XXVIII MDCXXX AUC / June 28th, 877 AD
Location: The Domus Publicus

The Senate is met this day to consider several matters of public import. Quintus Valerius Rufus, newly-nominated by the Emperor for the post of Princeps Senatus (First Man in the Senate), rises to speak.

"Conscript Fathers, before I assume my duties as Princeps Senatus, I ask that my appointment as such be confirmed by voice vote." The matter is taken up, and after some debate, Quintus Valerius Rufus is confirmed by a vote of 39-0, with three abstentions." After the vote is recorded, Princeps Senatus Quintus rises to speak "I thank you all for your confidence in me. And now, to business. I understand that this body was considering the conformation of the Emperor's decree concerning the striking of coinage under the authority of the senate. I wish to add my voice in approval and I callfor a vote of confirmation."

Lucius Siccius Dentatus, Secretary of the Senate walks to the podium and says "Conscript Fathers, the Princeps Senatus has called for confirmation of the Emperor's decree regarding the striking of coins under Senatorial authority. Do I hear a second?" Gnaeus Corbulo rises from the front row and says "I second the motion". Secretary Lucius now says "The motion for confirmation has been seconded, and the members of this body will now vote. He stands at the podium, with tablet and stylus in hand, recording the votes as they are cast. When the last of the 42 senators has voted, Secretary Lucius passes the tablet to Princeps Senatus Quintus, who announces the vote "Conscript Fathers, in the matter of the Imperial decree concerning the striking of coinage under Senatorial authority, the yeas are 42. The Decree is confirmed by unanimous vote. I further call for this body to select a committee to see to the design of the coins to be struck. The matter is discussed for the next 45 minutes, with some voices being hushed and still others are loud and excited. At the end of the 45 minutes, a committee of three Senators is appointed to design the coinage.

Princeps Senatus Quintus again rises to speak. "In the matter of the Emperor's decree concerning citizenship, I open the floor for continued debate." The senators begin to talk amongst themselves; some of their voices are quiet and reserved while others are argumentative. The main points of contention are an increased emphasis on the knowledge of Roman law and customs and whether or not there should be a fee appended to the application for citizenship. Some also are considering to extend the waiting period for the wife of a non-citizen legionary beyond the initial five years. The pace of the debate is at times furious, and at other times sedate and restrained. After five hours of discussion, Princeps Senatus Quintus calls the Senate to order. "Conscript Fathers, I believe that enough has been said on both sides of the citizenship issue. I call for a vote." Secretary Lucius again comes to the podium and the voting process is as before. When the votes are tallied by him and announced by the Princeps Senatus, the vote is 22-20. Princeps Senatus Quintus speaks once more " Conscript Fathers, you have debated and considered the citizenship decree for the past week. I appreciate the time and effort you have all taken in this matter and I value the opinions of all those
on both sides of the issue. This body stands adjourned."

Staff Meeting
Date: Iulius I MDCXXX AUC/ July 1st, 877 AD
Location: The Principia

Lucius Balbinus Apuleius, Praefectus Castrum comes to the Principia to attend a regularly-scheduled staff meeting. In attendance are Legatus Legionis Germanicus, the Primus Pilus, the Treasury Quaestor and other officers of Legio X Fretensis.

Legate Germanicus opens the meeting by first addressing Praefectus Lucius and saying "Praefectus Castrum, what level of supplies are on hand?"

"Legate, I am pleased to report that I carried out a survey of available stocks this very morning. At present, Legio X Fretensis has a 12-month supply of consumables in the barns, granaries and storehouses. These are composed mainly of grain, sausages, dried meats, dried fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, there is a four-month supply of fodder for the horses in the two cavalry alae attached to the Legion. I have also been in contact with the city prefect, and he tells me that the farmers are beginning to bring in their harvest and that the city also has an eight-month supply of consumables on hand. I request permission to begin brewing an new supply of beer and also to locate new stocks of grapes for winemaking."

"Your requests are approved, Praefectus. Give priority to the brewery, however. I'm quite sure that the men wouldn't appreciate running out." The assembled officers give a low chuckle on hearing this. " I also want you to set up the legion's travelling mint in a permanent facility here in camp. There will be a need for coinage in the future, and it is best to be prepared for that eventuality. Treasury Quaestor?"

"Yes, Legate?"

"How stands the Legion's treasury?"

"The treasury is in good shape, Legate. The men were paid only yesterday, and after that, remaining stocks of coin are eight million sestertii and two million denarii. This does not include the 208 talents of silver and 200 librae of gold taken from the enemy treasury after the recent battle."

"Very good, Quaestor. Is there other business, Gentlemen?"

Primus Pilus Marcus Cassius Scaeva speaks up "Legate, the men are growing somewhat restless. Understandibly, you have restricted them to camp given how we were bought here. But, as the situation has stabilized, I recommend that you authorize the grating of passes and liberty in the city."

"An excellent idea, Primus Pilus. I leave it to you to draw up the schedule. See to it that the passes and liberty are given on a rotating schedule."

"Yes, Legate."

"Very good, gentlemen. As there is no other business, this meeting is concluded." The assembled officers salute the Legate and file out of the room one by one. Some are silent and others are engaging in quiet conversation as they go.

A short time after the meeting, Optio Gaius Ocatvius Drusus knocks on the Legate's office door and speaks "Legatus Legionis, I have a message from the Emperor. " He hands over a scroll tube with ivory end caps and tied closed with a purple cloth fringed with gold braid. It is the type of tube used for important or personal messages. Option Gaius takes his leave, and when Legatus Germanicus is alone, he opens the tube and begins to read.

"I, Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Nova Roma hereby decree that a new legion is to be raised. You will recruit such troops from among the city garrison as you think necessary to form a full first cohort. There are sufficient troops in the garrison that this will not endanger public peace and order. We are in Italia and this legion is the first to be raised after our arrival here. Therefore, this new legion will be called ‘Legio I Italica'.

Signed
IMP CAES MARC AUR*
TR P COS III PON MAX PP**

*: Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius
**: Tribunicia Potestas Consul III Pontifex Maximus Pater Patriae

Acta Diurna Vol II
Date: Iunius XXIV MDCXXX AUC / June 24th, 877 AD
It is reported from the Domus Publicus that the senate has confirmed the Emperor's decrees concerning the striking and issue of coinage, and also of citizenship. The coinage decree was passed by a magine of 39-0, with 3 abstentions. The vote on the citizenship decree was much closer; it passed by 22-20.

From the Domus Imperialis, the Emperor has issued the following proclamation:

"I, Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius, sincerely wishing to honor the gods and our new State, do hereby decree that the city of Augusta Verbonia is hereby renamed Nova Roma. The city's pomerium is hereby fixed at the distance of ten stadia from the city walls. To mark this occasion, I order the holding of three days of games, theatrical performances and feasting."

Signed:
Imp Caes Marc Aur
TR P COS III Pon Max PP

Commentary: This proclamation is not subject to Senatorial action, and it is now in force.


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 Post subject: Re: Men of Rome
PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2016 7:44 pm 
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"... the great Library of Alexandria..."

So THAT'S where it went !!

( Better ISOT than repeatedly culled / looted / burned per OTL !! )

Ranulf ? Built around an old, Roman watch-tower and signal station ?

Apparently disused, or they'd have said ??

Sounds like they're in OTL's 'Southern France', whatever it was called then...

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 Post subject: Re: Men of Rome
PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:58 pm 
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Nik_SpeakerToCats wrote:
"... the great Library of Alexandria..."

So THAT'S where it went !!

( Better ISOT than repeatedly culled / looted / burned per OTL !! )

Ranulf ? Built around an old, Roman watch-tower and signal station ?

Apparently disused, or they'd have said ??

Sounds like they're in OTL's 'Southern France', whatever it was called then...

Close, but not quite. All will be revealed in due time.

The Roman watchtower dates from the Imperial period, but was abandoned after the fall of the Western Empire in 476 A.D. The locals used it for various purposes until Ranulf's ancestors took the place over and turned it into a sort of castle.


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 Post subject: Re: Men of Rome
PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:32 pm 
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Neat, I was waiting for this to appear here. Will it ever be finished?

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 Post subject: Re: Men of Rome
PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:21 am 
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trekchu wrote:
Neat, I was waiting for this to appear here. Will it ever be finished?

Then sir, I shall not disappoint you.

The delay was caused in large part by my files becoming inaccessible after a fault on my hard drive wiped out Word Perfect (the format in which I had them stored), plus my waiting upon the convenience of my fellow author Stolengood. I emailed him a couple of times, and he responded that the joint update he and I were working on was in progress.

However, I haven't heard back from him in quite some time now, and I have likewise asked Jim Smitty to contact him over on AH.com. If he doesn't respond in a reasonable amount of time, I will take the authorship back upon myself alone.

Needless to say, I will not RPT not be pleased if I have to do this, because Stolengood is an excellent writer.


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Chapter Two
Let the Games Begin
Date: Iulius III MDCXXX AUC / July 3rd, 877 AD

Thesea Domina Greccia stood in the alcove just off from the open area of the sands. This was the first day of the games announced by Emperor Aurelius to commemorate the new Senate and the declaration of Nova Roma. Thesea did not really understand what that meant. Thesea didn't understand much of what had been happening since she was brought here by her master, Arbus Arabius.

Arbus was a fat, greedy, narrow-minded mentula* who raised her to sell to a brothel, but when he gave her to one of his Gladiators to take her virginity, she killed him. With her bare hands, she reached down seemingly to pleasure him and wrenched his manhood so badly that he ended up bleeding to death inside. Arbus was going to kill her, but one of his alleged friends cautioned him, "Why not train her as a gladiatrix, Arbus? You have no curiosity fighters, no oddities in your stable and think of the spectacle of her, dressed in nothing but the armor and cloth of a Mirmillo, out there fighting for the enjoyment of the people."

Thesea learned well, and at first enjoyed it. Then when she had her first match she won, but only barely and as she stood bleeding, only barely dressed wearing the banded armor on one arm and the Mirmillo helmet and sandals, she pulled off her helm and shouted ruefully at the crowd, almost ccusingly,

"Are you not entertained?"

She shouted that at them because they were stunned into silence by her narrow victory and we just staring at her.

The other fight was badly hurt, but alive. He was a young male slave and he would not live long and so she looked down on him and in pity skewered him to put him out of his misery, then she shouted again at them,

"ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"

The crowd exploded in applause and shouts and cheers. She had given them what they wanted. Blood and spectacle. That had been ten years ago. And 73 matches past. Thesea was now within sniffing range of her freedom, but at this point despaired of ever seeing it. The matches had been getting more challenging, more brutal and more disparate in terms of her opponents. Thesea had been forced to become even more skilled more inventive and even as she enriched her master it was obvious he was trying to kill her rather than give a female slave, one who had killed a favorite gladiator in his pleasure bed, her liberty.

Now, as she stepped forward, she heard the bout announced. Thesea would fight a tiger captured in the wilds of Africa; this would be a simple exhibition match and not the main event. Legionary Atticus Tallus Barbarus led his three best friends toward their seats in the arena, "I tell you, guys, you won't want to miss this, Thesea Domina Greccia is fighting today, I here she has killed seventy two opponents including men, women and animals."

Legionary Josephus Judicus told him, "No, She has FOUGHT that many, she has only killed a third that and even then only animals and barbarians "

Legionary Horatius Braccius added, "I don't care, I hear she fights as a Mirmillo, so that you can see EVERTHING."

The last man Legionnaire Theseus Greccus said, "I know about her, we have the same name almost. Sometimes the other troopers tease me about it."

Barbarus told him, "They're not teasing you, they're complimenting you, and seeing you fight, I can see why. Now let's watch. She's coming out."

Thesea walked out of her alcove and into the bright sun. It glinted off her helm and banded armor and the four men saw she was wearing sandals breechclout Mirmillo armor and nothing else. Her weapon was the standard Gladius given to slaves for these matches and her opponent was a massive tiger captured in the Province of Africa.

She paced the animal but kept out of paw's reach. It seemed she was toying with it. Either that or she felt some kind of pity for the animal, or even a strange kind of kinship. Two animals taken and used and exploited . When the beast charged, Thesea dodged clear and cut it savagely on the shoulder and flank. Now it was hurt and bleeding. It was angry and would now have even more trouble thinking. Then, the tiger charged and she got under it putting her shielded arm in its jaws to keep it from biting her. She stabbed it quickly, then pushed the body from her. She was bruised and a little scratched up but she still looked at the crowd. The crowd waited as she looked at them and tossed her head to clear a lock of hair from her sight. Finally she shouted,

"Are you not entertained?"

The amphitheater burst into applause and bags of coins hit the area floor along with roses thrown by men and women. She moved arms and hands in a beckoning gesture and said again

"ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"

The applause grew more thunderous until her master ordered her back into the Gladiator's pens. He was an oily little Persian that seemed up to no good.

Theseus asked curiously "Why does she still fight for him? If I were her, I would not; in fact, I would be running my own stable by now. Isn't it strange for a free fighter to still be working for their former master?"

Horatius answered, "I don't know, Theseus. That IS strange."

Mentula: A Latin obscenity meaning ‘Prick'

Date: Iulius IV MDCXXX AUC / July 4th, 877 AD

Thesea had fought and won the exhibition match of the previous day, putting her at seventy-three victories. Her master Arbus Arabius was obviously angered and fed her only because he could not justify punishing a victorious fighter, not even to himself. All the same, he kept all the money thrown on the sands (As usual) and denied her even the pleasure of some of the roses and other flowers. He told the would-be patrons who wanted to have a night's dalliance with her that, she had a religion that forbade sex in any form, and he was honoring that.

Arbus hated her and planned a match for the third day that would see her die. First, however, there would be something else.

Arbus arranged for an opponent for the second day's match that would punish her for her refusal to die. He spoke to a rival and arranged the match with sadistic glee.

The next day, as the crowd cheered, Thesea came out of her alcove, to see her opponent. The other fighter was also a woman, at least that was what Thesea thought, then she looked again and saw that no, the other warrior was just a girl. She was a young thing dressed in Mirmillo armor and shivering despite the heat of the day. She picked up the Gladii clumsily and was visibly terrified.

It was obvious that Thesea was intended to murder this girl. This was the last straw. Arbus had gone too far.

Even for him, this was just low.

Legionary Atticus Tallus Barbarus once again brought his three friends to the matches. His treat as the previous night had been a good one for him at the dice. He looked down in shock at Thesea's opponent. The announcer said she was a criminal A Thracian following Christianity In defiance of Roman law. It was a law both unenforced and unenforceable and most people thought nothing of it, especially not Barbarus, but nonetheless, there she was.

Theseus, Josephus, and Horatius were equally horrified. Regardless this was the games and they watched waiting to see how Thesea would react.

Her response was different. She spoke to the other fighter. She told the other younger woman how to hold her sword properly and make it a good match. The words could not be heard but Thesea was SHOWING the other fighter how to fight. How to move and how to at least try to entertain the crowd.

The other fighter. Minerva Corsia, was still losing and being cut up rather badly, but not lethally. She would lose, but not die, at least not in this match. Thesea played to the crowd and when Minerva was on her last legs, she blundered too close to Thesea and she was grabbed. Thesea stripped off the girl's breechclout and immobilized her, then she smacked her repeatedly on the bare buttocks and shouted loud enough for the crowd to hear,

"This. IS. WHAT. YOU. GET. FOR. PLAYING. WITH. A GLADIUS. NOW . GO. HOME. TO .YOUR. MOTHER!"

Thesea doffed her helm and once again shouted the waited-for exhortation at the crowd,

"Are you NOT entertained?"

A few bags of coins were thrown and a few flowers fell and she shouted agains as she almost seemed to dance in place,

"Good people, ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"

This time even Atticus threw a bag of silver coins and Horatius hurled a rose at her feet along with a small bag of silver. The crowd loved Thesea and she seemed to love them.

Minerva was humiliated, but she still lived and would heal. This was not a death match and, as Thesea was the clear victor, the crowd, including the four Legionaries cheered Thesea's humor, prowess and mercy. The only one who seemed not to be happy was Arbus Arabius. He stood by the alcove awaiting Thesea, and was now decided.

Tomorrow she would die. The match would be before the Emperor himself and that would give this bitch the final insult. Arbus would be rid of her for good and all. He next ordered her "Go to the bathing room and get cleaned. Then you eat and get to your cell."

Thesea's response though seeming to be obedient was dripping with contempt,

"Yes, Great master, it shall be done."

Date: Iulius V MDCXXX AUC/ July 5th, 877 AD

Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Nova Roma is sitting in the State Box at the Amphitheater observing the various events taking place; the displays of dexterity by tumblers and acrobats, the accuracy of the knife, axe and spear throwers. Finally, the main event is begun...Gladiatorial Combat!! The matches all begin with the traditional gladiator's salute "HAIL CAESAR. WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE, SALUTE YOU!!" The matches that follow are always a favorite with the crowd. The first bouts involves gladiators of one type squaring off against those of another type. There are also single combats between gladiators of the same type. Next are the fights between team of gladiators.

All of this activity has been merely a prelude to the much-heralded bout featuring Thesea Domina Greccia from the stable of Arbus Arabius. She faces not one, but THREE opponents at once. As her master describes the coming battle to the Emperor and the crowd, he casts a sidelong glance at her, one that is filled with pure malignancy. He seems to be saying to her "you're not making it out of this one alive, you Greek bitch!!" Thesea catches the glance, and instead of being filled with hopelessness, she stiffens up her sinews, summons up her blood and disguises her fair nature with hard-favored rage. Thesea's first opponent is a Thracian, who comes at her with his wicked-looking knife held high. She blocks his first stroke with the armor on her left arm and the second with her own sword. Thesea responds to these with a single downward thrust that spears her opponent through the collar bone. This alone would be fatal, however She is so angry that this blow is followed up in quick succession by three lightning-quick slashes across the abdomen, and a fourth stroke that separates the Thracian's head from his shoulders.

The crowd is on its feet, stamping and shouting their approval for such feats of swordplay. Thesea's two remaining opponents (a Retarius and a Mirmillo) attack simultaneously. The Retarius swings his net low, trying to entangle her legs. She tumbles over the net in a move that brings renewed cheers from the crowd. The follow-up attack with the trident is blocked by the armor on Thesea's left arm. The attack by the Mirmillo is only partially-successful, resulting in a cut on her right shoulder. Thesea answers both attackers with a pair of thrusts from her own sword. The first takes the Retarius through the heart, and the second knocks the Mirmillo's sword out of his hand and tumbles him to the ground.

The crowd goes wild,. never having seen such swordplay before. They respond by tossing small bags of coins onto the floor of the arena, along with items of jewelry and flowers. Her master Arbus Arabius is staring at her with pure, undiluted hate as she walks over to her last opponent. Sword at the ready, she looks over at the State Box. Her fallen opponent rises an open hand towards the Emperor as a plea for mercy. The Emperor raises his hand high and the gesture is 'Thumbs Up!!', the opponent will live!!

Thesea's opponent slowly rises to his feet and limps off the arena floor. She turns to leave also, when a command from the Emperor freezes her in her tracks. A short time later, Marcus Aurelius himself enters the arena floor, attended by an Optio and flanked by two guards. He walks over to her and she falls to her right knee, head bowed in respect. The Emperor takes her by the chin and gently raises her face upwards saying, "Stand before me, Gladiatrix. Never in all my years have I ever beheld such feats of swordplay. How long have you been fighting?"

"Caesar, my master Arbus Arabius over there has had me in the arena seventy-five separate times, counting today's match and those I fought yesterday and the day before. He has promised me my freedom after the 100th match."

Marcus Aurelius shoots a questioning look at Arbus Arabius and tells Thesea "Did you not know that ancient law decrees that a gladiator is to be freed after fifty matches, unless killed or sooner released?"

"No, Caesar. I did not know." She flings a look of unadulterated hate at Arbus Arabus, whose color drains from his face, taking on the hue of clotted cream.

Marcus Aurelius takes Thesea Domina Greccia by his left hand and says "Hear me now, Warrior. For your magnificent fighting skill, you are granted Manumittio*." With his right hand, the Emperor hands Thesea what she has desired for many months, the Rudis, a wooden sword symbolizing her freedom. "Additionally, all that treasure thrown to the floor of the arena is yours to do with as you please. For violating Roman law and the customs of our ancestors, Arbus Arabius is fined three-quaters of all money and valuables that he possesses, and all of his slaves and gladiators are hereby manumitted. Half of the amount forfeited by Arabus Arabius is granted to you, Thesea Domina Greccia. The other half is to be split among those released by my decree. I HAVE SPOKEN."

Thesea nearly faints at her great good fortune, tears streaking her face. The expression on Arbus Arabius' face is rather less pleasant. In fact, he is shaking with rage.

*: Freedom

The plot thickens
Iulius V MDCXXX AUC / July 5th, 877 AD

Arbus Arabius was not a happy man. In fact, he was livid. He and a half-dozen of his friends were gathered at Arbus' villa after Arbus had returned from the third day of the games. Arbus was pacing back and forth, he face almost purple with rage "How dare that bastard do that to me?? I don't care if he is the Emperor. No one, NO ONE gets away with insulting me in public!!! It's all the fault of that bitch Thesea. I'll tell you, friends, if the Emperor can get away with doing what he did, he can do the same to anyone of you. He'll probably not even come up with a decent excuse..." Arbus' further words descend into a near-incoherent angry babble.

One of Arbus' friends speaks up and says "What can we do? Marcus Aurelius is still the Emperor". Arbus responds "Yes, that is true. However, being here in this new world means that Marcus Aurelius isn't as powerful as he was in former days. This makes him vulnerable. I want you all to make certain ‘discreet' enquiries in the less-reputable parts of the city. Say that your patron has a certain problem, and that he would like assistance in making the problem go away...." Arbus' words mingle with a loud chuckle from most of the men present. One of them doesn't chuckle or laugh, but none of his fellows think to notice his lack of enthusiasm.

Arbus and his friends begin to talk amongst themselves, and time passes. The sun is starting to set as his six friends depart one by one, each going their separate way. Lucius Gemellus, the one who showed no interest in what Arbus intended, pauses for a moment before the door of his own villa to gather his thoughts. He thinks to himself "I disagree with what the Emperor did, but he's still the Emperor. I'll not be a party to harming him in any way. Lucius goes inside his villa, then orders a servant to bring him oil lamps, a stylus and a wax tablet. Once alone in his private alcove, Lucius takes stylus in hand and begins to write.

"To the esteemed Princeps Senatus Quintus Valerius Rufus, greetings and salutations. In regards to a certain action undertaken by the Emperor on the third day of the games, the person who was the subject of that action has made his displeasure known to me. This person considers what was done to be a personal insult of the worst possible kind, and has sent out enquiries about solving this personal problem. Mindful of this, I urge you in the very strongest terms to take all measures consistent with the Emperor's safety.

I remain yours in the service of Nova Roma.

L. Gemellus.”

After the tablet is completed, Lucius seals it closed and places it within a small leather pouch. Lucius next calls for his chief servant Marcus Aegyptus.

"Yes, Dominus?"

"Marcus Aegyptus, I want you to go to the Domus Publicus and give this pouch directly into the hands of the Princeps Senatus, and no one else's. Speak to NO ONE on the way and take care that you are not followed."

"Yes, Dominus. It will be as you say." Marcus puts the pouch containing the tablet into his own belt pouch and goes on his way.

One hour later

The door to the Domus Publicus is about to close for the day as Marcus Aegyptus enters. He asks where the Princeps Senatus' public office is and is shown the way. He knocks on the door and is bidden to enter.

"Hail, Princeps Senatus."

"Hail, Marcus Aegyptus. What can I do for you?"

"Princeps Senatus, I come from the villa of Lucius Gemellus. He bids me to personally give you this message." Marcus hands over the pouch containing the wax tablet. "I don't know the substance of the message, but Lucius Gemellus told me to take special care that I wasn't followed here." Having handed over the pouch, Marcus takes his leave.

Once the Princeps Senatus is alone, he opens the pouch, takes out the tablet and begins to read. As each sentence passes his lips, Quintus' face first registers shock that quickly gives way to a cold rage. Quintus immediately calls for his chief servant. "Find me the one called Thesea Domina Greccia and bring her here to me. I wish to speak with her".

"Yes, Princeps Senatus. It shall be done immediately."

Consequences
Date: Iulius VI MDCXXX AUC / July 6th, 877 AD

After returning from three days of liberty in Augusta Verbonia, the men of the Second Century, First Cohort drew the assignment of patrolling outwards on the Via Principalis Dextra. The men were assembled at first light and moved out in good order. Their morale was high as they talked amongst themselves at the sights and sounds they had experienced. Much of their talk revolved around the performance of that gladiatrix Thesea Domina Greccia, her exquisite skill with the sword and her public manumission by the Emperor. Horatius Braccius and his good friend Atticus Tallus Barrabas were also bragging to each other about their performances with the various ladies at Aselina's Capuona. Little did they all know that their mood was about to change.

Several hours into the patrol, the advance guard of the Second Century, First Cohort made a gruesome discovery. They were approaching a small Roman farm when they saw smoke rising. The farm was located just inside the boundary of the area that had been transported. The advance guard held in place while a runner was sent to inform Centurio Quintus Flavius Maximus. Centurio Quintus was joined was joined by the rest of his command detachment. He then ordered his men forward to join the advance guard. When Centurio Quintus and his men arrived at the farmhouse, they found it in flames and all of the stock slaughtered. Worse yet was what they found in the front yard. There were five piles of burned kindling, each made from broken furniture, pieces of farm equipment and various bits of wood. To each of these piles was tied the body of a woman. Some of them were unrecognizable, but it was clear from the expressions of fear and pain frozen on their faces that they had all been burned alive.

Centurio Quintus Flavius Maximus swore a stream of vile oaths and exclaimed loudly "What in the name of all the gods happened here??" He orders his men to search the rest of the grounds, but no one else is found. Signifer Lucius Metticus calls out after a few minutes and says "Centurio Quintus, I have found tracks leading off to the Northwest. I make them out to be a mixed party of men and horse." Centurio Quintus orders Cornicen Horatius Braccius to sound ‘Battle Assembly' on his trumpet in order to gather the rest of the Centuria.

"Men, by now, you have all seen what was done here. We have discovered the tracks of those responsible leading off to the northwest. Follow me and prepare to move at the double-quick. We're going to catch up with that bunch of murdering swine and teach them the meaning of Roman justice. By the time we are done, they will all drown in lakes of their own blood. WHO IS WITH ME??"

At this, a savage chorus of angry voices rends the air. To a casual observer, they would have sounded like a pack of wolves gone after their prey, but far more resolute and terrible. The men of the Second Century, First Cohort set off at a fast run, their arms and equipment clattering as they move.

After a hard slog of some thirty minutes, the advance guard catches sight of their quarry. Those up ahead number some 72 in all; of this total, there are seven horsemen, fifty men-at-arms and 15 men in long brown robes with knotted cords around their waists. The legionaries spontaneously break into a charge, with Centurio Quintus shouting out ‘GLADIUM STRINGE…..PORRO!!!!'*. Those pursued catch sight of the charging Romans, but to no avail. The center of the Roman line crashes into them like an armored thunderbolt. Simultaneously, four contubernia break off from the flanks of the charge and surround the enemy party in order to cut off any possibility of escape. Gladii rise and fall, cut and thrust, their points licking out almost faster than the eye can see. The enemy troops try to resist, but are swiftly put down. Finally, all that remain are the seven horsemen and the 15 men in long brown robes. An order from Centurio Quintus brings a volley of pila that kills all of the enemy horses and spills their riders to the ground.

The enemy leader picks himself out of the dirt and starts to speak in broken latin. demanding to know "Who the hell are you and why did you attack us? I am Hundibert, Reeve for my lord Adalbert I, Margrave of Tuscany, and I demand to…" A strangled grunt is heard as Centurio Quintus delivers a well-aimed punch to the abdomen. Hundibert folds up and drops to the ground.

Centurio Quintus shouts at him, saying "Listen, you miserable no-good sheep-buggering culibonia**, I don't care who you are and where it is you came from. You and your men are going to suffer for what you did at that farm." He calls to the assembled legionaries and says "Make them talk." For the next thirty minutes, agonized screams rend the air, intermingled with prayers and pleas for mercy. At the end, six of the seven riders have been stripped naked and hanged by the neck from the branches of a nearby oak tree, hands bound tightly behind their backs with the cords from around the waists of the robed men. Hundibert is nailed upside-down to the tree that his men are hanging from, and his abdomen is split open from groin to sternum with a single angry slash from a gladius. The men in long brown robes are all impaled on sharpened stakes set around the tree.

"Signifer Lucius, what have you learned?"

"Centurio Quintus, the riders and men-at-arms were part of their lord Adalbert's retinue, That stinking pile of maggot-ridden merda sent them out to root out the witchcraft that infests this area, or so he said. Those men in long brown robes were priests of something called the ‘Ca-tho-lic Church. They accompanied the rest of their party in order to provide guidance; apparently, some of them were even responsible for tying those poor women to those piles of kindling"

"Very well, Signifier Lucius. Order the men to rest and eat. We will return back to camp. The Legate and the Emperor must be informed of what has happened.

"As you command, Centurio.

After a forced march of ten mille that was accomplished in less than four hours, the Second Century, First Cohort returns to the camp of Legio X Fretensis. While the main body catches its breath on the parade ground, Centurio Quintus immediately proceeds to the principia, where he meets Optio Decimus Axius Draco who is on duty as Officer of the Day. After Centurio Quintus conveys his report, the two of them break off at a run, heading for the Legate's offices.

Optio Decimus is the first to speak "Legate Germanicus, I beg to report."

"Yes, Optio Decimus?"

"Centurio Quintus Flavius Maximus of the Second Century, First Cohort has information that it is vital for you to hear."

"Very well, Optio. Proceed, Centurio Quintus."

Centurio Quintus salutes the Legate and proceeds to recount what he and his men encountered at the farm, and of the actions afterwards. As Legate Germanicus listens, his face registers shock, then quickly purples in anger. He pounds the desk with his fists as a sign of his rage, then jumps up from his seat.

"Optio Decimus, send word to the Domus Imperialis. Tell the Emperor that we have news of the highest importance, and that I will be there shortly."

"Yes, Legate." Optio Decimus hurries to carry out the Legate's order.


"Centurio Quintus, return to your men and tell them that their actions at the farm are to be commended, and that I will mention them to the Emperor. I know that you and they have pressed yourselves greatly to convey your report to me. You and your centuria are off-duty for the next 24 hours so that you can rest and recover."

"Many thanks, Legate."

*: DRAW SWORDS…CHARGE!!!!
**: a Latin obscenity referring to a particular kind of prostitute

Declaration of War
Date: Iulius VI MDCXXX AUC/ July 6th, 877 AD
Location: The Domus Imperialis

Marcus, Aurelius, Emperor of Nova Roma is in his office attending to Business of State when there is a knock at the door. One of his servants goes to see who it is and returns a short time later. He says "Caesar, Optio Decimus Axius Draco is here to see you. He bears a message of the very highest importance from Legatus Legionis Germanicus."

"Very well. Admit him."

The servant shows Optio Decimus into the Emperor's office, then leaves. Optio Decimus salutes the Emperor and says "Hail Caesar. I come with a message from Legatus Legionis Germanicus. He has instructed me to tell you that the Second Century of the First Cohort was out on patrol when they came across a Roman farm family that had been massacred." Optio Decimus is almost shaking with rage as he describes what was done at the farm. "Centurio Quintus Flavius Maximus was quickly able to discover who was responsible. He and his men tracked down the murderers and punished them with the utmost vigor before they could attack another farm."

Marcus Aurelius listens to Optio Decimus' message, and his face goes ashen with the revelation of what was done to that family. Shock gives way to anger, and the Emperor has to pause for a moment to gather his thoughts.

"Optio Decimus?"

"Yes, Caesar?"

"Return to Legate Germanicus and give him my compliments. Tell him that he and Legio X Fretensis are to stand by for further orders."

"As you command, Caesar."

The Emperor call for his servant once Optio Decimus has left.

"Yes, Caesar?"

"Go at once to the Domus Publicus. And give this message to Quintus Valerius Rufus Princeps Senatus. He hands a small ivory scroll tube to the servant. "Ask him to call the Senate into session tomorrow morning. Tell him also that I will be addressing the Senate in person."

"Immediately, Caesar."

Date: Iulius VI MDCXXX AUC / July 6th, 877 AD
Location: The Domus Publicus

The dawn breaks clear and cool, with s slight breeze carrying the scents of the surrounding countryside into the city. Two hours after dawn, Marcus Aurelius goes to the Domus Publicus. He is in his full imperial regalia and is wearing a purple-bordered toga. The Emperor is attended by a full party of lictores and a number of bodyguards. As the Emperor approaches the Senate chamber, he sees that its great bronze doors are open wide and that the Princeps Senatus is there to greet him.

"Hail, Caesar"

"Hail, Princeps Senatus. Let us go inside for this matter can brook no delay."

With this, the Emperor and the Princeps Senatus proceed into the Senate chamber. The assembled senators are talking amongst themselves, some seated and others standing. The conversations die away as the Emperor comes in. The Princeps Senatus calls out in a loud, clear voice "Conscript Fathers, please take your seats. The Emperor wishes to address this August body." The senators quickly take their seats, cloaks and togas rustling softy as they do so.

The Emperor begins to speak, saying "Conscript Fathers, I have called you here today in order to relay the gravest of news. Two days ago, a Roman farm family near the edge of Nova Roman territory was attacked by outsiders. Men of the Second Century, First Cohort ably lead by Centurio Quintus Flavius Maximus discovered the killings and were quickly able to identify, pursue and punish those responsible. Before they died, these men said that they had been sent here by their lord Adalbert, Margrave of Tuscany to root out the witchcraft that was said to infest this region. This so-called witchcraft can only be the event that brought us here. Gentlemen of the Senate, this unprovoked and dastardly attack on one of our farm families peaceably going about their business must be answered. Therefore, I, Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Nova Roma now declare that a state of war exists between us and this Margrave of Tuscany. I further ask that the Senate pass a resolution in support of this." After his speech is finished, Marcus Aurelius takes his seat.

Princeps Senatus Quintus Valerius Rufus rises to speak. "Conscript Fathers, the Emperor has asked us to support the declaration of war. I move that we pass a resolution to this effect. Is there a second?"

Several senators jump up almost simultaneously and say "AYE!!"

Princeps Senatus Quintus now says, "The motion to support the Emperor's declaration of war having be made and seconded, the clerk of the senate will now call the roll."

The clerk of the Senate calls each and every senator by name, and each one responds with an increasingly loud "AYE". As each response is made, the clerk makes an appropriate mark on his tablet. Once the roll call vote is completed, he hands the tablet to the Princeps Senatus to be formally read into the record.

"Conscript Fathers, a motion to support the Emperor's declaration of war has been made, seconded and passed by unanimous roll-call vote....." The Princeps Senatus' further words are cut off by loud cheers from the other senators, who have risen as a body and are cheering, shouting and shaking their fists.

Ad Locutio II
Date: the early morning of Iulius VIII MDCXXX AUC /July 8th, 877 AD
Location: The parade ground of Legio X Fretensis

The parade ground is filled to capacity; this time it is not for the recognition of valorous deeds or for the raising of new troops. In attendance are the full ranks for Legio X Fretensis, the newly-raised first cohort of Legio I Italica and the full civic garrison of Augusta Verbonia. Rumors have flown through the ranks swifter than the fastest bird about what happened to that Roman farm family. Each time the story passed from Legionary to Legionary, the magnitude of the killings increased until every last man is seething with righteous anger. After some minutes, the command staff of Legio X Fretensis mounts the rostrum. Legate Germanicus begins to speak, pacing back and forth as he does so.

"Men of Legio X Fretensis and Legio I Italica, by now you have all heard stories of what was done by outsiders to a Roman farm family near the edge of Nova Roman territory." Legate Germanicus goes on to describe exactly what happened. Each new detail causes the assembled troops to first start mumbling, then openly cursing with disgust. Finally, the Primus Pilus calls out "SILENTIUM"

Legate Germanicus continues to speak "The Emperor has ordered us to take the field against our enemies and to strike them where we may." Germanicus' voice rises to such volume that it seems as if he is throwing the thunderbolts of Iovi Optimo Maximo rather than mere words. The ranked troops raise their pila and gladii simultaneously in a show of support, their voices rising above the crowd.

"Therefore, the two alae of cavalry and the cohort of archers will move out at once. Your orders are to harry the enemy at every opportunity. Strike first, strike fast and strike hard, then withdraw quickly. Force the enemy to pursue you and engage him on the ground of your own choosing. Show no mercy to those in arms against us for you will get none from them." A mass shout rises from the throat of every man present as Legate Germanicus concludes his speech to the troops by saying:

"ROMANS! WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION?"

A brief moment passes in near-total silence, only to be shattered by three seemingly-earthshaking cheers:

"A-HUUUU, A-HUUUU, A-HUUUU".

After the last cheer has died away, Legate Germanicus orders the members of the two cavalry alae to mount up and move out. The troopers mount their steeds with uniform precision, their caligae quickly filling the stirrups of their new saddles. The troopers next wheel their mounts around andmove off the parade ground in columns-of-four. Next to follow is the cohort of archers, bows slung on their backs along quivers of arrows and their heavy marching packs.

Action: The First
Date: The afternoon of Quinctilis VIII MDCXXX AUC / July 8th, 877 AD.

From the journal of Petrus, attached to the punitive expedition of Legio X Fretensis:

It is with sure purpose that I, Petrus take quill in hand to describe the events of the first campaign against the forces of Adalbert, Margarve of Tuscany. Our line of march took us towards the farm where that Roman family had been so cruelly massacred. Primus Pilus Marcus Cassius Scaeva ordered a halt some three mille from the farm. The location where we halted was a small valley some two stadia in width, with low ridges capped by woods on either side. The cavalry alae were ordered to scout ahead. They discovered a large force of some 1,200 camped around it. These troops were a mix of foot and horse divided 5-1; meaning 1,000 foot and 200 horse. Without alerting the enemy to their presence, the cavalrymen quietly withdrew back to where the cohort of archers were waiting. After receiving the report from the centurio commanding the cavalry, Pilus Prior Marcus ordered:

"Men, we are going to bait the enemy into attacking us. The archers will stack arms and prepare the ground in front of us. Cavalry will mount guard as this is being done. Once the ground is ready, you men in the cavalry will strike the enemy troops by surprise. Fire several volleys of arrows and get the enemy to chase you. Do not stand and fight, but withdraw back here with all possible speed.. Once you are back here, take up positions just below the crests of these two ridges and await further orders." Hardly had the Primus Pilus' voice died away when the cohort of archers doffed their equipment and set to work with a will. Hundreds of small pits were dug, and at the bottom of each pit was placed a crows-foot. This device consisted of a flat-topped wooden stake into which was fixed an ‘S'-shaped iron spike tipped with a cruel barb much like that on a fish-hook. These pits were subsequently covered over with grass to conceal their presence. Next, iron caltrops were scattered about, in front, among and behind the pits; these too were concealed with grass and brush. Once the ground had been prepared to the Primus Pilus' liking, the archers re-equipped themselves and prepared for battle. The cavalry alae moved out and prepared to attack the enemy as soon as they were within range

The Scrolls of Jupiter
Date: The evening of Quinctilis VIII MDCXXX AUC / July 8th, 877 AD
Location: The temple of Zeus/Iovi Optimo Maximo

The priestly staff and acolytes resident within this great marble edifice have been busy since well before dawn. There were the usual housekeeping tasks usually assigned to the lower-level initiates; these included filling the various oil lamps and replenishing the incense burners, as well as maintenance and cleaning of the temple itself and of the giant statue of Zeus/Jupiter seated imposingly on its throne at the end of the vast interior hall. One junior initiate by the name of Marcius Graecus has drawn the unenviable task of ridding the statue's interior of the mice that have infested it. When Marcius goes to open the access door to the statue's interior, he finds that he can't.

Upon further examination, he finds that the statue has no seams or joints and now seems to be made of one solid piece of marble. Marcius reverently runs his hands over the statue's surface and to his hesitant touch, the finish is smoother than even the surface of the calmest pond or most highly-polished piece of glass. Awestruck, Marcius next examines the statue's robes and finds that though they are in exactly the same form as they were previously, they are now made of solid ivory without edge or seam.

Marcius abases himself in humblest supplication on the floor before the image of his god; he is about to run and inform the high priest of the temple when he catches a movement out of the corner of his eye. To his stunned amazement, Marcius sees the statue turn its head towards him. Frozen to the spot with awe, he sees a luminous golden glow in the eyes where there were only quartz crystals before. The statue is now looking directly at him, and there is the slightest hint of a smile on the statue's face.

What happens next is even more awesome, for Marcius beholds the statue's mighty left arm stretched forth and pointing at him. A luminous golden glow fills the entire temple, brighter and more clear than even the best spring morning. The vast interior space of the temple resounds with peals of thunder. When Marcius recovers his wits, he sees that the statue's left hand is turned palm-up and that there are also two large scroll tubes in the palm of the hand. These tubes are of the moselaborately-worked ivory imaginable, and are fitted with large and intricate end caps of the purest gold.

Marcius runs off shouting at the top of his lungs "Priests, initiates, acolytes!!! Come and see. The god has manifested himself in the temple. COME AND SEE!!!!" A crowd of temple personnel soon crowds the temple's forecourt, their attention drawn by Marcius' excited shouts. Pontifex Maximus Sextus Julius The Elder makes his way to the front of the crowd, and is the first to speak to Marcius.

"Hail, Marcius Graecus. What goes on here?"

"Hail, Pontifex Maximus. I must report the most amazing occurrence. I was beginning to clean the statue of our god when I found I could not get inside of it. The statue, which was formerly hollow is now one solid piece of marble. The statue's robes are likewise one solid piece of ivory!! Then, the statue tilted its head towards me and there was a smile on its face. You heard the thunder and saw the light?"

"Yes, Marcius. Please go on."

"Yes, Pontifex Maximus. When I regained my sight, I saw that the statue's left arm had been stretched out towards me. The hand was open palm-up and there were two large scroll tubes in the palm. It was then I took to my heels calling for assistance."

"You did well, initiate. You will come with me and we will retrieve those scroll tubes. The rest of you will begin celebratory rites to mark this manifestation of our god Iovi Optimo Maximo. The assembled temple staff hastens to carry out the Pontifex Maximus' instructions, as he and Marcius Graecus enter the temple sanctuary to retrieve the scroll tubes. Upon closer examination, the tubes are indeed of ivory, but the workmanship is finer than anything wrought by the hand of mortal man. The end caps which first appeared to be of gold, are of some unknown metal and are also elaborately-worked in the same style as the tubes. Pontifex Maximus Sextus reverently opens one tube and begins to read:

"This is the Scroll of Knowledge. Heed our words to you and act upon them well." The first part of the scroll details the knowledge that lead and lead compounds are poisonous to mortals and that it must no longer be used in any application where the products are for human consumption. The second part of the scroll details something called a ‘printing press' and the making of something called a ‘book'. Pontifex Maximus Sextus immediately sees that this book' thing is easier to read and handle than an ordinary scroll. The third chapter of the Scroll of Knowledge tells how the health of the people in the city can be better assured by the drinking of clean water and also of how water can be purified by running it through beds of sand, limestone chips and charcoal. The fourth chapter of the Scroll tells of various diseases that afflict mankind and how they can be guarded against by something called ‘vaccination'. The chapter also tells which diseases can be guarded against and how this ‘vaccination' can be done. The last chapter of the Scroll of Knowledge details the properties of light and how they can be focused/magnified by the use of mirrors and finely-ground glass lenses. This chapter also describes in great detail how these mirrors and lenses are made and where the basic raw materials are found.

Pontifex Maximus Sextus reverently rolls up the Scroll of Knowledge and places it back into its tube. He next opens the second scroll and begins to read.

"This is the Scroll of War. Heed our words to you and act upon them well". There is but one chapter in this scroll, and it details the making and use of what is called the ‘Powder of Mars'. The exact ingredients are listed, along with their sources and also how to make them. The properties of this powder are described in exacting detail, including a passage that says if the Powder of Mars is placed within a sealed container of metal or fired clay and ignited, it will burst forth with the greatest violence imaginable. It tells how to make a metal tube that is open at one end and to place a quantity of powder at the bottom of the tube and with a stone or metal ball on top of the powder. The last passage of the chapter says that if the powder in the tube is ignited, the ball of stone or metal will be expelled with immense force, faster than any arrow or catapault stone.

Pontifex Maximus Sextus gathers the two scroll tubes into his arms and leaves the temple sanctuary accompanied by Marcius Graecus. The waiting staff of the temple sees Sextus raise the scroll tubes on high. The Pontifex Maximus' voice is raised on high also. "See the Scrolls of Jupiter. Our great god has gifted them unto us in the hour of our need. Let there be rites of honor and celebration. Marcius Graecus, since you were honored by Iovi Optimo Maximo, you have the honor of going to the Domus Imperialis and telling the Emperor of what has happened here."

"IMMEDIATELY, Pontifex Maximus!!" Marcius Graecus takes to his heels, running out of the temple as if Mercury himself were speeding him along.

The Emperor's Reaction
Date: Quinctilis VIII MDCXXX AUC / July 8th, 877 AD
Location: The Domus Imperialis

Marcus Aurelius is at his desk, considering the design for the first issue of aureii to be struck after the event. These coins are to be made from the gold seized from Ranulf's stronghold. The coin's obverse will feature a side view of his own head, facing to the right. An inscription around the rim of the obverse will read 'Imp Caes Marc Aur Cos III TR P PP PM'*.

The Emperor has just put his finishing touches on the design when there is a knock on the door. He bids his private secretary, Sextus Tullius to answer. Sextus returns a short time later and says:

"Caesar, excuse me for interrupting you."

"Yes, Sextus?"

"Caesar, there is a Marcius Graecus here to see you. He is an acolyte from the Temple of Jupiter."

"Show him in."

"Yes, Caesar." Marcius does as he is bidden, salutes and takes his leave.

"Hail, Caesar."

"Hail, Marcius Graecus. What can I do for one who serves our god Jupiter?"

"Caesar, there has been an event of the utmost importance at the temple." Marcius goes on to describe the circumstances in exacting detail.

Marcus Aurelius sits back in his chair, hands crossed in front of his chin in quiet contemplation. After a further moment's thought, he says "Truly, Jupiter has favored us. Marcius, I want you to return to the temple immediately. Ask the Pontifex Maximus to set the temple scibes to work. They are to make copies of each scroll. The first set will go to the Great Library, the second set will go to the Library in the Forum of Trajan and the third set is for my private library here in the Domus Imperialis."

"Yes, Caesar. It shall be done immediately.". Marcius salutes and turns to leave, when a gesture from the Emperor halts his progress.

"Yes, Caesar?"

"After the scrolls are copied and the copies for the Library have been delivered to them. Tell the Chief Librarian that I want him to make a small amount of the Powder of Mars so that its effects can be tested. Tell him also that I want to be kept apprised of his results and that he is to take all due care."

"Yes, Caesar."

*: Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius, Three Times Consul, Holder of the Tribunician Power, Father of his Country, Chief Priest

Clash of Arms
Date: the early morning of Quinctilis VIIII MDCXXX AUC / July 9th, 877 AD

The cavalry alae carefully approached the perimeter of the enemy camp and saw to that their great surprise that there were few sentries awake. Those few who were awake were either drunk or not paying much attention to their surroundings. These men had no time to consider what was about to happen, as two dozen cavalry troopers silently dismounted their horses, crept forward and slit their throats. The bodies were quietly lowered to the ground and the dismounted cavalry troopers next took up a number of torches. These were employed in setting fire to various tents and piles of horse fodder at the edge of the enemy camp. Before the alarm could be raised, the troopers mounted their horses and rejoined their fellows.

Within a minute or two, shouts of alarm rang out through the enemy camp as the flames began to spread. The 240 men in the two alae of cavalry stood tall in their stirrups and hefted their javelins. Numbers of enemy troops were dashing this way and that in their confusion, when the mounted Romans were spotted. Fresh cries of alarm were sounded, some of which were choked off as javelins flew through the slowly-lightening dawn. The Roman cavalry readied another volley of javelins, then sounded off with the worst obscenities they could imagine:

"CUNUM LINGERE"

"CUNNI"

"MENTULAM CACO"

"MENTULAE"

"CULIBONIAE"

"IRRUMATORES"

The cries of alarm from the enemy camp were soon replaced by shouts of anger as the Roman cavalrymen let loose a fresh volley of javelins, accompanied by jeers and derisive shouting. Seeing that numbers of enemy horse were approaching, the two cavalry alae wheeled about. Spurs we re put to horse and they rode off. The rate of travel was deliberately slowed down so that the enemy horse would have time to gather as a body and pursue them. The enemy pursuit was further delayed by charges and counter-charges from the Roman cavalry; sometimes javelins were thrown and other times there was fast sword-work or deftly-aimed thrusts of lanceae. This action continued until the Roman cavalry were less than half a mille away from the small valley where they and the cohort of archers had set up their defense. By this time, the enemy horse had been joined by the enemy foot and both were moving together as one. Seeing this, Centurio Gaius Marius Metellus who commanded the cavalry ordered his men to retreat. They did so, making their way through the secret paths in the valley floor that had been previously sewn with crows-feet and caltrops. When the cavalry had rejoined the cohort of archers, they briefly paused to resupply themselves with javelins. The cavalry then rode off to conceal themselves behind the ridgelines as was previously planned.

Odo of Tuscany was furious. He had been appointed to command this expedition by his brother Adabert, Margrave of Tuscany. Odo had barely roused himself from his tent this morning when the Roman cavalry attacked his camp. "I don't know who these godless barbarians think they are. First, they foully murder men of the cloth doing the work of God, then they have the insolence to attack my camp. "I WILL TEACH THEM THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS". These last words were delivered with a shout. Mounted near Odo was Bishop Paulinus III of Lucca. It was he who had dispatched that group of priests who were part of the massacre at the farm. Bishop Paulinus was no mere cleric; he was instead a fighting priest who wore a conical helmet with a nasal bar and was clad head-to-foot in mail. There was a heavy mace in his right hand and a great shield on his left arm.

"True enough, Lord Odo. I look forward to exacting justice from those murderers." Bishop Paulinus gestured with his mace. "See, they flee before our righteous wrath."

"Yes, my lord Bishop. Let us go forward and do the work of God". With this, Odo rises in his stirrups and shouts "SPURS TO HORSE AND DEATH TO FOOLS!!!". Odo's cavalry moves through the infantry that had been marching in front. As soon as they are clear, trumpets are sounded and the charge is begun. Behind the enemy cavalry, the infantry takes up a slow jog, not wanting to be left out of the glory of the kill. Odo's cavalry is less than a quarter mille away from the head of the valley when all hell breaks loose. Not suspecting anything, almost one quarter of the enemy horse are spilled from their saddles when their horses encounter the ground that had been sewn with crows-feet and caltrops. Some are killed directly by the fall, and still others are trampled by pain-maddened horses. Lord Odo is among the first to fall. He survives being thrown by his horse, but is knocked unconscious when his horse kicks him in the head.

Odo's infantry, not knowing that he has fallen, charge forward to join the fray. Bishop Paulinus and his personal bodyguard are there also. Suddenly, the Romans emerge from their places of concealment and spring their trap. Flights of arrows rake the mixed force of enemy foot and horse as fast as bowstrings can be drawn. Next, the Roman cavalry come out on top of the valley's ridgelines and cast flaming torches down onto the valley's floor. The ground there is dry and the brush is easily set alight. The Roman cavalry next moves down to block the enemy from retreating through the valley's mouth. Javelins are thrown as fast as they can be taken from their quivers, and hundreds of enemy foot are killed or wounded. The enemy horse attempts to retreat, but is blocked by their own infantry as well as the burning grass and brush. The shattered remnants of enemy foot slowly make their way towards the Roman archers, taking as much care as possible to avoid the caltrops and crows-feet. Of the original 1,000 men, less than 300 survived the ambush to close with the Roman archers. Over the next 15 minutes, a confused melee breaks out. Enemy spears, axes and swords are matched against the clipeii* and spathae of the archers. The clanging of weapons against shields is intermingled with the shouts and screams of wounded men. Among the last to fall are Bishop Paulinus and his guards. The guards are killed to a man, and Bishop Paulinus dies from a broken neck when he is thrown from his horse. The battle is over.

*: Clipeii (s. clipeus), a small round shield

Clash of Arms: Aftermath
Date: The afternoon of Quinctilis VIIII MDCXXX AUC / July 9th, 877 AD

Centurio Gaius Marius Metellus and Centurio Quintus Flavius Hibernicus (commanders of the cavalry alae and cohort of archers respectively) hold an impromptu conference on the field of battle to assess the aftermath.

"Quintus?"

"Yes, Gaius?"

"How stand your troops?"

"Centurio Gaius, my archers suffered 19 dead and 37 wounded. And your cavalry, Centurio Quintus?"

"I am relieved to report that only three were killed and 12 were wounded. Let us go out on the field and number the enemy dead."

Over the next 45 minutes or so, both centurions wander the field, attended by a small security detail. After the count is done, all 200 of the enemy horse are found to be dead. The only exception is the enemy commander, Odo of Tuscany. Of the 1,000 enemy foot, some 250 are alive, but wounded to one degree or another. The other 750 have joined their fellows in death. The members of the detachment's medical staff are sent out upon the field to assess the condition of the wounded and to treat those not mortally-wounded. As the chief medicus attends to his duties, the two centurions are again taking amongst themselves. Centurio Gaius says to his fellow officer Centurio Quintus "The enemy camp is now unguarded and vulnerable. I suggest that you detach one of your cavalry alae to go there and guard it until relieved. Half of my archers will stay here to gather up all of the enemy arms, armor and equipment and to also guard the prisoners and dispose of the dead. The other half will join you at the enemy camp.

"An excellent suggestion, Centurio Gaius. Once we arrive, my men and I will secure the camp and conduct an inventory of anything there. Centurio Quintus and his alae march off towards the enemy camp, while Centurio Gaius turns his attention towards clearing the battlefield. He has only just begun this task when two of his archers come up dragging a prisoner behind them. It is Odo of Tuscany, and he is shouting his head off. Centurio Gaius can't understand what he is saying, so Petrus is summoned to translate.

Odo (through Petrus): "Who the hell are you, to treat me so, you god-cursed devil-spawn??"

Centurio Gaius (through Petrus): "We are the ones who defeated you and your bunch of rank amateurs, you slimy bastard!! Mind your words or you'll join your dead companions at the bottom of their burial pit without being dead first." Centurio Gaius next asks through Petrus: "Did you have anything to do with that attack upon that farm family?"

"No, I did not. Why are you so concerned about a bunch of ignorant worthless peasants?? Odo's response triggers a cry of rage from Centurio Gaius, who responds by kneeing Odo in the groin, and then arranging a meeting between Odo's face and his knee when Odo bends over in an involuntary fit of agony.

"Take this sheep-buggering culibonia away while I try to think of a reason not to have him killed immediately." The two archers holding him straighten to attention and comply saying, "Yes, Centurio."

One hour later, Centurio Quintus and his alae of cavalry arrive at the site of the enemy camp. It is largely abandoned except for a few camp followers who are trying to loot what they can from the various tents and enclosures. Loud shouting and a vigorous half-charge from the cavalrymen are sufficient to drive off the camp followers, who drop everything they are carrying and flee for their lives. Thus emptied, the camp is inspected and its contents are examined with typical Roman thoroughness and attention to detail. The first tents to be searched are those formerly belonging to Odo and Bishop Paulinus. These two are the largest in the enemy camp and are the most well-furnished. The first objects to come out of Odo's tent are an elaborately-worked antique (for the time) Roman table service. It is of solid silver, and is composed of a great many knives, spoons, plates, cups, bowls and wine flagons. The two cavalrymen who discover it call out to Centurio Quintus, who comes over to examine the find. Being of a somewhat artistic bent, Centurio Quintus exclaims when he recognizes the workmanship as coming from the time of Augustus.

"Good Work, men. Keep searching and let me know what you find."

The two cavalrymen are joined by several of their fellows and the group systematically strips Odo's tent of anything else of value. A dozen gold oil lamps are discovered in Odo's private quarters in the rear of the tent, along with several locked, iron-bound chests. The chests are forced open and the cavalrymen discover that they are filled with bags of gold and silver coins. A hurried weighing shows that the total amount contained in the chests comes to 700 librae of gold and 2,000 librae of silver. The next tent to be searched belonged to Bishop Paulinus. A large, portable altar of ivory was found in the rear of the tent, this item being of exquisite workmanship and fitted with ornaments of gold and silver. On tables around the altar, there are arrayed a dozen silver receptacles for the burning of incense. Next to the altar is standing a large gold cross measuring three pedes in height and having the weight of a full talent. Finally, there are four enormous silver candelabra. Each of these is six pedes in height and weighs two talents. The search party again calls for Centurio Quintus, who praises them for their work.

The enemy camp's storehouses are quickly located, and they are found to be filled to overflowing with provisions consisting of hard bread, smoked meats and cheeses, dried fruits and hundreds of large earthenware jars of wine. The camp's wagon park is full of rolling stock, and the horses are penned nearby, neighing as the strangers approach.

Centurio Quintus dispatches two cavalrymen to summon the second alae. In the meantime, all men present are set to work breaking down the enemy camp. The tents are struck and folded, arms and armor are stacked, the food supplies are gathered and the treasure found in the tents belonging to Odo and Bishop Paulinus are guarded while horse teams are hitched to their wagons. Next, every archer and cavalryman who can be spared is put to the task of loading the captured enemy wagons. This takes approximately five hours, and is completed just as darkness falls. Not wishing to endanger the captured enemy supplies and treasure, Centurio Quintus decides to remain in place until the next morning

Two hours after being dispatched by Centurio Quintus to bring word about what was found and taken from the former enemy camp, they arrive back at the battlefield and immediately inform Centurio Gaius. They are given additional instructions: "Troopers, your hard riding is much appreciated. Return to Centurio Quintus in the morning and tell him that the disposal of the enemy dead and the gathering up of the enemy equipment, weapons armor and horses is in hand. The second alae will come with you.

Date: The morning of Quinctilis X MDCCC AUC / July 10th, 877 AD

The dawn breaks cool and clear. The second alae of cavalry wakes first and prepares to move out to support Centurio Quintus. 30 minutes later, they and the two riders sent by Centurio Quintus move out in good order by column-of-twos. After the cavalry departs, the archers finish the work of disposing of the enemy dead. One hour later, a sudden commotion is heard and Centurio Gaius goes to investigate.

"What goes on here?"

"Begging your pardon, Centurio, but that prisoner you asked us to guard attacked one of the legionaries detailed to guard him. That sheep-buggering culibonia grabbed a pugio and before we knew what was happening, he stabbed Legionary Sextus Rutilius Rufus through the neck. Sextus fell immediately. I responded by drawing my own gladius and striking the prisoner down with a blow to the forehead. He's dead, too."

"Very well, legionary. The fault lies not with you, but with the prisoner for being so foolish. Strike off his head and throw the body into the pit with the other enemy dead. Once the pit is covered over, pole the prisoner's head above it."

"Yes, Centurio."

The last task to be performed concerns the Roman dead. Each is washed reverently and wrapped in its sagum. The bodies are next loaded into wagons with all due ceremony.

Date: Noontime, Quinctilis X MDCCC AUC / July 10th, 877 AD

The two alae of cavalry return to the site of the battle, accompanied by the wagons loaded with everything taken from the enemy camp. They form up with the archers and the wagons are loaded further with the arms and armor taken from the enemy dead. The enemy prisoners, some 250 in all, are formed in the middle of the column and guarded by a detail of cavalry. Thus joined, the column moves out, back to the camp of Legio X Fretensis.


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Chapter III

Victorious Return
Date: The afternoon of Quinctilis XI MDCXXX AUC / July 11th, 877 AD
Location: Atop the Porta Principalis Dextra

The sentries on duty call out to Centuio Titus Flavius Bassus, commander of the watch, as they have spotted a column of men and wagons approaching. Upon closer examination, they are the two alae of cavalry and the cohort of archers retuning from their mission. Centurio Titus calls out to one of his orderlies "Legionary Marcus Fulvius, I have instructions for you."

"Yes, Centurio?"

"Go at once to the Principia. Tell the Legatus Legionis and the Primus Pilus that the troops they dispatched have returned. Say also that they have a number of wagons and prisoners with them."

"Immediately, Centurio." Legionary Titus salutes and runs off.

Half an hour later, Legionary Marcus returns to the watchtower above the Porta Principalis Dextra. He, Centurio Titus and the legionaries on duty observe as the column of men and wagons begins to pull into the legion's parade ground. The last wagon has just entered, when Legate Germanicus, Primus Pilus Marcus Cassius Scaeva and the rest of Legio X Fretensis' command staff arrive to greet them. Centurio Quintus Flavius Hibernicus, commander of the cohort of archers and overall commander of the expedition comes forward and salutes the legion's officers.

"Hail, Legate. I beg to report."

"Proceed, Centurio."

"Legate, the troops under my command encountered a large fore of the eemy who were encamped ear the farm where the massacre took place. I sent cavalry scouts forward to assess the situation and report back to me. So armed with this intelligence, we weer able to select and prepare a suitable battleground. While this was being done, orderd one of the cavalry alae assigned to me to go forward and harass the enemy so that they would give chase. This was admirably done; the enemy troops pursued the cavalry and were lured into an ambush. The action took perhaps half an hour from start to finish.

"Do please continue, Centurio."

"Yes, Legate. The enemy force numbered 200 horse and 1,000 foot. They maintained decent order until they encountered the crows-feet and caltrops we had seeded the ground with, then their formation fell apart and we annihilated them. I am grieved to report, however, that we suffered a number of casualties. 19 archers and 3 cavalry were killed, and a total of 49 were wounded. We further captured 250 enemy prisoners, and they are awaiting inspection. One of the prisoners first captured was Odo, commanderof the enemy force and the brother of Adalbert, Margrave of Tuscany. There was a high-ranking priest by the name of Bishop Paulinus among the enemy troops. He fought alongside his fellows and was killed shortly after the battle began."

"Bring Odo to me, Centurio."

"Legate, I regret to say that isn't possible. Shortly after his capture, Odo attempted to escape and killed one of the archers set to guard him. Odo was killed for this."

"I see, Centurio. There are a number of heavily-laden wagons with you. What is in them?"

"Legate, we captured a large quantity of stores and supplies from the enemy camp. I also judged it expedient to bring back all of the enemy's arms, armor and equipment. The wagon closest to us contains the treasure taken from the tents of Odo and that priest I told you about earlier. In that wagon are also the suits of gilded mail worn by Odo and Bishop Paulinus, as well as their helmets. Both of these are heavily-inlaid with silver. Odo's sword has a jewelled hilt and pommel,and the grip is wrapped with braided gold wire. Bishop Paulinus carried this strange metal club." Centurio Quintus hefts a large iron mace with a gilded shft and a grip wrapped with braided silver wire.

"Very good, Centurio. See to it that the enemy prisoners are kept under close guard. The treasure wagon will come with me back to the Principia."

"As you command, Legate."

Legate Germanicus and the Legion's command staff return to the Principia, accompanied by the treasure wagon and a security detail of legionaries. Once they are safely behind doors, Legate Germanicus turns to Primus Pilus Marcus Cassius Scaeva and says; "Primus Pilus?"

"Yes, Legate?"

"Have the treasure taken to the legion's strongroom. Store the bags of coins there. The silver candelabra and that gold crux are to be taken to the fabrica, melted down and cast into ingots. When this is done, the ingots will be brought back to the strongroom."

"Immediately, Legate."

"In another matter, our fallen comrades must be attended to. See that the bodies are treated with all due ceremony. Custom dictates that they be interred with all possible speed. Get all of their names and set the legion's stonecutters to work so that appropriate tombstones can be made."

"Yes, Legate. I will see to that personally."

Storm Clouds
Date: Quinctilis XII MDCXXX AUC / July 12th, 877 AD
Location: The camp of Legio X Fretensis

Legate Germanicus and Primus Pilus Marcus Cassius Scaeva have come to inspect the prisoners taken in the recent action against Odo and Bishop Paulinus. Petrus, the scribe has come along to translate. The enemy prisoners are still somewhat in shock over what has happened to them, given the ferocity of the battle in which they were taken; they half-expected to all be killed on the spot.

The legionaries detailed to guard the prisoners form them in open order so that Legate Germanicus and Primus Pilus Marcus can move among them and observe them. The whole process takes about ten minutes, after which Legate Germanicus comes to the front of the formation. He steps upon a low, wooden platform so that all can see and hear him, and he begins to speak, with Petrus as translator.

"Men, you were taken in arms against us and were defeated. Your commanders were unwise to act so, but regarding your valor on the battlefield, I will say nothing against it. By Roman law, I have the right to sell you all into slavery or to send you to the arena. However, I have no wish to do so. Instead, I wish to send you back to your own people." At this, hushed whispers run rapidly through the enemy prisoners' ranks.

Legate Germanicus continues to speak: "Choose two from among your number. These two will be given horses and supplies so that they can go back to Adalbert to make the arrangements for your release. They will return with Adalbert's response as soon as possible. Until that time, the rest of you will be put to work on projects benefitting the legion."

Twenty or so minutes go by as the prisoners talk amongst themselves. Finally, two men step forward to the platform and gesture to Petrus that they are the two chosen for the job. Petrus tells Legate Germanicus this, who in turn tells Primus Pilus Marcus "See that these men are given horses and food for the journey."

"Immediately, Legate."

Legate Germanicus now tells the two men "You have the space of four days to go to Adalbert and return. Tell him that I want to discuss the return of the prisoners that I hold." Within the hour, the two men mount their horses and ride off. 

Date: Quinctilis XIV MDCXXX AUC / July 14th, 877 AD

After two days ride, the two men arrive back at Lucca, where the Court of Adalbert I, Margrave of Tuscany is located. Adalbert is pacing back and forth in his council room. He has been in a fine temper these past several days, not having had any news of the expedition commanded by his brother and dispatched to find out what happened to his Reeve, Hundibert. Adalbert's chamberlain interrupts him as soon as news is brought of the two men. "Excuse me, my lord. There are two men here with news of the expedition commanded by your brother, Lord Odo."

Adalbert stops his pacing in mid-stride and says "Bring them here IMMEDIATELY."

"Yes, my lord."

The two men are brought into Adalbert's council room and the senior of them begins to speak.

"My lord, I am Bardolph and I was in the body of troops commanded by your brother, Lord Odo."

"Yes, YES. Get on with it. When is he coming back?."

"My lord, I regret to inform you that he isn't. The expedition was engaged by people from a place called Nova Roma. Lord Odo and Bishop Paulinus fell in battle. Of the rest, I an my companion here were captured along with about 250 others. The rest were all killed."

Adalbert freezes in his tracks, a look of shock and rage registering on his face.

"My lord, the enemy commander sent the two of us here to discuss the details of returning those captured in the battle."

"Wait, you are telling me that my brother Odo and Bishop Paulinus are dead, along with most of their troops, and that you two fools were among those cowardly enough to be captured??"
Bardolph begins to stammer out a response when Adalbert suddenly draws his sword and strikes off Bardolph's head. He turns to the second man, bloody sword in hand.

"You, there. I don't know what your comrade was trying to say, and I really don't care. Go back to wherever it is you came from and tell those so-called ‘Romans' that as far as I am concerned, you and the rest of those cowards can go straight to hell. If I see any of you again, that's where I will be sending you. Now, GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!!!" The second man turns and flees as if a pack of wolves were chasing him.

Adalbert shouts for his chamberlain "ATTEND ME!!!."

"Yes, my lord?"

"Send riders to my allies in Emilia and Romagna. Ask them to come here with all the forces at their command. Summon also my vassals and all of their men. Tell them they are to assemble here in thirty days."

"At once, my lord."

Adalbert is now stomping back and forth, his face nearly purple with rage. "These so-called ‘Romans' think that they can get away with murdering my brother and a Bishop of the Holy Mother Church??. By my faith, I'll teach them the meaning of pain!!!"

Date: Quinctilis XVI MDCXXX AUC / July 16th, 877 AD

Yet another two days ride has brought the second man back to the camp of Legio X Fretensis. Having been told to expect him, the sentries conduct him to the Principia, where legate Germanicus and Primus Pilus Marcus are waiting. The man give his report, and Petrus takes some time to translate because of the man's excited manner.

"My lord Legate, this man says that he and his companion Bardolph went to the court of Adalbert to discuss your terms for the return of the enemy prisoners. Instead of listening with reason, Adalbert struck off Bardolph's head and expelled him from his court. My lord legate, this man rode six days to get here. He tells me that while he was on his way back through Adalbert's territory, he saw many riders going forth to Adalbert's allies and vassals. He thinks that Adalbert will move against you, probably within six weeks."

"I see. Petrus, go with this man and summon the enemy prisoners. Tell them that I wish to address them."

"Yes, Legate."

Petrus and the second man hasten to obey Legate Germanicus' orders. One hour later, all are gathered in front of the Principia. Legate Germanicus stands atop the speaker's platform and begins to address them:

"Men, one of the riders I sent to Adalbert to discuss your release has returned. He tells me that rather than listen to reason, Adalbert killed his companion and ordered him to leave and never come back. Adalbert called you all cowardly, motherless dogs for having been captured. He also said that he didn't care whether or not you were all killed."

An angry murmur of discontent runs through the prisoners' ranks as they understand what was being said. Primus Pilus Marcus gestures for them to be silent.

"I see that you are all angry at being so callously discarded by one who was previously your lord. That mentula is no longer worthy of your loyalty or respect. I am going to give you a chance to strike back at him. If you are all willing, join the new legion I am raising. If not, you will be free to go wherever you choose. I will even fill your purses if you wish. All those who wish to join, raise your right hands and say ‘aye."

A few brief seconds pass, then a thunderous shout breaks forth "AYE". Not a single man's fist is left unraised.

"Very good, gentlemen. As of now, you are no longer prisoners of war. You are now members of Legio I Italica, second cohort. Choose the three most senior among you and divide yourselves into three groups of 80 men each. Each of the three senior men will be your centurions, and will command one of the groups of 80 men. Remember, you are all now subject to Roman law and military discipline. Obey your orders and all will be well. DISMISSED."

Declaration of War
Date: Quinctilis XVII MDCXXX AUC / July 17th, 877 AD

This day is both great and momentous, for Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Nova Roma has gone forth in formal procession to the very edge of Nova Roman territory to declare war against Adalbert, Margrave of Tuscany. A sign of this day's import is that the Emperor is in his full, formal regalia as Pontifex Maximus, Chief Priest of the Roman State religion. Accompanying him are the full membership of the Senate, the priestly staff of the Temple of Jupiter and of the Pantheon. All of these are escorted by Legatus Legionis Germanicus, the full command staff of Legio X Fretensis and Legio I Italica, as well as a full cohort of legionaries.

After a march of several hours, the procession reaches the edge of the area transported by the will of Jupiter and stops. A temporary wooden platform is quickly erected and then the Emperor steps upon it and begins to speak: "Hear, O Jupiter! Hear, O Adalbert! Hear, O Justice! I am the public herald of the Roman People. Rightly and duly authorized do I come; let confidence be placed in my words. Hear, O Jupiter and thou Janus Quirinus, and all ye heavenly gods, and ye gods of the lower world, Hear Me! I call you to witness that Adalbert, Margarve of Tuscany has, by word and deed, made himself an enemy of the Senate and The People of Rome."

Marcus Aurelius next turns to the Princeps Senatus and says"Concerning the matters, suits and causes against Adalbert; whereof we have complained, and which Adalbert severally is bound to surrender, discharge and make good; say, what is your opinion?"

"Caesar, I am of the opinion that they ought to be recovered by a just and righteous war, wherefore I give my consent and vote for it."

Marcus Aurelius next comes before each member of the Senate, the Pontifex of the Temple of Jupiter and the Pontifexes of the Pantheon and again asks each for his opinion of the foregoing matter. All give their consent and not a single man withholds his vote.

Marcus Aurelius then holds forth his right hand, and the Pontifex of Jupiter gives him a pila whose head is stained with the blood of a sacrificial animal. He now calls forth in a booming voice:

"Inasmuch as Adalbert, Margarve of Tuscany is guilty of wrong against the Senate and The People of Rome, and inasmuch as The Senate and The People of Rome have ordered that there be war against Adalbert, therefore I and the People of Rome declare and make war upon him." The Emperor casts the pila across the border of Nova Roman territory. It lands, point first, sinking the full length of its iron head into the soft earth. Simultaneous to this, a great, booming peal of thunder breaks forth out of the clear, blue sky. This thunder causing excited murmurings to run through all those present. Marcus Aurelius descends for the wooden platform on which he was standing, pauses for a moment and says: "Men of Nova Roma, Conscript Fathers, let us all be about the Business of War."
The foregoing text was adapted in large part from the formal declaration of War in Book I of Livy's ‘History of Rome'

Arming for War
Date: Quinctilis XVIII MDCXXX AUC / July 18th, 877 AD

Over the last 24 hours, the news that Nova Roma is now at war has flown through the city and the camp of Legio X Fretensis as if borne on the wings of eagles. Now that Legatus Legionis Germanicus has freed the former enemy prisoners and inducted them into the ranks of Legio I Italica, the armorers in the Legion's fabrica have begun to work as fast as they can to provide the new troops with equipment. One way that the armorers were able to save time is in the production of armor itself. Rather than make all-new armor, what was done was to take those mailshirts captured from Odo's men after the battle and re-work them into pieces of Roman-pattern. This was accomplished by shortening the sleeves until they were just above the elbow. Additionally, the hems of the mailshirts were trimmed until the edges were halfway between the groin and the knee. The excess mail was trimmed, shaped and lined with leather to make shoulder doublings. These doublings were fixed to the backs of the mailshirts at the lower edges of the shoulders by means of left-over rings from the trimming process.

The helmets the men formerly wore while in Odo's service were modified by the legion's blacksmiths to have wide, flared neck-guards in the Roman pattern, and hinged jaw flaps were added to protect the sides of the face. Equipping the new recruits with other items of kit was accomplished by the simple expedient of having Legio X Fretensis' quartermaster opening up his storehouses and issuing the necessary items from stocks on hand. The equipment issued is as follows:

Scutum (shield)
Gladius, w/ scabbard & baldric
Pugio (dagger) w/ scabbard
Balteus (military belt)
Two pila
Furca (carrying pole)
Leather satchel
Two wool blankets
Leather ground cover
Sagum (military cloak)
Two pairs caligae (marching boots)
Six pairs subligaculae (underwear)
Six pairs udones (socks)
Three tunicae
Situla (brass cooking pot)
Patera (multi-purpose brass pan)
Ceramic canteen w/ carrying net
Dolabra (pickaxe) or shovel
Camp hatchet
Eating knife

Upon issuance of this equipment, those men able to write signed their names upon a receipt. Those not able to write made their mark; this was witnessed and counter-signed by their centurion and two other legionaries. Thus equipped, the new legionaries were marched down to the parade ground where they began an accelerated training program.

In the meantime, Legatus Legionis Germanicus, Primus Pilus Marcus Cassius Scaeva have been holding many meetings with the command staff of Legio X Fretensis and Legio I Italica in order to formulate strategy for the war that is now upon them. The first order that was given was to send forth detachments of cavalry to scout in all directions from which the enemy might conceivably approach from.

Acta Diurna
Date: Quinctilis XVIII MDCXXX AUC / July 18th, 877 AD

It is reported from the Domus Publicus that the Emperor made the following speech before the Senate:

"Conscript Fathers, in our familiar past, the Emperors of Rome were regarded as divine because of our connections with the great Julius Caesar. Then, two men rose to the purple whose excesses were so vile and whose names are so infamous that they still continue to be spoken of with revulsion. I am, of course, referring to Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus and Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus*. In their almost-obscene madness, these two men went so far as to publicly proclaim their divinity. Sincerely wishing to expunge these dark episodes of Rome's past, I, Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Nova Roma do hereby issue the following decree: from this day forward, on unto eternity, no Emperor will be referred to as being divine in any way, shape or form by anyone whatsoever. Any Emperor who tries to claim the mantle of divinity will be removed from office immediately."

"Conscript Fathers, I will now address the issue of different religions in Nova Roma. In former days, when Rome came to rule different territories, the transition was eased by adopting the native deities of such by likening them to our own gods of Olympus. It is known that there are Jews and Christians who have come under the authority of Nova Roma. Accordingly, I decree that all such persons are accorded full equality of worship, as well as equality before the law. They will not be prohibited from speaking to our people, and likewise they may not keep our people from speaking to them. In regards to equality before the law, Jews, Christians and adherents of other religions will have the right to vote in elections of any kind once they become full citizens. They shall also have the right to marry and have their marriages recognized in Nova Roman courts, to own real estate, to engage in business and to seek redress from the courts for all causes, wrongs, grievances and suits."

Commentary: the two decrees issued by the Emperor in his speech are not subject to Senatorial action, as they fall solely within the purview of the throne.
*: Caligula

Drill, Drill, Drill
Date: The morning of Quinctilis XXV MDCXXX AUC / July 25th, 877 AD
Location: the camp of Legio X Fretensis

For the new recruits of Legio I Italica, this day began (like the six previous days) at sunrise. The men were roused from their bedrolls by a series of loud trumpet calls from Legio I Italica's cornicen. The bedrolls were stowed away and personal hygiene was attended to. The men gathered into their contubernia to eat ientaculum*.

After ientaculum, the recruits donned their equipment and were moved to the parade ground to continue their practice of marching and of the various facing movements. By now, the commands of ‘Mandata Captatate' (attention)‘, ‘Dirige Frontem' (dress the ranks), Accelera' (speed up), ‘Tarda' (slow down), ‘State' (halt), ‘Move' (march), ‘Transforma' (about face), ‘Ad Scuto, Clina' (to the left, face), ‘Ad Gladio, Clina' (to the right, face) were as familiar to them as their own names.

To give the recruits experience in eating in a field environment, they were marched out from camp to a distance of ten mille. There, the march was halted and they ate their prandium**. After the meal was consumed, the recruits rested for the space of one-quarter of an hour, and then were marched back to camp. When the recruits got back to camp, the rest of the day was spent in weapons practice under the supervision of Primus Pilus Marcus Cassius Scaeva. Soon, the various calls for the use of weapons echoed across the parade ground. While the recruits were thus occupied, Legate Germanicus and Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus Sempronius Gracchus came out from the principia in order to observe.

After some minutes, Legate Germanicus calls out to Primus Pilus Marcus and says "How fare the new Legionaries?"

Primus Pilus Marcus salutes and says "Legate, I am pleased to say that they are exceeding my expectations. It seems as if each man is striving to exceed the others. These men are still furious at they way they were so casually abandoned by their former lord, and to be honest, I can't blame them for feeling that way."

"Very good, Primus Pilus. If any recruits particularly distinguish themselves in training, let me know so that they can be recognized. Carry on."

"Yes, Legate."

Legate Germanicus turns to Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus and says "Look upon what goes on here and remember it well, Tribune. It is one thing to command, and another thing entirely to do it so that the men carry out their orders even if you aren't there to give them."

"I understand, Legate. If you have no need of me back at the principia, I should like to remain here to observe the rest of the day's training."

"Very well, Tribune. You may remain."

*ientaculum: breakfast **prandium: lunch

There was an Earth-shattering Kaboom
Date: Quinctilis XXVII MDCXXX AUC / July 27th, 877 AD
Location: The Domus Imperialis

Marcus Aurelius is eating a light meal when a knock is heard at the door to his study.

"Enter"

One of the Emperor's staff comes into the room and says "Caesar, this just arrived for you. The messenger from the central library was most insistent that I put it directly into your hands." The staff member places the scroll into Marcus Aurelius' hands and then departs.Marcus Aurelius sits back at his desk, opens the scroll and begins to read.

"To the esteemed Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Nova Roma, Greetings from Quintus Fulvius Flaccus, Chief Librarian. Ever since the Scroll of War and the Scroll of Knowledge were entrusted to the Central Library, I have taken it upon myself to test the properties of the Powder of Mars as described in the Scroll of War. I can say without a single doubt that only the Gods could have devised something like it. I first made small quantities of the powder by mixing the three ingredients as described in the Scroll. The first component is a white granular substance similar in consistency to fine sand. I called this substance the ‘Salt of Mars'. The Salt of Mars makes up 75 per centum of the entire mixture. The second component is ordinary charcoal, ground fine like flour. Charcoal makes up 15 per centum of the mixture, and the final component is plain sulphur. It makes up just 10 per centum of the Powder of Mars."

"The first method I used to make the Powder was to mix by hand all three components in a wooden mortar. I took great care in doing so. The second method was to place the three components in a sealed wooden barrel along with balls made of wood or plumbum.* The components were mixed by simply rolling the barrel back and forth. The third method I used was to boil the Salt of Mars in hot water, the introduce the other components until the whole quantity was consumed and made into a thick, wet paste. This paste was spread out to dry and when dry, was broken into clumps which were further ground into a fine powder. I tested powder made by each method by pouring a small quantity onto a table and putting a candle to it. The Powder of Mars ignited quite vigorously, making a quick hissing and spitting noise. A large cloud of white smoke was given off, this cloud smelling of rotten eggs."

"The Scroll of War also said that the Powder of Mars would burst forth with the greatest violence imaginable if it were to be confined in a strong vessel and ignited. Accordingly, I filled a small clay amphora with the Powder and closed it off with a tightly-fitted wooden peg. I took the amphora out to the courtyard where I had a caused a small fire to be built. From behind a low wall, I cast the amphorae into the fire and a short time later, it burst. Burning pieces of wood were thrown in all directions, and there was a great loud noise, like a close-by clap of thunder. There was also a thick cloud of white smoke as previously described. I believe that if anyone were standing close to the fire when the amphora burst, they would have been seriously injured or even killed."

"Mindful of this danger, I devised a different way of igniting the powder. I took heavy string and boiled it with the Salt of Mars. Next, the string was rolled in the Powder of Mars and set out to dry thoroughly. The string that had been so treated was tested by setting one end with a candle. The treated string burned quickly, bot no nearly so quickly as the Powder of Mars itself. By experimentation, I found that I could get the strings to burn for any length of time by cutting them to the desired length."

"The final test I conducted was the most involved, but also the most meaningful. In the Scroll of War, it was said that if the Powder of Mars were to be placed in a hollow metal tube with a heavy projectile on top of it and ignited, the projectile would be sped forth faster than the swiftest arrow from the most powerful bow. I first ordered a thick-walled, one-ended hollow tube to be cast of the finest bronze. The tube was three feet long and had an internal diameter equal to the width of a sestertius. Next, I drilled a hole in the wall of the tube very near to its closed end. This hole was of a diameter just slightly more than the diameter of the prepared strings I had made. The bronze tube had two small projections cast into its midsection, like unto the axle of a chariot or wagon. These served to fix the tube into position. By lifting the end of the tube, I found that the open end would move in the opposite direction. To hold the tube, I took the axle of a wagon and attached a pair of wheels to it. The tube was fixed to the axle by the means of iron straps."

"I prepared the device by pouring a measured quantity of the Powder of Mars into the bottom of the tube and placing a ball of plumbum* (which I had cast previously) on top of the Powder. I put one of the prepared strings through the hole in the top of the tube. The whole device was pointed at a number of amphorae filled with water that I had set up some one hundred paces away. I lit the string and retreated to a safe distance. A very short time later, the device leaped backwards with an incredibly loud roar, like thunder. There was a thick cloud of sharp-smelling white smoke, and the ball sped forth faster than my eye could see. It shattered a dozen of the amphorae in the blink of an eye."

"Caesar, it is obvious that the Powder of Mars is of the greatest military value. I therefore respectfully urge you in the strongest possible terms to order its manufacture forthwith."

Arming for the Future
Date: Quinctilis XXVIIII MDCCC AUC / July 29th, 877 AD
Location: The parade ground, outside the camp of Legio X Fretensis

Legate Germanicus has come to observe the training for the new recruits to Legio I Italica. Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus Sempronius Gracchus is already on hand to supervise the various activities. He sees Legate Germanicus approaching and greets him.

"Hail, Legate. I beg to report."

"Yes, Tribune?"

"Legate, I am pleased to report that the training of the new recruits is proceeding apace. A good number of new men have also signed on with the Second Cohort of Legio I Italica. They are from the territory we won in the engagement against Hundibert. Second Cohort is now at full strength."

"That is excellent news, Tribune. Keep up the good work." Legate Germanicus turns and leaves Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus to his work. Once back at his office, Legate Germanicus sends for the camp prefect.

"Hail, Legate."

"Hail, Praefectus Castrum. I want you to put the fabrica to work in building eighteen catapaults. I have a feeling that they will be of use in the upcoming war against Adalbert. These machines must be of a sufficient size to hurl a projectile weighing fifty librae out to a range of four hundred paces."

"Yes, Legate. The fabrica has sufficient men on hand that they can have the catapaults ready in ten days."

"Excellent. I will also have you set the legion’s potters to work. Tell them that I require 900 round clay vessels, all of them are to have walls three times thicker than normal. Instead of a normal spout, each vessel will have a simple round hole measuring just two unciae* across. Lastly, these vessels are to each be able to hold fifty librae in dry measure." The Praefectus Castrum raises an eyebrow, a questioning gesture that doesn’t go unnoticed by Legate Germanicus.

"Prefect, these instructions may seem pointless. The reasons for them will become obvious in time."

"Yes, Legate. Do you have any further instructions?"

"Yes, Prefect. Once the vessels are completed, send them to Quintus Fulvius Flaccus, Chief Librarian at the Central Library. He is expecting them."

"Very good, Legate. It shall be done as you order."

Date: The afternoon of Quinctilis XXX MDCCC AUC / July 30th, 877 AD
Location: The Domus Imperialis.

A messenger arrives from the Central Library and requests admittance to the Emperor’s office. The Emperor greets the messenger and conducts him to the Emperor forthwith.

"Hail, Caesar. I bring important news from Quintus Fulvius Flaccus at the Central Library. He bids me tell you that the project you ordered him to undertake is proceeding apace. Search parties have located deposits of what he calls the ‘Salt of Mars’ just three mille from here. He has also ordered the production of charcoal, and a supply of sulphur has been secured from merchants here in the city. Unfortunately, all that was available was 32 talents’ weight. More will be needed in the future, so I have sent out scouts to locate new supplies."

"Very well. Return at once to the library and tell Quintus Fulvius Flaccus to proceed as he thinks best."

"Yes, Caesar."

Opening Moves
Date: The afternoon of Sextilis XII MDCXXX AUC / August 12th, 877 AD
Location: The Principia

Legatus Legionis Germanicus, Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus and the rest of Legio X Fretensis’ command staff are in one of their regular conferences. The meeting has just began, when Centurio Gaius Marius Metellus, commander of the First cavalry ala enters the room. He salutes the legate and begins to speak.

"Hail, Legate. I beg to report."

"Yes, Centurio?"

"Legate, I wish to report that my cavalry scouts have located a large force of mixed foot and horse just 30 mille from here. They number seven thousand foot and fifteen hundred horse. This body also has a large baggage train. My scouts also report that the enemy force had just stopped so that all elements could gather together before proceeding onwards."

"My thanks, Centurio Gaius. Your report is both timely and accurate. Pass on to your scouts that I say that they have done well. My orders are that you will return to your men and join with the Second cavalry ala. You will then divide yourselves into four half-maniples of 60 men each. Go forth and harass the enemy’s line-of-march. When he camps for the night, eliminate the sentries if any and cause as much havoc as possible. Don’t stand and fight, but withdraw and hit them again when the opportunity presents itself."

"Yes, Legate." Centurio Gaius salutes Legate Germanicus and then withdraws to carry out his orders.

The men in the First and second cavalry alae draw five days’ rations, saddle their horses and move out within the hour. The mood in Legate Germanicus’ office grows somber. The command conference now changes to a meeting concerned with strategy and logistics. The camp and city prefects are summoned to the meeting, and orders are issued. Finally, Legate Germanicus begins to speak.

"Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus, I am issuing a warning order. Legio X Fretensis is to stand ready to move out at any time."

"Yes, Legate."

"Primus Pilus Marcus Cassius Scaeva, stand forth."

Primus Pilus Marcus immediately braces to attention, his back as straight and unyielding as a swordblade, "Yes, Legate?"

"Primus Pilus Marcus, the First and Second cohorts of Legio I Italica are at full strength. I wish there had been more time to train them, but circumstances have forced my hand. Effective immediately, you are promoted to the rank of Legatus Legionis of Legio I Italica. You may draw sufficient personnel from Legio X Fretensis to flesh out your own command staff. Remember always, the eyes of the Emperor and the people of Nova Roma are upon us. We go forth to war in their names."

Newly-promoted Legatus Legionis Marcus Cassius Scaeva salutes Legate Germanicus and says "I am deeply honored and grateful for the honor you have bestowed upon me. Rest assured, I will do everything in my power to justify your faith and confidence."

"Legate Marcus, I have absolutely no doubt of that. Now, gentlemen, let us look to this day." At this, all present salute Legate Germanicus and then disperse to carry out the various tasks assigned to them.

Interlude: On the March
Date: Sextilis XIII MDCXXX AUC / August 13th, 877 AD

This is a great and momentous day, for a full Roman legion is marching forth to war for the first time in more than four hundred years. Legio X Fretensis is arrayed in full panoply on the parade ground, with each cohort in its place. The standards of the centuries, cohorts and of the Legion itself flutter bravely in the morning breeze. Also present are the two cohorts of Legio I Italica and the cohort of archers. The order is given and the assembled force moves out. To see them all off, Emperor Marcus Aurelius and the entire Nova Roman Senate are present. The priestly staff of the temple of Jupiter offer prayers and rites invoking the favor of Iovi Optimo Maximo as the march begins.

Five hours and some twelve mille later, Legatus Legionis Germanicus confers with Legatus Legionis Marcus Cassius Scaeva and orders a halt. Storm clouds are observed to be building quickly, and it is judged expedient to let the storm pass before resuming the march. Accordingly, the two legates order the construction of a temporary marching camp. The legionaries fall to this work with a will, because no one wants to spend a rainy night with no shelter. The tents are set up, the last stake has been driven and hardly has the last spade of earth been turned when the skies open up with a torrential downpour. There are occasional claps of thunder, but nothing that can be regarded as excessive. Indeed, it seems as if Jupiter Summanus* has been restraining his usual fury this night. The rain and winds last for the next eight hours, slowly tapering off by about midnight.
*: sender of nocturnal thunder

Stormy Weather
Date: Sextilis XIII MDCXXX AUC / August 13th, 877AD
Location: A tributary of the River Arno

Adalbert and his allies from Emilia and Romagna have finally gathered their men all together when the weather turns foul. The morning starts clear and warm, but great towering thunderheads gather with almost preternatural speed. Within the hour, rain is pouring out of the heavens in torrents. Lightning stabs the sky repeatedly and booming thunderclaps echo across the landscape. Adalbert and a small party of his men have ridden forward to the banks of the tributary in order to choose the best crossing point.

In disgust, Adalbert exclaims "Damn this miserable weather!! I had hoped to be across the river by now." Rocco of Emilia (one of Adalbert's allies) speaks up and says "I agree, Lord Adalbert. My scouts report that all of the fords hereabouts are impassable due to the flooding. There is, however, an old Roman bridge just three miles from here. It isn't in the best shape, but it should be able to allow a column-of-four to pass over it."

"That is a good plan, Rocco. As soon as the weather clears, we'll make for the bridge."

Unbeknownst to Adalbert and Rocco, a small group of troopers from the First Cavalry Ala has been quietly observing from within the concealment of a small grove of trees overlooking the river. As soon as Adalbert's party leaves, the cavalry troopers withdraw and return to their camp. A report is quickly made to Centurio Gaius Marius Metellus, overall commander of both cavalry alae.

"Hail, Centurio Gaius."

"Hail, Annaius Daverzius."

"Centurio, I and the scouting party have observed a small group of enemy horse attempting to ford the river. This is impossible due to the flooding. They're still intent on crossing, so I believe they'll head for an old Roman bridge I we came across some three mille from here."

"Excellent work, Trooper Annaius. I will detach fifty men to go with you. Get to that bridge as quickly as you can, pull out all of the keystones and throw them in the river. The bridge will be so weakened that it will collapse if too much weight is put upon it."

"Yes, Centurio." Thus ordered, Annaius Daverzius and fifty men ride for the bridge. Once they arrive, they set to work removing all of the keystones and throwing them into the river. However, such is the quality of Roman stonework that the bridge continues to stand. The work takes less than an hour. Once completed, Annaius Daverzius and the fifty troopers with him ride back to where the rest of the first and second cavalry alae are gathered.

Divided they Fall
Date: Sextilis XV MDCXXX AUC / August 15th, 877 AD

The rains have finally stopped. The clouds have broken up, and the sun is shining through in various places. Adalbert now judges that it is time to head for the bridge. The horse and foot are formed into columns and they move out. As a body, the horse is in front with the foot following behind. The two bodies are separated by a distance of fifty yards. For security, the column of foot is divided into two equal parts with the baggage train in the middle. The march to the bridge takes more than five hours due to the wet, muddy ground. After arriving at the bridge over the tributary river, Adalbert calls Rocco of Emilia forward and tells him "Take charge of the horse and get them across the bridge. Once on the other side, take up defensive postions and wait for me. Once you are all across, I will order the foot to move out."

"Yes, my lord."

Rocco and all of Adalbert's 1,500 horse move out as ordered. They cross the bridge without incident, but many of their number nervously eye the swollen angry waters flowing under the bridge. They take up defensive positons, but before the signal is given, Adalbert impatiently orders the foot to march across. The forward elements of the column of foot are three-quarters of the way across, when disaster suddenly strikes. The bridge was never in good shape to begin with, and it has been further weakened by the flooding, the removal of the keystones and the crossing of Adalbert's column of horse. A series of loud cracking and splitting noises are heard as the arches give way and collapse into the river. Adalbert stands by in mute horror and shock as seven hundred of his men disappear into the roiling brown water. Their cries of fear are soon choked off as their heavy armor and weapons drag then under.Angry oaths and shouts echo from both sides of the river as Adalbert and Rocco suddenly realize that a full tenth of their foot has just been lost.

Striking a Mighty Blow
Date: Sextilis XV MDCXXX AUC/ August 15th, 877 AD

Rocco of Emilia swore a string of vile, almost-blasphemous oaths as he saw the disaster of the bridge unfold. He realized that he could very well have been at the bottom of the river, were it not for the whims of chance. Since it is no longer possible to move forward without the support of the column of foot, Rocco decided to move his cavalry a short distance away from the river and set up camp. The idea is to wait until the foot can cross over.

Adalbert and his other ally Ainulf of Romagna are deciding what to do next. It is important that the column of foot rejoin the cavalry. There are but two ways to accomplish this. First, the cavalry can march all the way around the headwaters of the tributary, and the second is to build boats and rafts and to cross the tributary here. Marching around the headwaters of the tributary would delay Adalbert's campaign far too long, so he orders the construction of the boats and rafts. Accordingly, work parties are sent out to gather timber and the other necessary materials.

Date: Sextilis XVII MDCXXX AUC/ August 17th, 877 AD

Rocco's troops have fallen into a routine of exercising their horses and attending to the details of camp life. All the while, they have been under observation by small details from the First and Second cavalry alae. Regular reports are made back to Centurio Gaius Marius Metellus, overall commander of the Nova Roman cavalry. Finally, he judges the time is right and calls his decurions together for a meeting.

"Gentlemen, I have decided to make our presence known. The enemy greatly outnumber us, so a full frontal attack would be foolhardy. Instead, we are going to wait until nightfall. By that time, most of the enemy will either be drunk or asleep. We will divide ourselves into four groups of sixty men each. Small details of men will go forward and eliminate whatever sentries are on watch. If possible, they will undertake to cut the hobbles of the horses in the enemy corrals, so that they will be more likely to stampede. Once the details have rejoined us, each group of sixty men will go to one of four different points around the enemy camp. At my signal, we will attack simultaneously. First, we will all throw lit torches into the enemy camp to cause as much chaos as possible by lighting the enemy's tents on fire. Then, we will make simultaneous charges into and through the camp to create further disorder and confusion. Strike down as many enemy troops as are within reach, but do not stand and fight. Withdraw as quickly as possible. Enemy pursuit is likely to be disorganized, so we may be able to pick off targets of opportunity. Our superior violence and intensity will carry the day, and may Iovi Optimo Maximo watch over you all."

The assembled officers disperse to see to the ordering of their men. A series of low growls and chuckles of anticipation issue forth in anticipation of the coming action. Time passes and it is now dusk. The First and Second cavalry alae array themselves as ordered. By the time the four groups are in position around the enemy camp, night has fallen. Here and there, small watchfires are lit. Some are attended by only one sentry, while most are left unguarded. All others are within their tents, drinking, gaming and telling stories with their fellows. It is a mistake that will cost them all dearly.

By silent signal, pre-designated teams of two men each slowly and silently crawl forward. Each is armed only with daggers and strong cords of twisted leather. Each enemy sentry is eliminated in the same way. First, one man tightly loops the twisted leather cord around the sentry's neck and the second dispatches the sentry either by cutting his throat or by a swift thrust through the heart. Within five minutes, every enemy sentry is lying dead upon the ground. The infiltrators next proceed to the horse corrals, where they sever the leads holding the horses in place. The gates to the corrals are also undone but still closed. Half an hour later, the mission is accomplished and the men rejoin the rest of the Nova Roman cavalry.

The next phase of Centurio Gaius Marius Metellus' plan is put into effect as two hundred forty torches are lit and cast into the enemy camp. They land on tents and piles of horse fodder. Fires break out everywhere as men are roused from their sleep by the smells and sounds of the fires, plus the neighing of panicked horses. Further adding to the chaos and confusion, the horses bolt from their corrals. They stampede through the camp, causing many casualties and then run off into the night. Next, the four separate elements of the First and Second cavalry alae sound three loud blasts from their trumpets as they launch simultaneous charges into the enemy camp. Javelins are thrown and cavalry spathae are plied with great vigor.

Rocco of Emilia bursts from his tent, sword in hand, shouting "MEN OF EMILIA, RALLY TO ME!!" Hardly have the words passed his lips when one of the last javelins thrown finds its mark and takes Rocco through the neck. He falls dead instantly. By the time any effective defense can be made, the Nova Roman cavalry has come and gone. The camp is in shambles, and hundreds of enemy cavalry lie dead.

Aftermath
Date: Sextilis XVII MDCXXX AUC / August 17th, 877 AD
Location: The banks of the tributary of the River Arno

Upon hearing the commotion across the river, Adalbert's own sentries rouse him from his tent. Ainulf of Romagna joins him in short order. The darkness prevents them from seeing what is going on in Rocco's camp. Adalbert paces back and forth, apprehension gnawing at him as shouts, screams and the noise of battle echo across the water. After a half hour or so, Adalbert comes to a decision. He turns to Ainulf and says "There is nothing we can do tonight. Double the guard patrols on the camp perimeter. I'll not have us ambushed like a drunken peasant on the way back from a bawdyhouse."

"Yes, my lord. Do you have any further instructions?"

"Yes. Go out into the camp and tell my captains that we are going to begin to cross the river in the morning. We have but eighteen boats and six barges, and I wish there had been time to build more. They will have to do. That commotion we heard in Rocco's camp tells me that some disaster has befallen him, so we must make haste."

"Yes, my lord. It shall be as you say."

Date: Sextilis XVIII MDCXXX AUC / August 18th, 877 AD

As directed by Ainulf, Adalbert's captains move through the camp before dawn, rousing all and sundry. Soon, every man is hard at work breaking camp. The tents are struck and folded, baggage is packed and rations are issued. By the time the first rays of sunshine break over the horizon, Adalbert's men are on the move to the tributary's edge. Once there, the boats and barges are loaded as quickly as possible. The boats are rowed and the barges are towed across. As soon as they arrive, they are unloaded as quickly as possible and are then sent back for another trip. Adalbert and Ainulf are observing the loading process when Ainulf turns and says "my lord, even though the men are pushing as hard as possible, I fear that it will take another two days before the last of our men and supplies are transferred."

Adalbert clasps his hands behind his back, swearing under his breath as he does so. "Ainulf, I want you to stay here and oversee the rest of the crossing. I am going over in the next boat. I must know what has happened over there. Cross over in the very last boat and join me as quickly as you can."

"Yes, my lord."

Adalbert and his staff board the next boat and are rowed across the tributary with all possible speed. Once across, Adalbert and his men proceed to Rocco's camp in order to assess the situation. They are shocked into mute amazement at the devastation and carnage that is evident. Adalbert calls out for Rocco, but is instead answered by Halfdan, Rocco's second-in–command.

"What happened here, Halfdan?"

"My lord Adalbert, we crossed the bridge in good order and were in the process of determining where to camp when we observed the bridge collapsing. Lord Rocco ordered us to move to this spot to set up. Last night, we were suddenly attacked out of the darkness by men on horseback. Instead of giving a proper challenge and offering honest battle, they struck us like sneaking cowards. First, they killed all of our sentries, then threw torches into camp to start fires. They charged from concealment and went through the camp like a thunderbolt. The noise and confusion along with the smoke from the fires caused more than half of our horses to stampede. My men are even now trying to recover them. In the ensuing action, Lord Rocco and nearly five hundred of our men were killed."

Adalbert's mouth hangs open in stunned amazement. "Truly, Halfdan, the Devil himself is at work here. Not only does the bridge collapse and cost me seven hundred men, but then your camp is attacked. Two more days will see the rest of my troops ferried across the river. Now that Lord Rocco is dead, you are in command of the remaining horse. Once we have consolidated our troops, we will move out."

"Yes, my lord. Thank you for your confidence in me."

Date: Sextilis XX MDCXXX AUC / August 20th, 877 AD

The last of Adalbert's men and wagons have been ferried across the tributary without incident. The last few days have been enormously expensive in terms of casualties and lost equipment, but Adalbert is even more determined to press on. He structures his column so that half of the horse and foot are in front, the other half in the rear, and the baggage train is in the middle. As the march begins, cavalry scouts are sent ahead in order to try and locate the Nova Roman main body.

First Moves
Date: Sextilis XX MDCXXX AUC / August 20th, 877 AD
Location: Along the banks of the Arno River

Legio X Fretensis and the two cohorts of Legio I Italica are camped near the abandoned village of San Romano. The cavalry alae, archers and catapaults have been deliberately hidden a short ride away so as to keep them out of sight. Careful planning of the march and judicious use of the cavalry as a screening force have kept Adalbert's forces largely in the dark about Nova Roman dispositions. Regular reports from the cavalry screen have let Legate Germanicus and Legate Marcsu Cassius Scaeva know about the enemy's probing attempts. Just about mid-day, Centurio Gaius Marius Metellus, commander of the cavalry alae, is summoned to the command tent to make his report.

Legate Germanicus begins to speak "Centurio Gaius, what is the status of the probing attempts by the enemy cavalry?"

"Legate Germanicus, the last one was made several hours ago and there have been none since then."

"Excellent work, Centurio." Speaking to the assembled officers and command staff, Legate Germanicus now makes his plans known.

"Gentlemen, the last report from Centurio Gaius tell me that Adalbert only has a vague idea of where we are. This is how I planned it. We have bene moving carefully by day and night, and Centurio Gaius' cavalry has allowed the enemy to see only what we have wanted them to see. Adalbert is ignorant of what forces we have in the field, and has no idea of how we are disposed. My plan is for us to withdraw from this abandoned village and conceal ourselves in the woods just two mille from here. We will also leave a small force to give the illusion that we are still in camp. When the enemy is sighted, those detailed to stay behind will demonstrate as if they mean to stay and fight. As soon as the enemy begins to approach, they will withdraw and rejoin us here. This will draw Adalbert's force in close, which is just where I want them. Legate Marcus?"

"Yes, Legate Germanicus?"

"You will take your two cohorts of Legio I Italica, the archers, cavalry and catapaults and conceal yourselves on the reverse slope of that nearby ridge, just below the crest. When you see my signal, the catapaults will open fire with the special ammunition that has been brought along. Your two cohorts and the archers will protect the catapaults in case the enemy tries to charge uphill against you. Centurio Gaius' cavalry will guard your flanks. When the enemy cavalry approaches the abandoned village, Legio X Fretensis will spring out of hiding and draw them into a charge. We'll make sure to give them a proper Roman welcome."

Legate Marcus chuckles, grins widely and says "Yes, Legate Germanicus. I'm looking forward to that 'welcome'."

Legate Germanicus now turns to the rest of his officers and says "order the Legion to sow the ground before the village with crows-feet and caltrops. This is to be done out to a distance of one stadia from the village proper. Have the men take care that the crows-feet and caltrops are well-concealed."

An air of intense anticipation fills the command tent, as the assembled officers depart to carry out their orders.

Date: The afternoon of Sextilis XX MDCXXX AUC / August 20th, 877 AD

Adalbert, Ainulf and Halfdan are in their command tent eating a meal when one of their scouts arrives to make his report. "My lords, I beg forgiveness for this intrusion, but I have news. I have spied the enemy column. They are less than a day's march from here, camped by the abandoned village of San Romano. They have no archers or cavalry, and only a small baggage train is with them."

Adalbert jumps up and exclaims with pleasure "Now, we have them!!. He turns to Ainulf and Halfdan and says "order the men to make ready. We march for San Romano."
Ainulf and Halfdan respond eagerly "Yes, my lord."

"Halfdan?"

"Yes, Lord Adalbert?"

"Divide your horse into two equal bodies. The first will be at the head of our line of march, and the second will be in the middle. I will do likewise with the foot. My first element will be between your two cavalry formations, and the second will be at the rear of the formation. The baggage train will form between your second cavalry formation and my second infantry column."

"Yes, Lord Adalbert. That is an excellent plan."

Word spreads throughout Adalbert's camp that the enemy has been found and that they are near to hand. All such necessary preparations as sharpening their weapons, cleaning their armor and packing their other gear are attended to with a will. The orders given are carried out and the foot and horse are arrayed accordingly. There is just a token force left behind to guard the camp. When all is in readiness, the order to march is given.


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 Post subject: Re: Men of Rome
PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:48 am 
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A pity the clay grenades weren't developed in Antioch ;)

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 4:59 am 
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Adalbert and his men certainly have been naughty in the sight of the Lord.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:43 am 
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Gentlemen:

Your references to Monty Python and the Holy Grail are very much appreciated. It so happens that this was exactly what I had in mind when I wrote these passages.

These several engagements (and others yet to come) show the difference between amateurs and professionals; in other words, don't f**k with the Romans because they'll kill you all kinds of dead......


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:52 am 
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Chapter IV

Opposing Forces

After the recent disasters that befell Adalbert’s force, his losses stand at 700 out of an original 7,000 foot, and 480 out of an original 1,500 horse. As a rule, Adalbert’s cavalry are his best-equipped troops. Each of them wears a full suit of mail and a conical iron helmet that has a simple nasal guard. The other defensive equipment consists of a large, kite-shaped shield with a central boss of forged iron. For armament, each cavalryman carries an iron-headed lance that is twelve feet long. At his side, there is a longsword with a 36" blade. For backup, either a hand axe, warhammer or mace is slung from the saddlebow.

There is a great deal of variation in the arms & armor equipping Adalbert’s infantry force. Only those men wealthy enough to afford mail or scale of some type will wear it. The armor type that are the most prevalent are hardened or boiled leather, studded leather or ring armor. Helmets are generally round iron caps without nasal guards, except for those worn by the officers (which will have nasal guards and jaw flaps). The most common weapon is either a long-bladed hewing spear or a poleaxe. The poorest men have to make due with a heavy wooden club set with iron spikes. Secondary weapons are either a hand axe or a long dagger. Shields (where carried) are simple round designs, fitted with iron rims and bosses.

Adalbert’s officers are armed and equipped as cavalry, except that their equipment is of higher quality. Adalbert himself has the best suit of armor in the entire force. It is a full suit of gold-washed mail, whose links are half stamped and half riveted. His helmet is of four-piece construction, with plates of silver riveted to a bronze frame. Adalbert’s longsword is also quite elaborate, with silver inlays in the blade. The guard and pommel are set with gems.

By way of comparison, the equipment of the Nova Roman troops is uniform in design and of the very highest quality. The main body of Legio X Fretensis wears segmented plate armor and carries a rectangular scutum with a bronze boss. The helmet protects the head and the neck, but leaves the face free so as to better see the battlefield. Each man carries a gladius, a pugio and two pila. The gladius and pugio blades are of steel, smithed from iron mined in Noricum. The two cohorts of Legio I Italica wear short-sleeved mailshirts with attached shoulder doublings, while the helmets, shields and weapons are identical to those carried by Legio X Fretensis. The cavalry alae wear mailshirts of similar design, except that the hems are knee-length and the sleeves are elbow-length. Their weapons consist of a lancea, a spatha and a pugio. The saddles have stirrups and are each fitted with a pair of quivers that carry ten javelins each.

The Nova Roman archers wear thigh-length shirts of bronze scale with attached shoulder doublings (also of bronze scale). The helmet is similar to the cavalry helmet, except that the neck guard isn’t as wide. The bow is of composite-recurve construction, made of horn backed with sinew. Small round shields (clipeus) are carried, along with gladii & pugios.

The Battlefield

This is a medium-sized expanse of flat grassland located next to the river Arno. This area is screened on one side by a low ridge on one side, with the river on the other side. This ridge is three mille long. It has a gentle slope, is covered with grass, and varies in height from 50 to 75 yards. The mouth of the plain (where the ridge is closest to the river Arno) is less than 100 paces wide, with the head of the plain (where the abandoned village of San Romano is located) is a stadia-and-a-half wide. The plain average less than a stadia in width over most of its length.

Just one mille northwest from the abandoned village, there is a large forest of oak and walnut trees. Over the intervening centuries, brush has grown up thickly at the edge of the forest. In many places, it exceeds the height of a man.

Clash of Arms
Date: the morning of Sextilis XXI MDCXXX / August 21st, 877 AD

Adalbert’s scouts are making regular reports ahead of his line of march in order to ascertain whether or not the Nova Romans have made any moves towards leaving. Just after sunrise, they report back, saying that the enemy is still camped just to the north of the abandoned village of San Romano. They also give Adalbert a detailed description of the local landscape. It is this last information that convinces Adalbert to order his attack.

Adalbert calls Ainulf and Halfdan for a last meeting to give them their instructions. “Gentlemen, the so-called Nova Romans haven’t moved. I propose to immediately move upon their camp and take them by surprise. We can best accomplish this by moving through that small plain next to the River Arno. We’ll further use that small ridge to screen our movements from the enemy.” Adalbert chuckles evilly and says “ They won’t even know we are there until we’re on top of them.” Ainulf and Halfdan join in Adalbert’s laughter, and then depart to carry out their orders.

Adalbert orders the column to move out, and just an hour later, the forward group of horse is through the narrow mouth of the plain. Half an hour after that, the rearmost body of foot is through the mouth of the plain. A brief halt is called so that Adalbert’s troops can dress their ranks, and then the march is resumed.

Legate Marcus Cassius Scaeva and the command staff of Legio I Italica are secretly watching the progress of Adalbert’s forces from a concealed spot atop the ridge. Soon the very last troops are through the mouth of the plain. He waits until they are a quarter mille inside the plain before he sends a headquarters optio with an order for the catapaults to be cranked back and loaded, and for the cavalry and archers to make ready for action.

Halfdan’s forward body of cavalry are within one-quarter mille of the outskirts of San Romano. There, they can see what they perceive to be normal activities with the Nova Roman camp. Thus emboldened, Halfdan sends a messenger to Adalbert and Ainulf who are with the first element of foot. The messenger relays Halfdan’s request for permission to charge and engage the enemy. He is quickly sent back to grant Halfdan permission to attack. Cavalry trumpets blare forth, and signal flags fly. Halfdan’s forward element (numbering five hundred and ten men), lowers their lances and put spurs to horse. Halfdan rises in his saddle and shouts “Forward, men. For the love of God, FORWARD.!!“ All five hundred plus men move as one, the hooves of their horses striking the ground with uniform precision and filling the air with a noise like thunder. At a full gallop, the forwardmost riders get to within a stadia of the outskirts of San Romano when disaster strikes. Several dozen horses and riders encounter the first crows-feet and caltrops which had been so carefully placed by men from Legio X Fretensis. Predictably, the sharp points pierce the horses’ hooves causing them to rear wildly and scream in pain. This spills the riders to the ground. The impact is brutal, and some are wounded and killed (both by the force of the throw and some by having the misfortune to land directly on top of a caltrop or crow’s-foot). By now the momentum of the charge is too great to stop, though some riders attempt to divert their course. This causes further chaos and confusion as horse slams against horse, tumbling yet more riders from the saddle.

Adalbert and Ainulf can both see and hear the calamity. Without hesitation, they order their men forward at the double-quick so as to support the horse. As urgent as their desire to help Halfdan’s horse is, it does them no good. For, as soon as they begin to move, strange unfamiliar trumpets blare forth from up ahead.

Legate Germanicus and the staff of Legio X Fretensis are watching their carefully-planned ‘Roman Greeting’ unfold. The enemy foot have just begun to move, when Legate Germanicus has the signalmen and cornicens signal the Legion to spring out of concealment. It is the noise from the horns that Adalbert and Ainulf hear. This signal is what Legate Marcus Cassius Scaeva has been waiting to hear. He orders half of the archers and his two cohorts to move out quickly and seal the mouth of the plain. The rearmost element of Adalbert’s is a quarter mille inside the mouth of the plain, and they don’t notice it being blocked until it is too late. Towards the bottom of the plain, Legio X Fretensis has moved into position with near-mechanical precision.

Too late, Adalbert realizes that the Nova Romans have lured him into an ambush. Yet another signal is given by the Legion’s cornicens, and, at the other end of the plain, triggers are pulled. Eighteen catapaults send their thickly-coiled limbs flying forward, discharging thick clay vessels that are trailing thin wisps of smoke. These vessels land among Adalbert’s milling troops and explode with thunderous claps of noise. The explosions make a bad situation for Adalbert’s troops far worse, for none of them have ever experienced anything like this before. Not only are the explosions ear-shattering, but pieces of broken clay and shards of cast iron are sent flying in every direction. Men are killed and wounded by the dozens in this first series of explosions. Adalbert hears these and exclaims to no one in particular saying “What in the name of God are those??” His officers are running this way and that, trying to restore some semblance of order. Just a minute or two later, a second series of clay vessels is sent flying from on top of the ridge, with similar results to the first.

Ainulf spies this second volley and shouts to Adalbert “My lord, look to the top of the ridge!! Whatever those things are, they are being thrown from up there.” Adalbert follows Ainulf’s gesture and sees that this is indeed true. Adalbert orders Ainulf to take a thousand men and stop any further projectiles from being launched. The thousand men so detailed immediately break ranks under Ainulf’s command and begin to advance up the ridge’s front slope. Legate Marcus Cassius Scaeva counters this move by ordering his archers to open fire. Immediately, hundreds of well-aimed arrows begin to rain down on Ainulf and his men. They are slowed by the slope they are moving on, as well as the weight of their armor and weapons. Men begin to fall, as many killed as are wounded. Bardolph, Ainulf’s second-in-command, who is in charge of the rearmost body of foot, sees that less than a thousand of the enemy are blocking the mouth of the pass, His men outnumber the Nova Roman blocking force by more than three-to-one. Taking confidence in this, Bardolph orders a headlong attack.

The Second Cohort of Legio I Italica is on the right of the mouth of the plain, the First Cohort is on the left, with the Primus Pilus and his staff in the middle. The other half of the archers are deployed on the flanks and the second half of the cavalry is to the rear in a supporting position. When Bardolph’s men are in range, the Primus Pilus orders “PILA IACE”. Nearly one thousand pila arc through the air, having been propelled with speed by muscular arms. Three-quarters of them find their marks; hundreds of the enemy are killed or severely wounded by this first volley alone. A second order of “PILA IACE” is thundered forth, and again pila fly with deadly precision. The archers join with several volleys of arrows. These, too, contribute to the enemy’s misery. Finally, Bardolph’s depleted force (now numbering 1,600 out of the original 3,150) is less than fifty paces away from Legio I Italica’s front ranks. The Primus Pilus gives yet another command “GLADIUM STRINGE”. Hundreds of well-oiled gladii hiss angrily from their scabbards. But a moment more sees the next command shouted by the Primus Pilus, “PORRRRRO”. The two cohorts of Legio I Italica surge forward in unison, like race horses slipped from the gate. The Nova Romans crash into Bardolph’s men like an armored lightning bolt, their gladii licking out like the tongues of angry serpents. These are countered by the spears and axes of Bardolph’s men, and soon there is a cacophony of noise rising from the battlefield, made up of the sounds of swords, spears and axes ringing against shields and of men shouting, screaming and dying. In the thick of the fighting are the men of the Second Cohort, many of whom are those recruited from Adalbert’s men after his first defeat. These are especially intense in combat, knowing that they are being watched and evaluated by their commanders.

The rear element of Adalbert’s horse (numbering five hundred ten) attempts to move in to support Bardolph’s men, but are unable to close due to the close confines of the ground on which the fighting is taking place. Their helplessness is further compounded by the Nova Roman archers, who continually rain down deadly accurate arrow fire. Towards the bottom of the plain, Adalbert’s problems have only been compounded. Legio X Fretensis has moved through secretly-laid paths in the field of crows-feet and caltrops. Adalbert’s first element of horse is finished off in short order. The main event now begins, first with well-thrown pila and then with the commands from Legate Germanicus to draw swords and to charge. This time, the advantage of numbers lies with the Nova Romans. The two forces are soon mixed in a wild, confused melee. There are both charges and counter-charges. Soon, Adalbert sees that his only chance is to try and break through the Nova Roman line and kill Legate Germanicus and his staff. He orders Ainulf to stand fast, while he takes his personal guard of 200 men through the Roman lines. This takes the Romans somewhat by surprise, and so they are only able to mount a thin defense. Adalbert’s lance skewers a legionary and breaks. He casts down the broken shaft and draws his sword. Only ten yards separates him from the Nova Roman commander. Out of the dust, chaos and confusion rises a veritable giant of a man. Optio Gaius Octavius Drusus is part of Legate Germanicus’ command staff, and he sees that his commander is in mortal peril. He interposes himself between Adalbert’s charge and Legate Germanicus. Adalbert sees this and prepares to ride Optio Gaius into the dirt. Optio Gaius draws his spatha with his right hand and stands ready to receive the charge. Adalbert raises his own sword to strike down Optio Gaius. As Adalbert closes in, he strikes and misses. Optio Gaius, being preternatually quick for a man of his vast size, avoids the swordblow by ducking to his right. Almost without thought, Optio Gaius lashes out with a blow from his left fist. This mighty punch catches Adalbert’s horse on the bridge of his nose and breaks it. The horse rears in shock and pain, this action throwing Adalbert unceremoniously to the ground.

Optio Gaius is not unscathed by the impact. The force of his blow against the horse’s nose breaks his left arm, and Optio Gaius grunts in pain. Adalbert manages to rise to his feet, but Optio Gaius responds by striding over to Adalbert and clouting him on the side of the head with the flat of his sword, Adalbert drops to the ground, unconscious. Seeing their leader fall, the remaining members of Adalbert’s personal guard attempt to flee but are all killed in doing so.

Further to the rear, towards the mouth of the plain, things are even more grim for Adalbert’s remaining men. The second body of cavalry has been wiped out, and the second body of foot has been struck by simultaneous charges on the rear and the right flank by the Nova Roman cavalry. Seeing that the situation is hopeless and that further resistance would be pointless, some one thousand of Adalbert’s men surrender. Among the last to fall are Ainulf and his command staff, who are all killed to a man.

So ends the Battle of San Romano, the first great victory won by Roman Arms in more than four hundred years.

Aftermath, Part I
Date: Sextilis XXI MDCXXX AUC / August 21st, 877 AD, late afternoon

The command staffs of Legio X Fretensis and Legio I Italica have joined together and are surveying the battlefield. Here and there, wounded men of Adalbert’s force raise their hands in token of submission and also to call for aid. Immediately, Legate Germanicus sees this and details numbers of Legionaries to go among them and see to their wounds and bring them water. Having walked the battlefield from end-to-end, Legate Germanicus turns to Legate Marcus Cassius Scaeva and says “I tell you in truth Marcus, there is nothing more terrible than a battle lost except for a battle won.” Legate Marcus replies “Germanicus, truer words were never spoken.” Legate Germanicus now orders the medcii to see to the casualties of both legions. Among the first to be attended to is Optio Gaius Octavius Drusus. Legate Germanicus comes over to speak to him.

“How are you, Optio?”

“Hail, Legate. My left arm is broken for fair. That miserable irrumator Adalbert was intent on killing you, so I was obliged to prevent him from doing so.” Optio Gaius chuckles a little, but grimaces in pain.

“I saw what happened with my own eyes. I thought for sure that sword stroke was going to take your head off.”

“Legate, a blind man could have avoided it. Adalbert’s blow was no better than one delivered by a ten-year old child.”

“Optio, whatever possessed you to punch Adalbert’s horse in the head?”

“I don’t know, Legate. It seemed like the thing to do at the time.”

Legate Germanicus smiles, then his face goes serious “Optio Gaius, by your efforts, you captured the enemy commander alive. Your actions were in the finest traditions of the Roman service and you shall be recognized accordingly.”

“Thank you, Legate.”

Petrus, chief scribe of Legio X Fretensis now comes up to deliver his report on the numbers of casualties on both sides.

“Hail, Legate.”

“Hail, Petrus. What is the number of the killed and wounded?”

“Legate, before the action began this morning. Adalbert’s force numbered 6,300 foot and 1,020 horse. Of his cavalry, there are no survivors. Of the foot, there are 1,000 who have surrendered and are uninjured. Furthermore, there are 1,200 foot who were wounded in battle and of these four-in-ten are wounded so severely that they will not survive. 4,100 of Adalbert’s foot were killed in battle.”

“Excellent work, Petrus. What of our own casualties?’

“Legate, in total, we suffered 85 fatalities and 220 wounded. The wounded are being attended to by the medicii and most are expected to survive.”

Legate Germanicus dismisses Petrus and then calls for his headquarters staff “Gentlemen, Adalbert’s camp is now unguarded. Send the First Cohort to secure it immediately. After arriving, tell them to survey what is there and send word back to me immediately. I also want the prisoners gathered. Set them to work stripping the dead of any useful equipment. Then, have them load the bodies on wagons and take them to the other side of the ridge. There, the prisoners will dig pits to bury the dead. Once this has been done, bring them back here”

“Yes, Legate. It shall be done as you order. Do you have further instructions?”

“Yes, order the First and Second centuries of the Second cohort out onto the battlefield. Tell them to gather up every enemy weapon they can find and bring them here. They are to be stacked by type.”

“Immediately, Legate.”

Aftermath; Part II
Date: The early evening of Sextilis XXII MDCXXX AUC / August 22nd, 877 AD

The First and Second Centuries of Legio X Fretensis’ Second Cohort, after securing the weapons and equipment left on the battlefield, have been ordered to secure Adalbert’s camp. They depart, after first having replenished their marching rations. Three hours later, they arrive on site. A token force of just one hundred men was detailed by Adalbert to guard his camp. As soon as the Nova Romans approach, realization fills the camp guards that Adalbert has been defeated. Without the slightest show of resistance, they break and run, carrying whatever they can.

The legionairies move through the camp with a will, taking stock of what is there and marking it down for future reference. One of their largest finds is Adalbert’s baggage train. There are literally hundreds of wagons, loaded with everything from grain for the horses, hundreds of tons of preserved foods and thousands of jars of wine. The horse corrals are full and all of the tack is present. There is also the impedimenta of camp life, all in great quantities. The legionairies take great care to locate the tents of Adalbert, Ainulf and Rocco. It is here that the richest pickings are found. The tents are full of fine furnishings, as well as many items of worked gold and silver. In Adalbert’s headquarters tent, there are a number of locked, iron-bound chests. These chests contain the army’s payroll. Adalbert anticipated a campaign of at least four months, so there is a large quantity of gold and silver coins contained therein. Seeing this, Centurio Quintus Lucius Lutatius calls for messengers to take horses from the corral and ride back to Legio X Fretensis to request reinforcements.

Though the camp guards have fled, the camp itself isn’t totally deserted. There are more than four hundred camp followers, most of whom are women. Some of these are sitting in front of their tents, and still others are in hiding. All are fearful and apprehensive at this turn of events. Since the legionaries can’t communicate with the women, Centurio Quintus halts the messengers before they leave and tells them to bring Petrus, Legio X Fretensis’ scribe back so that he can talk to them.

Date: Sextilis XXIII MDCXXX AUC / August 23rd, 877 AD

The messengers dispacthed by Centurio Quintus arrive back in camp just after midnight.They are immediately brought to Legate Germanicus’ command tent.

“Hail, Legate. We beg to report.”

“Hail, legionaries. You may proceed.”

“Legate, our Centurio Quintus Lucius Lutatius bids us tell you that Adalbert’s camp has been located. It is intact, save for the guards who fled at our approach. There is a great quantity of supplies on hand, and the corrals are full of horses. A large quantity of gold and silver items were discovered in the headquarters tents, along with several large chests containing Adalbert’s payroll. The camp followers are still there, but we are unable to communicate with them. Centurio Quintus asks that you send Petrus the scribe along with the reinforcements so that we can talk to them.”

“Thank you for your report. It is too late for you to return tonight. You will stay here and move out with the two Cohorts of Legate Marcus’ Legio I Italica. They will help with the transport and security of the material from Adalbert’s camp. Now, get yourselves a meal and rest until tomorrow.”

“Yes, Legate.” The two legionaries salute and depart.

Legate Germanicus next calls a runner to carry his instructions to Legate Marcus. 15 minutes later, the messenger arrives at the command tent of Legio I Italica.

“Hail, Legate. Legate Germanicus sends his respects. He has entrusted me to tell you that you and your cohorts are moving out at dawn. Your assignment is to provide assistance to the First and Second Centuries of Legio X Fretensis’ Second Cohort in regards to security and transport for the material taken from Adalbert’s camp.”

“Understood. Return to Legate Germanicus and give him my compliments. Tell him that Legio I Italica will march at dawn.”

Date: the morning of Sextilis XXIV MDCXXX AUC / August 24th, 877 AD

Legio I Italica is awake and formed for the march at the crack of dawn. They move out as instructed and less than two hours later they and the two messengers arrive back at Adalbert’s former camp. Thus reinforced, the Nova Roman troops commence to hitching up the horse teams to their wagons. Two wagons are set aside for the valuables discovered in the headquarters tents. While this is going on, Petrus the Scribe is walking through the camp with two legionaries for escort. He speaks to every camp follower that he sees, even going into their tents. Everyone he speaks to is told the same story “Adalbert and a thousand of his men have been captured by Nova Roman legionaries. The rest are dead. You will not be harmed. If you have homes, you can return to them, or you can come with us.” Slowly, fearfully, the camp followers who were hiding come out into the open; first, by ones and twos, and then in larger groups. Petrus is surprised to learn that there are more than four hundred women in total; all of these are between the ages of 15 and 30.

One woman steps forward and says to Petrus “Most of us don’t have homes to return to. Many of us were taken off the streets of Lucca, Emilia and Romagna and pressed into service as concubines or camp followers. I think there might be a few Jewish women here also.

Petrus raises a questioning eyebrow and says “Take me to them immediately.” The woman takes Petrus and his two guards to a tent on the outskirts of the camp. There are five women seated around a small fire in front of the tent. They appear to be in their mid-to-late teens. A sixth woman is standing in front of the other five. She is in her early twenties. It is to this woman that Petrus speaks first “Who are you, and where did you come from?”

“Lord, my name is Sephora and I was taken from the streets of Lucca two months ago when I came into the city to get food for my family. We are Jewish and are not allowed to live within the city walls. My family must be worried sick about me.”

“What of these other women with you, Sephora?”

“Lord, they were taken from Emilia and Romagna in the same way I was taken from Lucca.”

“Fear not, lady. Adalbert will trouble you no longer. His army is defeated and he himself is a prisoner of men from a place called Nova Roma.” Sephora listens to this, then collapses to the ground, tears of joy streaming down her face. “I want to go back to my family. Will you take me to Lucca?”

“Lady, I am sure the Nova Romans will be marching on Lucca to take possession of it shortly. How well do you know the area around the city?”

“I know it well enough, lord. I was born in a small village nearby and that is where my family still lives.”

“Very well, lady. I will take you to the commander of these men. You will tell him what you told me.”

“Yes, Lord.”

Petrus and Sephora make their way to where Legate Marcus Cassius Scaeva is directing the breakdown of Adalbert’s former camp.

“Hail, Legate.”

“Hail, Petrus. Who is this young beauty you have with you?”

“Legate, her name is Sephora and she is Jewish. She is the oldest of six Jewish women who were taken off the streets of Lucca, Emilia and Romagna and forced to serve as camp followers and concubines. She wants to go back to her family and I believe the others want to as well. Sephora knows the area around Lucca very well and has offered to help guide us.”

Legate Marcus approaches and says “Come here, girl.” Sephora comes over and casts her eyes downward. She speaks in an almost-whisper saying “Yes, lord?”

“Is what Petrus tells me about you the truth?”

“Yes, Lord.”

Legate Marcus gently raises Sephora’s head by the chin and looks into her eyes. He notices a number of bruises on her face. Most of them are faded, but one is recent. “Lady, what is the meaning of these bruises?”

“Lord, I was forced to serve as a concubine. If I didn’t please the man I was with, I was beaten.” At this, Sephora begins to cry.

Seeing the tears streaming down Sephora’s face, Legate Marcus’ purples with anger. It flames him grievously that such a beautiful young woman has been so cruelly abused. “Lady, has Petrus told you that Adalbert and a full thousand of his men are our prisoners?, and also that the rest of his army is dead? ”

“Yes, Lord. Petrus tells me that you will be marching on Lucca. I want to go with you so I can return to my family.”

“Very well, Sephora. Go back to your friends and tell them to pack whatever belongings they have. We will be marching back to our main camp tomorrow morning.”

“Yes, Lord. I will tell them. Thank you for your kindness”.


Aftermath; Part III
Date: The afternoon of Sextilis XXV MDCXXX AUC / August 25th, 877 AD

Legio I Italica is formed for the march, along with the First and Second Centuries from the Second Cohort of Legio X Fretensis. The column is arranged so that Legio I’s First Cohort is in the lead and the Second Cohort is in the trail position. The First and Second Centuries from Legio X Fretensis are disposed at intervals along the length of the column in order to better protect it. For reasons of security, the two wagons containing the treasure taken from Adalbert’s camp are with Legate Marcus Cassius Scaeva and are escorted by his headquarters detachment. Finally, the order to move out is given by legate Marcus; this is communicated to the rest of the column by means of trumpet blasts from the legion’s cornicens. The morning is warm and dry, but not unreasonably so. There are a few clouds in the sky, and a light morning breeze carries the scents of summer.

The column’s slow, measured pace (occasioned by its great size) wears away the hours until noontime, when the advance guard catches sight of the outskirts of San Romano. Outriders from Legio X Fretensis greet Legate Marcus and his command staff, then conduct them the rest of the way to Legio X Fretensis’ camp. Legate Marcus seeks out Legate Germanicus in order to make his report.

“Hail, Germanicus.”

“Hail, Marcus. That’s quite a haul you have there.”

“Indeed it is. I was afraid that I was going to have to leave some of it behind, but Adalbert was kind enough to furnish the necessary wagons. Legate Marcus says this last with a chuckle, and Legate Germanicus joins in the laughter.

“Germanicus, I must let you know that we rescued some four hundred women from Adalbert’s camp. These were his camp followers, and some of them had been forcibly abducted. In particular, I direct your attention to six women in particular. They are Jewish, ranging in ages from fifteen to twenty-three. Apparently, they were grabbed off the streets of Lucca and Romagna and forced to serve as concubines. They were beaten if they didn’t serve well.”

“Hmm, as if we didn’t need any more reasons to dislike that sack of merda bibulum.”

“Indeed, Germanicus.” Legate Marcus brings over the six women and Legate Germanicus speaks to each of them in turn. Last to be addressed is Sephora, who tells Legate Germanicus her story in full and repeats her offer to serve as guide. After detailing a headquarters optio to see to the needs of the former camp followers, Legate Germanicus turns to Legate Marcus and says “I have summoned my officers here for a staff meeting. We will meet with you and your officers here in half an hour.”

“Very good, Germanicus.”

Half an hour later, the full command staffs of both legions are assembled, and Legate Germanicus address them all “Gentlemen, now that our two legions are back together, this is what we will do. Adalbert and his allies are defeated and there is no authority in northern Italia except us. Accordingly, I will take Legio X Fretensis to Lucca and take possession of it in the name of the Emperor. Once it is secure, I will do the same for Emilia and Romagna. Legate Marcus?”


“Yes, Legate Germanicus?”

“Your assignment is to take the prisoners, the treasure, the wagons, the former camp followers and everything else that was taken from Adalbert’s camp and escort it safely back to Nova Roma. For additional security, I will assign you half of the archers and one of the cavalry alae. In regards to that Jewish woman Sephora and her five companions, they will come with me to Lucca. See to your men, we move out tomorrow afternoon.”

The assembled officers salute and depart, each to see to his own command. Legate Germanicus leaves his command tent and goes over to see Sephora and her five companions, all of whom have been waiting respectfully a short ways away. “Sephora?”

“Yes, Lord?”

“I am taking the legion to Lucca tomorrow. While on the march, you and your five friends here will reside in my headquarters. One of my staff will see to your needs.”

“Yes, Lord.”

Justice is Served
Date: The afternoon of Sextilis XXVI MDCXXX AUC / August 26th, 877 AD

The two legions go their separate ways; Legio I Italica back to Nova Roma and Legio X Fretensis on to Lucca. The remaining archers and cavalry ala are on the flanks of Legio X Fretensis. As the two bodies separate, Legate Germanicus and his headquarters are ridi8ng near the head of their column. In the middle of the headquarters section, Adalbert is seated backwards on a mule. His hands are manacled to the saddle, Just behind Adalbert, Sephora is riidng a horse sidesaddle, and her five companions are following along in a small wagon. She is casting here eys about, observing the countryside when she catches a glimpse of Adalbert. Her eyes go wide and she is mute with shock. It is Adalbert who abused her most recently. Being careful not to giver herself away, Sephora rides over to Legate Germanicus and says in an excited but hushed voice “ Lord, I have seen one of the men who abused me.” Legate Germanicus responds with a raised eyebrow “Who is it?”

“Adalbert. It was he who abused me a few days before the battle in when you captured him.”

Legate Germanicus rides over to Adalbert, who is still affecting a haughty, superior attitude, despite his captivity. He calls out to Sephora in a loud voice “Is he the one?”

“Yes, Lord.”

Adalbert’s manner, which had been so arrogant only a few seconds ago, is now replaced by cringing, cowering fear as he recognizes Sephora. It is as if fate is reaching out for him with one cold clammy hand, with the other hand holding a bill for his past deeds. Sephora compounds the icy feeling in Adalbert’s gut as she heaps the worst insults she can think of upon him as part payment for all the abuse she suffered at his hands. Each fresh imprecation strikes with almost physical force. Legate Germanicus rides back to the head of the column, chuckling loudly as Sephora’s curses ring in his ears.


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 Post subject: Re: Men of Rome
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Chapter V

Regime Change
Date: Sextilis XXVIIII MDCXXX AUC / August 29th, 877 AD

Four days of marching has brought Legio X Fretensis to the gates of Lucca, Adalbert’s former capital. The walls are unmanned, except for a few watchmen. Legate Germanicus, Petrus and a security detail ride forward to the gates of Lucca instead are met by a delegation of the leading citizens of the city. Legate Germanicus calls out in his best command voice “I am the commander of Legio X Fretensis. Your armies have been destroyed and your former lord is my prisoner.” Legate Germanicus gestures towards Adalbert, who is unceremoniously dismounted from the mule he is riding with the assistance of a legionary’s boot. “I call on you to surrender and throw your gates wide to me. I have no wish to cause you unnecessary harm.”

One man among the group from Lucca stands forth and speaks. “I am Hundulph, Lord Mayor of Lucca. We had word of your arrival some two days ago. Certain men who were formerly with Adalbert’s army came to our gates and told us wild tales of men that fought like demons and of weapons that struck like thunder. To avoid further losses, we open our gates and surrender to you.”

Legate Germanicus raises his hand and says “that is a wise choice, Hundulph. If you had chosen to resist me, this is the power that you would have faced.” Legate Germanicus points towards a barn standing a short distance away. Suddenly, it explodes with a flash o flight and a great noise like a clap of thunder. Debris flies everywhere, and a thick cloud of stinking white smoke drifts off in the breeze. This subterfuge was accomplished by a party of legionaries who took some of the special catapault ammunition, placed it in the barn and lit the fuses.

Hundulph and his party cover their ears with their hands as the noise reaches them. Most are in shock at what they have witnessed, and some have even fallen to their knees in prayer. Still others on the wall are mute in amazement. Exclamations of fear can also be heard from other people of the city who have gathered atop the walls to watch.

As soon as Huldulph recovers from his amazement, he speaks “”You speak the truth, Lord. It would have been foolish of us to resist the power at your command. Therefore, enter our gates. No one will resist you or offer violence to your men in any way.”

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, Legate Germanicus orders Legio X Fretensis to camp outside the gates of Lucca. Guard details are posted to see who comes and who goes. For now, only those legionaries with business in the city will proceed inside the gates. Legate Germanicus turns to Petrus and says “Take me to Adalbert’s palace Immediately, I will set up my headquarters there.”

“Yes, Legate.”

Petrus takes Legate Germanicus to the palace. The Legate is accompanied by a full cohort of troops for crowd control and security. After arriving. Legate Germanicus orders Petrus and several members of his headquarters staff to survey the palace and report back with what they find. Four hours later, Petrus reports back, saying “Legate, the survey is complete. In addition to the furnishings, there are two hundred talents of gold, five hundred talents of silver and four hundred eighty talents of bronze in Adalbert’s treasury.”

Legate Germanicus smiles widely and says “Excellent work, Petrus. I have another assignment for you.”

“Yes, Legate?”

“I want you to ride into the countryside with the legion’s surveyors. I want to know is what shape the roads and aqueducts are in, and whether or not any of them are in need of repairs.“

“Yes, Legate. It shall be done.”

Elsewhere, outside Lucca in a certain small village, sounds of tearful rejoicing are heard. Sephora and two of her friends have returned to their families. The other three women have no families to return to, and so have been invited to stay with Sephora’s family.

Sephora’s parents (who are both in their mid-40's) embrace her closely “O, daughter!! When you didn’t return from Lucca, we feared the worst.”

“Mother, Father, I was grabbed off the streets of Lucca by Adalbert’s men and forced to servitude. If I didn’t serve the man I was with well, I was beaten. I remained in Adalbert’s camp until I and my friends were rescued by men from a place called Nova Roma. It is these men who you see camped outside the gates of Lucca”

With this, Sephora’s father hugs her even more closely than before. Her mother sheds tears, not of sadness, but of gratitude and joy at her daughter’s safe return. “Whoever these people are, I commend them to G-d for returning you to us. I will organize a feast in honor of your return. Go to the commander of those men and invite him and his officers to join us for a meal. It is the least we can do for them.”

“Yes, Mother.”

The Return
Date: Sextilis XXVIIII MDCXXX AUC / August 29th, 877 AD

After a march of four full days, Legate Marcus Cassius Scaeva and the men of Legio I Italica have arrived back at Nova Roma. Their progress was slowed by the large number of wagons they were escorting, plus the prisoners they were guarding. Emperor Marcus Aurelius has been expecting news of the expedition against Adalbert, and so has had members of the city garrison keeping watch for the last week or so. Once the column was spotted, he was notified so that he and his staff could be on hand when they arrived.

Legate Marcus sees the Emperor and his staff. He calls out in a loud, clear voice “Hail, Caesar. I beg to report.”

“Hail, Legate. How goes it with you and your men?”

“Caesar, I bring great and momentous news. Acting under the declaration of war, Legio X Fretensis and Legio I Italica engaged Adalbert’s army seven days ago on a small plain by the River Arnus. Adalbert’s army wasn’t just defeated, it was smashed! Adalbert himself is held prisoner by Legate Germanicus and these one thousand prisoners you see here are all that remain. The rest are all dead. After the battle, Legate Germanicus judged it expedient to move upon Adalbert’s camp and strip it of anything useful. The materiel taken is in these wagons, which were Adalbert;s own. Among the goods taken from the camp were a large quantity of worked gold and silevr items, plus eight large chests of coin which contained the payroll for Adalbert’s army.” As Legate Marcus is speaking to the Emperor, his men continue to bring the wagons in. The enemy prisoners are put to work in setting up some of their own tents as a temporary enclosure until something more permanent can be built to hold them.

“Caesar, when Legate Germanicus dispatched Legio I Italica to accompany the wagon train and prisoners back to Nova Roma, it was his announced intention to move against Adalbert’s former capital of Lucca and take possession of it. Unless I miss my guess, he has already done this.”

Marcus Aurelius claps his hands loudly by way of acclaim, saying “That is wonderful news, Legate. What of all those women I saw earlier?”

“Caesar, thy are Adalbert’s former camp followers. We liberated them when we took Adalbert’s camp. Many of them were forced into servitude and wish only to return to their homes. Several of the women are Jewish; they lived in Lucca and Emilia when they were taken. Legate Germanicus has them with him and is returning them to their own homes.”

“I approve, Legate. See that the women you have here are provided for and returned to their own homes as soon as it is convenient to do so.”

“Yes, Caesar.”

Consequences
Date: Sextilis XXX MDCXXX AUC / August 30th, 877 AD

Petrus, the legionary scribe and a party of surveyors from Legio X Fretensis has been riding through the countryside around Lucca in order to assess the condition of the various roads and aqueducts in the vicinity. The roads are in good shape, even though it has been more than four hundred years since they were last maintained. The aqueducts are a different story. Many are leaking copiously, and more than a few of their arches have collapsed.

The survey party is accompanied by the Third Century of Legio X Fretensis’ First Cohort. The survey expedition is just about to break for the noontime meal when a great commotion is heard up ahead. Petrus has the surveyors remain in place, while he and the legionaries go forward to investigate.

Just around the bend in the road, Petrus sees a large group of people gathered. There is a well-appointed covered wagon to the side of the road, and a team of horses is hitched to it. The crowd’s attention is focused on a middle-aged, bearded man and a young woman. The man is being kicked and punched, while the woman is manhandled. The woman’s dress is hanging about her body is tatters, and she is screaming piteously. There is a group of priests and monks that are leading the ‘activities’. The more that is done to the man and the woman, the more they shout their approval. Petrus takes one look at what is going on, and the sight sickens him. He apprises Centurio Sextus Aelius Fullo, who commands the Third Century; Centurio Sextus takes a brief look, then swears under his breath “By the sword of Mars, I’ll not allow such an affront to go unpunished!!” and instantly prepares his men for action.

Up until now, Rabbi Isaac Ben David was a very happy man. He has a beautiful daughter, and is highly-esteemed by all the Jews in this region of Italy. It being a warm summer’s day, Rabbi Isaac decides to take his daughter to visit some of the more remote hamlets where his people reside. Adalbert’s law and practice forbids Jews from living within the city’s walls, and so they must live off by themselves. He and Rebecca are riding in a well-appointed covered wagon as befits their status. They are escorted by six hired men-at-arms. Thus far, the ride has been pleasant and uneventful.

Suddenly, their ears are assaulted by harsh cries and shouts of “GET THEM! TAKE THOSE MISERABLE VERMIN! DON’T LET THEM GET AWAY!” The wagon is blocked before Isaac and Rebecca can get away, and their men at arms are overwhelmed and slaughtered. Rough hands drag them out of the wagon and quickly throw them to the ground. After Isaac is punched and kicked, his beard is nearly pulled off and his skullcap is struck off into the dirt. To add insult to injury, the cap is ground under the heel of the one who knocked it off. Isaac is held by two rough-looking men, while a third one, dressed in the robes of a high-ranking priest and slaps Isaac again. “There has been much deviltry afoot these last two months, and it’s all the fault of you and your damned, skulking parasites. You have the infernal gall to show your faces and now you will suffer. Take him.” The two men holding Isaac’s arms drag him to a nearby oak tree, where others have slung a rope over one of its branches. “Do you see that, scum? Your daughter is going to watch you swing.” Rebecca hears this and tries to scream, but her scream is cut off as she is punched in the stomach. At least a dozen men pass her around among themselves, subjecting her to the vilest abuse imaginable. Still more are laughing and cheering at what they think is great sport. The laughter rises as the rope is fixed around Isaac’s neck. The Priest who slapped Isaac laughs and says “Take a last look at her. As soon as my men are done with her, she’s going to burn while you dance.”

The mob’s attention is focused on the spectacle before them, when suddenly a voice thunders forth from behind them “HALT IN THE NAME OF IMPERIAL ROME!!” With equal parts surprise and shock, the priest and his men turn about to see who has challenged them so. Petrus strides forth from among the assembled legionaries and in a voice that is worthy of a Primus Pilus “I order you to let those people go. They have done nothing to you.” The priest stares goggle-eyed and then responds “Who are you, to so interfere with church business?” Petrus replies “who am I, swine? I’m one who acts when he sees a vile injustice being perpetrated on innocent people.” The priest affects an incredulous attitude, as he has never before been challenged in such a manner. With a gesture from their leader, the mob begins to surge forward. Seeing this, Centurio Sextus orders in a loud voice “AD ACIEM.....GLADIUM STRINGE...PORRRRRO”. The legionaries crash into the mob like an avalanche, except that the boulders in this avalanche are made of muscle, bone and sinew, covered in plate steel and festooned with choppy, stabby, pointy bits. Almost none in the mob are wearing any kind of armor, and none of them are armed with anything more than clubs, spears and axes. Though the mob outnumbers the legionaries by more than two-to-one, their numbers mean less than nothing before Roman skill and discipline. In less than five minutes, all of them are dead; no legionary is killed or even wounded in the slightest. Centurio Sextus now orders a perimeter set up around where Isaac and Rebecca were being assaulted. Once the area is secure, Petrus comes over to see to them. His hands are open in a gesture of peace so as to reassure them that no harm is intended.

Isaac and Rebecca are clutching each other in terror. First, they were within a hairs-breadth of being killed, and then they were saved by something they never even dreamed of. After some minutes, Isaac draws up the courage to move. First, he takes a cloak from the wagon in which he and Rebecca were riding and then covers her with it. He also retrieves s spare skullcap and adjusts it atop his head before speaking. “Stranger, I don’t know who you are and where your men come from. Your intervention was most timely, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for saving my daughter Rebecca and myself.”

Petrus asks an obvious question “who are you?”

Isaac rises to his full height and says “I am Rabbi Isaac Ben David. My daughter Rebecca and I were on our way to visit a small Jewish hamlet nearby when we were attacked by that mob.”

Petrus’ eyebrow rises in familiarity “Rabbi Isaac, I have heard of you. Are you not chief among your people in northern Italy?”

Isaac replies “I am indeed. My people look to me for guidance and teaching in these dark times. What is your name, stranger?

“I am Petrus, formerly a scribe with the court of Adalbert, Margrave of Tuscany. I am now attached to the Tenth Roman Legion.”

Isaac shudders involuntarily at the mention of Adalbert’s name. Petrus sees this and says “I have news for you, Isaac. Adalbert has been thrown down and his entire army has been destroyed. These men you see behind me are but a small part of the force that accomplished this. Tuscany, Emilia and Romagna are now under the control of Nova Roma. Isaac raises a questioning eyebrow, but decides to hold his enquiries for another time.

Petrus now says “Rabbi Isaac, you and your daughter are now under my protection. I will take you back to Lucca and we will speak to my commander about what has happened here.” Isaac nods his acquiescence as he and Rebecca climb back into their wagon. Centurio Sextus has his men fall into formation around the wagon as they move off towards Lucca.

A Meeting
Date: the afternoon of Sextilis XXX MDCXXX AUC / August 30th, 877 AD

The survey party led by Petrus has returned to Legio X Fretensis’ camp outside the gates of Lucca. The surveyors and the legionaries in the security detail return to other duties, while Petrus escorts Isaac and Rebecca to the Principia (Adalbert’s former palace).

“Hail, Legate.”

“Hail, Petrus.”

“Legate, I have important news of a most disturbing nature. As ordered, I and the survey party were examining the roads and aqueducts in the local area when we saw a mob led by priests and monks from a large church assaulting these two people I have here.” Petrus introduces Isaac and Rebecca to Legate Germanicus. “Legate, this is Rabbi Isaac Ben David and his daughter Rebecca. They were on their way to visit a small Jewish hamlet when they were set upon. We intervened and rescued them. The century assigned to the survey party as escort killed all of the attackers. I thought it necessary to return here immediately, and so we did.” Petrus goes on to describe what was done to Isaac and Rebecca by the mob. Legate Germanicus listens intently, anger rising in his face as each horrific detail is recounted.

Rabbi Isaac now begins to speak. He is a well-educated man and is fluent in Imperial Latin. “Lord, please accept my humble thanks for what your men did for us. But for their timely intervention, both my daughter and I would now be dead. You have my eternal gratitude.”

“Rabbi Isaac, I am pleased to see that you and Rebecca are safe. It is an offense against law and order that innocent people would be subjected to such barbarities.” Legate Germanicus immediately calls for his adjutant. “Petrus, do you know this church where those so-called priests came from?”

“Yes, Legate”

“Adjutant, dispatch the Fourth Cohort. Petrus will show them the way to this church. Strip it of anything valuable and return here, If anyone resists you there, kill them all and burn the building to the ground. By Iovi Optimo Maximo, if those so-called priests aren’t going to act like priests they certainly won’t be treated as such.”

“Rabbi Isaac, my clerks have noted down the details of your story. I will have them conveyed to the Emperor immediately. For now, is there anything you need?”

“No, Lord. I wish only to return to my village”

“Then, I will have you safely escorted there. If there’s anything you need, please don’t hesitate to come to me personally.”

“Yes, Lord. Again, I wish to express my thanks for your kindness.” Isaac and Rebecca depart the Principia, and return to their village under escort. Once the detail has departed, Isaac’s family and several dozen villagers gather to hear his account of what happened.

Complications
Date: September I MDCXXX AUC / September 1st, 877 AD
Location: Rome, the Papal Palace

Pope John VIII opened his eyes. The midday sun was peeping through his blinds. That hadn't woken him, though.

A fly on his nose. He swatted it away. That hadn't woken him, either.

Footsteps on marble. He could hear them coming down the hallway. That had woken him.

Turning in his silk sheets, he sat up. What could be the problem? Surely, Charles hadn't been too threatened in the Alps? He hurriedly collected himself, grabbing his casual robe from the chair he'd thrown it onto the night before and slipping into it. A Pope must look dignified, after all.

The messenger boy reached John VIII's door just as he had gotten to the other side of his bed. Una casualità divina, he thought to himself.

Later, however, he wished he'd still been in bed when he gotten the news.

"Yes, my son, what is it?"

The boy (actually, a young man) shakily bowed. "Il mio padre… there is, ah… disturbing news."

John smiled in a manner he hoped was reassuring. "Yes, I figured as much. What has happened?"

The messenger swallowed. "Padre…" Just then, more footsteps ringing up the corridor. What was going on?

The messenger turned as the owner of the other footsteps leaned bodily through the doorway. Cardinal Marinus, his main advisor, wild-eyed. "You haven't heard, have you?"

John shook his head. He had a feeling he should've sat down, by now; he already felt winded and out of breath. A Pope should stay standing, he felt, so he stood where he was, albeit slouching and hunching over in slow increments.

"What is it?"

"Padre…" The messenger boy looked again to Marinus, who finally let out a puff of breath and seemed to come to a decision.

"Your Holiness, there has been unrest in Tuscany."

The Pope blinked uncomprehendingly. "Unrest?"

"Yes. Bishop Paulinus is dead, as is Odo, brother of the Margrave of Tuscany."

John felt his eyes fairly pop out of his skull. His mouth dropped open, but no words issued. Finally, he managed, "…how?"

"It is a band of infidels who seem unbeatable. They have also captured Adalbert and taken his capital, Lucca."

"Actually, signore…" Here, the messenger boy broke in, recounting from the message before him. "Lucca surrendered of its own will."

"They wished to be taken?" Marinus practically spat out the words in disgusted surprise.

"Yes, signore. The men who took the city, they claim…" Here, the young man paused, as if expecting a slap for his words.

"…yes?" The Pope finally encouraged.

"They claim to be acting for Nova Roma, under the authority of…" He looked again, and attempted to pronounce the name. "Marrrr-koos Aurel-ee-oos."

John blanched. It could not be. He felt the quail he'd had for last night's supper rising up in his throat. But how… but how…?

"Your Holiness?" Marinus sounded concerned. The Pope was bodily trembling. He leaned forward to give support.

John's eyes finally widened. His mouth suddenly opened, as if to speak, only for the Pope to bend at the waist and vomit profusely all over Marinus's shoes.

The messenger leaped back in shock, turning to go, only for a hand to grab him by the collar; a scornful Marinus.

"Get his bucket! He's going to be like this for the rest of the day."

The boy nodded, then ran off. Marinus, putting on a kind face, helped the Pope back to his bed; he received no resistance from the Pontiff, who seemed to be in shock.

"There, there; see? The boy has already gotten your bucket; you'll be set…" Marinus tucked him back under his sheets. He hadn't expected that extreme a reaction, though he expected, by now, some form of quailing and muttered prayers to the Virgin. He'd gotten accustomed to the Pope's infirmities; his weak flesh hid a strong spirit.

Or so he'd been told. Privately, he despised his effeminacy; he wished he had been a Cardinal before the Pope's ascension, so he could've voted against him. Regardless, he still had to serve him, to the best of his abilities, but he was sure the time would come, soon…

And, if not? He'd make it come.

Taking the golden bucket from the returned boy, he tucked it next to John's head. The Pontiff's feeble eyes were staring out the window; at what, Marinus didn't really care. He stepped in front of the window and pulled the curtains, then quietly walked out of the room, near-tiptoeing on the soft carpet.

John didn't pay him attention. The view from the window was still burned into his brain.

In the square outside of the palace stood a statue; a beautiful, though tarnished, one from the Rome of past ages. A horse rearing up, and a man astride the horse. Striking and grand, his hand reaching out, as if to grasp the air he owned.

An imperator, of old. Hair and a beard in curls. Many, even most of the cardinals, assumed this man to be Constantine, that beloved emperor who'd given them this land. But John had studied the old texts, the fragments of busts and marble; John knew better.

The name that had reduced His Holiness to infantile vomiting was the name of the man whose equestrian statue had been built in triumph so long before.

Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus.

The name resounded in his brain, over and over again, like a chant from the basilicas.

Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus.

Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus.

How? Virgin Mother… how?

The Virgin did not answer. Pope John lay awake in bed for the rest of the night, the bearded imperator's face hanging in front of his eyes, silently mocking him.

Homecoming
Date: September II MDCXXX AUC / September 2nd, 877 AD
Location: Legate Germanicus' command tent

"Optio Gaius Octavius Drusus, attend me."

"Yes, Legate?"

"How is your arm?"

"Legate, the medicus says that it will be another 6-8 weeks before I can return to full duty."

"That is good news, Optio. I have an assignment for you. Pick twenty men from the First Cavalry Ala. Tell them that they are to take Adalbert back to Nova Roma. I rather think that the Emperor will want to see him. Tell the troopers that Adalbert is to be guarded at all times by no less than four men."

"Yes, Legate." Optio Gaius salutes and departs the command tent. He makes his way to the cavalry camp and has the commanding centurio choose the necessary men. One hour later, the detail reports back to the command tent, where they collect Adalbert. To prevent his escape, Adalbert is manacled to his saddle. Legate Germanicus is standing by observing the preparations. He calls out to Decurio Lucius Antonius Festus, who is in charge of the detail.

"Decurio, ride hard. I want Adalbert in Nova Roma the day after tomorrow. Once you have given him over to the Emperor's custody, rest, then return here."

"Yes, Legate, I understand. The cavalry detail rides off, and on September IV, they are in Nova Roma. Decurio Lucius immediately seeks out the Emperor. Adalbert is escorted by four cavalry troopers in order to prevent any escape attempts.

"Hail, Caesar."

"Hail, Decurio."

"Caesar, under orders given personally to me, I am delivering Adalbert into your custody."

"Thank you, Decurio." Marcus Aurelius calls for six men from his personal guard to come to his office. Once they arrive, Decurio Lucius and his men are dismissed. The Emperor also sends a messenger for Quintus Valerius Rufus, Princeps Senatus. When the Princeps Senatus arrives, the Emperor orders Adalbert's shackles removed. "My dear Lord Adalbert, it is not fitting that a nobleman of your status be treated so unjustly. Rest assured, all those who have offended your dignity will be punished." Marcus Aurelius is maintaining a straight face as he says this, but inwardly, he is howling with laughter.

Adalbert is momentarily taken aback by his unexpectedly-warm reception, but then begins to rant and rave
.
"I demand I be released, and that your troops leave my city of Lucca and return all of my property to me IMMEDIATELY!! I further require double-compensation for all of the losses I have suffered."

"Adalbert, my friend, the expediency of this situation is such that I can't just release you. There are those of my advisers who have argued that I have you killed. I can't and won't do that either. Instead, I will make a show of force that will assuage them and you. I have this slave girl who has just a little bit of experience with the sword. By this I mean, she knows which end to hold. All you need do to her is kill her in the arena and then you will be rewarded as you deserve."

Adalbert's face splits wide open, displaying what is for him, a feral, almost wolfish grin of anticipation and satisfaction. "Very well, I accept your offer."

"Excellent. My staff will see to you needs and comfort. Until tomorrow."

Adalbert leaves the Emperor's office, muttering under his breath all the supposed barbarities he is going to inflict on the woman in the arena tomorrow.

Plans Within Plans
Date: September IV MDCXXX AUC / September 4th, 877 AD
Location: The Domus Imperialis

Marcus Aurelius has just concluded the meeting with Adalbert, and the effort involved in keeping a straight face and not ordering that he be killed immediately was nothing short of monumental. He asks Princeps Senatus Quintus Valerius his opinion of what has just transpired.

"Caesar, I can definitely say that without the slightest doubt, Adalbert is the most arrogant, condescending bastard I have ever met. His sheer, unmitigated gall is an offense against both gods and men alike. Were it up to me, I'd have him killed in the most horrifically slow and painful way imaginable."

"Quintus, my friend, your anger is most understandible. Here is what I plan to have done." The Emperor and the Princeps Senatus are engaging in a few moments of hushed conversation when the Emperor's private secretary comes over and whispers in his ear "Caesar, the one you sent for is here."

"Ahh, yes, Show her in. See that we are not disturbed for the next hour or so."

"Yes, Caesar." A cloaked and robed woman is shown into the Emperor's private office. The secretary turns and leaves with a knowing smile on his face. He seems to think that this woman is merely a courtesan, brought to the Emperor's office as a diversion. Nothing cold be further from the truth.

"Ahh, Thesea. So good of you to come."

"Hail, Caesar. How can I serve you?"

"Thesea, that bastard Adalbert has offended me grievously with his arrogance and his attitude. This is in addition to all of the barbarities he has already perpetrated. Accordingly, he must die in a public manner, but not in such a way that it can be seen that I simply ordered his murder."

"Yes, Caesar. What do you wish me to do?"

"You will meet him in the arena tomorrow. I wish you to play with him, as a cat plays with a mouse or a leopard with an antelope. Do not let it be seen or thought that you are doing so. Let Adalbert think that he is winning and that after the match, he will be released. At the last moment, humiliate him, crush him like the bodies of those who were crushed and broken when they were thrown from the Tarpeian Rock in former days. I want him to know full well that the agent of his doom is a woman."

Thesea's face is crossed by a smile that is both gleeful and malignant. "Yes, Caesar. It shall be as you say."

The Emperor now says "I have been following the progress you have made in your studies, Thesea. The instructors I have engaged to teach you have told me your progress is nothing less than spectacular. Barely two months ago, you could neither read or write. Now you are doing both, and have even made excellent progress on speaking, reading and writing in Greek. You have also kept up on your weapons practice. In fact, I am no longer able to find anyone who has anything to teach you. Hear now the private edict I make to you."

"Thesea Domina Grecia, by virtue of my position, there are situations where I can't be seen to act directly, places I can't go and things I simply can't do. You are now the ‘Hand of the Emperor'. In this capacity, you will act behind the scenes in my name and with my authority."

Thesea beams with pride at the trust and confidence that the Emperor has show in her. "Yes, Caesar. You can rely on me." Thesea departs the emperor's office in order to make preparations for her match tomorrow. As soon as she is gone, The Emperor turns to Princeps Senatus Quintus Valerius Rufus and says "Will that be sufficient?"

Princeps Senatus Quintus turns to the emperor with a huge grin and says "Caesar, your subtlety is magnificent. I look forward to seeing the expression on Adalbert's face when he finds out what is really going on.

Judgment Day
Date: September V MDCXXX AUC / September 5th, 877 AD
Location: The public arena

Thesea Domina Greccia, Former Gladiatrix and now freedwoman and citizen was returning to the ring for a special exhibition match at the behest of the emperor. Nova Roma was abuzz with anticipation at the thought of her returning to the ring for this match BECAUSE she was now free and would be in the arena by her own choice.

Her opponent was the former barbarian noble who called himself ‘Adalbert.'

Every seat was filled and the noise of the crowd threatened to bring down the walls of the arena. Thesea stood in her alcove and worked to get herself into character as the Emperor requested. She told herself, ‘you are weak, you are afraid, you are in the ring with a big scary man, make it look real at least until the time comes to kill this idiot.'

Thesea looked out across the arena at her future victim and he truly was not very much to see. He was equipped as a Provocator (challenger), with a full-face helmet, shield, greaves, armored sword-arm and armored upper torso. Thesea donned her Mirmillo helmet and then proceeded out at a slow, halting timid pace. She hefting her gladius awkwardly as if she had never held a blade before in her life.

Adalbert saw that his opponent was a woman, bare breasted and obviously terrified. He relaxed considerably, thinking to himself ‘SHE was supposed to fight HIM? These Romish barbarian savages were obviously stupid, as well as being hell-bound demons, thinking that a frightened woman-child could face a warrior noble of Adabert's ‘caliber'. She stepped hesitatingly toward him doing her best to stay out of range of the sword the savages had made the mistake of giving him. He swung at her and she stumbled out of the way of the blow, but only just. It seemed to Adalbert that his opponent was so unused to wearing armor that she almost fell over.

He came at her swinging and slashing and as he hit the silver-banded armor on her right arm, she yelped out loud and seemed almost to cry, "Please don't hurt me."

She seemed comely enough and so he told her, "If you surrender and let me take you, I'll let you live, little girl."

Adalbert slashed once again and the girl blocked it with her sword, but his blade slid along her blade and the flat bruised the back of her hand.

Thesea was having to work hard at keeping her opponent alive. Adalbert's blade work was a sick joke and he hacked and slashed the air as if it were his enemy, not the woman before him Often, she had to deliberately interpose herself in his way just to be sure he hit something, anything.

The crowd was mystified. This shrinking, crying thing in Mirmillo armor could not be Thesea, she seemed barely even to hold her own against Adalbert the savage, that was when she got far enough away from the savage to remove her helmet. It was Thesea, but what had happened to her?

As Adalbert lunged for her, she tripped and fell, causing him to overreach and move beyond her. When she stood back up she looked at the crowd and winked.

Thesea Domina Greccia WINKED!

She was playing with this fool, making him dance like a puppet on a string as she clowned and danced for the crowd. She smiled and beckoned the crowd behind his back to bring them in on her fine jest. They booed and hissed her performance as if her dismay and incompetence were genuine.

She stepped and moved toward him and he would have missed her if she had not deliberately moved her unprotected shoulder in the way of his haphazard slash. He crowed as he drew first blood and shouted at her "Now, get on your knees, wench. Crawl to me like the dog you are and beg for your life."

Thesea looked at the Emperor in the Imperial box, pleading not for her life but for permission to kill this grinning gloating idiot.

Emperor Marcus Aurelius nodded. The show had gone on long enough.

Thesea's manner changed and she drew a bead on the most prominent target before her, Adalbert's engorged manhood. This culus was actually hard and anticipating taking her, right here in the ring. She would fix that, and him.

Suddenly her entire manner changed and as far as Adalbert could tell, it was almost a physical metamorphosis as the bleeding terrified girl disappeared and was replaced by a sure-footed, quick-handed professional killer.

Thesea Domina Greccia slashed out and down taking Adalbert's manhood from him. He screamed in pain and hit his knees as she impaled his shoulder between the arm and torso armor. She venomously hissed "You fat, foolish, overstuffed sack of merda bibulum*, did you really think it would be this easy?"

"I don't, I don't understand,…."

Thesea stood over him and told him, "I am Thesea Domina Greccia, the finest Gladiatrix in all of Nova Roma! I am not your opponent, I am your executioner! The moment you stepped into this arena, you were a dead man, and now, I shall carry out the will of his Imperial Majesty, Marcus
Aurelius, Emperor of Nova Roma!

Thesea stabbed Adalbert three times in rabid succession; once in the belly, once again in his groin and the third time through the heart exactly where she knew the space in his ribs would allow her blade easy passage.

Adalbert died with a look of humiliated shock on his face. Thesea stood and preened to the crowd, spreading her arms and shouting for them,

"ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"

The crowd cheered, blossoms and bags of coin were thrown into the arena as she shouted again,

"ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"

Adalbert fell forward on his face into the sand. The last thought in his mind before darkness took
him was "A woman,…a woman,.. how? A woman??"

A Message of Importance
Date: September VI MDCXXX AUC / September 6th, 877 AD
Location: Rabbi Isaac Ben David's village

Rabbi Isaac has just sat down to have a mid-day meal with his daughter Rebecca and the rest of his family when there is a knock at the door. He goes over to open the door and see who it is. There is a trooper from the First Cavalry Ala there. The trooper speaks as soon as the door is opened. "Rabbi Isaac?"

"Yes?

"I have been commanded by the Emperor to place this message directly into your hands." The trooper hands over a small ivory scroll tube with silver end caps. Once this is done, he salutes and departs. Rabbi Isaac opens the tube and begins to read. The message thereon is direct and to the point.

‘To the esteemed Rabbi Isaac Ben David, greetings. I am well-pleased to inform you that Adalbert will trouble neither you or anyone else any more. He has received his just deserts. There is also a matter I wish to discuss with you, a matter of the highest importance. Please come to the Domus Imperialis at your earliest possible convenience. Please bring such of your fellows as you deem appropriate, as this issue concerns them also. Send word when you are available to meet with me.

M. Aurelius
Imp Caes.

Rabbi Isaac rolls the scroll up and returns it to its tube. Seeing the look of speculation on her father's face, Rebecca asks what is going on

"Daughter, I have received a message from the Emperor. He tells me that Adalbert has been punished for his crimes. He also wishes to mete with me to discuss a matter that he says if of the highest importance. I confess to much curiosity about this."

"What will you do, Father?"

"I am going to meet with the Emperor tomorrow." Rabbi Isaac calls over Eleazar Ben Isaac, his oldest son.

"Yes, Father?"

"I have a task for you. Take the swiftest horse in the village and ride to Nova Roma. Tell them that you have a message for the Emperor. Say also that you act in my name. Tell the Emperor that I and the headmen of this village will meet with him tomorrow."

"Yes, Father." Eleazar borrows the swiftest horse in the village and rides off. Four hours later, he
is in Nova Roma delivering Rabbi Isaac's message.

A New Beginning
Date: September VII MDCXXX AUC / September 7th, 877 AD

The dawn breaks partly-cloudy as Rabbi Isaac Ben David, his oldest son Eleazar and their party board a pair of covered wagons for the trip to Nova Roma. For the first time in many years, there are no feelings of alarm or apprehension as they go forth. The long arm of Roman Law is upon
the land, and no one would dare lay a hand on them. Eight hours later, the party is in Nova Roma.
They are conducted to the Domus Imperialis, where the Emperor is waiting for them in his private office.

"Hail, Rabbi Isaac. I trust you had a pleasant journey."

"Hail, Caesar. The journey was swift and without incident. When I read your message yesterday, I must confess that I was seized with intense curiosity over its meaning and purpose."

"Indeed, Rabbi. Let us be seated so that we can discuss the matter."

The Emperor takes his seat at the head of the table, followed quickly by Rabbi Isaac, Isaac's son Eleazar and the rest of their group.

"Rabbi Isaac, more than eight hundred years ago in the province of Palestine, your people and mine fought a war. I have searched the records of that time, and I judge that the proximal cause of the conflict to be the unjust and intemperate actions of one Gessus Florus, who was governor of Palestine at that time. Had Gessus Florus not acted as he did, your people and mine would not have come to blows, and your temple would not have been destroyed."

When your Temple was looted, certain objects were carried back to Rome as trophies, and these were displayed in the Temple of the Ara Pacis for the next 90 years until the time of the second Jewish revolt. At that time, Emperor Hadrian decided that for reasons of public order and security, the items were to be removed from public view and stored in an secret underground vault near the column in the Forum of Trajan. Knowledge of the vault was passed to Emperor Antoninus Pius and from him to me. For reasons of my own, I didn't share the knowledge with my son Commodus. When we were thrust forward by the will of Jupiter to this time and place, I believed that the vault might still be where it was originally. I had the entrance dug up, and lo and behold, the vault was there."

"Yes, Caesar. The story about the destruction of the Second Temple is taught to every Jewish child almost from the day of their birth."

"Indeed. While I cannot undo what was said and done in former days. There is something that can be done to mend the breach between out two peoples, Follow me."

Marcus Aurelius, Rabbi Isaac and the rest of the group leave the Emperor's office and walk down the hallway to a certain alcove. The alcove is screened off by a fringed curtain, which Marcus Aurelius dramatically throws aside. The alcove is well-lit, with both torches and oil lamps. There are several objects arranged on tables therein, and it is the sight of these that strikes Rabbi Isaac, Eleazar and the rest of their group dumb with amazement. The first item is the Great Torah, which along with the other items was looted from the Second Temple before it was destroyed in MCCCXXIII AUC by troops under the command of Vespasian. The Torah is in a large rack on one of the nearer tables. It is wrapped in purple cloth, fringed with gold. The cloth covering is embroidered with abstract geometrical designs picked out in silver thread. The Torah's ‘Tree of Life' is made of elaborately-worked and brilliantly-polished silver. The silver gleams brightly as it catches the light from the torches and oil lamps. On the table next to the rack that holds the Torah, there is a cloth bundle holding a number of page pointers, or Yadim. These items are of worked silver and the bundle is tied with golden cords. Next, there is an ornate table of acacia wood, thickly-covered with hammered gold. By the table's feet, there are four gold rings; two on each side. Through each pair of rings, there is passed a wooden rod. This rod is covered in gold, and is of identical workmanship to the table. Rabbi Isaac's eyes go wide as he realizes that this is the Table of Showbreads.

On a table next to the Table of Showbreads, there are lying two long trumpets of polished silver. Though plainly finished, these trumpets are of the finest workmanship. The bell of each trumpet has an inscription to the effect that these were made by Moses by direct command from G-d. All that has been seen in ths alcove so far pales beside what is seen last. In the back of the room, on a table by itself, rests the great golden Menorah. It is nearly the height of a man, with a central shaft and six arms that project from it. The heads of the central shaft and of the six arms are all at the same level, about shoulder-height if the menorah were standing on the floor. The magnificence of this piece would be evident, even to a blind man. The alcove is well-lit by torches and oil lamps, but for some reason, the Menorah outshines the rest of the alcove put together. It is as if the menorah is illuminated from within.

The faces of Rabbi Isaac Ben David, his son Eleazar and the rest of their group convey reverence and amazement at what they behold. They are the first Jews to see and touch these relics in more than eight hundred years. Rabbi Isaac is the first to speak when he breaks out in a prayer of acknowledgment and gratitude "Blessed are you, O L-rd our G-d who restores grace to his people
Israel." This prayer is echoed and repeated several times by Eleazar and the other men from Isaac's village.

As the others pray, Rabbi Isaac turns to Marcus Aurelius and says "Caesar, you can't possibly imagine what it means to my people to have these relics back."

"I understand, Isaac. Do you wish to take them back with you now, or do you want to wait until you have some secure means of storage?"

"I beg your pardon, Caesar. But the people of Israel have been denied these relics for far too long.
We'll take them with us now."

"Very well, Rabbi Isaac. I wish you and your people good fortune."

And there was much Rejoicing
September VII MDCXXX AUC / September 7th, 877 AD
Location: The Domus Imperialis

It is mid-afternoon, and Rabbi Isaac’s party has just completed the task of loading their holy relics into one of their two covered wagons. Emperor Marcus Aurelius has come to see them off. Rabbi Isaac raises his hand in salutation to the Emperor and says “Caesar, my people and I will never forget what you have done for us. There is going to be a feast of rejoicing in my village, and I would esteem it an honor if you were to attend.”

“Rabbi Isaac, the situation with regards to your people’s relics was an injustice that was within my power to address, and it was my pleasure to do so. Tell your people that I will be delighted to attend. When will the feast be held?”

“Caesar, it will be held three days from now. I will tell the chief men of my village that you will be coming. Again, thank you for your kindness.” With this, Rabbi Isaac climbs into the second wagon. He salutes the Emperor and the two wagons are driven off. Eight hours later, the party pulls into the central village square of Machase. The population of almost the entire village is on hand to greet them. Some are there out of mere curiosity, and still others out of fear that their Rabbi would not return. Almost before the wagons stop moving, Rabbi Isaac calls out in a loud, clear voice “My Friends, come and see, COME and see!! That which I never thought possible has been done. The relics taken from the Second Temple have been returned to us.” No sooner do Rabbi Isaac’s words ring out, than an excited babble of voices begins to build. Some of the people assembled are doubtful, saying “He can’t be serious.” Others say “He must be joking”, and still others refuse to believe.

“Good people. I see that some of you can’t believe what I am saying. Nevertheless, I am speaking the truth. For proof, will you believe your own eyes??” Rabbi Isaac thrusts aside the cloth covering the back of the wagon holding the relics. The glory contained therein shines forth like a beacon. The assembled crowd is struck nearly dumb in amazement, their hearts leaping for joy that the holy relics, so long denied to them, have been returned. Rabbi Isaac climbs atop the wagon, so that all can see him. He raises both hands in the air and thunders forth like a prophet of old, saying “HEAR, O ISRAEL. The L-RD OUR G-D, THE L-RD IS ONE. LET THE WORD BE SHOUTED FORTH FROM EVERY MOUNTAINTOP TO ALL THE LANDS OF THE WORLD. THE RELICS HAVE BEEN RETURNED TO US.”

Rabbi Isaac climbs down from the wagon and goes over to his family. He says “Wife, daughters, sons. To honor the return of the relics, there will be a feats of rejoicing three days from now. I have invited the leader of the Nova Romans, the one who gave us back the relics here to share it with us. It is the least we can do to show our gratitude.” Rabbi Isaac next calls to his oldest son, Eleazar.

“Yes, Father?”

“My son, the holy relics must be protected until such time as we can build a proper synagogue to house them. In days of old, a tent was sufficient shelter for the Ark of the Covenant, so that is what we will do here. Find the largest tent in the village and set it up here in the square. See that the tent has a partition to divide it in two. Place the relics in the rear of the tent and see that it is guarded day and night.”

“Yes, father.” Eleazar hastens to do his father’s bidding. The tent is found and set up, and almost before he knows it, nearly half of Machase’s male population is on hand to volunteer their services as guards. Eleazar chooses one hundred and twenty. The ones chosen arm themselves with whatever is available. The arms range from simple clubs to axes and spears. There are even a few swords in evidence. No armor is to be had but caps of boiled and hardened leather, along with a few round wooden shields with bosses of hammered iron. Eleazar arranges the guards into shifts of forty men each.

Mending Fences
September X MDCXXX AUC / September 10th, 877 AD

For the past three days, the people of the Village of Machase have been working almost non-stop to prepare for the Feast of Rejoicing. Now, all is in readiness. Trestle tables have bene set up in every possible location, and these are almost groaning with the effort of holding up all the food that has been prepared. About the noon hour, Rabbi Isaac’s son Eleazar runs to his father and says “Father, I see a party of men approaching on horseback. It is the Emperor.”

“Thank you, my son. Go and tell the others that our guests are about to arrive.”

“Yes, Father.”

Just a quarter hour later, Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Nova Roma walks ino Machase. He is in his finest parade regalia, and he is attended by his staff and his personal guard of 160 men. Rabbi Isaac is also dressed in his finest. He is on hand to greet the Emperor. “Hail, Caesar. Welcome to our humble village.”

“Hail, Rabbi Isaac. I am glad to be able to come.” Rabbi Isaac and Marcus Aurelius then clasp each others forearms in the Roman manner by way of greetings. Now that the formalities have bene accomplished, the people of Machase sit down at their table with the Nova Romans, something that hasn’t been done in peace in nearly one thousand years. Rabbi Isaac and the Emperor are sitting at the same table together and are making conversation, when Marcus Aurelius asks “Rabbi Isaac, I saw a large tent in the village square as we were walking from where we had tied our horses. What is the meaning of it?”

“Caesar, that is where the holy relics are being kept until my people can build a proper synagogue. I fear this will take quite some time, as we are not wealthy.”

“Rabbi Isaac, when I accepted your invitation, I was unsure of the welcome I would receive from your people. I see that my men and your people are together enjoying this great feast you have set out. We are being treated as honored guests, and for that I thank you. In regards to your synagogue, I believe that I can be of assistance to you there.” With this, the Emperor takes out a small scroll and hands it to Rabbi Isaac. “Rabbi, this document authorizes you to draw from my personal treasury an amount of gold and silver bullion equal to the value of one million denarii. I believe that this will sufficiently fund your building project.”

Rabbi Isaac put the scroll on the table in front of him, and was just raising his cup to his lips when the full import of the Emperor’s words takes hold of him. He is awestruck, the slack-jawed expression on his face giving some indication of the emotions that now rise in his mind.

“Caesar, I truly don’t know how to again express my gratitude. Returning the holy relics was one thing, but this is something else entirely...” Rabbi Isaac’s further words are nearly choked off as his emotions nearly overwhelm him.

“Good Rabbi, you need say no more. It is past time that the breach between our two peoples was mended. This is but a further indication of my good will.”

Rabbi Isaac pulls his chair back from the table so that he can stand upon it. He then holds forth his arms for quiet and announces the Emperor’s gift to the people of Machase. There is a brief moment of silence, and then the quiet is rent by spontaneous shouts and cheers of gratitude. Those with cups in their hands raise them in salute to Marcus Aurelius, who in turn raises his cup back to them. The rest of the feast passes uneventfully. There is much good fellowship in evidence. Towards the evening, the bellies of all and sundry are full, and Marcus Aurelius realizes that is it time to leave. By the time he has made it through the crowd of well-wishers, it is near to darkness and so it is too late to leave.

“Rabbi Isaac?”


“Yes, Caesar?”

“It is too late for us to leave. We will camp on the outskirts of your village and depart in the morning.”

“Of course, Caesar. We’ll be glad to have you.”

Marcus Aurelius waves farewell and walks out of the village, accompanied by his staff and his personal guard. Once back to where the horses are hobbled, tents are pitched and the horses are fed and watered.

Returning to Nova Roma
September XI MDCXXX AUC / September 11th, 877 AD

As soon as dawn breaks, the Emperor’s small camp is struck with typical Roman precision. Within the hour, Marcus Aurelius, his staff and their military escort are on the road back to Nova Roma. After a moderately-paced journey of two days (during which the Emperor and his staff take care to observe the countryside), the column arrives back home. On hand to greet them is Quintus Valerius Rufus, Princeps Senatus and his staff.

“Hail, Caesar. How was your journey?”

“Hail, Princeps Senatus. Our journey passed without incident. I must admit to being a little concerned about the reception we would receive from Rabbi Isaac Ben David’s people because of our shared history. My concerns were unfounded, as I was treated like an honored guest.”

“What of the relics you returned to them?”

“Princeps Senatus, I tell you in truth that I could not have surprised them more if I had grown wings and turned purple”

Princeps Senatus Quintus chuckles and says “Indeed, Caesar.”

“Friend Quintus, there are urgent matters we must discuss. Adalbert’s former capital of Lucca is now in our hands. It is being run by Legatus Legionis Germanicus, but I have more urgent needs for Legio X Fretensis. I ask you to call the Senate into session so that a Praefectus Urbi for Lucca can be chosen.”

“A wise decision, Caesar. It shall be done immediately”. Princeps Senatus Quintus departs and bids Marcus Aurelius farewell as he hurries to carry out the Emperor’s request. After arriving back at the Domus Publicus, Princeps Senatus Quintus dispatches messengers to all the members of the Senate telling them that the Senate will be in session by request of the Emperor on September XIV.


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 Post subject: Re: Men of Rome
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Chapter VI

Choosing a governor
Date: September XIV MDCXXX AUC / September 14th, 877 AD
Location: The Domus Publicus

At the ninth hour of the morning, Marcus Aurelius arrives in formal state procession to the Senate chamber. The members have already gathered in anticipation of the Emperor's arrival. He takes his customary seat and the senate is gaveled into session. Princeps Senatus Quintus Valerius Rufus rises from his bench in the front row, walks to the podium and begins to speak.

"Conscript Fathers, we are gathered here today by request of the Emperor to appoint a Praefectus Urbi to govern Lucca, the capital city formerly ruled by the now-deceased Adalbert. At present, Lucca is now being run by Legate Legionis Germanicus; the Emperor has informed me that the services of Legio X Fretensis are needed elsewhere. Accordingly, I nominate Senator Gaius Memmius to fill this post". All eyes in the Senate chamber fall upon Senator Gaius, whose face registers shock at being so chosen.

Princeps Senatus Quintus' oratory continues "Gaius Memmius is a good and decent man, both forthright and honest. Confirming him as Praefectus Urbi will be a credit to the honor and dignity of Nova Roma." Princeps Senatus Quintus returns to his seat as the rest of the Senate applauds him. The Clerk of the Senate advances to the podium and calls out "Conscript Fathers. Senator Gaius Memmius has been nominated to fill the post of Praefectus Urbi of Lucca. The floor is now open".

Senator Publius Rutilius Rufus rises from his bench and says in a loud, clear voice "I second the nomination of Senator Gaius Memmius for the post of Praefectus Urbi."

The Clerk of the Senate calls out "The nomination has been seconded, and the Senate will now debate."

Over the next 45 minutes, the membership of the Senate discusses the nomination of Gaius Memmius. Talks among the members are carried out, sometimes face-to-face, and at other times in groups of varying size. At no time is the tone of the discussion harsh, and neither does the volume of the discussion rise above a low murmur. At the appropriate time, Princeps Senatus Quintus rises from his bench.

"Conscript Fathers, we have debated the nomination of Gaius Memmius as Praefectus Urbi for Lucca. I now call for a vote." Princeps Senatus Quintus motions to the Clerk of the Senate at the podium, who calls out:

"Conscript Fathers, the nomination of Gaius Memmius has been made and seconded, and debate is now closed. All of you who are in favor, raise your right hands and say ‘aye'". Every senator rises from his bench, raises their right hands and shouts forth ‘AYE'. Not a single hand is left un-raised. For the sake of procedure, the Clerk of the Senate who now calls out "All opposed?".There is nothing but silence in the chamber. The clerk vacates the podium and Princeps Senatus Quintus steps up to speak.

"Senator Gaius Memmius, stand forth!" Senator Gaius leaves his bench and stands in front of the podium.

"Senator Gaius, you have been chosen as the Prafectus Urbi of Lucca. Hear now the Emperor's charge to you."

Marcus Aurelius comes forward before the podium, his regal bearing reflecting both the dignity and gravity of the moment. "Senator Gaius Memmius, you are charged with the just governance of Lucca. Go there and take up residence. In the course of your administration, you will have the power to lay and collect taxes, to see to the maintenance of the city and its works and to do all other things which are wholesome and necessary for the public good. You are the representative of the Senate and the People of Nova Roma. Therefore, take no unjust actions and make no harsh exactions upon the people. To aid you in the maintenance of public order, I detach two cohorts of Nova Roma's city garrison. They are now yours to command."

Princeps Senatus Quintus is at the podium and says "Caesar, thank you for that address. Conscript Fathers, as there is no further business before us, I declare this session of the Senate of Nova Roma adjourned.

September XVII MDCXXX AUC / September 16th, 877 AD

The time appointed for Gaius Memmius' departure to Lucca is now here. He, the clerks chosen to help him and the two cohorts given to him are ready for the march. The signal is given, and the expedition moves out. The mille between Nova Roma and Lucca pass with regular, measured precision. Allowing for one rest stop each night, Gaius Memmius and his column arrive in Lucca just three days later. Immediately upon arrival, Praefectus Urbi Gaius seeks out Legate Germanicus at the principia and introduces himself.

"Hail, Legate. I am Gaius Memmius, and I have been appointed by the senate as Praefectus Urbi for Lucca. Here are my credentials". Gaius hands over to Legate Germanicus a small scroll containing the senate's appointment. Legate Germanicus opens the scroll and reads it. The scroll is of right and proper form, bearing both the Seal of the Senate and the Seal of the Emperor.

"Hail, Praefectus Urbi Gaius Memmius. I trust your journey was without incident."

"My journey went well, Legate. I have been entrusted by the Emperor to tell you that you and Legio X Fretensis are relieved. You will report back to Nova Roma for further duties."

"Understood, Praefectus. Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus Sempronius Gracchus, attend me."

"Yes, Legate?"

"By order of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, we and Legio X Fretensis are relieved, and are to report back to Nova Roma. Alert the officer of the day and get the word out to our men. We will move out in two days."

"Yes, Legate"

"Praefectus Urbi, let us now retire to what will become your office to discuss the state of affairs here in Lucca. My headquarters optios have laid out a good lunch, and I am sure that you wish to refresh yourself after your journey."

"Very true, Legate. All we ate on the road here were preserved rations, as I didn't want to stop to cook proper meals. Time, you see, was of the essence."

"I quite understand, Prefect. Please follow me." The two men spend the next hour or so discussing the happenings here in Lucca over a meal of bread, cheese, meat and well-watered Falernian wine.

Returning Home
September XVIIII MDCXXX AUC / September 19th, 877 AD

All is in readiness for Legio X Fretensis' march back to Nova Roma. Final checks of the baggage train are made and the ranks of men in their columns are squared off. Legate Germanicus, Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus and the rest of their command staff are mounted on horses at the head of the column, just behind the standard bearers. Legate Germanicus signals the cornicens who in turn, sound forth the command "MOVE OUT". The legionaries pace off the distance, their hobnailed caligae crunching against the gravel on the road. For reasons of security, the two alae of cavalry attached to Legio X Fretensis are detailed to serve as advance guards and flankers. Six hours later, the sun is high in the sky, and Legate Germanicus judges that it is time to stop for the noontime meal. He signals to Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus Sempronius Gracchus, who calls out ‘CONSISTE'1, followed by ‘LAXATE'2 and finally ‘ARMA PONE'3.

The men of Legio X Fretensis are resting in place as their rations are distributed. Their pila, scuta and cassis are near to hand in case of emergency. As the men eat and talk amongst themselves, their officers are constantly moving up and down the ranks, constantly urging the men to drink their fill of water and to make sure that their canteens, flasks and waterskins are all topped off. Two hours later, the meal is finished, and the commands ‘ARMA TOLLE'4, ‘AD SIGNA'5 and ‘MOVE'6 are called out. Legio X Fretensis resumes its march, and a further eight hours of travel sees the first evening halt called. Almost as soon as the men stop moving, they unpack and set up the leather tents for the contubernia. Guard patrols are sent out on the perimeter, watchfires are lit and the evening meal is served out. Those men not on duty retire for the night.
1): Halt, 2) Rest, 3) Ground Arms, 4) Pick Up Arms, 5) Fall In, 6) March

September XX MDCXXX AUC / September 20th, 877 AD

The sun is just beginning to rise above the horizon when Legio X Fretensis' sentries move through the camp waking everyone up. The order to break camp is given, the tents are struck and packed back into the wagons. Inside the space of but one hour, all is in readiness and Legio X Fretensis moves out. In order to save time, no morning meal is eaten. Instead, the men of the legion will eat and drink on the march. Eight hours later, the afternoon halt is called and the men eat their noontime meal while resting in place. The march is resumed and six hours more hours of marching
sees the final night halt called.

September XXI MDCXXX AUC / September 21st, 877 AD

A sense of anticipation is in the air as the men of Legio X Fretensis rise before dawn and break camp in record time. The legion is assembled for the march and moved out. Six hours later, the advance guard sights the walls of Nova Roma and Legate Germanicus is informed. The walls are a welcome sight indeed, and the anticipation grows as the advance guard passes Nova Roma's boundary stone. Legate Germanicus, Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus and the command staff of Legio X Fretensis advance to the boundary and halt temporarily as Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus is detailed to wait and insure that there are no stragglers. Legate Germanicus and the column proceed to the legion's parade ground, where the wagons are parked and the men arrayed into their cohorts. Just thirty minutes later, the rearmost part of the column passes the boundary stone. Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus spurs his horse forward to rejoin Legate Germanicus, who is now at the main gate of the legion's fortress supervising the unloading process.

"Hail, Legate. I wish to report that the last of our men have passed the boundary stone and will be
here shortly."

"Excellent work, tribune. There is someone here who wishes to see you." Legate Germanicus gestures towards a party of senators who have gathered to watch the arrival process. One of them sees Legate Germanicus' gesture and comes over.

"Hail, Legate."

"Hail, Titus Sempronius Gracchus. How fares it with you?"

"Very well, Legate. Has my son proven to be a worthy officer?"

"Senator Titus, Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus Sempronius Gracchus is well-worthy of the family name. He is earnest and hard-working, and I could not have asked for a better officer." Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus fairly beams with pride at being complimented in so public a fashion in front of his father.

"Hail, Father."

"Greetings, my son. How was the march?"

"Long and dusty, father. I must confess to a certain eagerness for a few days at home."

Titus Sempronius Gracchus turns to Legate Germanicus and says "Legate, might you dispense with my son's services for a few days?"

“Indeed. Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus, you are granted four days leave, effective immediately. You will, however, need to be here tomorrow for an awards presentation. There are quite a few men of the Legion who are going to be recognized for their conduct in the campaign against Adalbert. Senator Titus, I would appreciate it if you were here also."

"We shall be here, Legate."

Once Titus Sempronius Gracchus and his son Marcus have departed, Petrus approaches Legate Germanicus and says "Legate, I would like to request four days leave also. I have been with Legio X Fretensis ever since the engagement where your men defeated Hundulph. This is the first time I have seen your city of Nova Roma and I would like to experience what it means to live there. Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus has been good enough to invite me to stay with his family."

"I see, Petrus. You have been of inestimable service to the Legion and I am pleased to grant your
request".

"Many thanks, Legate".

A Reckoning
Date: October II MDCXXX AUC / October 2nd, 877 AD
Location: The Domus Publicus

In his office, Princeps Senatus Quintus Valerius Rufus is attending to the business of the Senate when he hears a knock at the door. Het gets up from his desk and opens the door; there is a robed and cloaked woman standing there.

“Hail, Princeps Senatus Quintus. I received your summons. How can I be of assistance?”

“Ahh, Thesea Domina Greccia. So good of you to come, please be seated. I have been warned that your former master Arbus Arabius is conspiring against the life of the Emperor. I want you to shadow him for the next week. I want to know where he goes, who he sees and what he does. When you have this information, report back to me. It is of the highest importance that you be discreet.”

A wolfish grin crosses Thesea’s countenance as she says “Yes, Princeps Senatus. I understand . Without further word, Thesea departs the Princeps Senatus‘ office to begin her mission.

The Word Made Flesh
Date: October VI MDCXXX AUC / October 6th, 877 AD
Location: Mont Cenis, Holy Roman Empire

That night, the man crowned Emperor in the West breathed his last. Everyone in the camp had been expecting the end for some time, but never so sudden.

The priest shook his head. He knew – or thought he knew – what was coming; that fat bastard would get the crown, and then… he shuddered to think of it.

Tapping his second’s shoulder, he whispered a command, unheard by the others in the tent; the second immediately slipped out. Within minutes, he would be at the boundaries of the camp; in half an hour; he would be riding out on horseback across the lowlands.

The man at the Emperor’s bedside stirred. He was quite still, but had been wracked with sobs not even twenty minutes before. He did not seem to have noticed the second’s exit. The man looked up at the priest and swallowed.

“Father…” He paused for a deep breath. “I should be the one to bear the news.”

“To Rome?”

“No… to my people. They’ll be wondering.”

“In that case,” the priest said, draping a hand across the man’s shoulder, “go, my son. We can tend to the interment and the rites here. You need not worry.” He attempted to smile reassuringly, something he’d practiced for long years but never quite got the hang of.

The young man nodded. He wiped off some of the tears and mud that were matted into his long, handlebar-esque mustache. He was a pale lad, worn too early with years, but his youth still shone through. Naïve as it may be.

The man stood up, then gently brushed some of the hair on the corpse’s head back and kissed its forehead. Then he straightened up, nodded at the priest, and strode unsteadily out.

Upon that exit, the priest’s smile dropped from his face. He grabbed a rag from the side of the tent and draped it over the Emperor’s face. He could not understand how the lad had managed to kiss the corpse without wincing; it was already starting to stink. He sighed; it would be a very busy few days ahead of them, indeed… if they ever managed to move out of this damned pass.

The Word Made Flesh; Part II
Date: October VII-X MDCXXX AUC / October 7th-10th, 877 AD
Location: Holy Roman Empire and northern Italy

On the message goes, over mountain, hill and dale. The youth on horseback is nowhere near the second, but such is the intent; they are heading in opposite directions, the young man to West Francia and the second to Rome.

Each stops briefly at small eating houses along the way; however, it is the second who, one wine-soaked night, lets slip the monumental news he carries from his lips. The proprietor, who knows an opportunity when he sees one, keeps the second pliant while he gives this news to his brother, who runs a small shipping business on the coast.

The brother urges him to keep the news to himself, for fear of losing valued customers along his routes, but a serving boy overhears the frenzied conversation the next night and is forced by a wandering peddler, known from town-to-town, into divulging the news. Satisfied after beating the boy’s bottom black and blue, the peddler continues down the Italian coast, passing the news to sailors he knows.

A Reckoning; Part II
Date: October VIIII MDCXXX AUC / October 9th, 877 AD

One week later, Thesea Domina Greccia returns to the Domus Publicus and is shown to the Princeps Senatus’ office, where she delivers her report. “Princeps Senatus Quintus, as you instructed, I followed Arbus Arabus for the last week. I have noted who he met with, where he went and what he and his friends are doing. Chief among these is one Lucius Gemellus.”

“You will take no action against Lucius Gemellus. It was he that warned me of the conspiracy against the Emperor. What of the others?”

“Princeps Senatus Quintus, here is a scroll detailing all I observed of them.” Thesea now hands over a small scroll filled with neat, organized writing.

Princeps Senatus Quintus takes the scroll and reads it carefully. “What is Arbus’ plan?”

“Princeps Senatus Quintus, he and his associates have used their contacts in the less-reputable parts of the city to hire a number of sicarii. It is his intention to wait until the Emperor next comes to the Domus Publicus. Arbus will greet the Emperor as he arrives and pretend submission to him by shaking his hand. This will be the signal for Arbus’ knifemen to attack.”

“I see. Thesea, in the name of the Emperor, you are directed to take such action as you see fit. Choose whichever of Arbus’ associates you wish and see that something terminally-inconvenient happens to him. Perhaps, he stumbles and falls down the stairs, breaking his neck, or gets drowned in his bathtub, or gets trampled by a horse......”

“I understand, Princeps Senatus. I already have a target in mind; he will die this very night. What of the others?”

“Thesea, they will be persuaded to end themselves. As far as Arbus Arabus is concerned, he has an appointment with an axe. Now, may Fortuna smile upon your endeavors.”

“By your leave, Princeps Senatus.” Thesea takes her leave and goes back to her quarters to make her preparations. That very night, at about the midnight hour, Thesea dons a short, black tunica, and wraps her arms and legs in black cloth to further aid in her concealment. She puts on padded sandals and slips stealthily out into the darkness. One hour later, she arrives at the villa of Gaius Metellus Caprarius. Thesea surveys the villa and sees that no one is up and about. She scales the exterior wall and climbs to the roof of the villa as easily as someone walking across the street. Slowly, carefully, Thesea crosses the roof tiles and heads towards an open window. As nimbly as a cat leaping off a table, she drops down through the window into a second-floor hallway. Once inside, Thesea makes her way to a dark corner opposite the stairs. Once in position, she waits.

Just one hour later, Gaius Metellus Caprarius rouses himself from his bed. He has eaten and drunk far to much this night and is in urgent need of the bathroom. Just as he reaches the stairs, he pauses for a moment to steady himself. At that exact moment, Thesea springs out behind him and says “Marcus Aurelius says hello”. Gaius only has time to say “what.....” before Thesea takes him by the head and wrenches his neck. It snaps as easily as if it were a dry twig. Gaius’ lifeless body drops to the floor immediately, but Thesea catches him in her arms. She drags the body over to the top of the stairs and throws it down. Thesea silently makes her way down the stairs, taking care not to stumble over the body. She makes her way past Gaius’ sleeping servants and just walks out the front door. Thesea then scales the perimeter wall and disappears into the darkness.

Justice is Served
Date: October X MDCXXX AUC / October 10th, 877 AD

Today is just another day in the life of Nova Roma. All over the city, people are rising and beginning their daily activities. Merchants set out their wares, bakers begin to make bread for today, shops begin to open and women begin to go forth for their day’s shopping. Things proceed normally all over the city, except at four particular villas. To the households of Lucius Gavius, Gaius Servilius, Lucius Caecilius and Marcus Glaberus, imperial messengers have delivered to each a small scroll tube. After the messengers depart, the tubed are opened and the scrolls are read. In every case, the messages are identical:

“To whom it may concern:

I know that you have conspired with Arbus Arabius against my life. I will, however offer you the chance to avoid an ignominious trial and public execution. If you open your veins or fall upon your sword before the end of today, nothing further will be done (except the paying by your family of a fine equal to half of your net worth). Should you fail to heed this suggestion, I will confiscate everything your family owns, down to the last sestertius. Your fellow conspirator Gaius Metellus Caprarius has already met with his fate, so do not delay.”

Marcus Aurelius
IMP CAES

As the scrolls were being delivered, two contubernia of the Emperor’s personal bodyguard make their way to the house of Arbus Arabius, where they pound on the door and shout:

“ARBUS ARABIUS, OPEN IN THE NAME OF THE EMPEROR”

When the door is not opened forthwith, it is broken down. One of the guards catches sight of Arbus running towards the stairs leading up to the second floor of his house. The guard detail gives chase and catches up to Arbus just as he enters his private room. Arbus reaches for a dagger in order to cut his own throat, but is unsuccessful. One of the guards sees what he is doing and raises a club. One swift stroke sees the dagger go flying from a nerveless hand, while a second blow knocks Arbus out cold. Shackles are fixed to his wrists and ankles, and Arbus Arabius is taken away to face the justice he so richly deserves.

The Word Made Flesh; Part III
Date: October XI MDCXXX AUC / October 11th, 877 AD
Location: Italian coast

“Dead?”

“Aye; spread the word…”

Bartolo shook his head. “I can’t; there’s been invasions! Strange ghosts! You can’t expect me to get that news to the—”

It’s too late; the peddler is gone. Bartolo sighs. “Of all the damned…”

Justice is Served; Part II
Date: October XII MDCXXX AUC / October 12th, 877 AD

The great piazza of the Forum of Trajan is filled to capacity today. As many people are here to witness the punishment of Arbus Arabius as possible. Among the more notable in attendance are the entire membership of the Senate and the priestly staff of the Temple of Iovi Optimo Maximo. A temporary dais has been erected, upon which is seated the Emperor in the imperial state chair. Marcus Aurelius is clad in his full imperial regalia, as befits the importance of this day. In front of the dais, there has been erected a low, wooden platform. Arbus Arabius stands on that platform, attended by two guards and a man wearing a dark tunica and a mask of Pluto. On the platform, there is also a knee-high wooden block. Against the block leans a large axe with a gleaming steel blade. This isn’t just any ordinary axe; it is the one from the fasces, the symbol of Roman state power.

Those present are talking excitedly amongst themselves as the Emperor rises from his chair. He motions for silence and begins to speak.

“Arbus Arabius, you are here in front of the people to account for your crimes. Do you have anything to say before your sentence is pronounced?”

Arbus is so shaken by what has happened to him that he can only shake his head.

“Since you have nothing to say, I now pronounce your sentence. By conspiring against my life, you have endangered the safety and security of Nova Roma and the people. By my authority as Emperor of Nova Roma, you are sentenced to die by the axe. Hades waits to receive your shade.”

Marcus Aurelius raises his hand yet again, and Arbus’ two guards take him by the arms and force him to a kneeling position in front of the block. His arms are pinioned behind his back. Arbus’ head and neck are forced down upon the block as the masked headsman takes up the great axe. The headsman raises the axe up on high, and awaits a signal from the Emperor. Marcus Aurelius gestures with his right hand, and the axes falls swiftly. The gleaming steel blade cuts through Arbus’ neck and sinks into the block with a loud ‘THUNK’. His head falls to the platform. As soon as Arbus’ head has stopped rolling, the headsman picks it up by the hair, raises it to the witnesses and says in a loud, clear voice “SO PERISH ALL TRAITORS”.

The Word Made Flesh; Part IV
Date: October XII-XVII MDCXXX AUC / October 12th-17th, 877 AD
Location: Mediterranean

The messenger ship is halfway through its route; it covers the seas at an alarming rate of speed, crewed by men seemingly spurred on by the Devil. Working at a frenzied pace, they get their job done, landing at just inside their targeted time.

On the docks, Bartolo approaches one of a line of messengers. “Here, take this to Lambert.”

The messenger blinks. “Of Spoleto?”

“Yes, the same! What, are you stupid? The word’s spreading!” Waving his hands, Bartolo walks back to his ship; the messenger now holds a hefty bit of payment and a sealed parcel. He looks up at Bartolo, now stalking the deck of his ship at the dock and haranguing men, and decides to question the matter no further. He turns around and speeds off.

The Word Made Flesh; Part V
Date: October XVIII MDCXXX AUC / October 18th, 877 AD
Location: West Francia

It has spread. As the youth gallops up to the castle gates, he speeds by the townsfolk; he says nothing as he passes by, but his mere presence confirms their suspicions. They shake their heads and cluck their tongues, turning back to the drudgeries of their own lives.

In the castle, that central hub of the town, Queen Richilde (wife of Charles The Bald) waits for news.

The young man dismounts in front of the main gate and reports to the castle guard.

In her heart, however, Queen Richilde already knows the truth.

The youth runs up the stairs towards the Queen’s chamber. He knocks on the door, and pauses for a brief moment.

With a great, saddened sigh, Queen Richilde replies. “Enter.”

He does.

Queen Richilde looks up and says “Yes, Martin?”

“My Queen… Lady Richilde… your husband.”

“No!” A tightly-clenched goblet falls from Queen Richilde’s fingers and clatters to the floor.

“I am afraid so, my Queen.” The youth bends sorrowfully on his knee. “He died but twelve days past.”

Queen Richilde says nothing for what seems a long moment. Then, she stands up and walks past the youth.

“Martin…” she starts. “I… thank you. You are dissmissed.”

Martin, still seemingly shaken, nods and begins to walk out.

“Hold.”

He stops and turns.

“Send a message to… to the King of East Francia. Tell him I wish to see him within a week’s time.”

“Yes, my Queen.”

The Word Made Flesh; Part VI
Date: October XVIIII MDCXXX AUC / October 19th, 877 AD
Location: Rome

A shrill scream comes from the papal palace and pierces the skies of Rome. It echoes again and again. Someone has to deal with it.

“Your Holiness?” Stephen runs into the room. “Your Holiness, I—” He stares. The Pope is sobbing into his pillow, while cardinal Marinus stands over him, looking absolutely disgusted.

Stephen stands in the doorway, slowly trying to back out without being seen, but Cardinal Marinus sees him and snaps his fingers. “Help me! Now!”

Stephen sighs and runs into the room, and together the two men gently (for two men, at least) turn the Pope over in his bed and tuck him back in. Il Papa offers not a word of protest; his eyes are puffed red and he moans quietly from time to time.

“What happened?” Stephen finally asks once they are out of the room.

“I finally broke the news to him.”

“Of Charles’ death?”

“Yes. You can see how he took it.” Marinus sighs and turns to face the wall. “He feels guilty, as well he should. It is his fault that the Emperor got bogged down in the Alps to begin with.”

“Have you told him any more about the forces encroaching?”

“No. I’ve told him nothing since then. And that damned statue’s still keeping him up at night. What Constantine the Great has to do with those barbarians, I’ve no idea…”

He looks up. “Sooner or later… he’s far too weak. Someone has to protect the Church. We can’t have wholesale slaughter and Jews eating babies.”

“Who said anything about....”

“Keep it down! I’ve heard rumors. That messenger boy told me they’ve gathered relics. Probably some demonic scheme, but you know how the people react. I’ve sent soldiers to quell the hillsides.”

The silence lingers for a moment... then, a retching noise is heard from the Pope’s room. Marinus scowls. “Tell Philip to get the bucket,” he mutters, and walks past Stephen to a waiting Papal Guard.

Technological Development; Part III
Date: November IV MDCXXX AUC / November 4th, 877 AD
Location: The Principia

Having just returned to his office, Legate Germanicus now ponders a copy of the report sent from Chief Librarian Quintus Fulvius Flaccus to the Emperor concerning the experiments that had been made with the Powder of Mars. Of particular interest was the last section, which concerned the making of an entirely new weapon according to the instructions in the Scroll of War. After due consideration, Legate Germanicus sends a messenger for Marcus Livius Drusus, Legio X Fretensis’ Praefectus Fabrum. The Prefect of the Works arrives a short time later, salutes Legate Germanicus and says:

“Hail, Legate. You sent for me?”

“Yes, Prefect Marcus. I want you to read this report from Quintus Fulvius Flaccus concerning the experiments he made using the Powder of Mars. Pay particular attention to the last section and advise me of its practicability.”

“By your command, Legate.” Prefect Marcus takes the document from Legate Germanicus and sits down in a nearby chair. He begins to read, and as each new revelation enters his mind, a fresh grin crosses his face. Just 45 minutes later, Prefect Marcus puts the document down and turns to Legate Germanicus.

“Well, Prefect. What is your professional opinion of that weapon?”

“Legate, in truth, I have never heard of or seen anything even remotely like it. Those catapaults which you employed to fire clay pots filled with the Powder of Mars at Adalbert’s troops were fearsome enough. The weapon described by Librarian Quintus is far more powerful. I recommend that a large-scale version be made for further testing.”

“Prefect, that is precisely how I thought you would react. You will take personal charge of the project; you can also draw as much in the way of personnel and supplies you need from Legio X Fretensis’ storehouses. To begin with, I will turn over to you all of the bronze taken during the campaign against Adalbert. I will also give you those bells taken from that so-called temple. I urge that you refine the bronze as much as you are able to, and to proceed from there as you think best. You will keep me apprised of your progress, of course.”

“Yes, Legate, I understand. So that no new Powder of Mars has to be made, I ask that some of the special catapault ammunition be turned over to me so that I can empty it of the powder and store the powder for further use.”

“Approved, Prefect. See the Prafectus Castrum and tell him you have my order that he turn over to you as much of that special ammunition as you need. Do you have any further requests?”

“No, Legate. I will begin work on this project tomorrow morning.”

Date: November V MDCXXX AUC / November 5th, 877 AD
Location; The Fabrica of Legio X Fretensis

Prefect Marcus Livius Drusus arrives at sunrise to begin the work he has been assigned to. His first task is to break down those church bells and cast them into manageable ingots. To do this, a large trip hammer is employed to smash the bells into pieces. These pieces are fed into a furnace which melts them. Half an hour later, the molten bronze is ready to be cast. It is poured into clay molds, each of which has a cavity of sufficient size to take one talent’s weight of liquid metal. In short order, the molds are all filled and set aside to cool. While this is happening, Prefect Marcus closely examines the prototype weapon made by Chief Librarian Quintus Fulvius Flaccus. The bore is approximately the diameter of a sestertius, not nearly enough to be useful at battlefield ranges. Prefect Marcus retires to his office in order to do some design work. His preliminary sketches show a weapon with a heavy wooden carriage and two iron-shod wheels. Resting between the two sides of the carriage is a heavy bronze tube with two short axles at the mid-point. This tube is five-and-a- half pedes in length and will weigh 1,600 librae. The inner diameter of the tube will be four-and-three-quarter unciae. To provide more precise control of elevation, there will be a four-handled bronze wheel at the rear end of the tube (instead of a sliding wedge as on the prototype). This wheel will be attached to a threaded bronze rod, similar to the one employed in a speculum*.

With a working design in hand, Prefect Marcus turns his hand towards the making of a suitable mold. For this purpose, wagon-loads of sand from the nearby river are brought in, along with quantities of dry, powdered clay. The sand is washed and dried, then mixed with the clay to form a consistent whole. Next, two halves of a wooden form are set up next to the furnace. A wooden pattern which precisely matches the dimensions of the bronze tube is placed in one half of the form and the sand-clay mix is carefully and tightly packed around it. Then, the second half of the form is placed over the first and more sand-clay mix is packed into it. Once the mix is set, the two halves of the form are carefully taken apart and the wooden pattern is removed. The two halves of the form are pressed back together to make a hollow cavity. When all is in readiness, the furnace is refueled. To begin the melting process, ingots of bronze are fed into the crucible and the furnace is stoked. Over the next hour, a total of 1,800 librae of bronze are liquified. The pool of molten bronze in the furnace’s crucible is stirred repeatedly to remove any impurities, Then, the crucible is removed from the furnace by using a large overhead crane and raised over the mold. Prefect Marcus watches as his assistants carefully maneuver the crucible and tilt it so that the liquid bronze flows into the mold. Recognizing that air bubbles will weaken the strength of the casting, Prefect Marcus orders his men to take special care that the bronze flows evenly. When the mold is filled, the remaining bronze is poured into several ingot molds, and the main form is wheeled away to cool. Three hours late, Prefect Marcus judges that the bronze has cooled enough so that the mold can be opened, His men undo the side of the wooden form, then break open the hardened sand/clay mix with hammers. The rough casting is freed from the matrix, further cooled so that it can be handled safely and taken away for drilling.

The bronze casting, (still warm from the mold) is fixed into the center of a large wooden wheel. Directly opposite to the wheel is a fixed spindle with an iron cutting head. The wheel is moved so that the end of the casting is pressed against the cutting head. Prefect Marcus’ men turn the wheel by climbing into a round cage attached to it. All the while, the wheel is advanced so that the casting is kept pressed against the cutting head. Five hours later, the boring is done. The casting is removed from the wheel and brought to another area of the fabrica for finishing. The bronze chips from the boring process are kept for future re-melting. When the casting is set atop a heavy workbench and secured, Prefect Marcus’ assistants begin to polish the exterior surface of the casting by using wet cloth and sand. Iron chisels are employed to remove any large imperfections. The polishing continues until the surface of the tube is as smooth as glass. Next to be finished are the two small axles at the midpoint of the tube. These are given careful attention, as the whole weight of the tube will rest upon them. Finally, the bore of the tube is polished and given the same smooth finish as the external surface. The bore of the tube is checked three times to insure that not the slightest imperfection remains. The very last thing to be done is to drill a tiny hole through the top of the tube near the closed end. It is through this hole that fire will touch the main charge of the Powder of Mars. As it is now midnight, work on the carriage will be done tomorrow.


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Chapter VII

Technological Development; Part IV
Date: November VI MDCXXX AUC / November 6th, 877 AD

The completed tube rests on a work table, ready to be placed in its carriage. Prefect Marcus puts the fabrica’s carpenters and wheelwrights to work as soon as there is enough light to see. The wheelwrights start out by sawing rough blocks of wood to the approximate shape of segments of a wheel. These pieces are given final form by much use of chisels and sanding. Next to be made are the spokes of the wheels. Each wheel will have fourteen spokes, These are made by the simple expedient of cutting wooden timbers to the necessary length, then turning them down to the proper diameter. The final components of the wheels are the hubs. These are made from pieces of thick logs cut to size and trimmed to shape. With the components of the two wheels ready for assembly, attention now turns to the carriage itself. In shape, the two sides of the carriage are square at the front with a tail that tapers off towards the rear. Carpenters cut the pieces of each side to shape, and give then a hand-sanded finish. The pieces are fixed together by means of glue and stout wooden pegs. The partially-completed sides are set apart underneath heavy weights so as to compress the glue and give the joints extra strength. One carpenter is reading Prefect Marcus’ plans for the weapon and observes that the bottom of the carriage looks like the tail of a great animal, and so the name is chosen. According to Prefect Marcus’ plan, the tail is to be formed from one solid piece of square timber whose length is one-and-one quarter the length of the tube. Last to be made is the axle. This piece is square in section, and is most heavily-built. This strength is necessary, as the whole weight of the piece will bear upon it. All of the wooden components are now ready. The manufacture of these has taken the entire day, and so it is decided that the iron fittings will be forged tomorrow.

Date: November VII MDCXXX AUC / November 7th, 877 AD

Before the work of the day commences, Prefect Marcus Livius Drusus gathers his men together for a meeting. He begins to speak as soon as the last of his men arrive.

"Men, the eyes of the Emperor and our commanders are upon us. We are building a weapon unlike any other than has been seen in the world before now. If it works as planned, no power however great it may be will stand against the might of Nova Roma. Now, to work. If any of you have any questions, no matter how minor they may seem, you will not hesitate to come to me. This is my order."

Now that the meeting is completed, the fabrica’s blacksmiths fire up their forges and begin to hammer out the iron components specified in Prefect Marcus’ plans for the new weapon. First to be made are the smaller pieces, namely the bolts to hold the carriage together, the tail fittings, and the the flat bands to strengthen the wheel hubs. These bands are forged hot, then the ends are welded together. The completed bands are placed in a furnace until they are red-hot, then hammered down over the wheel hubs by the use of wooden mallets. The completed hubs are drenched with buckets of water in order to shrink the iron bands into place, then set aside to cool further. The tail fittings are hammered out (as are the carriage bolts), then given over to other workmen for final finishing
.
To protect the edges of the wheels from cracking or splitting under load, they are to be iron-shod. The edges of the sides of the carriage will be similarly-shod, and the ends of the axle will have iron caps to protect them. As with the iron bands that reinforce the wheel hubs, all of these components will be hot-forged and welded together. They will be further heated in a furnace, then cooled and shrunk into place.

While the forge work is proceeding, the wooden parts of the carriage are assembled and given their final form. One carpenter takes his chisels and files and cuts a semi-circular depression in the top edge of each side of the carriage. These will accommodate the axles of the tube once the iron banding is in place. Next, the spokes are attached to the wheel hubs and the pieces of the wheel rims are assembled one after the other. Just as the wooden wheels are completed, the blacksmiths call for them to be brought over to the furnace so that the iron rims can be attached. The rims are taken out of the fire while still red-hot and hammered down over the edges of the wheels proper. The iron is cooled by splashing it with water and the fully-assembled wheels are put aside until needed for the rest of the carriage.

Next in the forging process are the rims for the sides of the carriage and the end caps for the axle. These are completed in less than an hour, and attached immediately. Assembly of the weapon’s components begins under Prefect Marcus’ personal supervision. The wheels are attached to the axle and pinned into place so they can’t come off. The sides of the carriage (complete with their iron banding) are bolted to the tail piece, and this assembly is in turn attached to the axle and wheels. It is now time to place the heavy bronze tube into position. For this purpose, a three-legged crane has been set up over the worktable where the tube is lying. The tube is secured at both ends by thick, heavy ropes; these ropes in turn are attached to the head of the crane. Legate Marcus himself and a dozen of his workers take hold of the crane’s pulling cables and begin to draw mightily upon them.

Prefect Marcus calls out in a loud voice:

"HEAVE"

"HEAVE"

"HEAVE"

The heavy bronze tube slowly rises off the worktable, and the table is quickly moved out of the way. The completed carriage is rolled into position, and the tube is gently lowered into place. The only sounds to be heard are a loud metallic ‘Thunk’, followed by the heaving breaths of the men involved in lifting the tube into place.

Date: November VIII MDCXXX AUC / November 8th, 877 AD

Prefect Marcus and his men have completed the new weapon at the cost of much effort. The bronze tube is checked for fit as its rests within its carriage, and the elevating gear is checked for function by winding it down and extending it upwards as much as possible. Once this has been done, the tube is removed form the carriage so that the wooden components can be treated with oils and preservatives to guard against wood rot and attack by insects. The first coat is applied by hand- rubbing, and then the carriage is taken out into the sun to dry.

Elsewhere in the fabrica, Prefect Marcus is seeing to the manufacture of ammunition for this new weapon. Since it would be dangerous to load the tube with loose powder, Prefect Marcus decides to take a number of thin cloth bags and load them with different charges of the Powder of Mars. Each bag will be marked with the quantity of powder it contains. For testing purposes, the charge weights range from ½ libra to 2 ½ librae in increments of one-half libra each. The charges of each weight are stored in separate wooden boxes that are marked accordingly. Molds have also been made for the casting of iron balls for use as projectiles. The method used is the same as the one employed to cast the bronze tube. The balls that are being cast are of such a size that they roll down inside the bronze tube with just a very small amount of room on all sides. A total of fifty such balls are to be cast.

Date: November VIIII MDCXXX AUC / November 9th, 877 AD

The time has finally arrived to test this new weapon. Prefect Marcus gathers his chief assistants together, and they prepare three wagons for the experiment. The first wagon holds the powder charges and iron shot, the second wagon is loaded with old amphorae, wooden stakes and lengths of cloth for use as targets, and the third wagon is used to tow the weapon. Prefect Marcus and his party make their way to a specially-chosen area that is out of sight of the walls of Nova Roma. It is here that testing begins. The targets are set up at distances varying from five hundred paces on up, and the weapon is charged with powder and ball. Recognizing the possible danger, Prefect Marcus decides to fire the weapon by using a cord treated with the Salt of Mars. A length of this cord is wound around the end of a long wooden pole, and a small quantity of the Powder of Mars is poured into the small hold on top of the weapon’s bronze tube. The cord is lit, and it begins to smolder slowly. Prefect Marcus calls out a warning to his men "STAND BACK!!", then uses the pole to touch the burning cord to the exposed powder on top of the tube. It instantly ignites with a hissing sound (as of a great snake), and then the entire weapon leaps backward with a thunderous ‘BOOM’. A thick cloud of stinking white smoke spouts forth form the open end of the tube, and the iron ball speeds towards a group of water-filled amphorae standing some five hundred paces away. It strikes them in the blink of an eye, and the results amaze Prefect Marcus and his men. A dozen of the amphorae are shattered instantly, sending water and pieces of broken clay flying in all directions. This test is repeated several times using different charge weights, and it is found that the best results are from the charges containing 2 ½ librae of powder. Next, the weapon is tested for accuracy by firing it at lengths of cloth tied between wooden poles that have been set up at varying distances. Finally, Prefect Marcus decides to test the weapon’s range. He personally loads the weapon with the last charge of powder and the last iron ball. The tube’s elevation is adjusted so that it is just above the horizontal. The weapon is fired. Prefect Marcus and his men are further amazed that they can’t find the iron ball, even after three hours of searching. Now that the testing is completed, Prefect Marcus and his men gather up the weapon and the last of their equipment and proceed back to the camp of Legio X Fretensis. Not wishing to wait until tomorrow to make a report, Prefect Marcus immediately goes to the Principia.

"Hail, Legate Germanicus. I beg to report!!"

"Yes, Prefect?"

"Legate Germanicus, I have tested the new weapon. The results are like nothing I have ever imagined. The weapon is only the size of a chariot, and yet has more power than even the mightiest catapault or ballista. As for the range, HAH!!. It outclasses a ballista or catapault in the same way that a ballista or catapault outclasses a rock that I would throw by hand."

Legate Germanicus sits back at his desk, grinning both at what he hears and the enthusiasm on Prefect Marcus’ face. "What is your opinion of this new weapon, Prefect?"

"Legate Germanicus, I tell you in truth that if we field this weapon in the proper numbers, no army will be able to stand against us, no matter how large or how powerful it may be."

"I see, Prefect. How long will it take you to make more of these weapons?"

"Legate, it took my men five days to complete the one I used for testing. If I am to make more of them in a reasonable amount of time, I will need to build three more furnaces for the casting of bronze and iron. The weapon’s wooden carriage is less of a problem. They can be easily duplicated by my wheelwrights and wagon makers."

"Very well, Prefect. You may proceed. I want you to make a total of twenty-four of these new weapons. How long do you think this will take?"

"Legate, once the new furnaces are constructed, it will take me a month to build them. This will use the last of the bronze you gave me. If I am to make more, I will need a new supply of the metal."

"I understand, Prefect. You are dismissed, Please keep me apprised of your progress."

"As you command, Legate."

Date: November X MDCXXX AUC / November 10th, 877 AD

Prefect Marcus Livius Drusus acts upon Legate Germanicus’ orders and starts construction on three new furnaces for the casting process. When the current project is completed, these new furnaces will serve well if other sizes of this new type of weapon are desired. In the meantime, Prefect Marcus hits upon a solution to the problem the long construction time of these new weapons. While the furnaces are being built, twenty-three carriages identical to the prototype will be made and kept in readiness for when the tubes are completed. To this end, he sets his carpenters, wheelwrights and blacksmiths to work in making the necessary components. Since this is an actual production run, the time needed to make each carriage is just one day (rather than the two days for the prototype). To further save time, four carriages will be built at the same time. While the wooden components are being cut and finished to shape, the blacksmiths forge, bend and shape the iron components.

Date: November XI MDCXXX AUC / November 11th, 877 AD

One week later, the carriages are all completed and ready to receive their bronze tubes. The construction work has gone so smoothly and so quickly that it seems as if the hand of Iovi Optimo Maximo himself is speeding things along. The first of the new casting furnaces is complete, while the second is half-done. Prefect Marcus takes the time to send a brief written message to Legate Germanicus detailing the progress thus far:

"Legate, I have the honor to report that twenty-three carriages have been completed. All are exactly identical to the one I made for the prototype weapon. As for the casting furnaces, one is complete and the second one is half-way done. The foundations for the third furnace are being laid as I write this message. My masons inform me that the second furnace will be completed by the end of the week, and that the third furnace will be done by the end of next week. The furnaces will be fueled and fired as soon as the concrete has set. Casting will begin immediately thereafter. In other matters, I have come up with what I believe to be a suitable name for this new weapon. In days of old, the legions would employ ballistae to sometimes throw amphorae filled with burning materials. These new weapons are approximately the same size as a medium ballista, and they throw fire of a sort also. Therefore, I exercise my prerogative as Praefectus Fabrum and call these new weapons ‘Ballistae Ignea’. The iron balls which are intended to be the primary ammunition of a Ballista Ignea are in exactly the same form as the round stone shot launched by a catapaulta. Accordingly, they will be called ‘round shot’. I have also come up with two new types of ammunition. The first consists of twelve small iron round shot whose diameters are one-third the diameter of a Ballista Ignea’s bore. These small shot are held in a cloth bag that is lashed tightly and fixed to a thick wooden disk just smaller than the bore. The lashing makes the cloth bag resemble a bunch of grapes hanging on a vine, and so I will call this second type of ammunition ‘Grape Shot’. The second new ammunition type consists of sixteen librae weight of round lead balls, each of whom weighs the same as a lead sling bullet. The lead balls are contained in a hollow wooden cylinder with a thick base identical to the one used in grape shot. When this type is fired, the lead balls will scatter as if they were a handful of stones thrown into a lake or river. This ammunition will be called ‘Scatter Shot’."

"I remain yours in the service of Nova Roma":

MARC LIV DRV
Praef Fabr

Future Campaigns
Date: November XIII MDCXXX AUC / November 13th, 877 AD
Location: The Domus Imperialis

Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Legate Germanicus, Legate Marcus Cassius Scaeva, the two Primi Pilii and the combined command staffs of Legio X Fretensis and Legio I Italica have gathered for a command conference. The purpose of this meeting is to review the training process for the new recruits of Legio I Italica and also to plan the next campaign. Marcus Aurelius is the first to speak.

"Legate Marcus?"

"Yes, Caesar?"

"What is the status of your new recruits, and how is their training progressing?"

"Caesar, the men built a camp ten mille from Nova Roma and are progressing well in their training. They practice daily with double-weight weapons and shields, and I expect to be issuing their equipment in a week or so. Legate Germanicus was kind enough to expedite delivery of their kit, weapons and armor, and I have it in storage."

"Excellent work, Legate Marcus. Where does Legio I Italica stand in terms of personnel?"

"Caesar, with the new recruits, the legion now has four full-strength cohorts."

"Good. I wish you to bend your every effort towards bringing Legio I Italica up to full strength. It will be necessary for the new campaign I have in mind. Currently, the southern border of Nova Roma is unsecured. There are two regions, Marche and Umbria that must be added to our domain in order to better secure our frontiers. Legate Germanicus, your scribe Petrus has provided me with maps and an overview of the political situation in these two regions. He is to be commended for his work."

"Thank you, Caesar."

"Gentlemen, as soon as Legio I Italica is up to full strength, we will march. Legate Germanicus?"

"Yes, Caesar?"

"You will dispatch your two cavalry alae on scouting missions towards Marche and Umbria. They will take note of the condition of the roads, bridges and other avenues of approach to those regions, as well as likely sites for engagements with enemy forces."

"As you command, Caesar."

Acting upon instructions from Legate Germanicus, the First and Second Cavalry Alae prepare to ride forth in order to reconnoiter the territories of Marche and Umbria. To better avoid detection, each ala will be divided into groups of ten troopers each. Each group of ten will be commanded by a decurio. Their orders are to avoid contact with the enemy at all costs. They are to scout the territories, noting whichever enemy forces are in evidence, along with the condition of the roads and bridges. If they are discovered, they are to break contact and withdraw immediately.

The two alae each draw an amount of rations sufficient for two weeks on the road, plus the other necessary impedimenta for camping on the road. When all is in readiness, the order to move out is given. The First Cavalry Ala will head towards Marche and the Second Cavalry Ala will head towards Umbria. One day’s ride later, the First Ala crosses over into Marche. The roads they encounter are in bad shape, except for those of Roman construction (which are in as good a shape as they day they were built). By way of comparison, the unpaved roads are little more than chains of potholes and wagon ruts going in the same direction. Now that the first day’s work has bene done, the First Cavalry Ala withdraws into a patch of woodland a full stadia away form the nearest road. Their camp is set up and sentries are posted. To lessen the chance of detection, Centurio Gaius Marius Metellus orders that only three small fires be lit, and that only dry deadfall wood is to be used to feed them; this is done to lessen the amount of smoke given off.

Date: November XIV MDCXXX AUC / November 14th, 877 AD

At the crack of dawn the troopers of the First Cavalry Ala rise and break camp with the ease of practiced familiarity. They eat a quick meal, and then break up into their groups of ten troopers each. These squads go their own separate ways in order to get more details about the countryside. One thing that is noticed very quickly is the increased presence of armed enemy troops. Anyone else would stand a very good chance of being detected. The Nova Roman cavalrymen are quite skilled and so are able to avoid detection easily. Meanwhile in the territory of Umbria, the troopers of the second cavalry Alae are doing the same. The troops of both cavalry alae take paisn in noting the conditions of the farms and fields that they see, what crops are being grown and how much livestock is in evidence.

Date: November XXVII MDCXXX AUC / November 28th, 877 AD

After two weeks of riding through their respective areas of operation, the troopers of both cavalry alae gather together back at the camps where each began their scouting missions. Then, both units proceed to a pre-determined rally point and ride back to Nova Roma as one large group. As soon as the troopers to the fortress of Legio X Fretensis, the men are dismissed in order to look after first their mounts and then their equipment. Centurio Gaius Marius Metellus and Centurio Gaius Atilius Aemilianus go to the Principia to deliver their respective reports. They are shown to Legate Germanicus’ office, where they salute and give the customary greetings.

"Hail, Legate. We beg to report."

"Proceed, gentlemen. What have you discovered on your scouting missions? 

Centurio Gaius Marius Metellus of the First Cavalry Ala is the first to speak. "Legate, I was assigned to the territory of Marche. It is populated by numbers of small villages and hamlets, with three or four larger towns and one medium-sized city. It is a rich agricultural area. The farms are well-supplied with oxen, horses and other livestock, and all are growing crops that would be of great use to us."

"What opposition are we likely to face there?"

"Legate, from the information gathered by my troopers, there are some two thousand enemy soldiers under arms, along with numbers of poorly-armed peasant auxillaries. I did notice that the regular forces were quite active, as if they are expecting an attack at any time. As for composition, the regulars are half cavalry and half infantry."

"What of the roads and bridges?"

"Legate, Marche has three roads which are of old Roman construction, these are as solid as the day they were originally built. The other so-called ‘roads’ are little more than rutted dirt tracks. As for the bridges, I saw two that are Roman. These are in as good a shape as the Roman roads."

"Excellent work, Centurio Gaius. You and your men are to be commended. Centurio Gaius Atilius Aemilianus, what of your report?"

"Legate, my information regarding the region of Umbria mirrors that provided by Centurio Gaius Marius Metellus. There are two Roman roads and no Roman bridges. The only bridges I saw were of local timber-framed construction. There are more enemy troops in Umbria than in Marche. I estimate the total number at three thousand. These are divided in the proportion of one cavalryman for every four infantry. This would make 600 cavalry and 2,400 foot. They also seem to be expecting action at any time."

"Good work also, Centurio Gaius Atilius Aemilianus. The information which you have both so ably provided to me leads me to believe that those in power in Marche and Umbria have heard of our great victory over Adalbert. This is good. Return to your commands and pass to your men my compliments."

"By your leave, Legate." The two centurios salute and take their leave. In the meantime, Legate Germanicus sends for his entire command staff in order to begin planning a strategy for the coming campaign.

More Training
Date: November XXVIII MDCXXX AUC / November 28th, 877 AD

Over the last month, the recruits of Legio I Italica have been training intensively day after day, with one day in seven to rest and regain their strength. They have worked out with their weapons on a daily basis, and have learned the various marching commands so thoroughly that they can almost perform them in their sleep. Now, the time has come to learn large-scale maneuvers and formations; those of the cohorts and of the legion as a whole. Among the topics to be learned and then practiced are alternate formations such as the wedge, the ‘single-line’ defense and the ‘Cannae’ and ‘Zama’ tactics. The recruits are also taught how to strengthen their own right flank (for the purpose of rolling up the enemy’s left and striking from the rear) and how to deploy so that one or both flanks are protected. Along with the benefits of such formations and tactics, the recruits are taught their weaknesses and how to compensate for them.

Now that the recruits have been given a good grasp of tactics and formations, each of the three new cohorts is sent out on road marches so that they can practice what they have learned. Under the guidance of the veteran First Cohort (the one formed from the city garrison of Nova Roma), the three new cohorts engage each other in war games; one cohort against another, then two cohorts against one (to give the experience of fighting against superior odds). So that no one cohort is subject to being attacked by the other two more than once, each cohort takes turns at being the attacker or the defender.

An important part of each legion’s strength is its artillery, composed of scorpions (bolt throwers) and catapaults. A legion will not always have the luxury of engaging its opponents on open ground, or attacking with parity of force. In these situations, the scorpions and catapaults are an important force multiplier. It is therefore important for legionaries to be able to move appropriately while under covering fire. To this end, the next phase of training begins with the scorpions and catapaults set up to fire over the heads of the recruits as they march. Then, the artillery is adjusted to that their projectiles are thrown with non-lethal force. The bolts are fitted with padded tips, and the catapaults are loaded with leather bags stuffed with leaves and sand. Each cohort takes its turn at being directly fired at while marching, and they are taught how to maneuver so as to present the smallest target possible.

Planning & Strategy
Date: November XXVIIII MDCXXX AUC / November 29th, 877 AD
Location: The Principia

Legate Germanicus, Legate Marcus, Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus Sempronius Gracchus, the two Primi Pilii and the rest of the command staff of the two legions are gathered to plan a cohesive strategy for the campaign against Marche and Umbria.

Legate Germanicus is the first to speak. "Gentlemen, thank you all for coming. As I see it, there are a number of different ways our forces can proceed with the actions against Marche and Umbria. First, we could send both legions against Marche and then against Umbria. We could also send Legio X Fretensis against Marche and Legio I Italica against Umbria simultaneously. If it is decided to send both legions against one of the regions, do we attack as one body, or do we divide the legions into their cohorts and strike many targets within the region to be attacked first? Finally, if we send Legio X Fretensis against Marche and Legio I Italica against Umbria, will they engage as unitary formations or divide themselves into cohorts to attack many locations at once? Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus, what say you?"

"Legate Germanicus, In my studies of Rome’s military past, I have found several examples of the disaster that can unfold when a command is divided. I specifically refer to the Battle of Arausio, fought against the Germans by troops under the command of Consul Gnaeus Mallius Maximus and Quintus Servillius Caepio in 648 AUC. Failure by those two to keep their troops together caused their armies to be virtually destroyed, thus costing Rome the lives 80,000 soldiers. We must therefore keep the legions intact."

"Well-spoken, Tribunus Laticlavius Marcus. Legate Marcus?"

"Legate Germanicus, I have always believed that unless it is greatly to our advantage to do so, our commands should not be divided. The principle of ‘defeat in detail’ applies as much to us as it does to our enemies. Primus Pilus Appius Balventius Falco?"

"Legate Marcus, Legio I Italica is not yet at full strength. It would not be wise to divide it further."

"A cogent point, Primus Pilus Appius. Legate Germanicus, what of Legio X Fretensis?"

"Legate Marcus, Legio X Fretensis is at full strength. However, I am in agreement with you about not dividing it. As we have now decided not to divide our commands, shall we attack Marche and Umbria together, or shall we attack them separately at the same time?"

"Legate Germanicus, when we send our troops against Marche and Umbria, it will be greatly to our advantage to keep the enemy from consolidating their forces and presenting a unified front against us. Therefore, I believe that you should hit Marche while I hit Umbria."

"Very well, Legate Marcus. This will be our overall strategy. And now to the details. When we are marching through the enemy’s territory, we must take care not to turn the people against us. If it is necessary to requisition supplies from the people there, we will not compel them to give us what we need. Instead, if they choose to give us what we need, then it will be fairly paid for. We will also not destroy or otherwise despoil cropland or their forests. We will only engage targets of military or strategic significance. If, however, enemy forces take refuge in a city, town or village, the target will be reduced in the usual way. Even so, we will be careful to minimize civilian casualties. Remember always, that the guiding principle in all of our operations is the safety of our commands. Comments, gentlemen?"

Primus Pilus Lucius Novius Valerianus of Legio X Fretensis speaks up "Legate Germanicus, your plan is logical and well-considered. I for one would rather not turn the people of Marche and Umbria against us."

"Very well, Primus Pilus Lucius."

Legate Marcus now asks the same of his own Primus Pilus. "Appius Balventius Falco, what say you?"

"Legate Marcus, I agree with my fellow Primus Pilus. The better-disposed the people of Marche and Umbria are towards us, the easier it will be to take them under our rule."

Legate Marcus speaks again "Legate Germanicus, when will we begin the campaign?"

"Legate Marcus, it is too late in the season for us to begin now. The weather is already beginning to turn cold. Instead, we will use the months of Fall and Winter to gather supplies. We will commence offensive operations with the coming of Spring, certainly no later than the first of second week of Aprilis. Now that we are all agreed, let us see to the implementation of the plan. I will take it before the Emperor tomorrow morning. I am quite certain he will approve."

Date: the morning of November XXX MDCXXX AUC / November 30th, 877 AD
Location: The Domus Publicus

Legate Germanicus proceeds to the Domus Imperialis and is quickly shown to the Emperor’s private office. He knocks and is bidden to enter.

"Hail, Caesar."

"Hail, Legate Germanicus. What brings you here?"

"Caesar, I am here to present a plan of action for the campaign against Marche and Umbria."

"Very well, Legate. Please proceed."

"Caesar, at a command conference I hosted at my principia yesterday, it was decided to strike Marche and Umbria simultaneously; Legio X Fretensis will take Marche and Legio I Italica will take Umbria. The two legions will be dispatched separately so that they will arrive at their targets at approximately the same time. Once there, the legions will operate as whole formations, rather than being divided up into their cohorts. The date for the beginning of the campaign will be no later than the first or second week of Aprilis."

"Legate Germanicus, I approve. Your dispositions are sound. Do you have anything else?"

"Yes, Caesar. My Praefectus Fabrum informs me that the weapons project he began is very near completion. Each legion will have twelve of the new weapons. The tiem between now and the start of the campaign in Aprilis will be used for training troops to employ them effectively and to lay in appropriate stocks of ammunition."

"Excellent, Legate Germanicus. You may proceed at your own discretion."

Now that the meeting is concluded, Legate Germanicus renders a salute and leaves the Emperor’s office.

Someone new
Date: November XXXI MDCXXX AUC / November 31st, 877 AD
Location: The Great Library

Petrus has requested and received permission from Legate Germanicus to further his experiences. Specifically, it is his intention to explore the Great Library. With this in mind, Petrus goes to the Library and seeks out one of the staff so that he can be directed to the office of Chief Librarian Quintus Fulvius Flaccus. As it so happens, Chief Librarian Quintus is in his office, having returned form overseeing the manufacture of the telescopes ordered by Legate Germanicus. Petrus is conducted to the office of the Chief Librarian, where he knocks respectfully and is admitted shortly thereafter.

"Hail, Chief Librarian Quintus."

"Hail, Petrus, What brings you here today?"

"Chief Librarian Quintus, I have been granted permission by Legate Germanicus to spend the day exploring whatever areas of Nova Roma are of interest to me. As your magnificent library is the greatest repository of knowledge in the known world, how better to spend the day than here?"

"Indeed, friend Petrus. I am aware of your service to Legio X Fretensis, and I am quite sure you will be at home here. I will assign one of my staff to take you around."

"Many thanks for your kindness, Chief Librarian."

Chief Librarian Quintus summons his assistant Phaethon and tells him "this is Petrus, scribe and translator to Legio X Fretensis. He is here to explore the library and I want you to guide him."

"Yes, Chief Librarian. Please come this way, Petrus."

Petrus and Phaethon leave Chief Librarian Quintus’ office and make their way to the Great Library’s main hall. They walk through the halls’ great bronze doors, and Phaethon begins to speak.

"Petrus, this is the library’s main hall. It has three floors around the atrium we are standing in. As you can see, the atrium reaches all they way up to the roof. It was so designed as to admit light for reading to all three floors of the building. The building houses our main collection of more than one and one-half million scrolls on every conceivable topic. Among the jewels of the collection are the original copy of the great history by Emperor Claudius, and the collected body of works by every Greek and Roman playwright; all of these are in the writers’ own hand"

Petrus pauses to take in the sheer immensity of the hall. Here and there in the atrium are colossal sculptures of the finest marble, along with elaborately worked busts and bronze statues of great figures in the arts and sciences. He looks up at the two floors above th atrium and sees vast, long lines of shelving filled with books and codexes of all descriptions. Petrus considers himself to be an educated man, but when compared to the knowledge collected here, his own learning is as nothing.

The two leave the main hall, and Phaethon goes on to point out the Hall of Medicine. He describes it in detail, saying "In this hall, Petrus, medicine and anatomy are studied. Medical techniques are practiced and refined, and all manner of knowledge relating to the medical arts is expounded upon."

Petrus responds by saying "Phaethon, I thank you for what you have shown me thus far. If you don’t mind, I would like to proceed on alone."

"As you wish, Petrus. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask." Phaethon departs, leaving Petrus to wander the rest of the library complex as he pleases. Petrus spends the next several hours looking into every nook and cranny. Towards late afternoon, he comes across a non-descript building in the northeast corner of the library complex. Petrus is about to turn and leave when he sees a robed man come out of the building and sit at a table under an olive tree. Something about this man’s demeanor catches his interest, and so he goes over to talk to him.

"Hail, stranger. I am Petrus, scribe and translator to Legio X Fretensis. Who might you be?"

The seated man takes a moment to regard who is speaking to him, then he speaks. "Who I am, young man, is Hero of Alexandria."

Petrus stops in his tracks. His eyes go wide and his jaw drops open in shock. Petrus now recognizes the man, both from his own readings and from one of the monumental portrait busts in the main hall.

"Hero...Hero, Petrus stutters. You were one of the greatest scientists and experimenters in the ancient world. How did you come to be here?"

Hero smiles at Petrus’ flustered manner. "Young man, I had just returned to the library from the Valley of the Kings where I was making a study of the tombs there. I had not yet apprised Chief Librarian Quintus of my return when the library and the city were brought here by the will of the Gods. Like any good scientist or natural philosopher, I elected to study the aftermath of the event without participating in it. I now judge that it is time for me to come forward."

"Yes, Hero. At once. Please follow me." Petrus nearly runs off, almost dragging Hero behind him. A very short time later, they arrive at the Chief Librarian’s office. Petrus shouts out, almost breathless.... "Chief Librarian Quintus, see who I have found!!"

"Hero?? How did you get here? The last I saw of you was sometime before the Event. You had gone out on some research expedition or other....."

"Yes, Friend Quintus. I had just returned to the Library after my expedition when the Library was brought here to this time and place. I elected to study what had happened without participating in it. My apologies for not coming forward sooner."

"Think nothing of it, Hero. I am pleased almost beyond words that you have come back to us. I’d like you to resume your post as head of the Library’s research division."

"Of course, Quintus. I will be pleased to do so."

At that moment, Petrus excuses himself saying "Chief Librarian Quintus, Hero, the day is done and I must return to Legio X Fretensis. I am honored to have met you, Hero and I look forward to speaking to you again."

Petrus leaves Chief Librarian Quintus’ office. Quintus and Hero talk long into the night as Hero is apprised of the current situation and what has happened in the previous three months

Date: December I MDCXXX AUC / December 1st, 877 AD
Location: The Domus Imperialis

Marcus Aurelius is bent over his desk examining the latest reports from Legio X Fretensis' intelligence staff when there is a knock at the door. The Emperor's private secretary goes to answer, and is handed a scroll tube by a messenger who then departs.

"Excuse me, Caesar."

"Yes?"

"This message just arrived from Chief Librarian Quintus Fulvius Flaccus. The messenger said it was most urgent."

Marcus Aurelius opens the tube, unrolls the scroll and begins to read:

'To the Esteemed Marcus Aurelius, Imperator Caesar, greetings and salutations. I take stylus in hand to inform you of a most unexpected development here at the Library. When the library complex was brought forward to this time and place, one of the people brought along was the great scientist and natural philosopher Hero of Alexandria. He happened to be in the complex when the Event happened. Hero had just returned from an expedition to the Valley of the Kings and had not yet come to see me. I asked Hero why he hadn't come forward earlier, and he said that he had wanted to study the aftermath of the Event without participating. I have brought him up to date on what has been happening these past three months, and he is fully-willing to help in any way he can. As of now, Hero has resumed his post as head of the Library's Research Division.

I remain yours in the service of Nova Roma.’

Q. FUL. Flaccus
Chief Librarian

Powder Making
Date: December IV MDCXXX AUC / December 4th, 877 AD
Location: The Great Library, Hero’s workshop

Now that Hero has taken up his post as head of the Library’s research division, he turns his attention towards the first of his many projects. This is to streamline the manufacture of the Powder of Mars and to make it more efficient. Up to now, the Powder has bene made by simply mixing the three ingredients together in correct proportions until they are evenly distributed. The disadvantage of this is that the three components of the Powder of Mars tend to separate out over time. So, the key would be to introduce the components to one another as intimately as possible. Accordingly, Hero uses his mechanical knowledge to construct small models of two different kinds of mills for grinding the components together. The first example is a ball mill. At its most basic, a ball mill comprises an axle between two upright posts. This axle has a wooden barrel around it, with a handle for turning and a small moveable door through which the components of the Powder of Mars are introduced. To grind the components of the Powder together, a number of lead balls of uniform size are placed in the barrel and the door is closed. The handle is used to turn the barrel for as long as desired.

The second type of mill is more involved, but is well-within Hero’s capabilities. This is a wheel or rolling mill. A rolling mill consists of a round wooden trough to hold the components of the raw powder. In this trough are placed a pair of heavy limestone wheels connected by an axle. This axle is fixed to a central wooden spindle. To use, the Powder’s components are placed in the trough and ground together by turning the spindle. As a safety precaution, and also as a further step in the process, both methods will have the raw powder dampened with water until it is moist to the touch. This avoids the possibility of highly-dangerous dust being created. Once the powder has been thoroughly mixed and dampened, the resulting mass is forced through a sieve to create particles the size of small kernels of corn. These particles will then be set out in a protected place to dry.

Date: December V MDCXXX AUC / December 5th, 877 AD

Hero tests these new methods of manufacture and makes small quantities of the Powder of Mars. He quickly determines that fine Powder (smaller grain size) burns more quickly than coarse Powder. Therefore, he modifies the design of his powder sieve to accommodate grates of different fineness. Hero realizes how dangerous the Powder of Mars is when he is dry-mixing a small amount with a mortar & pestle. The powder ignites accidentally, and the flash singes off his eyebrows and the hair on his arms. After the smoke clears, Hero makes a few notes on a wax tablet to the effect that the Powder of Mars must never be mixed dry, and that large-scale Powder manufacture must be taken out of the city and moved a safe distance away. He employs his considerable skills in drafting to design a fabrica specifically for the manufacture of the Powder of Mars on a large scale. To remove the necessity of turning the barrel mill or the wheels in the rolling mill by hand, Hero designs a gear train to take power from a water wheel and transfer it accordingly. To protect the process against inclement weather, the water wheels, rolling mills and barrel mills are enclosed with a stout stone building. The building has a wooden roof just strong enough to keep out the rain without being too heavy. For additional safety, the mill building is enclosed on three sides by a tightly-packed earthen embankment. The embankment is as high as the building’s roof and is open on the fourth side; the opening faces the River Arnus, which will be the source of the mill’s power.  

More Experiments
Date: December VIII MDCXXX AUC / December 8th, 877 AD
Location: Hero’s workshop

The minor accident that Hero had just three days ago has had him pondering the destructive properties of the Powder of Mars. To begin with, he examines the prototype weapon made by Chief Librarian Quintus Fulvius Flaccus in minute detail. He also fires a few test shots with it in the rear of the Library’s compound. Hero is quickly able to deduce that the force with which the weapon fires its projectiles is due not only to the amount of powder with which the weapon is charged, but how rapidly the Powder of Mars burns. Hero takes small quantities of the powder and sifts it by grain size. Each batch of sifted powder is ignited, and those with finer grain sizes burn the fastest, while the coarser powders burn slower. He now wonders how the Powder of Mars will react if it were to be confined in some way and then ignited. To test this question, Hero prepares a number of tubes made of paper, wood and other substances. One end of each tube is sealed and the other end is left open. Varying quantities and grades of powder are loaded into the separate tubes. Half of these tubes are clamped to Hero’s workbench, and the powder showing in their open ends is ignited by using a piece of smoldering cord at the end of a long wooden pole. One after another, Hero ignites the powder in each tube, and in every case, the result is the same. The powder suddenly and violently ignites. A gout of flame sprays forth form the open end of each tube, accompanied by clouds of sulphur-smelling white smoke and a nosie as of a loud gust of wind.

Hero now tests to see what will happen when the tubes are not fastened to the work table. The burned-out tubes are removed, as are the devices used to hold them to the table top. The remaining open-ended tubes are set in place and ignited one after the other. He is quite surprised when each of the tubes goes flying off in some random direction faster than the swiftest arrow or sling bullet. Some tubes bounce off the floor and the walls, while others hit the door, bounce off the ceiling or fly out the window. After the last tube is ignited, thick clouds of sulphurous white smoke fill Hero’s workshop. The nosie and smoke is so obvious, that a number of library assistants come running to see if there is a fire burning out of control. Hero quickly gives assurances that all is well, and the assistants go back to their assigned tasks.

When the smoke dissipates, Hero makes copious notes about all he has seen and heard with his powder experiments thus far. The next question that immediately occurs to him is what would happen if the powder were to be placed in a fully-sealed tube and then ignited. The first material to be tested in this fashion is paper. Hero rolls a number of paper tubes and seals one end with a wooden plug glued in place. He pierces a small hole in one side of the tube and fixes a short length of the flammable cord previously used in the ‘special’ catapault ammunition. The rest of the tube is filled with fine-grained Powder of Mars, and the open end is sealed with a second wooden plug. Not wanting to hazard what might happen indoors, Hero takes this device out to his courtyard and lights the cord. He tosses the device to the ground some yards away and waits to see what happens. A VERY short time later, a loud ‘BOOM’ is heard, the intensity of which is such that Hero has to clap his hands over his ears. He is struck by small bits of flaming paper and pieces of the wooden end plugs. These fragments cause two or three minor cuts, but Hero is so enthused about what he is doing that he hardly notices. To rule out any variables, Hero makes five more of these devices and tests them. In every case, the results are identical.

Following this initial success, materials of increasingly greater strength are tested in the same manner; wood, fired clay, lead, bronze and finally iron are used. Mindful of his personal safety, Hero decides to ignite the devices in the rear courtyard of his workshop. He tosses them behind a low retaining wall and listens carefully to each explosion. He finds that the tubes of the stronger materials give rise to progressively louder (and therefore, more violent) explosions. Once the last device has been expended, Hero goes to check the results. He finds that the inner face of the wall is cracked and chipped in various places, and that fragments and splinters of the tubes have stuck into the wall to varying depths. As with the experiment involving the open-ended tubes, Hero makes extensive notes of the results.

The Rockets’ Red Glare
Date: December XV MDCXXX AUC / December 15th, 877 AD
Location: Hero’s workshop

In the previous week, Hero has extensively reviewed his notes concerning how the open-ended tubes packed with the Powder of Mars performed. He wonders why the behaved as they did, and in a flash of inspiration, likens them to arrows without feathers. As arrows without feathers will not fly true, so did those powder-filled tubes also not fly straight. To test this supposition, Hero obtains a bow and a quiver of arrows, then removes the feathers from half of the arrows. He sets up a target in the courtyard of his workshop and fires the unfeathered arrows at it. True to form, all of the arrows go wide of where they are aimed. Hero then fires the feathered arrows at the target, and they all fly straight and true.

Hero now decides to test two different methods of stabilizing the powder-filled tubes. The first involves fitting the tubes with thin wooden fins, like those on a plumbata*. The second involves securely attaching the tubes to the end of a long, thin wooden stick. He makes twelve thin-walled wooden tubes and carefully packs them with the Powder of Mars. Six are fitted with thin wooden fins and the others are attached to long wooden sticks.

Hero calls for his assistants to set up a table in the courtyard. On top of the table, he places a small wooden trough that is set at an angle. This will hold one of the tubes that Hero has prepared. When all is in readiness, one of the tubes is laid into the trough and ignited by using a piece of burning cord at the end of a long pole. The tube spouts fire and smoke from the open end and takes off as straight as an arrow, flying almost faster than the eye can see. A second tube is laid in the trough, this one being fitted with a long wooden stick. Hero ignites it and it flies off in the same manner as the first tube. Over the next half-hour, he fires the rest of the tubes, pausing only to make notes on how each tube performs. One thing that is noticed immediately is that there is no appreciable difference in performance between the tubes with fins and the tubes attached to the long wooden sticks. Though not a military man, Hero immediately recognizes the value of these devices on the battlefield. The startling effect they had upon him, an educated, intelligent man of science, will be as nothing to the panic they will induce in the enemies of Nova Roma. In yet another flash of inspiration, Hero decides to call these devices ‘Incendium Telli’ (Fire Spears).

Manpower Surge
Date: December XV MDCXXX AUC / December 15th, 877 AD
Location: The Principia

Legate Germanicus and Legate Marcus are engaged in planning the logistics for the campaign against Marche and Umbria when the topic of additional manpower for Legio I Italica comes up.

"Legate Germanicus, as it stands now, the men who are training now will bring Legio I Italica up to a strength of four full cohorts. I believe that I can make up some of the shortage by recruiting among those who have come to Nova Roma from other regions of Italia. Our fame has spread far and wide, even past out own borders. Each time the tales are told of what we do and who we are, the details only become more and more fantastic."

"Legate Marcus, how many men do you think will be available?"

"Legate Germanicus, my own Primus Pilus believes that enough men can be found among the recent immigrants to make up a another four cohorts. As for the remaining two, I’ll recruit from among the Head Count of Nova Roma. Pay these men a good wage, feed them properly, treat them fairly and they’ll fight just as well as any other legionary."

"A good plan, Legate Marcus. How long do you think it will take to gather up the six cohorts?"

"Legate Germanicus, I have already begun my recruiting efforts. Another two weeks should see them completed. Once I have all six cohorts in hand, the recruits will be marched to the training base. The base is too small to hold a full legion at present, so it will be expanded and made into a permanent encampment. I’ll use Legio X Fretensis’ fortress as a model. As part of their training, the new recruits will help build it."

"Very good, Legate Marcus. In the meantime, I’ll set the fabrica to work in providing the necessary items of kit. The remaining stocks of captured enemy helmets can be re-worked to provide helmets for your recruits, but after that, we’re out of them. We have no armor in stock, however. It will have to be made new. The pila, gladii, scuta and other items can be provided from stocks on hand. This too will completely drain us of stored equipment.

Roman Holidays

"For the honor of the Gods and the further continuation of Nova Roma, I, Caesar Imperator Marcus Aurelius, do hereby publish and declare that the order of public holidays which were held in former days is now to be instituted in full from this day forward"

--from a public decree by the Emperor, published in the Acta Diurna and read aloud in the Domus Publicus.

Date: December XV MDCXXX AUC / December 15th, 877 AD
Holiday: Consualia

Ths holiday is held in honor of Consus, the Roman God of Time. For the people of Nova Roma, this holiday is of particular significance as they were thrust forward in time. Consualia marks the start of what is called the ‘Halcyon Days’; the week preceding and also the week following the Winter Solstice. Stored grains and other agricultural products are brought out to be blessed, and some of these are made into the food eaten on this day. Donkeys, mules, horses and oxen are decorated with garlands of flowers and paraded through the city streets in honor of the work they do. As an aside, the animals aren’t allowed to do any of their normal work this day.

Date: December XVII MDCXXX AUC / December 17th, 877 AD
Holiday: Saturnalia

In Nova Roma, this holiday begins with a cry of ‘IO, SATURNALIA’ and a sacrifice of young pigs at the Temple of Saturn. These will be consumed at the evening meal the very next day. On this second day, all slaves and servants will have the day off, and their masters are required to serve them dinner and to wait on them hand and foot. In each household, dice will be thrown to elect one of the servants as the ’King of Saturnalia’. All in the house are required to do whatever the King of Saturnalia commanded, no matter how outrageous. By ancient law, nothing that the King of Saturnalia said or did can be used against him after the night was over. This is to prevent retaliation. If the slave or servant is acted against, that person will automatically be freed and the one who acted against that person will be fined a considerable sum of money.

Traditionally, the halls are decorated with boughs of laurel and green tree branches along with candles and lamps. This is done to dispel the darkness of the season. Friends and family also exchange small gifts and tokens of esteem. They even carry small gifts upon their persons in case of meeting friends or acquaintances in the Forum or on the streets of the city. These gifts are of small value, being principally food items or a coin or two. Part of the festivities includes relaxing the laws against gambling, so that everyone from adults to children, slaves and servants could play at dice or other games of chance. Adults use money and children use nuts as wagers. In this time, clothing standards are relaxed so that both men and women can put aside their uncomfortable formal attire and wear a tunic with a small, brightly-colored cloak. The men don a felt cap (called a ‘Pilleus’) to show that they were not slaves.

The King of Battle
Date: December XVII MDCXXX AUC / December 17th, 877 AD
Location: The Fabrica of Legio X Fretensis

After much time and effort has been expended, the Ballistae Ignea are ready for inspection and delivery. Their bronze tubes have all been polished until they are as smooth as glass. The woodwork has been painted in Imperial Red, and the ironwork is all flat black. The twenty-four weapons are lined up in two long rows so as make inspection easier. Legate Germanicus, Legate Marcus and the combined command staffs of Legio X Fretensis and Legio I Italica are on hand. Legate Germanicus is the first to speak.

"Praefectus Fabrum Marcus Livius Drusus, you have surpassed yourself. The fit and finish of these new weapons is simply beyond compare. As for the bronze tubes, they are magnificent. Why did you have them polished so?"

"Legate Germanicus, these new weapons you had me make are the first of their kind anywhere. I thought it fitting to pay special attention to the details."

"Prefect, your attention to detail is highly commendable. Please pass my congratulations to your men."

"I will do so, Legate. I’m quite sure they will be pleased to hear them."

"Prefectus, I observe that you have a pair of rectangular wooden chests behind each of the weapons. What is their purpose?"

"Legate Germanicus, those boxes are intended to hold the ammunition for the Ballistae Ignea. Each one will have a box on a separate, smaller wagon. The second box is a spare, in case the first one becomes damaged for any reason. Each box is made of carefully-fitted oak. The inside of the boxes are lined with thin copper sheeting, and their lids are covered on both sides with copper. This is to reduce or eliminate the possibility of the powder accidentally igniting. Now that all twenty-four of the weapons have been completed, I have arranged a test of one of them at a field three mille outside of the city of Nova Roma. If you are agreeable, please be there tomorrow morning after sunrise."

"We will be there, Prefect."

Date: December XVIII MDCXXX AUC / December 18th, 877 AD

The day breaks cool and clear as Legate Germanicus and the other officers gather at the test site three mille outside of Nova Roma. Praefectus Fabrum Marcus Livius Drusus and his men are already there, as is one of the Ballista Ignea and its ammunition wagon. Prefect Marcus begins the test by addressing the assembled officers.

"Please take note of that line of figures set up six hundred cubits away. They are made of old sacks stuffed with leaves and straw, and have water-filled jars for heads." At a signal, Prefect Marcus’ men stand ready to begin the loading procedure.

The first command rings out "LOAD". At this, two men run to the ammunition chest and extract a bagged powder charge and a piece of scatter shot. They both run back to the muzzle end of the weapon and stand ready for the next command.

"CHARGE"; this command has the two men place the powder bag in the muzzle of the weapon, followed by the scatter shot. These two withdraw from the muzzle of the weapon, and a second two men take hold of a long wooden pole from the carriage. This pole is used to seat the powder bag and the projectile at the bottom of the tube.

"PRIME". One man takes a thin bronze rod and thrusts it down into the touch hole, thus piercing the powder bag. The same man takes a flask of powder from his belt and pours a small amount into the touch hole.

"AIM". Two men go to the rear of the weapon and work the elevating gear so that the muzzle bears directly at the line of targets.

Prefect Marcus calls out ‘Stand Clear’ in a loud voice, followed by an even louder command "FIRE". He ignites the powder in the touch hole with a burning piece of cord at the end of a long wooden pole. There is a loud ‘hiss’, immediately followed by a thunderous ‘BOOM’. The ballista ignea gouts forth a great cloud of white smoke and leaps backward as the scatter shot speeds toward the line of targets faster than the eye can see. A great gaping hole is torn in the line as more than two dozen of the targets are destroyed instantly; pottery jar heads are shattered and the stuffed-sack torsos are blown open. Some of the figures that aren’t destroyed outright have either an arm, a leg or some combination of both simply blown off. The assembled officers are amazed at the damage. Not only are the targets killed as if by a century of archers, it was done at the distance of twice a bowshot.

An enormous feral grin crosses Legate Germanicus’ face as he says, "Do it again!!". Prefect Marcus’ men move the ballista ignea forty paces to the left to face an undamaged part of the target line. The loading and firing procedure are repeated, and the damage done to the targets is identical. The other officers mumble oaths of amazement as Legate Marcus gives word to what they are all thinking.

"Prefect Marcus, with these weapons at our command, no army will be able to stand against us. Is that ‘scatter shot’ the only kind of ammunition you have?"

"Legate Marcus, the ballista ignea can also fire these." He holds up an iron round shot weighing sixteen librae. "The next demonstration will be against that array of targets over there". Prefect Marcus gestures to a point one mille away. "That group of targets is mean to represent enemy troops drawn up in battle formation." Prefect Marcus’ men leap to their assigned tasks and shift the ballista ignea over towards its new target. The weapon is quickly loaded, and the crew stands back so that Prefect Marcus can fire it. With a booming report and a large cloud of thick white smoke, the iron round shot speeds towards the target formation. The formation is hit in the center at about waist-height. Twenty targets are literally dismembered or torn apart by the shot’s impact. If the assembled officers were amazed before, they are absolutely awestruck now. That target formation was struck at an inconceivable distance of one mille, far outside the range of even the most powerful scorpion or catapaulta.

Prefect Marcus says "I have a third type of ammunition called ‘grape shot’. It is like scatter shot, except that its individual projectiles are much larger, though fewer in number. It has grater range, and the effects are identical to scatter shot. Therefore, as you have alreayd seen how scatter shot works, this third type need not be demonstrated. Legio X Fretensis and Legio I Italica will each have twelve ballista ignea. As to how they are deployed or used, I leave it to those more versed in military affairs than I to decide."


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 Post subject: Re: Men of Rome
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 3:55 am 
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Hm. I see a certain danger of this story falling into a trap all too common in ASB-type stories. The Romans are already displaying a strong Gary Stu vibe. I hope you will mitigate this in future installments. Not everybody in the 9th century was a bumbling idiot and military imbecile.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 6:07 am 
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Concur - they're also doing vastly too well with the cannon, for instance - the pressures generated inside a cannon are vastly in excess of anything they've ever experienced before, so to have everything work perfectly first time out feels contrived. Having a cannon explode the first time it's fired killing half of their development team is probably a lot more plausible in real life - they're messing about with forces they really don't understand, and are very blase about it.

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 Post subject: Re: Men of Rome
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 7:13 am 
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In addition, corned powder took around five centuries of experimentation to get right (and be safe to use)..............

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 7:39 am 
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I am willing to concede that the Romans have less of a learning curve with their cannon and powder thanks to the construction plans - this IS ASB, after all - which might just hold the correct black powder and bronze alloy formulae along with the dimensions of the cannon and a detailed how-to concerning the production of corned powder but there should be months and months of experimentation and trial-and-error developing the correct doctrine ahead.

Europe had just begun its ascent from the Dark Ages (Carolingian Renaissance) - and there should be some kind of acknowledging that fact.

I don't know what you have already written, garrity but one thing to steal from future inventors should be the movable type printing press. Nothing - and teaching people to write - to record one's own works for posterity and to distribute pro-Nova Roma propaganda.

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A Missouri man had once written the Confederate[s] that all they had to do to get rid of the St. Louis Unionists was to destroy the breweries and seize all the beer: 'By this, the Dutch will all die in a week and the Yankees will then run from this state.'


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 Post subject: Re: Men of Rome
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 2:42 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2015 2:37 pm
Posts: 654
Jotun wrote:
I am willing to concede that the Romans have less of a learning curve with their cannon and powder thanks to the construction plans - this IS ASB, after all - which might just hold the correct black powder and bronze alloy formulae along with the dimensions of the cannon and a detailed how-to concerning the production of corned powder but there should be months and months of experimentation and trial-and-error developing the correct doctrine ahead.

Europe had just begun its ascent from the Dark Ages (Carolingian Renaissance) - and there should be some kind of acknowledging that fact.

I don't know what you have already written, garrity but one thing to steal from future inventors should be the movable type printing press. Nothing - and teaching people to write - to record one's own works for posterity and to distribute pro-Nova Roma propaganda.

The Scroll of Knowledge given by Iovi Optimo Maximo had (among other things) instructions on how to build a printing press (along with the art of Bookbinding).

Another one of the reasons for Nova Roma's rapid technological advance is that Hero of Alexandria is carrying out the research; he's one of the greatest geniuses in all of human history.


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 Post subject: Re: Men of Rome
PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 3:49 am 
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Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 6:09 pm
Posts: 349
Location: Oslo, Norway
There is a world of difference between knowing how to do something in theory and actually doing it in practice. Bookbinding, for instance... even if you have a description of how it is supposed to be done it will take you a long time to get all the fiddly bits right and end up with a usable book. The devil is in the details. A lot of the time something that is very nearly correct will be utterly useless.

Gary Stu indeed. Your guys always get everything right, first time around, skipping over centuries of trial and error. Utterly unbelievable, I am afraid. "Make a large metal tube and put gunpowder in it" will get you a medieval bombard as the 1.0 version, not a Napoleonic field gun. I mean, just figuring out a way to either cast the bore in place or how to bore out a massive gun-blank... it is a highly non-trivial exercise, involving a lot of trial and error performed on multi-ton metal objects.

I won't even get into the complexities of casting a gun in the first place, without hidden defects or air-bubbles. Breech end down, thank you very much, to minimize the effect of the inevitable flaws. Not to mention how it is highly advisable to proof the gun, fire it with a larger-than-normal charge to make a defective one burst on the proving-grounds rather than in combat. You have to learn this kind of thing the hard way and your guys don't. Not that their guns would ever have casting defects, of course. Gun design... how thick do the walls have to be? (About one bore caliber - trial and error). Do the walls have to be this thickness all the way down to the muzzle? (No, they don't - trial and error - or you have a gun twice as heavy and expensive as you need). (And you probably need a muzzle flare or the business end of the gun will tend to fall off after a while - trial and error.) Details details details.


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