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stnylan

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A very striking start Alhazen, the scene all tidily set. Surely such a neat state of affairs cannot last long. A few interesting reactions to picque the interest. Very good.
 

VILenin

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Excellent beginning! I especially liked the openning with Hamilcar and his son, a very nice setup for the oncoming 2nd Punic War. :) Now, let me quote one of Rome's great orators: Carthago Delenda Est! (yes, that was for the 3rd Punic War but it's never too early to start calling for Carthage's destruction)
 

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VILenin said:
Carthago Delenda Est!

"O Polybius, it is a grand thing, but, I know not how, I feel a terror and dread, lest some one should one day give the same order about my own native city." - Scipio, 146BC
 

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Feedback to Feedback Update I

Semi-Lobster--Yes, thank you so much. Yes, the mod is Molleby's Second Punic War Mod, which is still a work in progress and being worked on by many talented people. Check it out!

Ulyanov--thanks for the intrest. There will be plenty of screenshots, don't worry!

Coz1--Again, your feedback is most welcomed. I'm glad you're here, stay along for the ride. I'm pleased you think it worked well.

Mettermrck--You also, good sir. The weight of your name alone adds a little gravitas to this AAR :D Stay tuned if you liked this. Its merely the beginning!

Stynlan--I'm glad you like it, stay around, Citizen. You'll see that you're right and the action will begin rather quickly.

VILenin--Thanks for replying. That prologue bit was tricky, I still feel it was a little week. But the primary sources on "Hannibal's Oath" are scant for detail. Polybius writes the most, but it still amounts to only a few lines. I tried to expand on that and make it a proper scene.

To all Lurkers, I hope you like this offering as well. Feel free to comment, as critique fuels my writing and makes me a better author, which is really why I do this in the first place.

How did everyone find the music? Fitting?

Second Update Soon...
 

unmerged(9313)

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Veeery nice Alhazen :)

I fear for my mental health if the mod has to live up to your writing :eek:o
 

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Molleby said:
I fear for my mental health if the mod has to live up to your writing :eek:o

Does anyone who makes a mod like this have any mental health left to fear for? ;)


Alhazen, as for the music it was nice and powerful, but definitely something to listen to either before or after reading the update (or both) and not during, otherwise it is so damned fine as to be distracting!
 

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stnylan said:
Does anyone who makes a mod like this have any mental health left to fear for? ;)

I'm perfectly sane, thank you. :wacko:

Edit: put a link in the Great Rome Thread to this AAR. Best... showcase... ever :)
 

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rometitlecopy7jo.gif

Prologue, Continued

Sons of Mars Theme

Saguntum in Springtime


219 BC
Kalends of Martius


saguntum18ub.png


Saguntum, Costa del Azahar
Hispania


*****


The month Martius was sacred to Mars, and was the marking of a new year begun. Laurel wreaths, sacred to the god of war, were pinned above doorways of every building within the Roman villa at Saguntum, in honor of him. In Rome, the priests of Mars, known as the Salii, or, “Leapers”, would, dressed in archaic military armor, with the hastae Martiae, the holy lances of Mars, and bearing the twelve sacred ancile shields, be dancing throughout the streets and chanting the ancient Carme Saliare. After their dance, the Salii would hold a spectacular feast at the end of the day, marking the dawn of the new year for all the citizens of the Republic.

It would be the beginning of his second term of this “year-long assignment”, and there were no dancers here in Saguntum, Marcus Valencius noted sourly sitting astride his fine white courser as it cantered through the muddy courtyard towards the heavy oaken gates of the villa. Beside him came Iacto upon a brown gelding and his newest personal guard, the Etruscan called Cale, on a black palfrey. Behind him rode the four men of his escort, in hard leathers and bronze, short stabbing swords at their hips and a song on their lips, which he did not mind. They were not Roman soldiers, not properly. He was a Praefectus Cohortis, leader of units of auxiliary cavalry and infantry, subordinate to the authority of Rome. Although the Senate had blatantly violated the peace treaties by stationing a Roman presence here in Saguntum, they were not so bold as to garrison it with true Roman soldiers. Aside from his officers and himself, he mused, with equal bitterness. The horse-hooves clottered on the cobble stones laid around the gate of the villa only, spattering mud from the courtyard on the men who rushed to heave the heavy doors open for them, and out they rode into the city.

Accepting the task of the mission in Saguntum had been the price he had paid for promotion to Prefect, and was a price he had been perfectly willing to pay, a year ago. Now, the doldrums of the assignment and the increasing personal danger had caused him to be bitter, for it. Saguntum was in truth a Greek city, for the most part, though it had been settled long before by Iberian celts who came down out of the foothills to trade here, as it provided them superb access to the Belearic Sea and the merchants of the east who coveted their silver and tin and copper surpluses. The Greeks came soon after, and ever since dominated the mercantile industry of Saguntum, along with their further colonies that stretched both north and south along the eastern coast of Hispania. After the Punic Wars of nearly twenty years past, Saguntum had been declared off-limits to both Carthage and Rome, just south of the demilitarization line of the Erbo River, a netural enclave in a no-man’s land of rugged hills and ridges. But soon after, feeling threatened by Carthaginian conquest in the south, coupled with the founding of Hamilcar Barca’s capital of Carthago Nova just two hundred miles away, the Greek elders of the city petitioned the Romans for aid and protection, of which the Senate had been only too eager to provide. An alliance was quickly formed offering Saguntum Protectorate status, and although legally the Roman military could not cross the Erbo river, a small and quiet delegation had been sent to set up a Roman mission within the wealthy city, as ‘advisors’ to the Greeks, guides and counselors to their government.

Marcus was a fine young Roman officer, though perhaps not as young as he once was. He still sat tall, and proud in his high saddle, the leather of both it and his armor well oiled and polished to a high sheen, the discipline instilled in his youth as a legionary still ingrained in his customs. He was not nobilitas, nor were the lands his family owned large or wealthy. That he, pleb by birth, could rise to Praefectus, was an achievement by itself that merited praise, that he did it by the age of thirty-two was even more impressive, even if he was Praefectus Sociorum, a Prefect of the Socii, or ‘allies’ of Rome, auxiliary troops and not full Roman soldiers. He had impressed both his peers and superiors to achieve this position, he knew, and had been appointed, through the Senate, by the request of the Imperator, Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio, brother of Publius, himself.


praefectusmarcus8zs.png

The Praefectus Marcus Valencius

The streets of the city they rode through were narrow and muddy, lined on each side with squat clay and timber buildings. The air was full of foetor and decay. There were walls with peeling paint, dark hovels and muddy tenements, narrow ditches alongside the road that served as gutters oozing with slime. Saguntum was not overly large, despite its relative wealth when compared to the other villages and towns of Hispania, but was heavily populated. Its many buildings were compacted into a small, congested area built upon a rocky plateau in the foothills, overlooking the sandy cove that led out onto the Balearic Sea. On the hillsides surrounding the city shepards tended great flocks of sheep

It had been a full year since he had come to Saguntum. In that year, the situation had become tenuous, at best. The Greek landowners and the native Iberian farmers and herdsmen were at loggerheads in the Saguntine city council. The Greek citizens were in a furor over the conquests of the Carthaginian armies in the south, and continuously sent envoys to plead to Rome for aid and protection from aggression, whilst the Iberians preferred détente with the Carthaginians, seeking to negotiate rights of trade and passage in return for safety, and had recently become outright hostile to the Roman mission. There had been no less than three attempts on his life in the past four months, and a riot by the Iberian minority had turned quite ugly at market day last week, requiring the deployment of the city guards after two of his men that had been procuring food were attacked by the crowds.

Their path took them past the very market, and Marcus squinted through the sudden bright sunlight as they passed the open forum on a side avenue, noting the charred ruin of several peddlers’ stalls that had been burned when a fire broke out, still littering the place. He frowned in disgust. In Rome, such disobedience would not be allowed, and the remains would have been cleaned up the very same day. He did not care to look at the city-folk who glared up at them as they rode by, many of them with thinly veiled hatred in their eyes.

They came presently to the slight rise on which was built the columns of the Saguntine Council Hall, walled off by slabs of white granite with a high gate of bronze and timber. It was not luxurious, but served its purpose as fortress and assembly hall in one. Outside the walls stood two Saguntine guardsmen, with long pikes and rounded copper helmets with bright red plumes, who issued a curt salute as the Praefectus neared and dismounted.

“His Honor, Marcus Valencius, Praefectus Sociorum!” Iacto shouted, the first words the slave had spoken on their short trip from the Roman villa. Dismounting as well, the Greek took the reins of both his and the Prefect’s horses in one hand. Shortly, the doors of the compound swung slowly inward, and a short, swarthy looking man n a long grey toga and a necklace of gold came out, flanked by guardsmen.

“Marcus, my friend,” He greeted, in Greek.

“Phillip,” Marcus replied respectably, though he made no move nor removed his own horse-haired helmet.

“I am glad you could come,” the city councilor said, motioning with his hands as he spoke. “The others fought you might be…reluctant…after the unpleasantness last week.”

Marcus frowned. “It takes more than a rabble to intimidate the power of Rome, Phillip, and your opponents on the council would do well to remember that,” He said sternly.

“Yes, of course—that’s why we so value your friendship!” The Greek replied, smiling largely. “Come inside, we have much to discuss. A courier has come this past evening.”

Marcus looked about for a moment, then removed his helmet without undoing the chinstrap, simply sliding it over his head, as a veteran does. Wiping the hair from his brow with one hand, he then breathed sharply in. “Very well,” he said, and with a click of his hobnailed sandles took off after the Greek councilman, into the Saguntine compound, followed by Iacto and their horses.

*****​

“What do you think they’re talking about?” Folco asked, for the third time, or maybe fourth, Cale didn’t know. They leaned against the white stone that formed the wall around the Saguntine city hall, their horses nearby tended by one of the other bodyguards, another Iberian named Fuca with long muscled arms and a shaved pate. The last was keeping a watch on the gate for the return of the Praefectus.

“Who cares?” He asked, holding a small block of wood in one hand, and using his short knife to carve into it adroitly.

“Well I do, for one. You should, for another.” Folco seemed to find the workings of politics a fascinating thing, while the Etruscan cared little for the workings of important men that didn’t concern him.

“Life is simple, Folco,” Cale mused, almost to himself, whittling with his knife. “For men like us, that is. We’re told whom to kill and whom to leave alive, and get paid at the end of the month. It’s too easy.”

The Iberian was not satisfied. “There’s rumors of war, in the south,” he said, hoping to ignite intrest.

“There are always wars.”

“Not like this one. The Carthaginians are said to be ransacking the countryside and pressing thousands of tribesmen into their army. They’ll come north, soon, I guarantee it.”

“Let them come, then.” He held up the tiny carving, a small figurine of a soldier with a long spear. Smiling in grim satisfaction, he showed it to Folco.

”And that is?”

“Mars Ultor. The Avenger.”

The look in Cale’s eyes made Folco uncomfortable. He was a fearsome looking man, broad shouldered, chisled muscles looking like more of a greek sculpture than a living man, dark furrowed brows and a smooth shaven head, pricked with several tiny scars. His face was clean shaven, as were those of all Romans he knew, but covered with a perpetual stubble of beard growth despite the hour. The way he carried himself was devoid of any weakness that warriors were trained to look for when appraising an opponent, and his equipment and weapons were superbly cared for. Whomever this man’s enemies were that he prayed for vengeance to be executed on, Folco was certain they would meet that vengeance eventually, and he did not ever want to be counted as one.

Changing the subject, he ventured, “I think the old man likes you—the Praefectus, that is. He spoke to you in the courtyard, before we left?”

“He did,” Cale answered, suddenly canting his head as if hearing something the others did not.

“Well, what did he say?”

“Never mind.” He replied, and rested his hand on the pommel of the ivory hilted gladius at his side. “Look sharp, there’s trouble coming.”


folco7tj.png


Folco, a typical Iberian Scutarii Warrior


*****​

“Fifty Thousand men?” Marcus asked again, unsure he heard correctly the first time. He threw back the small cup of wine, and set it back on the table.

“At the least,” The messenger, a tall, lanky Gallic fellow said easily, nervous from all the eyes upon him at once.

There was a general murmur of discontent and disbelief that ran through the assembled group of city councilors, some leaning their heads upon the table or others rubbing their brow with worrisome hands. The news was troublesome, to say the least, and potentially disastrous. The messenger had delievered word that a Carthaginian general had led several campaigns the past summer against the more troublesome Iberian tribes in southern Hispania, smashing most, and enslisting the lucky few that submitted in what was tantamount to outright slavery. The Iberian malcontents in Saguntum had approached him, claiming mistreatment at the hands of the Greek land-owners and asking for assistance in pressing their legal claims—just the sort of excuse a bellicose general needed for war.

“What was his name again?” The Praefectus asked.

”Hannibal, son of Hamilcar,” the messenger said. “He is a fearsome strategist, your honor, they all say.”

Hannibal. It was a good name, Marcus weighed. Hamilcar had been a powerful opponent of Rome twenty years ago, he remembered stories… his son had apparently carried on the family name. His army was now only a hundred bare miles from Saguntum. “More wine,” Marcus ordered a nearby slave.

“He would be a fool to attack us,” Phillip said reassuringly.

More murmuring from the group of men, some laughing, others shouting their agreement.

“Phillip is right.” Marcus announced, standing. He took the cup of wine from the returning servant, and looked into the eyes of the men assembled around the table. “Why should he attack Saguntum? Your city professes neutrality, and is a declared Friend of the Republic. It would be insanity, for all it would do is provoke Rome to war. And he has no where to go, should he capture this city. Rome owns the Sea; Carthaginian naval power is but a shadow of its former glory.”

This drew nods and reflective looks from the men, who seemed bolstered by Marcus’ wise words.

“What if that is precisely what the man wants?” Came an unexpected voice.

All turned to see the figure who had unbeknownst to them entered the chamber and been watching the exchanges. His name was Ambraxis, and he was as guilesome a man as any that had yet walked the earth. A wealthy land-owner and merchant, Ambraxis owned at least two silver mines and possibly three, though his tax records were suitably shadowy for his purposes. Tall and lithe and of unrecognizable ethnicity, he posed a striking contrast to the resigned councilors in the sparse chamber.

“Ambraxis,” Phillip said sourly. “What idiocy do you speak?”

“Idiocy or not, I’ve heard Hannibal despises the Romans—I can’t say I blame him.”

Marcus Valencius sighed. “We have no time for your goadings, Ambraxis. Speak your mind if you have something useful to share. If not, show yourself the doorway.”

“Of course, your honor,” Ambraxis replied. “I have sources in Cartagena that say Hannibal will march on Saguntum. Is that useful enough for you?”

Marcus’ reply was cut short, as Iacto entered the room and leaned to whisper into his master’s ear. The Prefect stood abruptly, and straightened his tunic, reaching out as the greek slave handed him his crimson cloak and secured the brooch about his shoulders.

“We will continue this debate tomorrow,” he said, as others in the room were rising and beginning to talk. He walked with a purpose out of the room, Iacto following quickly behind him.

*****​

The crowd had appeared and surrounded them before they could do anything about it, with only Cale having heard their approach despite there being over a dozen men in the group, armed with clubs and rocks, perhaps a knife or two glinting in the sunlight. They were shouting, though he could not understand what they said for he did not speak their language.

One large man, the apparent leader of the unruly crowd, was enegetically shaking his fist and shouting back to his companions. Rearing back, he suddenly threw a rock into the guardsmen, sending them moving away as it hit the wall of the Saguntine compound.

"They want Roman blood," Folco shouted, backing away from the crowd, though they were literally up against a wall. "They blame you for the wars in the south," he said.

"Me? Don't you mean, us?" Cale shot an angry look.

"Yes, us," he grimaced.

Another rock sailed through the air, this one hitting an Iberian guardsman on the shoulder causing a grunt of pain.

"I'm putting a stop to this," Cale said, and calmly drew his gladius.

"No," Folco argued, and then there was the clatter of horse hooves from within the gated compound and the great doors were swung open with a brassy screech.

Marcus Valencius was astride his white horse, his plumed helmet bobbing as he rode, followed by six Saguntine soldiers with spears and shields. His own short sword was out, polished and glinting in the afternoon sunlight, and he was shouting orders to the men in thier own tongue. The Saguntines formed a wall of shields in front of the gate and began advancing, pressing the crowd back slowly as more rocks sailed over thier heads, a few thumping hollowly against their round sheilds.

"Rally on me!" The Praefectus shouted to his own men, motioning for them with his sword. "Calmly now, boys, calmly," he spoke, as if speaking to a skittish horse.

The crowd surged forward as a wave upon a stormy coast, and was broken as surely as water upon the rocks on the wall of shield-bearers before the gates. One man flung himself fully over the shield-wall and crashed into the cobbles of the street behind them, where he was quickly apprehended by two soldiers and drug away by his short tunic. The Saguntine guardsmen were pressing forward with their shields and using their spears as staves, here slamming a shield-boss into one rioter's face, and there grapping with another and using the shield as a device to push them back.

The Roman contingent were ahorse now, all of them, and the Praefectus gave the command to ride home. A short horn-blast was issued by one of the lead bodyguards, and the column of riders set off into the streets, the crowd melting away before them, fearful of the horse-hooves.

Cale looked back and saw an empty Greek helmet rolling down the street, a large dent in the side...


 

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Alhazen, great work! You really captured the mood of the city as the the dark shadow of Hannibal and his armies loom over Saguntum! :) Brilliant writing!
 

coz1

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As is so typical in this period, one must win one war before even beginning to fight the other. And that puts the Romans in an uneasy place what with Hannibal and all waiting to come and destroy them as he told his father he would do. Gripping stuff, Alhazen.
 

stnylan

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“The others fought you might be…reluctant…after the unpleasantness last week.”

Sorry but I could not help but laugh when I read this. Unintended - but very amusing!

All in all it sounds as if Saguntum is very soon going to be in the eye of the storm. Cale is a rather unsettling chap, all in all. Interesting quality to the music. Need to think on that.
 

kevusher

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The music is brilliant, and adds to the drama. Really good writing so far, can't wait for the next chapter..!!
 

Alhazen

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Stynlan-- :D I had to look and see that I had actually written that. :rofl: Now you've captured my blunder for eternity even if I did edit it. :rolleyes:

Semi-Lobster--Thank you much sir, I appreciate the kind words.

Molleby--As am I! This is just the prologue after all, the game hasnt even really started!

coz1--You've hit the nail on the head, my friend. And in a way, the crowds are right, by stationing troops--even if it is only 5 or 6 real "Romans" in Saguntum, they have violated the treaty they set up with Hamilcar. Some would say that by making alliance with the city they had already done so anyway.

Kevusher--Thanks alot, glad you're here!
 

Lucius Sulla

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Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Until I saw it in your sig, I missed this jewell, which I hope you will play until my namesake takes... charge... or the republic, at least.

I happen to be re-reading what I consider the best account of the Punic Wars, if you would like to get accurate description of the battles, the campaigns in a very unbiased account, search for "The Punic Wars" by Adrian Goldsworthy. Quite good diagrams of the battles, too. I think it's published in UK by Cassell... dunno in US. It's really worth it.

The matter of Saguntum by the way, is extensively debated. The fact is the way the Republic of Rome used to conduct war and peace, that is, agressively in all accounts. The Republic was used to win, and when winning to have their enemies completely neutralized... thus the situation after the First Punic war was quite... unsettling, in a lot of ways for them. Thus, under that light, no treaty was valid, but under the spirit that Rome had won, and they could do as they please. While Carthage, more used to the Hellenic states period, only saw their defeat as a conditioned accord between peers.
 

Alhazen

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Sulla--Thanks! Im glad youve enjoyed it so far. That's a grea tip for the book, I'm looking for it now. I'm especially interested in sources on Hannibal, his lieutenants, Cartagena, and their administration of Iberia.