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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Alhazen

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Rome: Sons of Mars

Begins Below...

rometitlecopy7jo.gif


An epic tale of bitter war, legendary men, and the rise and fall of empires. The year is 218 B.C. and the world is on the verge of chaos. The new power of Rome has risen to dominance in Italia, yet dangerous and ancient empires lurk across the azure waters of the Mare Meditteraneum. The Carthaginians, held at bay by restrictive treaties for years, have expanded in Iberia and now pose a looming threat to the Republic. In the east the Successors of Alexander the Great stretch their reach outward after years of internal struggle. Barbarians in the north look greedily southward, and the most dangerous enemy lurks within the very walls of Rome herself...

Based on Molleby's Roma Universalis Mod. Special thanks to all who have worked and continue to work on this scenario for EU II that has enabled me to create this story, which I have been planning for quite some time.


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Katapraktoi

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This looks very cool. I love Rome and all that is connected with it. Have you played Rome: total war? Your title of thread has the same name as the tutorial campaign in that game. :) I hope you kick Carthaginian ass! Good luck with this one, I know I'll keep an eye out for updates.
 

coz1

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A third AAR, Alhazen? I hope you don't get over-extended. I'd hate to see Sins of the Father suffer from that. But I will surely be checking out what you do here. Good luck.
 

Alhazen

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:p What can I say, Coz, I'm prolific. Seriously, this has been one Ive been thinking of for quite some time, as the Republican period of history is one of my favorites besides the early medieval. Sins won't suffer, heavens no, its just something to do when I'm burned out on Norman adventurers for a day or two to change the pace. Three AARs is a good thing for me, as I can switch to one and write an update when I'm stumpted on the others.

Katapraktoi: Yes, I've got RTW of course, sad excuse that it is. Sons of Mars are what the Romans styled themselves, after Romulus and Remus.Mars was very important in Roman life, equal to Jupiter Maximus even. I hope you will be entertained.

Expect the first, teasing, prologue today or tomorrow at latest.
 

stnylan

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I certainly hope for a good showcase for the mod, as it is something that I might well be interested in.
 

RossN

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Wow, really looking forward to this! :)

I've just finished (re)reading Colleen McCullough's excellent The First Man in Rome - any chance we'll make it to the days of Gauis Marius?
 

unmerged(9313)

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I will befollowing this with massive interest. Naturally. :) Hopefully it will divert more manpower to the project.
 

Lurken

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I will be looking forward as this AAR progresses.
 

Sir Humphrey

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Your'e coming down with Humphries Syndrome. Looking forward to it.
 

VILenin

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Several Roman AARs in the EU2 forum now, I love it!
 

Alhazen

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235 BC
Carthage

A hot wind blew across the nighttime sky, wafting up from the glow of fires that dotted the great city. The blood-red moon sat deep in the in the purple horizon of the west and watched the procession in silence. Stars blinked in the heavens and a mist of low-hanging clouds reflected the crimson light, casting the vast metropolis in a hellish pallor.

The encamped army, numerous in its multitude around the city seemed a single, living creature, alive with the thousands of campfires and swaying with the movement of men, horses, wagons, and beasts from the depths of Africa. The great fleet at anchor in the harbor seemed a solid mass, the hundreds of vessels lit with lanterns at prow and stern that winked in the darkness sometimes in unison.

Hamilcar Barca looked down from his lofty position, halfway up the great wide steps of the cyclopean ziggurat at the center of the city. Garbed in a splendid robe of gold and silver cloth with a snow white cloak that flowed from his shoulders, the brooch of purest ivory, he looked like a King.

He was the hero of the six years war in Sicily with the accursed Romans, and looked like a conquering god despite the disastrous loss his people had suffered against the Latin upstarts. His indignation had been palpable at the signing of peace accords in Libyaeum, when he had been forced to surrender all of Sicily and to pay a sum of over two thousand talents to the Roman dogs. But now, here, in the center of his power, he knew that revenge would come. Perhaps not soon, and not here, but it would come. He looked out longingly across the sea, towards Iberia. There would be the center of his new realm, his base of power from which, in time, he would strike out, and smash the Romans like the barbarians that they were. But first, offerings must be made, for Baal was a spiteful god.

The temple had been lit with three thousand candles that lined its steps and halls, and the men of his army and the citizens of Carthage had turned out in masses to observe the rituals. The old men of the Senate stood nearby, solemn in their robes as the priests of Baal said the prayers. The air was thick with the smell of incense and oils, and the hint of woodsmoke. Eunuchs from within the center of the ziggurat led the naked slaves that would be offered as sacrifices to appease the diety, docile after being heavily drugged. They were led to the high altars, stacked high with wood, and emplaced upon the slabs already drenched with oil.

Hamilcar stood close with his captains and ministers, and watched as the High Priest approached and lifted his hands to the heavens.

“O Lord Baal, Son of Dagan and Rider of the Clouds!” He cried.

The other priests repeated his chant in unison, lifting their arms skyward as one. Each bore a flaming brand and ringed the altars, a circle of white robes.

“Baal, Almighty, Lord of the Earth. Hear our prayers, O Baal, and accept this offering from thy servant, Hamilcar,” He turned to the General, and Hamilcar stepped forward, the priests parting for him like a slowly opening door.

Taking the torch from the High Priest, Hamilcar lifted his voice. “Baal I give you this sacrifice, so that you might grant me vengeance over my enemies, and glory in arms. Bless my House, and the sons of my loins, O Baal, and grant us safe journey across the sea.”

In closure, the General stooped to the altar and touched the smoking torch to the faggots, which ignited into sparks of flame from the liberal coating of oil they had received. The fire lept up the stack of wood and upon the slab of the altar, engulfing the naked man, who began screaming as the fire licked his flesh. And one by one, each altar was lit, until seven flaming pyres stood atop the ziggurat, the priests closing in to add their own torches to the inferno. The wails of the burning victims died off in just a few minutes, but the smell lingered for hours after. The thick woodsmoke drifted high into the starry sky, and if Baal found it pleasing, none could say.

The fires were still burning fiercely when Hamilcar waved his hands to send his officers away. Looking down the steps, he saw his son, and motioned for the boy to join him.

He was only nine years of age, but had a fierce spirit, the father knew.

He smiled as he drew near, and held out his arm, wrapping it around his son’s shoulders as he got close to the altars.

“Would you like to join me, in Iberia, my son?” He asked jokingly.

The light in his son’s eyes shone brighter than a thousand stars and reflected the fires that burned both outside and within. His face alight with eagerness, he began shaking his head yes enthusiastically, and replied, “More than anything, Father! Take me to the battlefields of Iberia and I will honor you.”

He ruffled the young boy’s hair lovingly, and knelt to his level. “My son, you are yet too young for such a journey.”

The downcast look on the child’s face pulled at his heartstrings, and Hamilcar took his son by the hand, leading him to the burning altar. “Son, I want you to swear a solemn oath to me.”

The boy nodded.

“Swear to me, my son, swear to Lord Baal above, that you will never be a friend to the Roman people. Swear, that as soon as you are able, you will be their enemy, and take their lives and their cities and their wealth. They are worse than animals, my beloved son, and I want you to avenge our people for the injustices we have suffered at their hands.”

“I swear it Father, I swear I will never befriend any Roman, and will be their enemy until I die...”



16 Years Later…

The Mare Medditeraneum sits on the brink of world war. The grasping state of Rome, once a collection of huts on a hillside, now sprawls across Italia and has recently expanded its influence across the Illyrian Sea, after fighting a bitter naval war with the pirates that infest its coastal ports. The great realm of Carthage stands humiliated from its defeat by Rome in the first Punic Wars ended nearly twenty years before, forced to give up lands and wealth to the rising Latins.

The Carthaginians have looked elsewhere, expanding their empire
in Iberia and amassing great wealth form the precious ores mined by Iberian slaves, there conquering armies led by the infamous general, Hamilcar Barca. An uneasy truce exists, with diplomats ever harrying one another over this dispute or another between the two mighty nations. Hamilcar was bound by peace treaty to remain south of the River Erbo in Iberia, with the city-state of Saguntum, a wealthy Ibero-Greek colony, remaining a neutral ground inbetween the two powers. But Hamilcar is now dead, and his young son has been acclaimed by the men of his army as their General, propelled by the powers of Fortuna herself. And once more, the Sons of Mars will be challenged...



219 BC
Kalends of March


villa4ul.jpg

The Roman Mission at Saguntum

Saguntum, Costa del Azahar
Hispania


*****​


“His honor will see you now,” The slave said, his tone bored with the tedium of daily life on this frontier, complacent with the state of mediocrity. Turning without another word, the slight man disappeared into the adjoining chamber, his sandles clicking on the tiled floor. Cale stood, and, adjusting his tunic to straighten any creases and level his wide leathern belt, shaply turned and followed, snapping to attention as soon as he crossed the threshold of the wide, columned hall wherein his new master sat.

“Cale Valens, sir.” Iacto announced with more force this time, standing to the side of the room, his hands on a tablet marked with names. At the calling of his name, Cale issued a sharp salute, hitting his chest and raising his arm outward in respect, then returned to the most disciplined rigidity he could muster.

The man seated at the desk was poised with perfect posture, his shoulders broad and limbs slender but well muscled. He wore a simple, loose tunic of black and grey, a crimson mantle brooched in gold the only emblem of his rank. Nearby, the shaped leather armor of a Roman officer, laced with crimson and studded with iron and silver, hung brightly polished and oiled on a rack. His manner was calm and cool, his eyes steely, but lit with a sort of sagacity. His age was indeterminable, his thick hair dark, but grim face creased with lines of experience and seasoning.

“Be at ease, soldier,” The Praefectus Cohortis Marcus Valencius said calmly, not bothering to look up from the parchments on his cedar desk. Iacto crossed to the desk, and leaned in to hear the Praefectus’ whispers as he handed him rolled papers for dispatch. After the slave had left the room, he looked up at Cale, and stood. Cale noted the short bladed dagger on the Prefect’s belt, and the easy gait of his steps as he neared to look him over with an appraising eye, a commander’s eye.

“Cale Valens,” he said curiously. “You fought with Marcellus at Telamon, did you not?”

“I had the honor of being under the Consul’s command, sir, yes.” Cale did not move his eyes, but looked straight ahead, his limbs locked in position.

“As did I.” He stopped walking, and looked out the open windows that overlooked the courtyard of the Roman offices below, where the sounds of men working could be heard. The sunlight was crisp and bright that day, and the Praefectus took in a sharp breath of the cool air. “I was a Centurion then,” he reminisced with a hint of longing.

“Princeps Prior of the first cohort, sir, I know.”

“I see you’ve done your studies, then, soldier. Very good.” He smiled, the kind of smile which made you want to earn his praise. “Now you are here. I said be at ease, Valens.”

Cale went to parade rest, only slightly loosening his muscles, releasing a breath of air.

“Tell me, is it true you slew fourteen Insubrians in one battle?”

“I don’t count sir,” Cale replied, meekly. “But that is what they say, yes.”

“You are Etruscan.”

“I am, sir.”

“Hmm,” was the response.

Cale suddenly felt a movement behind him, the slight brush of air against the hairs on his neck, and ducked to the side just as a short knife swept around where his neck had been. He came up with fury, slamming his palm into the chest of the Iberian who wielded the blade, and brought his right fist in a fast cross into the man’s face, crunching his nose against his calloused knuckles and releasing a spout of blood that sprayed across his white tunic. The Iberian staggered to the smooth tile floor and Cale was within one second of leaping atop the man to crush his throat when the Praefectus said, “Hold.”

The Etruscan stopped with a surprising alacrity, and simply glared at the bloody slave who was pulling himself up and holding his broken nose.

“Well done, Cale. You’re hired.”

*****​

Minutes later Cale came down the steps of the building and came into the sandy courtyard, a heavy leather satchel and cotton bedroll slung across one shoulder, bulging with packed clothing and sundries of equipment and personal items. Strapped to the side of his pack was the finely engraved scabbard of a gladius, the hilt studded with a silver boss and crafted from polished bone. He flexed the fingers of his right hand, which despite their hard nature still hurt from the brutal punch he had delivered to the Iberian slave moments before. The day was bright, the sky sapphire and scattered with wisps of high clouds. Birds called from lofty heights and he tilted his head to watch them soar for a moment.

Around him, the small Roman compound bustled with activity. The Roman mission in Saguntum was tiny, and not by any means officially sanctioned . That it was commanded by a full Praefectus hinted at the importance the Senate placed upon its success, however, despite its position within blurred lines of legality. No more than fifty men were garrisoned in the small complex, and only a handful of those fifty were fully Roman soldiers. The majority were auxiliaries who fought for Rome, recruited from the scattered cities and tribes of Italia that paid tribute to the powerful city and fell under its shield of protection—and its yoke of mastery. Cale was one such, or had been, only a year ago. Now he was here, all the way across the Mare Medditeraneum, in a foreign land, the personal guard of a Roman Prefect, no less.

“You filthy son of a hairy whore,” came the gruff voice interrupting his thoughts.

Turning, he grimaced a he saw the squat man approaching and recognized him.

“Quintus Sabucius.”

“That’s Duplicarius Principalis Sabucius to you, slave,” Quintus growled. Sabucius was an old hand when it came to soldiering, veteran of a dozen battles as he liked to claim. He was certainly old enough for it to be true at any rate, and his face looked it. He was as hard a man as any though, and their past was one of constant dispute. Sabucius had been the trainer for the first cohort Cale had belonged to as an auxiliary swordsman, years ago, and he had hated the man even then. Now, apparently he had been promoted again, and as he said, wore the short cape and carried the slender bronze rod of a senior non-commissioned officer.

quintus4po.jpg

Duplicarius Quintus Sabucius was a hard taskmaster



“I am a Citizen now,” Cale hissed back angrily.

“You can dress up a whore in a fine dress and call her a lady but she’s still gutter trash,” Sabucius said, smiling, hands on his wide hips as he got into Cale’s face.

“You insult me,” he replied, his hands curling into fists automatically.

“You’re not as dumb as I thought,” Sabucius joked. Some of his soldiers had stopped their work to approach the two, grinning and whispering to one another, and he thought he could see a few denarii changing hands. It seemed like all the noise of the courtyard had stopped and the entire garrison was focusing on the two men facing one another only. “I want you to understand something,” Sabucius said, getting closer at the urging from his men. “This isn’t Gaul, and you’re no hero here, slave.”

Cale looked down at the shorter man, his eyes intense.

“Call me a slave again,” he said calmly, “and I’ll kill you.”

Sabucius hesitated, obviously not wanting to test the threat on this day. Licking his dry lips, he stood back, and glared at the men around him.

“What are you dogs doing? Get back to work!” He yelled. “Antonius, if that stockade isn’t completed by nightfall, I’ll skin you myself!” The soldiers dispersed alone and in groups, muttering and joking amongst themselves. Sabucius turned to face Cale, his face set in stone. “I’ll remember this day, Citizen.” And with that he turned and stormed off into the courtyard, barking commands at nearby workers.

Cale watched him walk away for some time, and then stooped to pick up his satchel again, re-adjusting the straps that had come loose.

“You make friends as easily as you kill people, I see,” another voice interrupted while he squatted over his pack, and looking up, he had to raise his hand to keep the sun out of his eyes to see the Iberian slave from earlier looming over him, a crooked grin on his face, his broken nose showing three fresh stitches.

“That man and I have an evil history,” he explained. “Sorry about your nose.”

“It is no great matter, my nose has been broken eight times before. This is just the latest. You throw a good punch.”

“I’ve broken more than eight noses. Yours is just the latest,” he smiled.

The Iberian laughed good-naturedly. “I am called Folco.”

“Cale Valens.” The two shook hands at the forearm, a firm grip from each marking them both as warriors.

"Come on then, let me show you around this place."

 
Last edited:

Katapraktoi

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This is so cool, Alhazen. :) I just love Rome. And the era. And everything about it I guess. I like the way you add the spiritual touch with the different cutures' gods. It gives you a Rome:total war feeling as well! Keep it coming!

And btw, that theme song that you added, I cannot get it to work. I only open a broken html when I click on the link. Otherwise, its great! :)
 

Alhazen

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Thanks Katapraktoi Link should now be fixed. It should open a new window and unfortunately you must click 'play' to start the music. Still trying to figure out how to embed it. Ancient cultures, especially the Romans, were very religious. The gods and auguries affected almost every facet of daily life, from having a dinner with friends to beginning a new business enterprise.

Here it is again if you missed it at the top :D Just such a cool song.
Sons of Mars
 
Last edited:

Semi-Lobster

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Brilliant writing Alhazen! Are you using a mod for this game because it looks very novel idea for a mod
 
Last edited:

Ulyanov

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I'm very interested in this ongoing work on the Rome-mod., so I would be very happy to see many screenshots as this story goes on. :) I count on you, Alhazen! ;)
 

coz1

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Starting off very strong, Alhazen. The time leap worked very well and the introduction of Cale instantly made us want to know more about him. Well done.