I had just hidden my time machine when one of Marius' soldiers spotted me. Not knowing what else to do, I began to run. However, I knew I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was on horseback, and I couldn't outrun his horse. Thus, he quickly fell upon me, and I was captured.
This soldier looked for the slave trader that traveled with Marius' army, and he sold me to him for 4 sesterces. I was in big trouble now. I was going to live the old clich', "while in Rome do as the Romans."
Along with thousands of others, I was herded south. We marched until we reached Naples where there was a large slave-trading establishment.
Once we arrived at the slave trading place, we were all stripped naked and cleaned up. We were all separately interviewed to discover our talents. Unfortunately, I speak neither the language of the Cimbri, nor of the Teutones. I only speak a small amount of Latin, but not enough to effectively communicate. They certainly didn't have anyone that spoke English. Pig Latin was also of no use. So, communication was difficult. They kept repeating a phrase, but I have no idea as to its meaning. They give me the name of Caprimulgus. I don't know what that means, but I hope it is a good label.
We were herded into another room, and the preparations for our sale were completed. Our feet were painted white with chalk. An order of auction was arranged, and I was placed after a young Cambric boy who they gave the name of Eros. There were lots of people that were sold before they got to me. Some of them had the same name Caprimulgus, so I got a little worried.
I decided to do something to indicate some of my skills since communication during the interview process was negligible. There was a tree nearby, so I grabbed some branches with the intent of building a makeshift piece of furniture. I'm a fair wood worker, and I'd rather do that than be purchased for the gladiatorial games.
The bidding for Eros went for quite a long time. He went for a pretty high price. I was beginning to wonder why I was set up behind him. I certainly wasn't going to fetch that high a price. I think the phrase that they used to describe me was compelling enough to think that I would be valuable.
I fashioned a makeshift couch from the few twigs I gathered. It wasn't anything special, but it was enough to show them that I had some woodworking skills. It surprised the auctioneer, but he went along with it. I hoped that this little item would ensure that I wouldn't be sold into gladiatorial service. I'm too old to be an effective fighter. My reflexes are significantly slower than they were 10 years ago. I wouldn't last long as a gladiator.
The bidding went back and forth for quite a while. I was greatly surprised. I think my makeshift twig couch was making a difference. They could see that I had a skill, and I could be put to good use. Eventually, I was sold to a well to do furniture maker. I was grateful to not have to go with a large portion of these captives to be trained as gladiators. Some of them may make a large amount of money, but it wasn't the life for me.
The furniture maker made luxurious furniture to be sold to the senatorial and equestrian classes of Rome. His furniture was of very fine quality, and he was renown throughout Rome as the premiere furniture maker. I felt very lucky joining such a prestigious furniture maker in Naples. He also bought a young woman to help with the housework. She was very striking, and I wonder how his wife will react to this purchase.
At first I was assigned the task of building tables. I'm a decent wood worker, but I'm used to having modern tools. I would have done wonders if I had my woodshop with me. However, I had to work with the equipment available. I was still handy with the hand tools.
I knew that if I worked hard and crafted desirable furniture, I could earn my freedom rather quickly. So, I painstakingly crafted each piece I was assigned and I made some items on my own. Since our furniture was greatly desired throughout the republic, we sold numerous pieces and were very successful.
As the months past, I learned more and more Latin and some of the local dialect. I also learned more about my passage into slavery. One thing I did finally learn was the phrase they kept repeating at the slave interview. The interviewer kept saying "He must be an expert on animal husbandry. Look how fat he is!" Thus, they named me Caprimulgus or "Goat-milker" with designs on selling me as a shepherd.
I've never lived on a farm, and I don't have a lot of experience with animals. I don't know how long I would have lasted in the country. I'm certain that anyone who would have purchased me with those designs would have been greatly disappointed.
The man who purchased my services was named Gaius Libertus Lignarius. He had multiple ex-slaves who were paying him commission. He was earning a lot of money with all of the artisans under his tutelage. He wasn't a Roman citizen, and he very much wanted to be. He was very prosperous, and he hadn't actually made any furniture himself for quite a while. If he were given citizenship he would have easily been a member of the Equestrian order.
He lived on a large estate on the hills of Naples. Naturally, it was well furnished. Occasionally, he would invite his free tradesmen up for dinner. Those of us that hadn't purchased our freedom yet were hired to serve some of the dinner guests. Generally, we would only serve the freedmen. His regular staff would serve the more respected guests.
Several Roman Senators had lands in Campania. He often had dinner at their estates. Often in these instances, he was the one served by the less competent waiters. However, many times he would bring a reclining couch as a gift. We made some of the best in the Roman world. He would insist on dining on this couch in order to make sure it was "up to standards." Thus, he would at least dine in comfort. Often times, it was the finest reclining couch that the host had. Thus, it was odd to have the finest furniture in the rear of the dining area. This often brought notice of others. Thus, in order for his host to less foolish, he began to move up in rank. These hosts wanted the finest furniture at the front for all to see. Thus, Libertus would gain in rank simply because of the nature of his fine gifts.
I lived in a small loft above the shop. It was on the third floor, and it was rather small. Another slave with more experience lived in the apartment below. Since I was in the furniture business, I could spend my time furnishing it as I pleased. Thus, although it wasn't a great place to live, it was nicely furnished. The building had a distinct lean towards the street. You had to take care in which direction you slept otherwise the blood might rush to your head by morning.
After furnishing my place, I started to save my peculium, which is extra money, to earn my freedom. In the years after Marius' victories, our products were in great demand. Every battle abroad brought more wealth to a few citizens. They would use some of this wealth to purchase luxury items. Thus, we had plenty of demand for our products.
After working for Libertus for 5 years, I earned enough to buy my freedom. He agreed to grant my freedom with the agreement to pay him a percentage of my pay. It was a pretty standard agreement. He found a location a short distance from his shop to establish my shop. This time, I would live in the first floor above the shop. I agreed to house a few of his slaves in the upper floors. This reduced the amount I had to pay him.
At this time, I thought about changing my name to something more appropriate to my profession, but it had grown on me and I decided to keep it. Besides, my reputation was built upon my unusual name for a carpenter. However, as was somewhat traditional for freed men to take on the name of their emancipator, I became Caprimulgus Liberius.
The five years after purchasing my freedom were successful. The demand for Naples furniture came from other places besides Rome. Furniture from Naples was sold to the King of Parthia and to the Egyptian royal family. Throughout the civilized world, people looked for furniture built by us.
I was making an excellent living, and I even considered purchasing some slaves to help out in my shop. However, there was growing unrest in the Republic and it was affecting our trade. Some of the allies of Rome felt they were being treated unfairly. Libertus was one who felt that he should be considered for full citizenship. His requests in this area were regularly denied.
Revolts became regular occurrences. The Samnites in Campania revolted, and the trade routes between Naples and Rome were cut off. Soon, most of Campania had separated from Rome. The Samnites established themselves as a separate state. With all this unrest, it wouldn't be a good time to increase production.
Being non-Roman I had a few advantages. Since I had earned a great deal of money up to this point and I had an excellent reputation, I could begin looking at my options. One of the things that I considered was to find my time machine and return home. However, it had been many years and I was quite happy with the way my life was going. I also wasn't too concerned about joining Roman society and I still did things in my own way. My attitude about things was far different than many Romans.
I felt that my shop was too close to Libertus' ship. He had some individuals who were ready to purchase their freedom, so I sold my shop and apartment back to Libertus. With this money and some that I had saved, I was able to purchase a small plot of land in a bit of a nicer part of the city. This parcel of land that I purchased used to hold a shop, but it had burned to the ground. Since the furniture business was suffering, I decided to construct the new shop and home by myself. I had enough to purchase the materials. I had saved enough to take the time build a new building.
It took a while to build the building on my own, but in the end it was worth it. My building was just going to have a small shop and living quarters above. I couldn't quite afford an estate, but I would be more comfortable in the new building.
Shortly after I finished, Lucius Cornelius Sulla began his consulship to take back Campania. Sulla punished many of the Samnite rebels. Unfortunately, Libertus was labeled one of the Rebels. He went into hiding, but was betrayed by a slave. He was crucified along the road to Rome to teach the Samnites a lesson. This released me of all of my former obligations, but it cost me several fine pieces of furniture to remain alive. I am glad that I was able to communicate at this point. Otherwise, I certainly would have been put to death as well.
With Libertus dieing in disgrace, that hurt my business with Rome. However, Egypt and other wealthy foreign customers turned to me and the other former slaves of Libertus for their business, but this didn't mean a lot of business.
With the strife in the Republic during this time, furniture purchases were way down, and when the Sulla's proscriptions started, furniture sales took a turn for the worse. I wasn't pleased with Sulla killing off well to do Roman citizens. They were my core business. However, I didn't voice any opposition.
Perhaps it was a time to look for other work. Marcus Crassus was purchasing slaves in the field of home construction. I could sell myself back into slavery to him. My house and shop turned out pretty nice, and it was well thought of in the neighborhood. Thus, I thought about taking the trip to Rome, but the violence there was too great. I figured if I could stick it out, business would pick up. I also started building more modest pieces for the locals. However, I couldn't do this alone.
There was a slave auction, and I decided to see what was available. Some of the Samnite civilians were being sold into slavery. There were lots of women and children on the blocks. I purchased a slave woman to work in the front of my store. She would give me the opportunity to concentrate more on my construction.
She wasn't particularly attractive, but she was quite competent in terms of running a store and a home. She didn't cost a great deal, so I think she was a very good deal. She was a decent cook, and quite a loving person. We grew very close, and eventually, she became pregnant with my first child. Before he was born, I freed her and married her. We wed on the day Marius died. Shortly after that day, our free son was born. He was called Marcus Caprimulius Liberius.
With Marius dead, tensions were somewhat relaxed. Sulla killed off a great deal of the Aristocracy. However, Soldiers with newfound wealth and property began ordering luxurious furniture again. Thus, business began to pick up. The aristocracy in Rome was once again noticing my services. I built several pieces for Crassus. He wanted furniture to put in some of the real estate that he had been acquiring.
Crassus began to demand more and more furniture. Thus, I looked for purchasing more artisans. I began to frequent the slave auctions. I managed to purchase a few Greek artisans. They were very expensive, but they were well worth it. They had skills already, and I could steer them towards the style my customers had grown accustomed.
I began to have more time for leisure. So, I began to take more time to visit the gladiatorial games. I was beginning to bring in a lot of money. I didn't have enough money to sit in the front, but I was able to sit in decent seats. I wondered how some of the slaves that were sold on the same day that I was faired in the games.
I found that I was becoming more Roman. I enjoyed the games, and I started to look towards eating out more. I had more internal pressure to act more Roman and to shed my strange future ways.
When Sulla retired to Campania, he also purchased some furniture from my shop. I was once again one of the premiere furniture makers in Rome. People throughout the Republic began to seek me out for fine furniture.
I began to go to more and more slave auctions trying to keep up with demand. I allowed some artisans their freedom with the same agreement I had with Libertus. They would pay me a commission on everything they sold. I used the money from their purchase of freedom to purchase more slaves.
I hoped the tensions between the government and the armies would soon subside. It was much better for my business to have internal stability. However, this was not to be. Marcus Aemilius Lepidus decided to march on Rome with his army, and Gnius Pompanius Magnus was given the task to put down his rebellion.
Things were good when the armies fought external forces. The army would take wealth from others and have purchasing power to buy our goods. However, whenever there was internal fighting, a large number of wealthy men ended up dead. This is very bad for business.
Luckily, Sulla didn't march on Rome. We didn't need any more aristocratic bloodshed. However, his campaign in Spain was disastrous. With Luculus in Asia Minor, and Pompey having troubles in Spain, a revolt of country slaves took place.
My men were happy with their lot. They were well fed, and they had a place to live. They earned plenty of money, and could purchase their freedom at any time. Thus, they weren't on the side of Spartacus. I offered them their freedom if they wished it. I turned 66, and the years had taken their toll upon me. I didn't need some slaves rebelling against me. They unanimously decided to continue working in my shop.
I had a pretty good amount of money built up. I purchased a modest estate for my children to live. My wife was several years my junior, and she gave me 3 strong boys. They would continue on with my work once I was gone. I made sure all of my possessions were divisible by three. I had 6 slaves working for me, and I had 15 paying commission. It was agreed that they would continue to pay my heirs upon my death.
It is hard to believe that I lived in Ancient Rome for 30 years. The estate I purchased needs a lot of work. In my youth I would have started from scratch. However, I just don't have the energy. The boys are too young to fix the house, and it is drafty. I long for my old apartment above the shop. Even with its lean it was at least warm.
I am trying to fix up this place, but my age prevents me from several activities. I can't scramble up a ladder like I used to. This cough just won't go away. So, I have decided to return to my time machine. I have a feeling that I don't have much longer to live. I have family and friends here, so I won't be returning myself. However, I hope to send the machine back with this report. My English is quite rusty, and I'm sure my penmanship needs a lot of work. However, I feel that I should try to send this report back through. Thus, people there will know what happened to me.
This cough will not go away, I there was something I could do. My guess is that I caught pneumonia. I'm glad that my time machine was undisturbed. This long walk back to it took a lot out of me. I'm afraid that I won't be able to return to Naples. That trip would be just too much for me. I hope you get this report without any difficulty. I think I'll wonder off in the mountains and spend my last days there. I wonder how much impact my life will have. I've got a few great kids, and I had a good life in the Roman Republic. Farewell everyone!
I had dined at Claudius Flavius Agrippa's estate. It was about two thousand paces from my home and I went on foot. It was a very ample banquet and I had left just before dusk as I wished to get home before it got too dark.
I had walked down the road for a short while when a man came from behind some brush along the road. He asked for all of my valuables. I could not help but laugh. This did not go over well with him and he jumped at me. I casually stepped aside, and I see a couple of arrows whisk by me. This bandit was not alone.
The first bandit had gained his footing and rushed towards me once again. I ducked behind the brush from which he emerged. I could not see his compatriots, so I had to be careful. I removed my cloak to protect myself from any small weapon the first bandit may have been carrying. I saw his knife glint in the fading light.
As he rushed at me, I grabbed his arm and launched him in the air with a little hitch in my hip. He hit the ground hard, but only enough to make him angrier. Once again, he charged at me, and I held my cloak to one side. I jumped out of the way in time and draped my cloak over him. I did not let go of cloak as it closed around my assailant. With my grasp of the cloak, I dropped to the ground and put my foot into the small of his back; thus, launching him above the cover of the brush.
In the failing light, his accomplices mistook him for me and launched a salvo of arrows. However, one of the archers gave himself away in this attack. The two arrows shot from this bandit's accomplices struck him. He started bleeding profusely, so I let him keep my cloak. He was still alive, but he would not be for long.
I did not know the position of one of the archers, so I carefully made my way to the archer's position that I had spotted. I saw that he had another arrow ready for flight. I jumped over the bush he was using for cover and knocked his bow. The arrow flew across the road. The second archer yelled in surprise as the arrow just missed him.
I grabbed the first archer from behind and used my greatest weapon on the second. I glared at him with the first archer held tightly in my grasp. Without breaking my stare, I snapped the neck of the first archer with my bare hands. My weapon was successful, and the second archer dropped his weapon and ran off.
I gathered up the two dead men and piled them on the brush beside the road. I checked for any identifying items, and gathered their valuables in a bit of cloth. I headed back towards home leaving the corpses for the scavengers.
After a bit of walking, I overhear some men talking. I cannot quite make it out, but it sounded like an exciting story about a 7-foot man killing Antonius with his bare hands. As I approach, I can see one of the men is enraged by the tale being told. He shouts, "He killed my brother, so he must die!"
I was in a bit of a spot because they were between my home and me. I was not looking for any more trouble, but the brother had spotted me. He came rushing towards me with knife in his hand. As he got closer, he began to shout wildly. Fear was not going to override his anger. However, for my benefit his anger impaired his judgment. When he was close enough, I side stepped him and grabbed his arm. Using his own hand with his own knife, I plunged the blade between his ribs. He fell in a heap. He attempted to get up, but his strength had left him.
Nevertheless, there were three remaining men standing besides a small cart filled with goods. The second archer was standing with his eyes wide with fear.
"That's him! That's him!" he nervously shouted.
"He's not seven feet tall," the second man said with a confused look on his face.
The third man I assumed was the ringleader. He ordered the two men to spread out and attack me on each side, but the two men hesitated. The ringleaders eyes flared and he shouted, "Move it!"
With a start, the two men tried to flank me. I leaned against a close by tree to watch my back. Slowly the three men closed in upon me. The two men on my left and right drew their knives.
I assumed that the ringleader was a deserter from the army who was now making his living as a bandit. He was going to be difficult to take down as he was wearing Roman armor and I just had my knife.
The two conspirators were not wearing any protection against sharp implements, but their cloaks did make them difficult to see. This was all more the true with the greatly fading light.
Closer and closer, the three men became. Eventually, the two men on my flanks lunged towards me. In an effort to dodge their attacks, I spun and kicked the ringleader in the face. Once again, the weapon of fear worked well on the second archer. With my action, he hesitated. This gave me enough time to grab the other bandit by the arm and twist it. The pain pushed him towards the ground and he dropped his knife.
By this time, the ringleader had shaken off his surprise and managed to draw a short sword. He made a clumsy attempt to stab me. It was quite apparent that despite his armor, he was not a well-trained soldier.
With his comrade still somewhat under my control, I pushed him in the way of this awkward stab. Unfortunately for this poor bandit, this thrust went directly into his throat and severed part of his neck. With a little shout, I popped his head right off.
The second archer fainted dead away upon the sight of his decapitated friend. With the head freed of encumbrance of a body, I swung it by the hair and smacked the ringleader with it. With an awful thwack, the head crashed into the helmet of the ringleader.
While the damage was clearly minimal, the scene left him a bit stunned as well. With this momentary hesitation, I thrust my knife in his eye. It is the most vulnerable spot on a man in armor. I quickly removed my knife and a scream of pain came out of his mouth as he clutched his eye.
If the wound is deep enough, it will eventually be fatal. However, it can take a bit of time. With a fury of pain and the loss of vision, the ringleader began swinging his short sword wildly. With one of his swings, he cut a large chunk out of the second archer's leg. Blood began to pour out of this wound but the lead bandit continued to swing his sword with shouts of anger. The new wound would be certainly fatal, but it did not rouse the second archer.
The head bandit was yelling and swearing. He waved his sword about wildly, but I was not going to get anywhere close to him. It was only a matter of time before the loss of blood would do its work. After a short time, the ringleader fell to the ground with a thud. He writhed with pain and gradually sank into unconsciousness.
It was dark now, but I could not leave these men in the middle of the road. However, I did not wish to take any chances that these men were still able to lash out at me. Thus, I made my thanks to my patron Neptune. My ritual took a few minutes as I burnt some blood of my fallen foes in thanks. I also included the decapitated head in my ritual of thanks.
I made certain that the four men were dead as I piled the bandits in a heap beside the road. Like their other fallen comrades, I obtained their valuables and put them all in their own wagon. From the looks of the booty these men had collected in their wagon, they were quite successful highwaymen.
Once I arrived home, I once again made sacrifices to Neptune. My tunic was soaked with the blood of these men. I took the opportunity to visit the bath before turning in for the night.
"That is quite a story," the magistrate said with a little disbelief.
"Your belief is of little concern to me," replied Marius Batiatus Pervalidus with a wave of his hand. "By Neptune, it is the truth, and the men's wounds will confirm my story."
"You killed six men by yourself?"
"No. I killed three men. The men themselves are responsible for the deaths of the other three. I am merely responsible for the head bandit, one of the archers, and the archer's brother."
"You decapitated one man!"
"No, the bandit leader did that with a wild swing. His swing cut the neck of the man and I just finished removing it from its body."
"You used his head as a weapon."
"I only did so to protect myself from the head bandit."
"Someone could make quite a drama out of the events last night."
"Aye, it would make quite a tragic tale of this former Roman soldier turned bandit.
"Do you know who this head bandit is -- er -- was?" asked the magistrate.
"I do not."
"I will tell you. He was Julius Ladro Denunciato. He is in fact a deserter and there is a great reward for his capture. The Republic frowns greatly upon soldiers that leave the ranks."
"It is my pleasure to serve the Republic. That is its own reward."
"That is admirable and well stated. Marius Batiatus Pervalidus... Batiatus? Batiatus? Where have I heard that name?"
"Perhaps you have heard of Lentulus Batiatus. He ran a gladiatorial school in Capua long ago."
"Gladiator?" enquired the magistrate. "You are a gladiator? That explains a few things."
"I have paid for my freedom," Pervalidus replied curtly.
"Were ... you were a gladiator."
"In my younger days, I used to regularly attend the gladiatorial exhibitions. I remember a mountain of a man who went by the name of Validus Maximus. Strong and large that described him quite well. He fought with the trident and net. He was absolutely unbelievable!"
"I am pleased that you enjoyed the contests."
"He used the trident like no one I had ever seen. It was part staff and part spear. Those with gladii were no match for him. He could knock those short swords away from the other gladiator with one swipe."
"It is important to know how to use your weapon."
"You could tell that he was so much better than everyone else. He would just toy with the other gladiators for the sake of the crowd."
"The gladiatorial games were for the crowds and the gods. It is not wise to upset the immortals."
"One time he took on three gladiators. I think the patron of those particular games wanted to see Validus lose."
"It is a danger of the profession."
"Anyway, Validus fought a very defensive fight at first. He made one of his opponents swing wildly and hit one of the other gladiators -- like -- in your tale ... of ... last night..."
"It is a useful tactic."
"Hey! Validus -- Pervalidus..."
"Yes, I was a gladiator that fought as Validus, and later Validus Maximus."
"Now I believe that the guy thought you were seven feet tall. I thought you were too -- in my youth."
"Stature can be deceiving."
"Wow! Validus Maximus. Our legion could use a man like you."
"While that may be true, I have paid my service to the Roman Republic."
"Have you heard the former proconsul Gaius Julius Caesar has crossed the Rubicon? He marching his troops toward Brundisium to meet with Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. It means civil war. You could provide a great service to the Republic."
"I am quite happy serving the Republic in the manner that I did in ridding it of this group of bandits. I owe it no other allegiance."
"I am indebted to Pompey the Great. I must side with him."
"That is no concern of mine."
"Let me finish," replied the magistrate. "If Pompey is defeated I could lose everything. I could lose my estate, my position, perhaps even my life."
"That is quite a sad tale."
"That is just the half of it. I am in line to become Proconsul myself one day. If the Republic falls, all that I have worked for will be gone. I am running for Praetor!"
"My tears are falling like rain..."
"However, if you side with us -- the Republic -- and help us, I can make it worth your while."
"I doubt that even you have that much to offer me."
"Then do it for the Republic and your fellow Romans."
"While I must admit, you are telling quite a sad tale. With the loss of your estate and the loss of the Roman Republic, it would certainly make for a great tragic play. However, I have a much greater tale of loss than you could ever know."
"Caesar is a great general. We could use all the able-bodied men we could get. Pompey is also a great general, but his troops are green. There will be quite a battle. It would be quite a tragedy if the Republic falls."
"I will make a bargain with you. If I tell you my tale of loss, and if it is not more tragic than your own, I will join you."
"Very well, tell me your tale, and then I will fill in the rest of my tale of misery. I am confident in my tale of woe."
I was young. I had not become of age yet. I had probably experienced 12 summers when King Mithridates invaded Bithynia where my family called home. My father, hoping that our homeland would be free, died in battle against the invading King. That left my mother to take care of my older brother, my younger sister and I.
I had a maternal uncle living in Cyzicus. Thus, to seek refuge, my mother and I headed for that Bithynian city. This was an unfortunate move for us as before we arrived, Mithridates laid siege to the city. This trapped my family between the army of Mithridates and the advancing army of the Roman Consul Lucius Licinius Lucullus Ponticus.
Instead of engaging in battle, Lucullus prevented the delivery of supplies by land. While it did eventually lead to Mithridates breaking his siege, it was not going to allow us to make our way into the city.
My family and I followed our mother to an encampment by the river Granicus. We spent a few days there fishing and determining our next move. Fate was once again frowning upon us as Mithridates in his attempt to escape Lucullus, found his way to this very river.
The two generals staged a great battle along the river, and my family had nowhere to go. I saw my mother and sister die beneath the hooves of a Roman equestrian soldier. I saw my brother speared by one of King Mithridates soldiers. I just sat at watched the carnage of the two great armies fighting.
There were men fighting valiantly on both sides. The carnage was incomprehensible to such a young person. The insides of a man were no longer a stranger to me. The blood flowed into the river like its own small stream. I sat and could not turn away. Soldier after soldier fell throughout the battle.
Lucullus was victorious on that day, but King Mithridates escaped by boat along the river. Lucullus fresh from victory gathered up the spoils of war, which included me. I was marched away from the land that I called home.
We marched for weeks towards Rome. Everything I had ever known was lost. There was no way that I could ever find my way back to my home. I spoke not a word of Latin, but that mattered little to the Romans.
We were marched right past the city of Rome and taken to the large slave-trading center in Naples. The Romans would sell the former soldiers and citizens of Bithynia alike at the next auction. We were suddenly simply a commodity.
It was like a bad dream in which I could not awaken. Everything was as if I was fresh from the womb. The sights, sounds, and smells were strange to me.
The slave trading masters stripped us all down and sent us into the baths. Afterward, they closely inspected the newly acquired merchandise. I had not come of age, and I drew quite a bit of excited looks. I was young, strong, and in excellent health. I had to endure many inspections by several individuals.
I scarcely remember the interview with the officials of the slave auction. They were excited. I heard a translator mention something about a high price. I have vague recollections of remarks of my looks and my youthful appearance. He slapped some name on me, and held me out towards the end of the selling day.
A murmur fell over the crowd as I walked out onto the platform and inspected by the potential buyers. I stared down at my chalked feet and shuffled in my naked nervousness. Several patrons examined me quite closely for a few minutes and the bidding began.
The bidding process took a long time as I had garnered much interest. I had still not recovered from the general daze that I was in since the death of my family and the march away from my home. A Campanian man whose name I have long forgotten purchased me for the quite high price of 125,000 sesterces. I was to be his personal house servant. I heard of others going for as low as 2 sesterces, so I briefly wondered what was special about me.
When we arrived at my new master's house in Campania, his wife looked at me with an odd look of disgust and desire. Perhaps she liked how I looked and perhaps she was disgusted at the high price her husband had paid. I am not certain.
My master and his wife fought often over me. One hundred twenty-five thousand sesterces was a lot of money to pay for an ordinary houseboy. I think my naiveté prevented me from seeing the real purpose. It became quite clear a few weeks after arriving.
The mistress of the house took a group of servants to tend to an elderly relative. He had spoken to the remaining servants and explained that he did not wish to be disturbed. No one was to come to him while he was in the peristylium or any adjoining rooms in the rear of the house. He also asked me to serve him his meal in the exhedra rather than have his meal in the traditional triclinium.
I did not find this request unusual, but some of the other servants snickered at the order. I obtained the food from one of the other servants in the cucina and took it into my master in the nearby exhedra. The master had a strange smile on his face and he regularly chuckled as he ate his meal.
When he was finished, he gave me a carafe of very cheap wine. He ordered me to drink it, but it burned the back of my throat. I could only take a few sips, but my master insisted I continue to drink.
He briefly left the room to check on the other servants. While he was out, I dumped a good portion of the awful, cheap wine in one of the urns that decorated the open peristylium.
Upon his return, he checked my progress on the wine and gave a wry smile. He asked me to recline in one of his couches. I was still confused upon the events that were taking place. "Why is my master asking me to recline on the furniture? This is certainly new," I thought to myself.
I did as he requested, and sat on the long couch. He began stroking my hair and mumbling something in Latin. While I had picked up a few words by this point, I did not have any idea what he was saying. He looked into my eyes and smiled a very disturbing smile. He arose and removed his tunic. Something was exiting him.
He told me to drink more of the wine. I took another bitter sip, and spilled a generous portion down my tunic. With the smile still upon his face and his excitement growing, he ordered me to lie face down across the dining table.
I tried to understand what was happening, but I could not put the pieces together. Thus, I refused to cooperate. He grabbed me firmly by the arm to force his will. I was strong and I easily slipped out of his grasp. I let out a small chuckle.
His anger grew greatly as he yelled something. I can only assume it was a curse of some kind. He came at me again, but with the flask of cheap wine still in my hand, I smashed him over the head with it.
He fell over like a goatskin filled with sand. Blood poured from his ear. A great deal of blood spilled onto the floor beneath his head. I knew he was dead or at least soon would be.
I ran through the peristylium as fast as I could and slipped out of the posticum. With his strict order to be alone, I was sure no one had seen what I had done. I ran through the streets of Campania and made my way to the hills outside of town.
I had not reached manhood, and I had killed my first man. I was alone, and I would never find my way to my home. I just murdered the only person who would have made sure I had what I needed to survive. I was on my own.
"You killed your master?" inquired the magistrate. "That crime is punishable by death. I could take you in and have you crucified or thrown off the Capitoline hill."
"Neither you nor I know if the man died. I did not wait to find out if he survived."
"The disobedience of a slave is enough to have you executed. Perhaps they would burn you at the stake..."
"I have received a full pardon from Marcus Licinius Crassus, but that is part of my story I have yet to tell."
"I have heard enough. It is sad, that is true. However, because your master had a soft head and a hard wine carafe does not make it terribly sad story."
"It is your bias that does not equate the loss of my family and home to your potential loss of family, home, and honor."
"Watch your tongue freedman! You have a lavish homestead. You raise horses. You even have a large number of slaves of your own. You have put this great tragedy behind you and the Fates have been kind."
"For many years the Fates were unkind to me. It was not until Neptune smiled upon me that brought me to this place."
"So, that is why you raise horses..."
"It is to give thanks to Neptune -- creator of horses."
"Your horses could be used for the upcoming conflict as well."
"The horses were promised to Crassus..."
"Crassus died four years ago at the battle of Carrhae!"
"Thus, they will only be given to his successor which will be determined by this conflict."
"I could just take them," threatened the magistrate.
"One more body on this pile of four would not be noticed..."
"Is that a threat?"
"I am just pointing out facts; like you are a young man, you are running for public office, you have your whole life in front of you, you are no match for me in battle, that kind of thing."
"You point is well taken freedman," replied the magistrate with a quiver in his voice. "I will grant equal hardships between the stories. Are you going to continue to a greater sadness?"
"If you like; however, I have lived one life more than you. Thus, most certainly I have known greater tragedy than you."
"Are you declaring victory already?"
"I do have the upper hand if you wish to concede."
"Continue with your story Pervalidus."
I was on my own in the hills of Campainia. A few days after my escape, a huge commotion kept me on the run. Roman soldiers were running here and there. "Certainly, I could not be the cause of this," I thought to myself.
Nevertheless, I made extra care to hide. Eventually, my hunger overcame my desire to hide. One night, I came upon a small camp of about one hundred men. They had Roman army weapons, but this was not a Roman army camp. I was on the march with the Roman army for weeks, and I knew their habits.
I was certain they would not miss a little food. Needless to say, I was careless and immediately caught. The men on guard took me to their Thracian leader. I explained that I had just escaped, and I wished to return to my home in Bithynia.
"Bithynia?" exclaimed their leader. "My home was just across the Bosporus from Bithynia! I too hope to see those shores again!"
I immediately offered the man my services. The crowd of men laughed. "You have not yet achieved manhood," interrupted the leader. "What service could you provide this group of escaped slaves?"
"You are escaped slaves too?" I asked forgetting the other part of his question.
"We have freed ourselves from the bonds of slavery, and freed some Roman soldiers of their weaponry. We plan to raise a small army, and will fight our way out of Rome to our homes!" shouted the leader rousing a big cheer. When the cheers died down, he continued, "You, my young friend, have not seen enough summers to do battle..."
"I have already killed my first man!" I responded.
"With what weapon houseboy -- your good looks?" the leader asked to the roars of laughter.
"I smashed his head with a wine carafe," I said timidly.
The crowd erupted with even more laughter. "Fair enough young warrior, we accept your wine carafe! They call me Spartacus! We will teach you to use the sword, for when you enter manhood, you can join us. These are my Galatian cohorts Crixus and Oenomaus. Mind them well!"
Spartacus took me under his wing and taught me how to fight. He became my second father. I learned how to fight under these men. We camped under the shadow of the great mountain Vesuvius. We gathered what we could from the surrounding countryside. Rural slaves came from all around to join us, and we all prepared for the inevitable upcoming battle.
The first test in battle came against 3000 raw Roman recruits. Using the great mountain to our advantage, we surprised the inexperienced troops and easily defeated them. I was in the group to draw the Roman soldiers up the mountainside, but the experienced fighters, using vines and ropes descended the mountain and got behind the Romans. Even with our lesser numbers, our group surrounded and routed the Romans quickly. Our reputation began growing throughout Rome.
However, in the shadow Mount Vesuvius was not the ideal place to winter. Thus, we packed up and moved farther south. We trained and gathered more numbers as we traveled. Our numbers grew steadily as we traveled.
On our southward march, we met two other legions of about three thousand men each. While our numbers were growing, the Roman soldiers still outnumbered us in these encounters. However, the leadership of Spartacus is what allowed us to prevail against the stronger force. These encounters also allowed us to more weapons and armor.
More slaves joined us as we marched towards the coast. Once we reached the coast, we continued along the shore until we reached the town of Thurii. We spent the winter living off the land. We trained and prepared for our next move in the spring. Despite Spartacus's objections, the Galatians continued to gather a large amount of spoils from the Roman countryside.
From our encounters and some pillaging, we were well equipped. We had a fully functioning encampment and spent a comfortable winter in Thurii. Our smiths turned out weapons, and we had grains and meat from the land.
We were well rested and trained for the upcoming challenges in the spring. Our numbers had grown immensely. There must have been 90,000 men, women, and children in our camp.
I had trained hard. I could beat every youngster in the camp in combat. I even held my own against many of the adults. Thus, Spartacus allowed me to join the fighting men. I was officially apart of the "Gladiatorial Army." While my beard still did not grow, I came of age during that winter.
With this army, Spartacus was confident we could march north and leave Rome. We would certainly have to face opposition, but we were well trained and willing to fight.
Crixus and many of his fellow Galatians were anxious for more plunder. They gathered many riches from the towns on our march. Spartacus had a difficult time keeping him in line. At one point, Crixus and his group split off from the rest of us, and the Romans got the upper hand on his group. We arrived and defeated the legions from Rome, but before we could arrive, Crixus died in battle.
We fought a few other Roman legions on our northward march. At the foot of the Alps, we defeated the governor of Cisalpine Gaul at Mutina. We could then march out of Rome to our homes. I longed to go home. There was news of Mithridates still fighting against Lucullus. Thus, I decided to follow where Spartacus led. Many left our numbers to return to their homes.
In our battles, we had gathered many riches, and many wanted more. Others enjoyed their revenge on Rome, and wanted to continue. Others, like me, would follow Spartacus to wherever he led. We were family.
Spartacus decided that we would continue our fight against Rome. Thus, we headed south again. At this time, there were probably 120,000 slaves in our camp and an army of about 70,000 men.
We were a well-seasoned army now. We met our first consular legion and soundly defeated them. A rumor spread that the Consul Marcus Licinius Crassus was displeased with the cowardice of his men, and he executed every tenth man. Our army was strong and men trembled at the thought of facing us.
We did lose some men in our battles, be we managed to survive another season of war. We had crossed the Roman Republic twice, and we were still at large. This time, we wintered at Rhegium. Once again, we trained and planned. Spartacus came up with the plan of making the island of Sicily our own. We would sail to the island and continue the slave revolt there. We would thus free the island from Roman rule and live free ourselves.
We used some of our plunder to book passage to Sicily. However, the sailors betrayed us, and they set sail without our army. Thus, we had to continue our fight on Roman soil.
Our army was strong. However, the Senate would certainly bring the full force of Rome upon us now. We had freed many slaves, and had pillaged many towns. Spartacus must have known our chances were poor even though the numbers were strong.
With the collapse of the Sicily plan, we marched northward in the spring to begin another fighting season. However, when we reached the river Silarus, Spartacus ordered a large group of us to leave the army and head north. I was in that group. He told us that we were to meet a small army of Pompey's and engage them. This was to give him more time against the army of Crassus.
I learned later, that this was a lie. He wanted us to escape the slaughter at the hands of Crassus. We did avoid the slaughter and did engage Gnaeus Pompius Magnus. However, we were no match for him and he routed this minor force easily.
Pompey's men captured me, and I was marched once again into the Roman Capitol. Along the Apian way, on our march into Rome, I saw many of my cohorts crucified along the road. Mile after mile members of Spartacus's army were hanging there. I did not see Spartacus, so I assumed he must have died in the battle against Crassus.
Upon our arrival in Rome, they paraded us in front of the Roman people as a part of Pompey's Triumph. I was part of his spoils of war. Pompey awarded me to Crassus in gratitude for his part in the "Servile War." Despite Pompey facing only a small group of 5,000 slaves, he was given credit for ending the war.
Even at my young age, Crassus knew that I was a formidable soldier. To play the part I spoke of all the men I had killed. In fact, at that time I had killed 103 men including my first master. I informed Crassus that I had killed twice that number.
He could tell that I could be quite a liability; therefore, Crassus sold me to a slave auctioneer. It was then that Crassus pardoned of my past crimes.
I found myself once again naked on the slave-auctioning block. I had fully reached manhood by this time, and I had a few scars from battle. I was a fierce warrior who had seen only fifteen summers. I made sure everyone knew I could kill each and every one of the bidders.
Thus, I was not about to fetch the price of 125,000 sesterces I had the first time. In fact, the gladiatorial school of Lentulus Batiatus's purchased me for four sesterces. I was going to where Spartacus had just escaped. I was going to replace my second father in gladiatorial combat.
Not only did I lose my first family, I also lost my second one. Further, in many people's eyes, I was still a child.
"You were just a child," replied the magistrate. "You did not know what it was like to have things."
"I was not yet your age, and I had lost two families."
"Bah! They were not Romans! They may count as half families in front of the Senate."
"My story is clearly more tragic than what may happen to you if Pompey loses. The fates can be cruel or kind."
"Curse the fates! I will not concede that a slave's losses could equal a high-born Roman's losses."
"My story is not yet complete. There are the years in gladiatorial service..."
"Freedman, you were a slave. In gladiatorial service, the Roman citizens lavished you with great wealth and fame. You achieved wealth and fame that I could never match in any service for Rome. Thousands of Romans cheered your name. I was one such Roman."
"In the arena I killed many men. Some I knew."
"Gladiatorial combat was a show! Rarely was anyone killed. You traveled from town to town with the same group. It was all staged!"
"The fight you mentioned earlier when I fought three men, that was not staged. The patron of the festival wanted me dead."
"I am guessing his wife wanted to bed you! That is the tragedy of your life! Many women lusting after you, yet you could have none of it without risking crucifixion."
"I doubt that you did not bed your share of wealthy women. You were one of the most popular gladiators in all of Rome. The crowd cheered 'Validus Maximus -- Validus Maximus!' at many contests. I shouted that myself! Roman's knew you throughout the republic. You retired wealthy and -- more importantly -- healthy. You are wealthy enough to purchase slaves yourself! They likely have tragic stories similar to yours, but you care not one whit for their stories. If you lost that wealth now, that would come close to what I will lose."
"No doubt you would suggest we both back the same chariot. We both put all we have on Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus -- the pretender to the victory against my second father Spartacus."
"Tempt the fates with a general who in many instances was simply at the right place at the right time. A general who defeated only outnumbered and weaker forces, and has let his hubris lead where an army must follow."
"No! I will not place my wealth in his hands for I have no confidence in his ability to lead his legions against well-trained legions. This conflict will play itself out, and I will retain my livelihood by staying clear."
"I ought to kill you ... What ho -- a rider approaches. He is one of my messengers. What news?"
"Sir," replied the messenger taking one knee in front of the two men. "There is news from Brundisium. The forces of Caesar and Pompey have clashed. Caesar was victorious, yet Pompey lives. The great general managed to escape. There is more conflict ahead."
"Tell my men I shall join them!"
"Yes sir," replied the messenger. He arose, mounted his horse, and rode off.
"You have not heard the last from me freedman!" shouted the magistrate as he rushed to his horse.
"May the fates be kind to you," replied Pervalidus who walked back to his house at a leisurely pace.
"Is all well with the magistrate?" asked Pervalidus's wife, Bella Pervalidia, as he approached the house.
"There was no difficulty with the course of events last night," replied the freed gladiator. "However, he tried to recruit me to join him in the fight against Gaius Julius Caesar."
"You are not joining him are you?"
"I have done my duty for the Republic, I owe them nothing further. Nonetheless, the magistrate made me recount much of my life story. It got me thinking about the slaves I own."
"What about them?"
"The magistrate reminded me, that I was once a slave, but now I am a slave owner. I detested my slavery..."
"Your household could not run without help," started Bella. "You treat your staff quite fairly. They do have to work for their meals and place to sleep, but you are not harsh like some have recommended. Free life does not guarantee ease, in fact, ease can only occur on the backs of others."
"You are wise. How did you get so?"
"Your words are kind."
"Do you ever wish to return to your home?"
"Like you, my home is no more. War has torn my home apart, and I am grateful that you purchased me and took me away from all that."
"You were well worth the 75,000 sesterces I paid for you!"
"I was a bargain! The bidding was slow on that day."
"Your words are true again!"
"If you wish, we can query the slaves on their situations."
"You have put my mind at ease, and I thank you. There is no need for any further conversation in this regard. Now, on a different subject, with the defeat of the highwaymen, we have some goods that we should be redistribute. We should feast in honor of Neptune tomorrow."
"It will be arranged."
"There will be much talk of Caesar and his victory at Brundisium. We have been fortunate not to be involved in this civil war. It is good to being a freeman rather than a citizen at times."
"What does this victory mean to us?"
"I think it is inevitable that Caesar will defeat Pompey, but what his plans for the Republic are anyone's guess. He may have himself voted dictator for life. If that should happen, we may have to offer some allegiance. We shall wait and see."
After his day of travel, Marius Batiatus Pervalidus decided to go from the inn to the local thermae. A relaxing time in the public bath was exactly what he needed. His muscles would relax, and they would be prepared for the next day's travel.
"Greetings and salutations citizen," the proprietor said. "You have come alone? Do you wish to hire someone to watch your things? That service is available here."
"Certainly, what is the fee?"
"You can arrange that with the attendant," the proprietor stated as he waved his hand towards a snoozing slave. "You are new here..."
"I'm on my way to Rome. I am just passing through."
"Very well, the attendant..." he began. He walked over to the individual, who was assigned to attend to a visitor's things, and poked him. He scolded him quietly, and returned to speak to Pervalidus. "As I was saying, this attendant will give you the layout of the bath. If you have any questions you can ask him or if I'm available..."
"Is he trustworthy?"
"Don't mind his sleeping ways," he said when he suddenly looked at the young man. "He knows he will not get paid if he does not do his job!"
"I'll be alert," injected the attendant.
"Very well, here is your fee my good proprietor. I will begin in the tepidarium and then I wish to visit a masseur. Can that be arranged now?"
"Yes, a masseur will be available at your convenience," replied the proprietor. "The apodyterium is that way. This slave will follow and watch your things after you change there. The far door of that room leads to the tepidarium, but the warmth would tell you that. Bene Lave!"
After a good soak in the warm bath, the former gladiator enjoyed a good oiling and scraping from the masseur. In his usual manner, he returned to the tepidarium for another soak. This bath was warmer than the baths near his home, but it was still relaxing. He did not linger in the caldarium, as it was too hot for his liking. He was grateful when he reached the much cooler frigidarium. However, he did go between the rooms his customary four times.
"The caldarium is a bit too hot today," a gentleman said interrupting Pervaliduss personal thoughts.
"It is definitely hotter than my liking," Pervalidus replied.
"My name is Cassius Laurentius Silvanus."
"Greetings, I am Marius Batiatus Pervalidus."
"Are you a traveler?"
"Aye! I am heading to Rome. I have a gift of six horses for Dictator Caesar. I had hoped to make it to Rome before the Ides of March, but there have been delays. I hope to get there before he heads to Parthia, gods willing!"
"Caesar is not likely to head to Parthia until next month. You should make it without difficulty."
"Traveling in this day and age can sometimes be troublesome."
"I heard you there. I hope order will be restored with what Caesar is doing. However, I fear that he is more interested in wars and personal glory than with Rome."
"It is difficult to predict."
"The armies are mostly mobilized outside of Rome leaving us vulnerable. With Caesar going off to Parthia, he is continuing in that tradition."
"And what of the Republic...?"
"The Senate is much more concerned about retaining the status quo than making life beneficial to the Roman citizens."
"Horses huh?" started Laurentius changing the subject.
"Neptune has been good to me."
"You must be a successful member of the Equestrian Order to be able to afford to give away six horses."
"The Caesars have been good to me. I obtained much wealth when Gaius Julius Caesar became Pontifex Maximus. It is just my way of repaying his patronage."
"Personally, I think the Senate can still cause trouble for Dictator Caesar. If he lets his guard down, I would not put anything past the senators. They can cause trouble at any level. If they do cause trouble, what happens then? Do we go back to the way it was? Who would rule if Caesar dies? His grand nephew Gauis Octavinus Thurinus or whatever he calls himself."
"He is a blood relation."
"But he has no experience. He has fought in one battle with his great uncle Julius, but has not held any office. If there is trouble in Rome, do we hand ruling to him? On the other hand, would it be better than our current corrupt senate?"
"Do you have anyone else in mind?"
"Marcus Antonius is too ambitious. Marcus Aemilius Lepidus is weak. Perhaps the three of them will form a triumvirate. That would balance things a bit."
"Let us hope is does not come to that."
"Yes, there is trouble enough. We do not need more civil unrest."
"That is true. It is still difficult to travel along the roads to Rome.
"Truer words have never been spoken"
"I grow weary of this talk of politics."
"I am sorry. Sometimes I can get worked up with the state of the Republic. I have heard of troubles on the road. Yesterday, a man ended his days ride here. He spoke of a fight in an inn. Perhaps you know of the fight."
"A gladiator, now freeman, had just left the baths of that town and headed to the local inn. Once in the inn he was confronted by a man with thirty men."
"Thirty? It certainly could not have been more than a dozen."
"Are you telling the tale or am I?"
"Forgive me. Please continue."
"The man was a strong supporter of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. He was upset that more people did not come to the great general's aid. Naturally, when Pompey the great was defeated, he lost everything. He was now on the run. The former gladiator refused to join, and now this former magistrate wanted revenge. Does this story sound familiar?"
"Some of the details have a ring of familiarity, but please, tell the story."
As I was saying, the former magistrate and soldier with his thirty men surprised the unaware freeman as he returned to the inn from the bath. Upon seeing the enormous man, several men ran away with fear by the sheer size of the man. As I hear it, the man was at least seven feet tall.
The former magistrate began telling his story of woe. He explained his loss of wealth and station when Ptolemy XIII murdered him in Egypt. He exclaimed that if the freed gladiator had come to his aid, the outcome would be very different.
The freeman explained that he had enough of fighting. When he had killed the six men on the road at there first meeting, it was in self-defense. As a gladiator and now as a freeman, he had killed many men, and he grew weary of fighting. He wished to spill no more blood.
With the story of single handedly killing six men, even more of the former magistrate's men deserted him. It was clear to many of them that the fight was a fool's errand.
Nevertheless, the man was facing twelve or more men, and he was unarmed. Some of the men balked at killing an unarmed man; thus, the former magistrate threw him a short sword. "Prepare to die freedman!" the magistrate yelled.
Calmly the freeman replied, "You know my weapon was the trident and not the sword."
The freeman tossed the weapon away. Being a traveler, he had a beautiful walking staff. It had the head of a horse intricately carved at the top. The other end had a bronze tip worn down a bit from much walking. The former gladiator was going to use the staff to defend himself against the Roman swords. The twelve men attempted to surround him, but he backed himself towards a corner of the inn's great room.
"This is your last warning magistrate," the freeman said softly. "You can go peacefully on your way, or you can feed the ravens."
"You are no match for..." started the angry magistrate.
Before he could finish his sentence, with the horse head end of the staff, the gladiator hooked the arm of one of the men who had his hand on the hilt of his sword. With a quick pull, the soldier was off balance. A startled accomplice lurched backward in an attempt to avoid the falling man. He caught the brass tipped end of walking staff in the side of the face.
The two stumbling men had crossed directly in front of the freemen providing him with a brief guard against any further attack. With a quick twirl of the staff, he took hooked the ankle of the stumbling man and gave a yank. This made the former soldier crash to the floor.
By pulling on the ankle, his staff was high in the air, and he brought it crashing down on the head of the second man. He fell with a groan onto the first man.
As each of the men within reach attempted to draw their swords, they received a sharp blow from the staff. The freemen hit knee, hand, and elbow of the closest men, which prevented them from readying their swords. Some men farther away from the freemen were able to draw their swords. With their drawn swords, they were attempting to work their way to make their blows.
One of the men with his sword above his head made a rush at the traveler. Again using the horse head as a hook, the former gladiator hooked the wrist of the charging soldier and pulled the man forward. This distracted the charging soldier enough to cause him to trip over the two bodies between him and the gladiator. Being steered to a degree by the gladiator, he went face first into the wall. His helmet pushed down onto the bridge of his nose and blood began to flow from his nose.
Still hooked to the wrist of the now bloody soldier, the gladiator lifted his staff twisting the arm of the soldier with the now bloodied nose, causing him to drop his sword. Simultaneously, he caught the former magistrate in the mouth with the end of the staff.
The first soldier was trying to push the unconscious second soldier off him to get off the floor. However, before he was able to do so, another pull on the staff from the gladiator and the bloodied nose soldier was on the pile with the other two men. With a backhanded swing of his staff, the gladiator hit the bloodied nose again and rendered the soldier unconscious.
In a brief exchange, the freeman created a very good defensive situation. He had two walls of the inn to protect his back, and there were three men lying on the floor providing some protection from the front.
"Men! Men!" shouted the magistrate from his bloodied mouth. "We need a coordinated attack! Stop acting individually!"
The magistrate and his men backed away from the freeman. They got out of range of his staff, and got together to form a plan. At this point, all the men drew their swords.
"None of your men are seriously hurt," the former gladiator said calmly. "It is not too late to go in peace."
"Quiet slave!" shouted the magistrate.
He quietly gave orders to his men as they prepared to fight the gladiator who did not want to give up his defensive position. The soldiers grabbed their tower shields. With their swords at the ready, they began getting into a defensive line. They lined up shoulder to shoulder with the shields on their left and their swords on the right and at the ready for thrusting.
The men on the floor began to regain consciousness. The first man was still attempting to push the men off him with little success. However, the two men on him were beginning to stir.
The line of men with the magistrate behind began to close in on the traveler armed only with his staff. This was a very small version of a legion encounter. It had been a successful strategy for several centuries, and the freed gladiator would have to find a way to defeat it.
As the "Legion Line" approached, the former gladiator did not wait for them to engage. He jumped upon the pile of three men, and using the horse head once again, hooked the top of one man's shield. The men did not break their ranks; however, the gladiator leaned back from his place and began pulling that soldier's shield down.
That soldier struggled against the pulling weight of the gladiator. Eventually, the gladiator's weight became too much for him to hold, and he went crashing into the pile of men. This also caused the gladiator to lose his balance as he tumbled backward off the fallen soldiers. He tumbled backward, unhooked his staff, and rolled to his feet in one smooth motion. In contrast, the soldier simple fell onto the pile of men.
The fallen man left a gap in the defensive line, which the gladiator used to hook one of the soldiers sword wielding arms. Putting all of his weight forward onto the staff, the hooked soldier could not keep his sword in its thrusting position. With another tug, the soldier stabbed one his fallen comrades in the leg and the blood began to flow from that wound. Immediately upon stabbing a fallen comrade, the soldier dropped his sword.
Another soldier seeing the abandoned sword broke ranks and reached for the weapon. With this, the former gladiator smacked him on the back of the head with his staff, which only managed to knock the helmet off the soldier.
The freed gladiator still had an excellent defensive position, as the line could not maintain discipline, and the magistrate called for a retreat. The pile of three soldiers was now four with a helmet and sword added in front. Furthermore, the pool of blood made the area in front of the pile of men slippery.
The stabbed soldier was writhing in pain and shifting his weight back and forth. Thus, he was making it difficult for the men under him from freeing themselves. However, the magistrate managed to re-form his lines and they began advancing. However, this time, they formed more of a wedge to be able to get closer to the gladiator in the corner. He also quietly gave orders to his men.
Once again, the freeman jumped upon the pile of men, and hooked the center soldier's shield. Expecting the same tactic, the flanking soldiers reinforced the grip of the center soldier. However, instead of pulling the shield, the gladiator pushed the staff into the face of the center soldier and smashed him in nose.
The shock and surprise of this action caused the entire line to lose balance. Most of the soldiers struggled to keep their feet. As they struggle to maintain balance, the gladiator picked out the soldier whose helmet he managed to remove. With the bronzed tip of his staff, he brought down a hard blow to the man's head. With a terrible crack, the man fell into a heap in front of the pile of men. Blood was spilling out his ear, and the blow rendered him unconscious.
Once again, the magistrate called to regroup his men. His tactic was not effective. The freed gladiator was taking advantage of his defensive position. He now had a pile of five men between himself and the seven remaining soldiers. He had the corners of the inn and a slippery floor also to his advantage.
"Magistrate," inquired the gladiator.
"What is it?" required the irritated magistrate.
"A couple of these men should see a healer immediately or they will certainly die."
"That is no concern of yours!"
"I suppose not, but you still have an opportunity to save the rest of your men."
"Your boasting will not aid you in battle, slave!"
"Boasting is for rich men, I speak from experience."
"He has downed five of our men," whispered a soldier.
"Quiet!" the magistrate reprimanded before continuing his conversation with the gladiator, "We are simply testing for your weakness."
"How is that going?" he asked with a wry smile.
"Your impertinence will cost you dearly!"
"Your stubbornness has already cost you a great deal. You can still call this off and save these men."
"The gods have struck down men with greater skill than you because of their hubris."
"The gods know the true heart of men. They know that I have been trying not to kill your men. However, my patience is wearing thin."
"Your patience? I am seeking justice and you speak of impatience!"
"Justice is also for the wealthy, you seek vengeance."
"What benefit are these word games of yours slave?"
"I am simply attempting to save these men's lives."
"Now!" shouted the magistrate.
Upon the signal, two men rushed along the left side of the gladiator. With their swords at the ready, they were able to avoid the strike of the staff. With their surprise attack, they managed to get behind the pile of men on the floor. The remaining soldiers cleared a path for him to exit the inn.
Clearly, the magistrate wanted to flush him from his defensive position. The innkeeper gave the gladiator a pleading glance, and thus the gladiator left the inn, and the magistrate and six of his soldiers followed. The seventh man checked on the men and retrieved his sword. He requested the innkeeper send for a healer.
The crowd followed the last soldier out to view how the fight would progress. The thirty men were now down to eight. The gladiator was confidently waving his staff around. The soldiers were sizing him up to determine an attack strategy.
In the open, the gladiator no longer had two walls protecting his flanks. The soldiers would be able to attack from any side. The magistrate was orchestrating his men to surround the freed slave. Once the soldiers surrounded the gladiator, they could attack from any angle and several at a time. This was going to be a tougher challenge for the experienced fighter.
"We now can have a fair fight!" shouted the magistrate.
"Eight against one, real fair," mumbled the former gladiator.
"What?" asked the magistrate.
"It was not important," stated the gladiator with a little more volume.
"It is now for your lesson slave!"
"It is not too late for you to go your own way!"
"Such bravado! It is time for you to pay."
The magistrate called the name of two men on opposite sides of circle surrounding the former gladiator. The two men, with their swords drawn and their shields at the ready, approached the gladiator in the middle. The two men used their shields to block any blows by the staff of the freeman. They closed in and attempted to thrust their short swords into their target. The gladiator easily parried the blows.
The magistrate recalled the two men to take their position in the circle, and called two more names. These two men used the same tactic. Blocked with their shields and attempted to get a blow against the gladiator. When they were also unsuccessful, they magistrate recalled them and two more men made their attack.
After a few minutes, the pace picked up as the attackers knew their job. They would rush in and try to strike. This forced the gladiator to block against their attack. Eventually, the magistrate sent three in from different sides of the circle surrounding the gladiator. Back and forth the soldiers would go. The men around the circle would prevent the gladiator from making a break. They were methodically testing the skill of the former gladiator and hoping he would make a mistake along the way.
All the while, the magistrate stood outside of the circle barking orders. He directed traffic to make sure the gladiator would remain in the circle. He also called names to give each man enough time to rest between attacks. He chuckled to himself that his plot would certainly work, as the gladiator could not keep up the defense forever. At some point, he would tire and make a mistake. At that point, they would have him.
The gladiator took each attack seriously, but attempted to conserve energy. He quickly learned the plan of the magistrate. He needed to find a solution to his situation, so he would use each attack to learn the weaknesses and strength of each attacker. When the time was right, he would make his move.
The group had been fighting for a while, and the hot sun was beginning to take its toll on everyone. However, it was mostly wearing out the gladiator, as he did not get occasional breaks. He knew he would need to make his move soon. However, what was that move going to be?
"How are you doing?" asked the magistrate with a big smile on his face.
"I'll be warmed up shortly," replied the gladiator.
"I'll help speed up the process," the magistrate added as he sent in four men this time.
That was the moment that the gladiator made his move. He rushed the weakest soldier. The soldier in an effort to protect himself planted his shield on the ground and cowered behind it. The gladiator planted his staff on the ground and vaulted into the shield with his feet.
The force of the blow caused the soldier to fall backwards with his shield on top of him. The gladiator used his momentum to run on top of the shield with the helpless soldier beneath and rush towards the magistrate.
This move caught the magistrate by surprise, and barely had his sword drawn by the time the gladiator was in range. The gladiator did a roll to make an attack of the magistrate's legs. The magistrate bent down to parry the blow, and the gladiator with a quick poke with his staff removed the magistrate's helmet. In addition, with the momentum of his roll, the gladiator put the magistrate between him and the remaining seven soldiers.
He also managed to kick the helmet out of reach of the magistrate during his maneuver. With that, the magistrate tossed his shield aside too. He waved his arms indicating that his soldiers were to stay back.
"Alright slave it is just me and you now," challenged the magistrate.
"It is not to late..."
"Save it slave! I can handle you," the magistrate stated as he passed his short sword from his right hand to his left and back again.
The gladiator shook his head and waved for the magistrate to make his attack. The magistrate rushed at the gladiator with a feeble yell. He hacked at the gladiator with his Roman short sword, and the gladiator easily stepped out of the way of the blow. The magistrate was off balance and the gladiator pushed him down with a push of his foot. He shook his head as the magistrate scrambled to his feet.
"All right slave," started the magistrate. "You die now!"
The gladiator hooked the elbow of the magistrate as he lifted it above his head and began his swing. Using the head of his staff, he gave it a twist. This caused the magistrate to nick the back of his scalp as he attempted to hit the gladiator with a downward swing.
This distracted the magistrate enough for the gladiator to use his staff to push the sword into the chest of the charging magistrate. The sword penetrated the armor of the charging combatant and he fell in a heap.
The shocked soldiers looked at each other trying to decide what to do. One of the men started to charge, but was grabbed by another. The shoulder shook his head and said that the battle was over.
The freed gladiator checked the magistrate, and he was indeed dead. Three men inside the inn were also dead. One died of the stab wound inflicted by one of the soldiers, and the other two could not breathe under the stack of men.
"The conflict ended as quickly as it had begun," continued the storyteller Cassius Laurentius Silvanus. "With four men dead, the gladiator would have to answer to the authorities. However, he is unlikely to have to answer for those deaths. He faced thirty men, killed four, and walked away. If he continues on to Rome, he will likely pass through this town within the next couple of days."
"While meeting a seven foot tall man who could defeat 30 men would be quite a wonder," replied Pervalidus. "I would like to finish my journey. If you meet him, please pass my greeting to him."
"I shall my friend. I am sure I will be able to recognize that gladiator when I spot him. How could anyone not?"
"Indeed. I shall be retiring to my room now. Thank you for your story."
"Until we meet again," replied Cassius.
Pervalidus finished his time at the bath and paid the fees due. He retired to the inn after a good meal. It was the Ides of March, and he would be in Rome late the next day. The gift for Caesar would be helpful for his fight in Parthia. Once he reclined in his room, Pervalidus felt sleep wash quickly over him. It had been a long trip so far.
"Dead?" enquired former gladiator, Pervalidus. "What happened?"
"Caesar was assassinated by the Senate in the Hall of Pompey," a town official answered.
"Why did not his friend Marcus Junius Brutus stop the plot?"
"He was in on it."
"You to Brutus?" Pervalidus said under his breath.
"There were probably sixty involved. Caesar suffered a great many stab wounds. The Senate did not wish to give up their power."
"Certainly they did not think this through. A group of sixty cannot fend off Consul Marc Antony and his men."
"The sixty are to meet with Marc Antony tomorrow. They will probably make a deal with Marc Antony and go unpunished. You know how these things go."
"The gods will see to justice."
"True words friend. Rumor has it that Caesar left every resident of Rome a large sum of money. They will be hard pressed to keep the outrage from overflowing at the funeral pyre on the 20th."
"What other words from his testament?"
"He probably gave some land to the city for a park. I have not heard any real specifics other than the money."
"Thank you friend."
"Were you a friend of Caesars?"
"I obtained much wealth when he was Pontifex Maximus, I just wished to congratulate him for his victory with a gift."
"You should pay your respects at the funeral."
"Perhaps I will."
The former gladiator silently paid his respects to Gaius Julius Caesar as the crowd erupted with fury. The angry citizens chased the conspirators out of town. However, Pervalidus did not join them. The civil war was not over. More bloodshed was ahead of Rome. He thanked the gods for everything he had and left town with his horses.
He did not know Marc Antony. The speech he gave at the funeral was a shrewd move. Antony appeared to be playing both sides. He appeased the Senators with one move, and turned the crowd against them in the next. "He may be the next dictator," thought Pervalidus. "I wonder what Gaius Octavius will do..."
As Pervalidus returned home, he heard many rumors of the events in Rome. Some people supported what the Senate had done, and some wanted Rome to be at peace. There was much anxiety about the future. Everyone seemed to agree, the fighting was not over.
A few days before he reached his estate, three bandits attempted to rob him. He attempted to scare them away, but they were too desperate. Thus, they insisted on fighting him.
"Three more dead men," prayed the former gladiator to his patron god Neptune. "When will the killing stop? I thought that by paying for my freedom, my fighting days would be over. Does the fighting never end?"
He finally reached his estate and embraced his wife.
"Why the sad face?" she asked.
"The civil war continues," Pervalidus replied.
"We will be fine. With fighting, comes the need for horses."
"I'm not worried that."
"Then what is it?"
"I received an omen on the road."
"All my life I have fought. I have fought for and against Romans. I have killed scores of men. I have never gone very long without killing a man. On this short trip to Rome I killed seven men."
"Our former magistrate caught up to me at an inn. He would not let me go unless we fought. I killed him and three of his men."
"Thank the gods you were not hurt."
"It was difficult not to kill more of his men."
"How many were there?"
"I do not remember -- seven or eight -- I did not count them."
"I did hear a rumor about a giant taking on one hundred..."
"Okay, it was twelve men. I had a good defensive position."
"Neptune has granted you great skills to take on so many."
"I have thanked him at every turn. I am very grateful. Needless to say, Mars keeps testing those skills."
"Oh yes -- the omen -- please continue."
"After learning the news of Caesar, I stayed quiet in Rome. A mob formed at the funeral and still I resisted the fight. However, on my way home three bandits attacked me. Nothing I said or did frightened them. They would not leave me. Thus, I left them dead beside the road. As I gave thanks to Neptune, a wolf came and scavenged on one of the corpses. It was Mars. He wants me to join Gaius Octavius in the upcoming battles."
"There is going to be war?"
"A civil war has been ongoing for quite some time. I have stayed out. I have not taken sides, but my fighting will never cease unless I do this."
"What of your family?"
"My dearest, I am getting up in age. I cannot continue in fighting three, four, five, or more at a time. I must take a stand now and fight for peace. I am sure that is what we will get in a united Rome. Marc Antony is not to be trusted. He is ambitious and will say and do anything. Only Octavius can bring peace to Rome."
"As you wish. I cannot argue with the gods."
"Octavius is recruiting a force in Apollonia. I will join him there. We will march on Rome."
"Marius Batiatus Pervalidus?" queried Gaius Octavius. "You seem familiar to me."
"I get that a lot," replied Pervalidus.
"I remember a giant of a man who was a gladiator from Lentulus Batiatus's gladiator school. At a festival once, the venue called for him to fight a child of 11 or 12. I was only a few years shy of that age myself at the time. He tried his best to make it look like a match, but the kid was too green."
"I remember that all too well."
"You were Validus Maximus? I thought you were taller..."
"I get that a lot also."
"It must be the eyes of youth. Everything from my young days seems smaller now."
"You were put up against a child in that match!"
"That episode caused me much trouble."
"The kid could barely hold a sword. He swung it at you, and it went flying. You allowed him to retrieve it. After futilely attempting to make the match look good, you swept him up in your net. You threw your trident into the ground, which pinned the child in your net. Then you walked off."
"The patron obviously wished this child dead," added the former gladiator. "I did not oblige him. He should have just fed him to some exotic beast."
"I will bet that episode cost you."
"His next festival featured me against three men..."
"Three? You are here to tell the story, so you are clearly a competent fighter. It is a useful skill in such dangerous times. I heard that a group of two dozen bandits was attacking travelers near here."
"Well, that is what I heard. In any event, fortunately for future travelers they ran into this enormous man.... Anyway, this man managed to single handedly kill six of them including their leader. I understand it was quite a fight. All the man had as a weapon was some sort of walking stick with a horse head carved into it. In any event, after killing some of the men, the rest of them ran off. Knowing this man is still out there should scare any bandits from wantonly attacking travelers in these parts."
"Let us hope so."
"Let us get back to the matter at hand. With you and about 3,000 veteran soldiers from Gaius Julius Caesar's army, we will march on Rome. I will claim what is mine, and I will punish those responsible for my adopted father's assassination. The group of us will make great names for ourselves."
"No sir. Leaders are remembered in the histories. We fighters rarely find our names in the annals of time."
"You have proven yourself on many occasions. Your sword will be useful."
"Neigh sir! I shall use a spear. It is closer to my weapon of choice."
"No matter -- all shall remember your name. Marius Batiatus Pervalidus will be of much renown."
"I will not argue the matter with you. I am getting up in age, and I was renowned for my time. Vadilus Maximus seems like a lifetime ago. I tried to stop fighting, but the gods wish me to continue. I give you my spear and shield in service."
"I most humbly accept your invitation."
"The only thing is... Well, I have never killed more than twenty-eight men in one day...
"Twenty-eight is a good number. I'll ask the men to pick up some of the slack."
"It has been two life-times ago since I fought under Spartacus in Legion fighting. I may only be good for 23 or 24..."
"All joking aside, let us hope that it does not come to that. I ask only for Marc Antony to give me what Caesar placed in his will."
"He has great ambition."
"He is playing the politician quite well. He has appeased the senate, and incited the people."
"Marc Antony is playing both sides quite well."
"Our march on Rome will show the people that we mean business. We will not reward murderers with governorships. Crimes should be punished."
"What if Marc Antony puts up a fight?"
"I know what are in Julius's papers. He left me a great legacy. Antony cannot deny my rights without losing a lot of political capital."
"It will be war. A man does not willingly give up the power that he wields."
"We can defeat him. We have a well-disciplined army who were loyal to Julius Caesar. They do not like how his murderers got away with their actions. They will fight hard to avenge his death. Antony's army has little motivation. That alone will tip the balance in our favor."
"It is quite the feat that they are willing to follow you at such a young age."
"While it is true that I am in my 18th year, I wave the banner of a cause."
"I agree that the fight is just. That is why I am joining you. I owe much to Caesar and the gods wish me to fight. I believe you will be an excellent leader in battle and in matters of state. I just wish there was a better way."
"I have not found such a way."
"That is why we march on Rome."
"It is indeed. You should rest now equestrian. We need your spear to be sharp and ready when we begin our march. Antony will not allow a fight in Rome, but I am sure a fight will occur. We all need to be ready."
"We shall be victorious!"
"I'll only expect 19 or 20 fallen at your hands."
"I will hold back for the sake of the others!"
"In the morrow then."
"I’m getting old, Octavian," complained Marius Batiatus Pervalidus.
"You have been saying that for the last 13 years or so Validus," replied Gaius Octavius.
"It has been true these last several years. I am approaching my 50th year. Do you not think that is old?"
"You are still the most feared soldier in my army. They will write about you as they did Achilles"
"Are you suggesting I die in battle?"
"If you think it will boost your reputation; however, I would appreciate another performance like the one you put in at Naulochus against Sextus Pompey."
"I do not know if I have another day like that in me."
"I suppose 73 is a lot to ask for."
"73? You must have been using Marcus Aemilius Lepidus's count. I think he got tired of counting after 50. The true count is 78."
"A nice round 100 would solve any controversy."
"You are quite a funny man, consul"
"In any event, the upcoming sea battle at Actium should decide things."
"You said 'things would be decided' when the senate established the Triumvirate of Marc Antony, Lepidus, and yourself. In addition, when that Triumverate expired five years later, you repeated that things would be decided if it was renewed. They renewed it, and it has also run its five year course, and things are still not decided..."
"Is it my fault that Marc Antony is under the spell of that Egyptian Cleopatra? He has been totally unreasonable for quite some time. What options do we have?"
"You know quite well..."
"Have you forgotten the accolades you accumulated at Philippi?"
"While it is true that I killed many men to prevent Brutus's men from entering your tent before you could escape, the rumor has it that you escaped because of an omen. I am completely left out of the story."
"I will straighten out the story in due course."
"Only 53 men died at my hands that day, and we nearly lost the day. We would have -- if Brutus would have pressed the issue."
"It was Julius who said, 'Today the enemy would have won, if they had had a commander who was a winner.' It is fitting in this context as well."
"We did redeem ourselves several weeks later, and 64 Romans had to die at my hands to punish Brutus."
"Do you always count?"
"In order to give proper thanks to Neptune, it is important to know what was sacrificed."
"That is fair enough. Speaking of Neptune, Actium will be a naval encounter. You should be on the ship with Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. Protect him as if he were me."
"Consul, I am nearly twice your age. There is no need treating me as a child. I will do my duty and kill anything that boards our ship. However, Agrippa's plan seems reasonable. Neptune willing, we should have the day."
The former gladiator stood on the deck of the Liburnian bireme with Admiral Agrippa. The orders were to stay away from the much larger quinquereme's of Marc Antony. Maneuverability was going to be their biggest asset in this fight. Further, if they were within range of the shore, the troops protecting Marc Antony's base, could bombard the sailing vessels with arrows and other weapons. Thus, they would attempt to keep Antony's forces between them and the shore.
After much maneuvering, Antony ordered his ships to engage Octavian's fleet and the battle was joined. The lighter and fully manned Liburnian vessels of Octavius and Agrippa began inflicting heavy losses upon the opposing fleet.
One of the ship commanders panicked and pulled most of the Egyptian fleet away. Agrippa guessed that Queen Cleopatra was on board one of the vessels. Thus, fearing for the life of the queen, the vessels disengaged from the battle. Once that arm of the fleet left, the remaining ships were soon routed.
The former gladiator did not even need to wield his spear. Not a single soldier boarded the commanding Bireme, and with the battle well in hand, his services were not needed. He was going to join the men in capturing the remaining soldiers, but Octavian ordered him to remain next to Agrippa.
A great victory party was held on the beach of Actium. With the destruction of the vessels, the victorious army constructed a great wall of defeat out of the bronze ramming heads of the destroyed fleet. The battle would continue, but there was much to rejoice about in this victory.
Antony's men were continually deserting him. His love left in mid-battle and he went after her. Thus, he left the battle in disarray. The navy of Octavian with its smaller more agile vessels defeated the much larger ships of Antony. The army would continue with its fight against Egypt, but for now they were rejoicing.
The civil war was over, and Marc Antony had been defeated. He and his lover Cleopatra had committed suicide. Any challenger to Julius Caesar's adopted son, now calling himself Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus Augustus, was eliminated. Politics in Rome was now different. The power in Rome was now concentrated in one man, Caesar Augustus. Thus, Marius Batiatus Pervalidus could return home.
As was his habit when traveling, he would visit the local public bath. These were the gathering places for Roman citizens. It was a place to exchange news and hear stories. As the former gladiator was relaxing, he overheard some men telling stories.
"I guess we now have a tyrant for life in Augustus," started one citizen.
"He is lucky to be in this position," replied another. " Marcus Junius Brutus had him to rights, if it was not for his dream. He escaped his tent before they could get to him."
"That is not what I heard," interrupted a third.
"Tell us," responded the men.
"Gaius Octavius, had a giant guarding his tent. The man was as wide as he was tall. He was an enormous man."
"Was he naked and painted blue like the Gauls?" asked one of the citizens.
"No this man was no barbarian. He was a freedman and a member of the Equestrian Order, although it is said he was formerly a gladiator. His name was Marius Batiatus Pervalidus."
"Batiatus? He was a freed gladiator all right," one man added.
"Pervalidus? I wonder if it was Validus Maximus... He was an enormous man that I saw fight at the games as a child."
"This could all be true," continued the storyteller. "He was armed with only a spear, but a master with the spear he was. When the alarm rang, Octavian's camp erupted in confusion. Brutus's forces completely surprised them. Octavian had to gather his things and go, but it would take some time. He asked Pervalidus to protect his retreat.
"Pervalidus being strong and true stood his ground. Whenever a soldier from the opposing side would get near the tent, Pervalidus would quickly defeat him. Soldier after soldier came and they all had the same fate. The Brutus's soldiers were stacking up pretty high as the mighty Pervalidus dispatched them one by one.
"Soon, they would come in small groups as more forces arrived at the camp. One, two, a dozen made no difference to Pervalidus. Every group ended the same way -- dead. His job was to protect the Consul, and that he did.
"He had been fighting for hours giving Octavian plenty of time to make his escape. He was beginning to tire and the men kept coming. Soon, he found himself surrounded by 30 soldiers. It looked like he had taken too long to make his own escape. However, before anyone could flinch, he killed three more and was gone.
"Brutus found the tent empty, but did not press the issue any further knowing that 153 of his men died at the hands of one man."
"It was just 53," injected the former gladiator.
"What?" asked the storyteller.
"Only 53 of Brutus's soldiers were killed by Pervalidus," returned Pervalidus.
"53 -- 153? Both are preposterous," interjected another citizen.
"The omen seems much more likely," included another.
"How do you know the number old timer?" inquired the storyteller.
"Let us just say that I am intimately familiar with the story and its subject."
"You were at Philippi?" asked one man.
"I did not know they let geezers into battle..." added another.
"They will let anyone willing to fight in the army," responded Pervalidus.
"The story is true!" a young man in the back of the room exclaimed. "My brother died at the hands of that freedman."
"So which is it citizen, 53 or 153?" asked the storyteller.
"The only number that matters to me is one," replied the man.
"I concede the point," responded Pervalidus. "I must prepare to continue my journey. Thank you all."
"Not so fast citizen," interrupted the young man. "What is your name?"
"My name is unimportant. I am here for a relaxing time -- not trouble."
"I say your name is Marius Batiatus Pervalidus!"
The group erupted with noise. "No he can't be," said one man.
"He would have to be bigger," stated another.
"He is way too old," added a third.
"Think about it kid," started the storyteller. "Caesar offered him a position in his newly created Praetorian Guards. Would he do that to an old man like this? I do not think he would."
"Listen to them citizen," added Pervalidus. "No one wants any trouble here."
"I know you're Pervalidus! My name is Tiberius Eprius Montanus, you killed my brother, prepare to die!"
"I am unarmed and naked Tiberius," replied Pervalidus. "Perhaps some other time..."
"You cannot stay in here forever -- Gaius," Tiberius said with hate. "We will meet outside whenever you are ready."
"Are you really Pervalidus?" asked one of the group.
"Were you really Validus Maxiums?" asked another.
"Is this true?" asked the storyteller.
"I suspect there is no reason to keep it hidden," responded a dejected Pervalidus. "It is true, I am the former gladiator known as Validus Maximus. My free name is Marius Batiatus Pervalidus. I did kill 53 men to give Caesar a chance to escape. One of them could have been a Montanus. Caesar offered me a position with the Praetorius, but I refused. I wish to live in peace with my wife and kids. I had hoped to be done fighting. I guess it is not to be the case."
"I thought he was taller," whispered one man.
"What are you going to do?" asked the storyteller.
"I will try to avoid the fight, but I will probably have to fight him."
"This I have to see!" exclaimed one man.
The room erupted in excitement and movement. The bath was quickly empty except for the former gladiator. Everyone at the bath rushed to gather his things and find a good spot to view the fight. Some even went to gather loved ones. The whole town was soon abuzz about the upcoming fight.
Pervalidus sat in the bath for a little while longer. Eventually, he gave a heavy sigh and went to gather his things. He slowly got dressed and reluctantly left the bath. A huge crowd had gathered and the young Tiberius was waiting. A huge roar erupted as the former gladiator entered the street.
The young Tiberius was wearing a helmet and was brandishing a sword. "Do you have a weapon old man?" he shouted to Pervalidus.
"My staff will serve me fine," responded Pervalidus. "We do not have to do this Tiberius."
"My name is Tiberius Eprius Montanus, you killed my brother, prepare to die!" he said as he slowly walked toward Pervalidus.
"I am sure your brother killed many friends of mine..." Pervalidus replied holding his ground.
"My name is Tiberius Eprius Montanus, you killed my brother, prepare to die!" he said as he continued to approach.
"Is there nothing that will prevent this?"
"It is what these people have gathered to see," he said looking around at the crowd.
The crowd cheered at the acknowledgement. The former gladiator stood there calmly with a frown on his face. Nothing he said was going to prevent the fight. He readied his staff and prepared for the fight.
Suddenly the young Tiberius gave a shout and charged Pervalidus. The young man rushed the waiting opponent and swung his sword as he neared. Pervalidus easily blocked the blow with his staff, and with a quick thrust from it, Tiberius was sprawled on the ground. The crowed roared at the first action.
Tiberius was stunned. His face was red. Perhaps it was because of embarrassment or perhaps it was because of fury. Once again he stated, "My name is Tiberius Eprius Montanus, you killed my brother, prepare to die."
"You are young and inexperienced young Montanus. It is not too late to stop this."
Tiberius got up and charged again. Pervalidus easily parried the blow, and once again, the young fighter was sprawled on the ground. Another cheer from the crowd erupted.
"Your death will not bring back your brother, and neither will mine," Pervalidus explained calmly. "You have your whole life ahead of you."
"I do not need your lecture freedman," responded Tiberius. "I will kill you."
"I do not..." started Pervalidus when another person emerged from the crowd wielding a sword. The two men rushed the former gladiator at the same time. When the two men were close to him, he hooked the sword of Tiberius with the horse head on his staff, and steered it into the new man's chest. The sword found its mark and the falling man wretched the sword from the young Montanus's hand. With the sword still in his chest, the new combatant fell to the ground. With a hop and a sweep of the staff, it found its target at the back of Tiberius's head. The young man fell on top of his compatriot and breathed his last breath.
The crowd was silent. What had happened? It was over too quickly. The two young men were motionless in the street. The former gladiator shook his head and walked to the inn.
"Welcome home dear!" greeted Bella Pervalidia.
"It is good to be home again," replied the former gladiator.
"Rome's civil war is over, and you and Octavian won!"
"He has taken to calling himself Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus Augustus."
"That is quite a name!"
"History will probably shorten it to something like Caesar Augustus, or some such trifling."
"We cannot control how the people of the future will view our culture. Thus, it is silly to worry about such things."
"You are right, wife. It was a long journey, and I am glad to be home."
"How was your journey?"
"I heard about the young men..."
"It was a shame. For some, they will take dishonor with revenge. Having a cohort attack me from behind was inexcusable."
"You handled the situation as best you could, I am sure."
"I would have liked to not kill the young man. His family has lost another to my hands. How many more will there be?"
"Wars and death bring suffering to many families. Each must handle it in their own way. Some seek vengeance, while others forgive. It is the way of people."
"Once again, you soothe me with your wise words woman!"
"Were there any other incidents on the road that I have not heard of -- yet."
"From your hesitation, I know. There is no use hiding the truth from me."
"When I allied myself with Octavian -- Caesar Augustus -- I was hoping that the gods would finally let the fighting end. I thought that I would live in peace. It is not to be as I am convinced that Mars likes to see me fight."
"It is one of your great skills."
"I am getting up in years, and I can tell my skills are diminishing. I will make a mistake some day, and where would that leave you dear Bella?"
"Worrying about the future will just make that inevitable day come sooner."
"I thank the gods for smiling upon me so! Neptune and Mars, I am at your service until I die."
"Quit stalling Pervalidus, out with the story!"
"As you wish," sighed the aging fighter to his wife. He leaned back and began to tell his story.
With the war over, there are pockets of displaced soldiers here and there. Some of them fought for Caesar and some against, but they do not know what to do with themselves. Some have returned to their homes, yet some still gather and cause trouble for travelers. I came across one of these small groups.
I was delayed by some innocent incident, and I had not arrived in a town. While it would have been a joy to stay at an inn, it appeared that I would not make it to a lodging place until quite late. Even though it was still early evening, I decided that I would travel no further on that day. I made camp beside the road and began fixing myself a small meal.
Up the road came this band of armored soldiers. I greeted them and offered to share my food with them. However, the leader was quite belligerent and he informed me that I must move along.
I smiled and told him that I had traveled a long way, and I had a long way yet to go. I explained that I was just resting, and that I would continue on my way after my meal.
The leader's eyes grew cold as I talked. He was not interested in my troubles and he explained to me that my words meant nothing to him. He stated quite clearly that if I did not pack up and leave immediately, there would be trouble.
Not wanting to cause problems, I complied with his words. Well -- I reluctantly complied -- and -- I may have grumbled a few words. I cannot recall what these words were.
The group's leader heard me grumble and asked me what I had said. I told him that I could not remember, but that it was not important. Then he said, "Do you know who I am?"
Naturally, I replied, "No."
"I am Marius Batiatus Pervalidus! I killed 173 men single handedly at the battle of Philippi."
In an effort to stifle my laughter, I let out some sort of sound that was my inept attempt to indicate surprise. After a long uncomfortable pause, I did something that I should not have. I said, "I thought you were taller."
He shot a look my way in an effort to intimidate me. I must have been more tired and irritable than I thought as I continued with, "Also, I heard it was only 53 men."
I barely was able to contain my chuckles. "This is a serious manner -- old man. I could kill you quickly without breaking a sweat," continued the leader of the group.
"Listen Citizen Pervalidus -- if that is your real name," I said with as much composure as I could muster. "You asked me to leave. I am going. You have no authority to make such demands, but I do not wish to make trouble. So, go on your way, and I will continue on my own."
"It is too late for that whoever you are! You will die now." he squeaked. I must have touched some nerve in him.
He drew his sword and waved his comrades away. As usual, I had my staff with me. The man charged and I placed the hook end of my staff on the edge of his blade just above the hand guard and stepped aside. With another quick step to the side and a jerk of the staff, I wretched the sword from his hand and it fell to the ground.
As he reached for it, I gave him a sharp smack on his back. He stood up sharply, and momentarily abandoned making an attempt to retrieve the weapon. His comrades were about to rush me, but he waved them off.
"I think I shall stay the night here after all," I taunted.
He asked for a weapon from another member of the group, and charged again. I used the same maneuver and disarmed him again.
"Just in case you were wondering," I stated confidently. "It was not a fluke that I easily disarmed you. However, this confrontation has made me weary. I may try something different next time."
He whispered some sort of instructions to his cohorts, and they encircled me. I managed to stay close to the swords as they made their way around. I thought they would certainly attempt to retrieve them.
Two men with swords drawn came from opposite ends and rushed at me. I quickly determined who the stronger fighter was, and concentrated on him and put my back to the unsure weaker fighter. I took one step towards the strong fighter, and put my staff on the bridge of his nose. I directed the force of this blow into the groin of the other fighter. The strong fighter lurched backward and the weak one bent forward.
I had clear access to the strong fighter's sword, so I hooked it, and took it away from him. It fell near the others as blood began to flow profusely from his nose. The doubled over fighter was still in his position when I pushed him backwards. In an effort to catch himself from falling, he waved his arms wildly, and forgot he was wielding a sword. I relieved him of the weapon easily enough.
I had enough fighting, and a deep seriousness fell upon me. I stood in my warrior stance and shouted. "I have had enough. I will take these swords, and you will leave me now. Or, I will be forced to dispatch all of you, for I am the real Marius Batiatus Pervalidus, Roman Slave - Gladiator - Freeman - Hero. Leave in peace, or become food for scavengers. It is your choice."
In the old days, that would have frightened half of them. However, when a man of my age uses such words, they have less impact. All eight of the men rushed me at once. Luckily, I had disarmed half of them and a few were somewhat hampered by afflictions.
I chose two men on opposite sides that both had swords. I used my old technique of steering one man's sword into the belly of another and giving a whack on the back of his head. The two men fell upon each other as I gave a poke with the bronzed tip to other attackers.
This gave me a chance to locate the armed men, and keep others from grabbing the abandoned swords. There were just two men with swords left. They were very tentative in their actions which gave me a big advantage.
I rushed one of the remaining armed men, swung wildly with the staff at his head, and gave a mighty roar. It was just a feint, and he reflectively tried to protect himself with his sword. I redirected the blow to hit his hand.
With all of the bones in his hand now broken, he could no longer hold onto the sword. The bloodied-nose man believing that I was vulnerable grabbed a sword from the ground and rushed me.
Little did he know that I had hooked the armor of the newly disarmed comrade with my staff. When he attempted his blow, I fell back. His comrade also tried to avoid the blow, but could not because I had him in my control. The sword lodged in the man's neck. While unhooking from the man's armor, I caught the man again in the nose. This prevented him from jumping on me as I fell back. With a quick roll, I swept at his legs and over he fell. With the brass end of my staff, I impaled him.
The man I hit in the groin was still useless in the fight. He barely moved the entire time. However, the other three had managed to re-arm themselves. However, they were clearly afraid now.
In fact, one started to run. With a few strides, I hooked him in the arm, and directed him to run into a tree. It is then that I noticed he had a knife. I stood there puzzled for a few seconds. "Why didn't they use their knives?" I asked myself.
I shrugged at the thought, and I grabbed the man's knife. With a quick flip, I hit the other combatant in the neck. By the look in his eyes, he was quite surprised by this turn of events.
The man I directed into the tree was lying on his back, and I grabbed his sword. I looked at the leader of the group. His friend was lying there unconscious at my feet. I looked him in the eye, as I drove the sword into the man's chest.
Now, the only men left in the fight were the leader, who said he was me, and the doubled over soldier. I rushed the soldier who could not stand, and hit him with an uppercut with my staff. He did a flip and landed on his face. Again, I looked the leader in the eye as I gave his comrade's head a twist. The leader began to weep.
"You are responsible for the deaths of these men," I said calmly. "You could have let a tired old man rest beside the road, but you did not. You could have shared in my food, but you did not. There were many paths you could have chosen, but you chose death for your comrades."
The man dropped his sword and put his head in his hands. He began crying uncontrollably now.
"You are lucky," I started.
"Lucky?" he sobbed with his head still in his hands.
"Yes, you will not have to suffer your guilt for long!" I replied as I took one of the swords and lopped off the man's head.
The man who claimed to me was the 1000th man I killed in my lifetime, so I gave an extra special sacrifice to Mars when I gave thanks to the gods and Neptune. It was dark when I had finished everything, and I was quite tired. I was worried about scavengers during the night, and I slept uneasily.
I was up early, and made it to the next town by midmorning. I rested peacefully, and had no other troubles on the road. Thank the gods!
"1000 is a staggering number," replied the former gladiator's wife when the story ended.
"The last one brought me to a conclusion," responded Pervalidus.
"What was that?" Bella inquired.
"Notoriety as a killer brings more opportunity to kill."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, every man I have killed has a father. Perhaps he has a brother or maybe children. In any event, his death can have effect on many others. These others may want revenge. Thus, they may come after me as several have."
"You cannot change the past."
"Thank you Bella. I can -- however -- change what people hear about the past. I asked Octavian to rebuke the story about his dream to give me credit for saving his life. I realize now that this is a mistake. If history records that a dream saved his life rather than me killing those 53 men, the relatives of those men will not come after me."
"That is sensible."
"The entire time I was fighting for Rome, I was looking for notoriety. I should have been doing it for something more noble. I feel ashamed about that."
"You said you were fighting to appease the gods who promised peace. That is a noble cause."
"Indeed I did. However, when I was actually in battle..."
"No 'howevers'! What went through your mind while in the heat of battle is irrelevant. Those thoughts kept you alive and fighting. The dreams of glory stopped you from giving up. However, your true motive was 'peace.'"
"Why did I name you Bella when I should have named you Astuta..."
"Your words honor me husband. Let us prepare to dine now."
The former gladiator contacted the Emperor Caesar Augustus to tell him not to fight the story of the dream at the Battle of Philippi. He was suddenly comfortable with his anonymity. He would be happy to fade into history.
His family would remember, although he would not tell the stories of his exploits very often. They all knew the truth about the Battle of Philippi. They knew how much of a hero their ancestor was. They knew how much he sacrificed and how much he did in his life.
Marius Batiatus Pervalidus quickly stopped being a former gladiator. He stopped being a former soldier. He stopped being the former hero of Philippi. He was just father, husband, neighbor...
His family thrived in the peace. His horses were renowned in the chariot races. Patrons from all over the Empire sought out "Pervalidian Horses." They were said to be strong, powerful, and fast. "The finest horses in the world" became the family slogan. Pervalidus claimed that Neptune smiled upon him for his years of service.
In fact, as he traveled, he never ran into any more trouble. The gods were happy with the 1000, and his battles were over. The roadways became safe and highwaymen never accosted him again. The days of explaining to the local magistrates how he killed the half dozen men were through. The extra days during travel to speak with authorities about troubles in town became a thing of the past.
Pervalidus had entered his final stage of his life. He started out as an ordinary child living in Bithynia. That was the first stage of his life. That stage lasted a mere twelve years.
With his family's death and Lucullus capturing him and selling him into slavery, he entered the short second stage of his life. This ended when he killed man number one, his master.
He lived with Spartacus and was part of the slave rebellion. However, this portion of his life did not last very long either. The fourth period in his life began when Crassus and his legions killed Spartacus and sold the future Validus Maximus into slavery again. He was purchased by the Batitus's gladiatorial school, and this was longest section of his life.
This long portion of his life brought him much fame and wealth. Citizens from all over the Roman Republic shouted his name. They all admired his skills with the trident and net. They were amazed at how he could handle any situation in the arena. However, he always thanked his personal patron Neptune for his survival.
He acquired a great fortune and purchased his freedom to begin the next phase in his life. This phase did not last as long as he had wished. The conflicts as a freed slave continued and he would kill bandits and highwaymen occasionally. He got out of the arena with a desire to stop killing. However, this was not to be as he continued killing. Thus, he decided to enter another part of his life.
He joined the forces of the future Emperor of Rome Caesar Augustus, and became a soldier. Most citizens and members of the Equestrian Order would retire from fighting in the army at the age Pervalidus started. However, he quickly became a war hero with his skill using the spear. He killed the most men during this phase of his life. However, he was clearly a war hero.
After that period of his life, he was able to enter the final stage. He was able to retire to private life. The killing stopped. He could finally relax and enjoy what he fought for all those years. There was peace in the realm and the Roman slave, Gladiator, Freeman, and Hero would fade into the past. He was just an ordinary citizen. The life made him very satisfied to enjoy the little things. Thus, all around him were happy.
The year was 304, and Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus, also known as Diocletian, was the Roman Emperor. He had established Nicomedia as the capital of the eastern empire. He used Christians as a scapegoat for a fire in this eastern capital and increased his persecutions.
It was a cold day in late December where a Christian sat awaiting his eventual execution. A tall Roman soldier entered the prison with a bit of food.
"You're a lucky one Christian. We are celebrating the birthday of the unconquered sun. Your execution will have to wait. You get to live on Roman hospitality for a little while longer."
"I trust in the Lord," responded the Christian. "I am not afraid to die."
"You Christians are an odd bunch. I'll be glad when the gods wipe you off the face of the earth."
"That is one of the differences between us Pagan."
"My god is a loving god. Our father is a forgiving god. Your gods are vengeful. You have to be afraid that the gods will send floods or fires at you for the slightest transgression. Our Lord forgives our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
"Yet, you are here waiting execution, and I am free."
"I will have my reward in the afterlife."
"I do not think the gods will allow access to Elysium to the likes of you!"
"I do not believe in your Elysium. I will go to heaven to be seated with our father and his son at the everlasting feast."
"Ha! That's funny."
"Your pagan religion is bound to fail for a number of reasons. You fail to see the faults in it."
"For instance, you put to death Socrates for his corrupting influence on the youth and not believing in the ancestral gods. In other words, because Socrates was a teacher and his beliefs were different, they saw him as a threat. He observed the world and saw it differently; thus, your fellow pagans put him to death."
"That was a political death -- not religious," retorted the guard.
"However, these same political deaths have resulted in me being here. What do I know? What great revelations have I beheld that will be snuffed out by your leader's intolerance of those with different beliefs?"
"You elevate your importance too greatly Christian."
"Do you not see? Christianity embraces education. Our church leaders can read and write. By embracing science and education, people will see the light of Christianity and abandon the darkness that is paganism."
"If you are going to dream Christian, dream big!"
"When we can practice our religion more openly, I see great centers of learning establishing themselves. Books will be reproduced and the works of the great masters will be studied. This will all be done in the name of Christ. Christians will lead the way for the educated. We will not fight the results of scientific inquiry but embrace it. In this way, we will leave paganism in the dust."
"You are lucky it is Saturnalia -- Christian -- or I would smite you on the spot for your words."
"Not only do you not embrace education, but you have vengeful gods. If it were not for tradition, your religion would already be dead."
The guard hearing enough struck the Christian across the face with the back of his hand. The anger was coursing through him. He could not wait to see this Christian die. It is then that the Christian began singing a hymn. This angered the Roman soldier even more. He shouted, "Gods forgive me!" as he smacked the Christian again.
"You may strike my other cheek if you wish," urged the Christian.
"Our Lord also teaches us to forgive. If someone strikes our cheek we are to offer them the other one."
"You should not tempt me Christian!"
"I keep telling you -- Pagan -- that ours is a loving and forgiving god. We do not worry about being smitten for our transgressions. Thus, my forgiveness of your actions is as important as your repentance for those sins. Otherwise, it is a constant escalation of violence."
"You speak in riddles Christian."
"Most people believe that you return actions in kind. That is, if you are hurt in some manner, you must strike back. Thus, if a mob causes trouble in Nicomedia..."
"Like burn down a Palace or something?"
"If you will -- they cause trouble -- then you must cause trouble for them."
"Cause trouble for them -- by arresting them and executing them?"
"However, you have declared war on ALL -- not just those involved. It is our belief that you must forgive them."
"That would be very convenient for you, now would it not?"
"There are religious extremist who wish martyrdom in your attack of our religion. I am not one of those. I am just an ordinary believer."
"All of you religious zealots are alike. We cannot trust any of you, thus we will rid the world of all of you."
"Again, that is why my religion is superior to yours. We would forgive those who struck against us. We would never declare war on a particular religion. If they sinned against us, we would forgive them. That is a core tenant of my faith."
"It sounds too good to be true. You would probably never accept someone like me into your faith."
"If you are repentant for your sins, the church will forgive you for your transgressions. You will be accepted."
"I am a guard at a Roman prison. I have witnessed and participated in many horrible acts. Would the church accept me even with these sins upon me?"
"The church accepts all -- no matter what. My faith believes that we were all born sinners and that we may not be able to fight against our sins. However, if you ask for forgiveness you may do penance and be forgiven."
"I do not think your people would accept me because of how I live my life."
"We are all different. If you accept our tenant of forgiveness, and you treat others as you would like to be treated, then there should not be any problems that cannot be overcome."
"If all my relationships are consensual, then my actions would be acceptable?"
"As long as both are willing participants in your actions, then there should not be any problems there. We do not judge, lest we be judged."
"Ha! It sounds too good to be true. I just do not believe that any religion would believe in those crazy things. Thus, when your time comes, you will be executed. Our gods will have another sacrifice. Let your god save you."
"Peace be with you Roman -- and happy holidays."
"Yeah -- well -- Merry Christmas to you -- in jail!"
"In the handling of those trans-Atlantic ships there is a nucleus
of trouble for the Navy of Great Britain."
-Lord Horatio Nelson on observing Constitution and her crew
Authors note: The events and characters involved are historical -- any discrepancies in actual dialogue and actions are due to the author’s imagination.
Captain Isaac Hull cursed to himself as he looked out upon the five British warships. He had encountered them the previous night just as night fell and assumed they belonged to Commodore John Rodgers' squadron. Unfortunately, the darkness hid the fact that they were actually British. Daylight revealed to both the British and Hull who each other were.
The cannons from both sides fired at each other. However, the two sides were out of range and most of the iron balls fell harmlessly into the Atlantic Ocean. To make matters worse, the slight breeze was too light for steerage. This left the combatants becalmed upon the glassy surface of the ocean.
Hull had no doubt that if there was a decent wind, the 52-gun USS Constitution would out pace the British squadron. A few years previously, before the second war with Britain broke out, Commodore Silas Talbot had accepted a bet with British Captain Parker of the frigate Santa Margaretta who boasted that his ship could out sail the new American frigate. The British held the fledgling American navy in contempt. The proud British seamen believed that no sea-going nation could ever best the Royal Navy.
Isaac Hull had the honor of handling the Constitution that day in 1798 and as the sun rose, the race began. Both ships headed directly windward (the same direction in which the wind was blowing). Hull proved his ship handling skills that day and the American crew proved equal to the task ahead of them as they beat to windward. As the sun dipped into the sea ending the race Santa Margaretta was far astern of the Constitution. True to his word, Captain Parker presented Commodore Talbot with a cask of Madeira.
"Captain," Lt. Morris interrupted his captain's musings bringing Hull back to the present. "It looks like we've wandered into Commodore Broke's squadron. That'd be the ship of the line Africa with 64 guns." Morris pointed toward the largest vessel astern.
"That means those will be both the 38-gun frigates Shannon and Belvidera. There's the 32-gun Aeolus and -- ah, there she is -- the 38-gun Guerriere, whose captain is James Dacres. I remember the wager we made before the war if our two ships should ever meet in combat."
"Begging your pardon sir, what was the wager?" the lieutenant asked.
"A hat," replied Hull. "Well, then let us get to work. Keep those chasers firing and wet the sails." The captain ordered and the sailors snapped to work. Hull wanted to catch every available breath of wind so that was why sailors were now in the masts pouring buckets of water on the sails.
"Mr. Morris, it looks like we'll need to supply the 'white ash breeze'."
"Aye sir!" Morris saluted before he started yelling for the crew to lower away the boats so that they could pull 2,200-ton ship away from their adversaries.
The British seamen were quick to follow Hull's example and soon every ship had their boats propelling their ships in a slow race as their men strained at the oars. The Constitution had one slight advantage. Every time she fired her chasers, the blasts eased some of the burden from the sailors straining at the sweeps.
Much to Hull's chagrin the British were gaining upon the lone American vessel and had put themselves between the Constitution and Little Egg Harbor on the New Jersey shore. Captain Hull was a man of action as he had proven in the Quasi-war against France and against the Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean. Now he was going to show it to the British. The British did not think much of the U.S. navy, but in the very least, Hull felt he could teach them that Americans could fight.
"Lieutenant Morris!" Hull called.
"Aye sir!" Morris saluted.
In a calm voice, Hull told Morris, "Let's lay broadside to him, Mr. Morris, and fight the whole! If they sink us, we'll go down like men!"
The gunners and marines nodded in grim agreement. They would fight to the last if need be. The odds were against any of them coming away alive. Nevertheless, they would show their worth to the British.
"There is one thing, sir, I think we'd better try," Morris spoke up.
"What's that?" replied the captain.
"Try to kedge her off."
Hull broke into a smile, "Mr. Morris you've earned your pay!"
The officers gave the orders and soon the sailors attached one of the ship's anchors to every available length of cordage. A crew rowed the light kedge anchor as far out in front of the Constitution as they could and then they heaved the anchor overboard.
The remaining crew began the backbreaking labor of working the anchor's capstan; this in turn brought the ship to the kedge anchor. The process repeated itself and the Constitution began to make headway. However, the British did not stand idly by, they too adopted this tactic and soon the race renewed itself.
The two sides continued this grueling procedure for two days in the oppressive July heat. Men, desperate men, continued to work despite sore and complaining muscles. Not a seaman upon the American frigate uttered a complaint despite the fact they had little food or respite during the chase. They knew what the results would be if they failed. As dawn of the third morning of the chase broke upon the combatants, it found the Constitution still out of range of the British guns.
On the horizon, Hull recognized the telltale clouds of a rainsquall. Hull knew that his pursuers would have noticed it as well. He had one last trick to play and as the storm approached the Constitution, Hull ordered the sails taken in. The British in alarm followed suit. As he did years before against Santa Margaretta, Captain Hull proved his superior ship handling. As soon as the storm enveloped the frigate, he immediately ordered all the sails reset.
It all paid off shortly when wind filled the wet sails of the American frigate and the Constitution soon left her opponents to leeward. Hull thought better of heading towards New York where there was a good chance of running into a blockading force, so he headed towards Boston. After twenty-two days at sea, two of them filled with fear and excitement Hull brought his ship safely into Boston harbor.
"Her sides are made of iron!"
As he did in July, Captain Isaac Hull left harbor without orders. Then like now, he was taking a great risk with his ship, crew, and career. If he failed the consequences would be dire, however if he succeeded no one in congress would care he left without their authorization.
Hull left the harbor for fear of having his frigate bottled up as the British navy established more blockades off the coast of the United States. In a bit of historical irony when orders did arrive, Congress had ordered Hull to remain in Boston.
Hull set the Constitution on an easterly course. For two weeks, Hull did not notice anything worth engaging until 2 p.m. on the 19th. A square sail appeared on the horizon off the coast of Nova Scotia. Word of the sighting passed like wildfire, men rushed to the deck to see the ship. It was obvious that the ship noticed the American frigate as well, for the strange ship turned towards the Constitution. Only a British warship would risk approaching an American frigate.
Captain Hull wasted no time; he made careful preparations for the inevitable battle. His first order of duty was to make sure he kept the windward position. This would allow the Constitution maneuverability. If a ship found itself in the leeward position they would literally be out of wind and therefore at the mercy of the ship in the windward. Hull's second order of duty was to approach the enemy warship when he was satisfied with his own preparations.
For the next couple of hours the two ships closed upon each other. The gun crews were ready and the marine sharpshooters climbed into the rigging to snipe the enemy crew working on the exposed deck. It was 4:10 when the British ship, now recognized as the 38-gun Guerriere hoisted her colors and fired on the Constitution. Hull responded ten minutes later by hoisting his colors and returning fire. Both ships maneuvered to avoid taking fire by grapeshot, which could decimate the crew, or round shot, which could pulverize the wooden hull.
Captain James R. Dacres of the Royal Navy had no doubt that, though the American vessel had heavier armament with her 24 and 32-pounders, his seasoned crew would win the day. After all, the British navy on October 21, 1805 had soundly defeated the combined French and Spanish fleet off the coast of Trafalgar. When the battle concluded, the French and Spanish fleet lost 22 of its 33 ships while the British lost none of its 27 ships. Dacres smiled to himself. Great Britain was the master of the seas, and he was about to impart that lesson on the upstart Americans.
An 18-pound cannon ball from the Guerriere struck the Constitution near one of the gun ports. Wood splintered everywhere but somehow managed not to injure anyone. Some Yankee gunners in grim humor grabbed the spent ball, loaded it into one of their own 18-pound long cannons, and returned it to its proper owner.
Another broadside sent an 18-pounder into the foremast of the Constitution doing minimal damage. Hull was in full motion now; the time for action had arrived. He passed from officers and men addressing them and building up their courage.
"Men, your officers cannot have entire command over you now," Hull advised. "Each man must do all in his power for his country."
The crew set upon their task with grim determination and encouragement. Hull turned towards the warrant officer who relayed orders to the crew working the rigging and sails. He said in his usual calm demeanor, "You shall have her as close as you please, Sailing master! Lay her alongside!"
As the ship swung to bare its broadside, the gunners loaded the cannons and carronades with double-shots of round and grape. When the Constitution was in position, the guns exploded in a thunder of fire and acrid smoke. The grapeshot swept over the deck felling any exposed sailor with the tiny iron balls. The larger round shot smashed into the hull of the opposing ship. The wooden planks on the hull splintered into deadly missiles of wooden fragments that could injure, maim or kill a sailor as readily as the hot iron fired out of the cannons.
The Guerriere's crew was quicker at reloading the cannons. However, their accuracy was not of the same level. The British frigate's broadsides tended to fire into the Constitution's rigging doing little damage to the ship. By 5:20, the heavier and better place shots from the Constitution's guns soon had the Guerriere's mizzenmast shot away.
Nonetheless, some of Guerriere's shots found their way to the Constitution's hull. With the construction of using southern live oak combined with the diagonal beams to reinforce the frigate's skeletal frame, many of the 18-pound cannon balls bounced off the American frigate's hull. One of the Yankee gunners observing this exclaimed, "Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron!" and the Constitution earned her nickname of 'Old Ironsides'.
Hull used the Constitution's better maneuverability to his utmost advantage. He would cross the Guerriere's bow in the classic crossing the 'T' maneuver, allowing him to maximize the Constitution's firepower. However, with the damage to the rigging, this maneuver proved extremely difficult and the Guerriere's bowsprit became entangled in the Constitution's mizzen rigging.
Captain James Dacres was in the midst of preparing his marines for boarding when the ships became entangled. However, two things suddenly happened that prevented it from occurring. First, he received a wound to his back. Second, shortly thereafter, the two ships pulled apart. As the ships parted at 6:20, the fore and mainmasts of the Guerriere crashed over her side. The British frigate was now a sinking derelict. Yet she fought on.
Hull pulled the Constitution back and made emergency repairs. When the repairs were complete, he sent his marines back to the masts and approached the helpless Guerriere again.
As Captain Dacres witnessed the Constitution approaching he quickly ordered the gunners to fire to leeward in a token of surrender. The battle ended at 7:00 p.m.
After the battle, Hull sent a boarding party over to the Guerriere to help the wounded and see if repairs were possible. Unfortunately, the British frigate was beyond help. The surviving British crew boarded the Constitution and the Americans showed them every kindness.
Captain Hull was on hand as he helped Dacres from his crippled war vessel. After Dacres set foot on the Constitution Hull extended his hand and said, "Dacres, my dear fellow, I am glad to see you aboard."
Captain Dacres winced from the pain of his wound to his bandaged back as well as to his pride. He sharply replied, "Damn it, Hull. I suppose you are." As per military tradition, Dacres unbuckled his sword and offered it to Hull.
Hull smiled and shook his head, "I will not take a sword from one who knows so well how to use it. But, I tell you, Dacres I will trouble you for that hat."
Captain James Dacres of the Royal Navy taken off guard only looked at Hull for a moment before he broke into laughter and presented Captain Isaac Hull of the United States Navy his hat.
Genghis Khan considered himself the ruler of the east, when he had defeated several surrounding kingdoms. His influence had reached to the Khwarezmian Empire. Instead of warring with them, a trade caravan was sent to Otrar, one of the boarder towns. The great Kahn wished greatly to become trading partners with this Islamic empire rather than having to fight them.
One of the merchants was the father of The Messenger, whose real name has been lost to us. However, the young boy of 12 was pledged to the daughter of one the commanders in the Mongol army. Hence, he did not join his father, but remained in Mongol territory with his young bride.
The Messenger would soon be of the marrying age of thirteen. During the winter hunt, he would get to show his skills to the rest of the military personnel. By this time, he would be of age, and he would then become a member of the army. He could also marry his arranged bride. However, currently he had to do whatever his father-in-law said. These things were very mundane and did not include going to exotic locations with his father.
Eventually, word came back that the caravan had been ruthlessly murdered and their goods confiscated by the governor of Otrar. This greatly distressed all of the Mongol people, and greatly upset The Messenger.
The great Khan did not want this to be a precursor to war. The Messenger's feelings not withstanding, every attempt would be made to prevent all out combat. After all, the Khwarezmian Empire was large and powerful. Their military greatly outnumbered the Mongolian forces. Nevertheless, it looked like Sultan of the Khwarezmian Empire was provoking the Mongols.
Thus, in Genghis's attempt to avoid outright war against that empire, an envoy was sent to meet with Sultan Ala ad-Din Muhammad. Among the members of this envoy was The Messenger's father-in-law to be. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, The Messenger was also a member of the entourage. He disguised himself and stowed away on the diplomatic caravan.
The young man watched in horror as all of the official emissaries were shaved and beheaded. This Empire had now taken his father and his father-in-law. He burned for revenge, but he was a mere child and faced a large military force. He reluctantly returned with the remaining entourage to tell of the incident.
"This is not the act of a King, it is the actions of a bandit!" exclaimed Genghis.
"They must all die," responded The Messenger. "Future generations should not know of the Khwarezmian Empire! The city of Otrar should be lost to the ages."
"I share your sentiment young one," responded Genghis. "However, they are powerful. We must be cautious."
Genghis Khan retreated to the mountains to reflect upon the sultan's actions and to determine the next course of action. After three days he returned to assure the Mongol people that this affront would not go unpunished, and that God himself had assured him of victory.
By the time that the full force could be raised, The Messenger had become of age and was allowed to join the army. His desire to wreak havoc upon the Khwarezmian people had not waned. He was anxious to begin the battle.
By autumn, they had 20 tumens (200,00 soldiers) on the march, approaching the city of Otrar. The Messenger was anxious to wreak his vengeance upon the killers of his family members. He had shown great skill in the winter hunt, and many were impressed by his fighting skills.
Nevertheless, they had to siege the city. It could be quite a while before actual personal combat would occur. It would take a while to get into the city.
The great Khan had spread word throughout the area that those that did not oppose the approaching army, would obtain leniency. However, if they did not submit, they, their family, and all of their worldly possessions would be destroyed. Several emirs joined the fight against the sultan on word of this proclamation.
While many thought it was just words, Genghis Khan was true to his word. Those that showed they were loyal were treated well. However, those that betrayed trust were treated very harshly. Entire families were killed upon the actions of just one member.
The siege of the city took several months, but they had finally breached the city's defenses. However, the governor, who ordered the deaths of the merchants, made it to the citadel with 20,000 soldiers to continue the fight.
Since the fall of the city was immanent, Genghis Khan left it to continue his pursuit of the Sultan Muhammad. Nonetheless, The Messenger remained in Otrar. The young soldier showed his bravery and skill in the street fighting.
Like all Mongols, he was very proficient with the bow. Children learned to ride and use the bow at a very young age. Thus, when the young boys joined the military, they were highly trained bowmen. However, The Messenger was also very good with the pike and the spear even at the very young age of 13.
His desire for vengeance spurred him on to kill as many citizens of Otrar as he could manage. He would often engage in groups of 5 or more. During this particular campaign, his martial skills became greatly tuned. While he was still quite green, his skills easily overcame the groups of farmers that were recruited to save the city.
It took the remaining Mongol army a month to finally take the citadel. The governor was captured alive. The Messenger stated he would have killed him on sight, but he was elsewhere. After a brief interegation, he was executed.
When the group had reunited with Genghis Khan, The Messenger told the great leader that he personally poured silver into the governor's eyes as a means of execution. While Genghis knew that this did not really happen, he understood the meaning.
The beginning of the payback had begun. The Sultan would be next. For the next year, the Mongol army chased after the Sultan. They sieged city after city, but the sultan continued his retreat. The Messenger's fighting skills improved with each encounter. Soon, many soldiers drew lots to see who would fight next to him. It was thought to be the safest place in battle.
While the main force brought the Khwazemian Empire under its control, Genghis sent a force of 20,000 to search for the sultan. Naturally, The Messenger was part of this force. They followed every bit of intelligence to track down the sultan. They did encounter some resistance, but they fought less often than the main force.
To their dismay, they discovered that the sultan had died on an island in the Caspian Sea. While they did not discover if it was murder or natural causes, they were not involved in the death. This greatly disappointed The Messenger.
They returned to join the main force and they conquered the empire shortly afterwards. The Messenger had earned a name for himself, and he was a most respected warrior. He often volunteered for the most dangerous missions. Since being an emissary was fraught with danger, he often was sent to meet with opposition leaders. He always returned; thus, he earned the name of The Messenger.
With the complete destruction of the Khwarezmian Empire, Genghis Khan needed to return to the Steppes to put down an uprising. However, The Messenger remained with the army that searched for the sultan. It was their task to take the 2 tumens (20,000 soldiers), each under generals Jebe and Subutai, and scout further west, while the great Khan headed east.
Naturally, there were some relatives of the sultan that had to be removed from power. This was the impetus of the expedition. With rumors and intelligence of alliances further west, these needed to be explored.
The two tumens split up, and The Messenger remained with General Subutai. While General Jebe was sieging and capturing several cities around the Caspian Sea. Many reports returned of the brutal nature of this process. The population did not submit readily to the Mongol invaders.
The first encounter for The Messenger's tumen occurred when General Subutai's army fell upon the city of Qazvin. The governor of that city was uncooperative, and the city was sacked. The siege of the city was difficult, but the catapults eventually did their work.
The able bodied men were taken to be used in the front lines of the next encounter. However, the process was slow and expensive. Thus, in order to scout more efficiently, a new tactic would have to be employed.
General Subutai organized a group to act as emissary to the province of Dilem. While the 14 year old messenger was too young to be the main diplomat, he went along on the mission as an escort. This was done at the request of the individual responsible for delivering the general's message.
The group met with Atabeg Uzbeg. A dozen guards made aggressive moves towards the envoy. Quickly and almost effortlessly, The Messenger with his pike, disarmed the group and pushed them back. With a glower but no words, the guards understood that they were to stay back.
Atabeg watched as his twelve guards were completely over matched by one young Mongol. The fear on his face was clear. What the ruler had heard about the ruthless Mongols was confirmed in that incident. Without hesitation, he showered the Mongols with presents.
The envoy packed up the silver, garments, and other treasures upon the provided horses and returned to General Subutai. Thus, it was assured that the Mongols could move unencumbered through the territory. Hence, the scouting went very well for them.
The weather was turning bad, thus they needed a place to winter. An envoy was sent to the city of Tabriz. The general gave them the task of securing unfettered hunting ground for a few months.
The group arrived in Tabriz with the standard array of gifts. Seeing the riches which the envoy entrusted to the young messenger, some townspeople hatched a plan to take some. Six men singled out the youngster and fell upon him.
The Messenger pierced the first man through the heart with his pike. He quickly removed it and broke the jaw of a second man with the butt end. In a fluid motion, he blocked a blow from a club from one man and stabbed another in the throat. He hit the man with the club four times before getting around to killing him. The man with the broken jaw rushed him, and was stabbed in the eye and the pike exited the back of his head. The remaining two were frozen with fear watching their comrades dispatched in mere seconds. In a powerful charge, he drove his pike through both men.
After quietly piling the men up, the young man rejoined the envoy. He did not say a word about the incident. Thus, no retaliation was visited upon the citizens of Tabriz. However, the governor must have heard of the incident because a large tribute was paid to the Mongols. They would have plenty of provisions to winter in the area around the southern part of the Caspian Sea.
As was the common practice during the winter months, the army staged a great hunt. The soldiers created a large circle. Slowly, they drove all manner of animal towards the center. No animal was allowed to escape the circle as the soldiers closed in.
Further, no animal was killed until the signal was given. They would have a number animals completely surrounded. When the signal was given, the animals were all killed. This allowed the soldiers to keep using their martial skills. In this way, they practiced their cooperative maneuvers, horsemanship, and even bow skills. Not to mention, they also obtained great amounts of food for feasting with these hunts.
During the hunt, he once again wowed the group with his prowess. Many soldiers just sat back and watched him do his thing. They were awed at what he could do with the weapons at his disposal.
It was during the great hunt, that they celebrated the young man's wedding. Despite his father-in-laws death at the hands of the Sultan Ala ad-Din Muhammad, the wedding plans went ahead. Some worried that his killer instinct would be negatively impacted by his involvement with women. Nevertheless, it did not show during the hunt.
During this particular winter, General Subutai formulated a plan of action. He decided that in the spring his army would scout around the entire Caspian Sea. They may meet resistance, but it may prove useful to know the area around the Caspian. It would be a long and difficult campaign, but it needed to be done.
The Messenger would be a year older, but he was still too young to be taken seriously by anyone outside the group of Mongols. However, his skills were beyond that of anyone they had encountered.
When spring arrived, the army headed north. The Messenger's commitment would be certainly tested. No doubt there would be plenty of chances with General Subutai's psychological warfare. He would be on plenty of diplomatic missions.
Some of this was based from the account of the campaign found here:
Howorth, Henry Hoyle and Ravenstein, Ernest George. History of the Mongols: From the 9th to the 19th Century. Oxford, England: Longmans, Green, and Company, 1876. p. 93.
General Jebe took his tumen further west as he headed north. He revisited the towns that they had sieged the previous campaign. Naturally, they did not resist the army and considered themselves part of the Mongol Empire.
General Subutai led his tumen north along the shores of the Capian. The Messenger, still a young man, accompanied all of the diplomatic missions. Thus, when an envoy met with Atabeg Uzbeg to assure their safe passage, The Messenger accompanied them. Governor Uzbeg assured the group that his country's allegiance would be forever with the Mongols.
This group's route took them to the Caucus mountains. They followed the mountains and occasionally explored passes through the mountains. Also, there was a great river along the mountains; thus, they followed the river which provided them with water.
At first, when The Messenger and an envoy would enter a town, they were greeted kindly. The territories obeyed the agreement that Atabeg Uzbeg had made. However, the tumen eventually exited the realm of Atabeg, and negotiations had to begin in earnest.
In one town, a group of citizens attacked the envoy. However, they were not armed with much in the way of weaponry. They had mostly rough hewn branches to be used as clubs. The Messenger ordered the other guards to stay with the envoy and protect them. Alone, he met the mob.
The townspeople were poorly trained in the use of weapons. Further, they did not coordinate their attacks. The Messenger's first move was to draw the mob out. Thus, he dismounted, challenged them, and then ran. The citizens ignored the rest of the envoy and pursued him.
There was a large rock near the outskirts of the city. He led them to there, and then turned. Several impaled themselves upon his outstretched pike. With his back to the rock, he methodically began killing the mob. When a majority laid in a pile in front of him, others began running away. He took care of these with his bow. He piled all the bodies in front of the rock, and rejoined the envoy.
This town offered no further resistance to the Mongols. However, it was clear that they could not be trusted. Thus, every able-bodied man was conscripted into the Mongol army. Some of their women and children were taken along. The old and enfeebled were left behind.
It was clear that they had entered the Kingdom of Lasha Giorgi or George IV of Georgia. Most cities they would encounter on this particular journey would likely be resistant to the Mongol forces.
In fact, some of the towns resisted in this regard and met the same fate. Others welcomed the Mongols, and were mostly spared. However, they met more and more resistance as they approached Tbilisi, which was heavily fortified. Further, King George had begun preparing for the eventual arrival of the Mongols. Hence, they had a large contingent of their army.
General Jebe's tumen had been exploring Armenia, and the two groups met in Georgia. Thus, the full contingent of the Mongols would meet King George's army.
With their conscripted footsoldiers in front, and the mounted Mongols in the rear, the two groups met in the battle of Khunan on the Kotman River . Just as in the great hunts, the mounted Mongols attempted to work their way around the standing army and not let anything escape.
The Messenger, while still very young, took control of a group of conscripted soldiers. He also recruited a small group of Mongols to join with him. They pressed hard. In intense fighting, and multiple arrow forays, they pressed the Georgian lines hard. They pushed within sight of the King's contingent.
The Mongols launched a massive arrow assault upon the royal guards, and the lines broke. The Georgian army engaged in full retreat to Tbilisi. The Mongols pursued and killed many of the soldiers.
For weeks, they followed the retreating army which would occasionally regroup and fight. In this way, the 2 tumens and some of their own recruits killed tens of thousands of Georgian soldiers.
Because the Mongols were on a reconnaissance mission, when the reached Tbilisi, they stopped. They had learned that King George IV was critically injured in their main battle. Thus, the kingdom would likely fall into disarray. They could easily conquer it upon their return.
In other interrogations, they heard of the fertile lands beyond Tbilisi. However, they could not conquer it all with their current forces. With a full contingent, they could explore these lands later. Perhaps they would even conquer the entirety of the Caucus mountains. For now, they would have to determine a path through the mountains to the north side of the Caspian Sea.
The entire Mongol contingent headed south and returned to Tabriz and obtained more supplies. They also hired some guides to get them through the Caucuses. Once again they headed north.
They crossed the territory of Uzbeg Atabeg without incident. Outside of that realm, they approached the town of Meraga. Quickly, the two generals assembled an envoy to negotiate with the town. The Messenger was given the honor of leading this envoy. While he was still quite young, he had earned the honor.
Upon entering the city, the envoy was attacked by 100 citizens. The Messenger sent the other emissaries back to the generals with town's response. They were not going to allow the Mongols to pass peacefully.
The remaining envoy left The Messenger and returned to generals Jebe and Subutai. Upon hearing word, the Mongols mounted and rushed to the town ready for battle. They planned on avenging the death of the great messenger.
However, when they entered the town, all they found were several piles of dead bodies. They searched in vain to find The Messenger. He was not in any of the piles of corpses. After carefully searching the town, they made their way toward the far end of the city. The piles of corpses became less frequent. When the Mongol army reached the far end of the city, they found The Messenger sitting on a large stone with the towns leaders kneeling at his feet.
He had successfully negotiated a peace with the town, and the Mongols could peacefully continue northward. The story of the one Mongol who entered a street where there were 100 individuals and proceeded to kill them all without any resistance was told throughout the region. No longer would the Mongol generals send an envoy not led by The Messenger.
The crossing of the Caucus Mountains was very difficult. They did not wait for the way to be clear, and thus they ran into harsh conditions. Some of the Mongols did not survive the trip, and some of the equipment had to be left behind.
Further, on the other side, a formidable army was waiting for them. Several groups on the northern side of the mountain range united to meet the Mongols. Neither army was ready for the battle. Both withdrew without many casualties. However, another battle was inevitable.
The Mongol generals sent The Messenger to negotiate with one of the groups in the alliance. The Cumans, a group well known among the Mongols, was the group The Messenger was sent to meet.
They at first laughed at the young man bringing a message from the Mongols. He came alone and had only his pike with him. They threatened him. They taunted him. Eventually, they attacked him.
After killing about 15 of the Cuman soldiers, they listened the presented message. The agreement was for the Cuman to leave the battle in exchange for a share of the plunder obtained from the other tribes. Naturally, they agreed.
The Messenger returned with the tale of his treatment. Clearly, the Mongols could not trust the Cuman. Any group that would mistreat a messenger, or betray their allies for money was not to be counted upon for alliance.
With the observed Cuman withdrawal, the Mongols attacked the remaining army. The volley of arrows and the charging horsemen did their job as the alliance collapsed. The opposing army was routed.
It was during this disarray that the Cumans halted their retreat and attacked. However, their raid was disorderly. The well trained Mongols easily repulsed the raid and the Cumans were in full retreat. However, this time the Mongols were in pursuit.
In an effort to survive, the Cuman army split into two groups. One group headed northeast, and the other headed northwest. The two Mongol tumens once again separated. Jebe took his army northwest, and Subutai pursued the army to the northeast.
During his pursuit, General Jebe needed provisions, so he entered the trading outpost called Soldaia. They were not responsive towards his request, and thus he had to take the city.
General Subutai continued his skirmishes with the Cuman who were now traveling along the Dniester River. They were in no hurry, thus they temporarily broke off the chase and held a great hunt. Once the Jebe's siege ended, they would reunite to continue the pursuit of the Cuman.
General Jebe learned that the Cumans and a large army of Rus were setting to attack General Subutai's position. Hence, he sent an envoy to the Prince of Kiev. Unfortunately, The Messenger was with General Subutai. Thus, when the peace offer was rejected, the entire envoy was executed.
Nevertheless, the slight delay allowed General Jebe's tumen the opportunity to join with the remaining Mongol forces. When they learned the fate of the first envoy, a second was sent led by the Messenger.
While they had no previous quarrel with the Rus, one was provided by the Prince of Kiev. In fact, they were headed away from those lands. Nonetheless, the second envoy was to declare a state of war between the two peoples.
The Prince attempted to execute this envoy as well. However, he lost 50 soldiers before deciding the let The Messenger go free. With the return of The Messenger, valuable reconnaissance was gathered by the Mongols. They learned that they would be out numbered by a 3 to 1 margin. Thus, they would have to use strategy.
Generals Jebe and Subutai agreed that a rear guard would be left to slow the Rus army as the main force found a spot to their advantage. The Messenger would not be part of the force, but would have the task of harrying the advancing Rus soldiers.
In this way, the generals hoped the army would become spread out. Thus, the Mongols would not face the entire army at once.
When the Rus and the Cuman attacked the 1000 Mongols protecting the retreat, The Messenger aided the rear guard. However, the numbers were too great for any hope of victory -- even with The Messenger killing 175 men. His orders were to retreat, and he followed the strategy and reluctantly left his comrades.
His occasional skirmishes with the Rus army as they advanced upon the retreating Mongols worked to the desired effect. The army became spread out.
When the Mongols ended their retreat at the Kalka River after nine days, the Rus were not prepared for the attack. They could not gather their full forces when the Mongols advanced. They did attack with the forces they had, but they were ill prepared.
Once the front line broke under the Mongol charge, the rear was still moving forward unaware that a battle had begun. Thus, the one army was moving in two directions at once causing a confusion, which the Mongols used to their advantage.
The rout was on. The Messenger stacked another 500 men upon the 250 he had killed during the previous 10 days. He even met the Prince during the chaos and returned the hospitality the Prince had offered him. Thus, the Prince was quickly beheaded.
Some allies to this prince escaped. However, the Mongols were in hot pursuit. Eventually, this army found a spot to fortify its position. The Mongols began the siege of this encampment, but sent an envoy to discuss terms.
At first, they refused to speak with The Messenger. However, he was insistent. Eventually, they agreed to hear the terms. As usual, they were not happy with the proposal and attempted to kill The Messenger. They were unsuccessful. He fought his way to the fortified exit, and let the Mongol army in.
Immediately, the leaders surrendered, but their remaining army was dismantled. They tried to explain that there was some sort of misunderstanding. They had completely agreed to the terms presented. Nevertheless, there would be no mercy for this group. However, they would be granted a bloodless death. They were placed beneath the celebration platform and suffocated.
Other principalities were concerned with what the Mongols would do next. However, they simply headed East towards home. Thus, other Rus armies were spared. Further, no aggressive moves were made towards the Mongols. They did not want to lose another 1000 men to The Messenger.
After defeating a large Rus army, the two tumens of Mongols headed east. The two generals were confident that the other Rus princes would not attack. Further, the Mongols did not pillage and plunder on their march east, which eased the minds of the defeated Rus Princes.
With the Caucus mountains to their south, they continued due east for several days. There was nothing for The Messenger to do but ride. With no one to negotiate along their current path, the entire Mongol army relaxed.
They reached the Volga River, and found the nearby town deserted. This fact did not put them on their guard. They continued their relaxed march east.
The Bulgars, whose territory the Mongols were marching through, did take notice of that army. They prepared an ambush on the eastern side of the Volga River.
The Bulgars caught the Mongols completely off guard. The Mongol cavalry scattered in the face of the large Bulgar contingent. Fortunately, very few Mongols were killed. In fact, The Messenger alone killed more Bulgars than the Mongols lost in the ambush.
However, it was a defeat as the Mongols could not immediately regroup. This was not a planned retreat, and thus there was no place to turn and charge the pursuit. Further, the Bulgars were not organized and stopped the chase once the Mongols left Bulgar territory.
The Mongols did not take this defeat lightly. Thus, when they were able to gather their strength, they sent The Messenger to meet with the Bulgar leaders. Nothing became of this meeting, so the Mongols turned towards the Bulgar army. They wanted to even the score.
Eventually, the Mongols and Bulgars did meet again on the battlefield. The Bulgar army was routed, and once again The Messenger killed more Bulgar soldiers than their entire army killed Mongols. Generals Jebe and Subutai decided that they had seen enough of the Bulgars and turned south.
They followed the Volga river for a while. The Messenger was sent to meet with the a different Cuman group than the one the Mongols fought the previous year. However, this group did support those Cumans; hence, the Mongols were looking for tribute.
The Messenger's reputation was well established by this point. No one was willing to attempt anything against the still young man. The Kanglis Cumans listened to the proposal, and respectfully declined.
No one attempted to prevent the young messenger from leaving. No one even made an aggressive move towards the young man. They simply allowed him to return to the Mongol generals without impedance and give their reply.
With the report given, the Mongols prepared for battle and the Cuman army ran. The Mongols followed them towards the Ural mountains. The Cuman army was not organized enough to halt their retreat and attack the charging Mongols. Further, the Mongols were too disciplined to allow that type of tactic to work against them.
The Cumans were running out of places to run as they approached the mountains. Thus, they were forced to meet the Mongols upon the battlefield. They halted their retreat and waited for the Mongols to gather themselves up and meet them on the battlefield.
The Mongols used their regular tactic to encircle their foe. Also, The Messenger gathered up a few men and pushed hard. The Cuman before him were pushed back greatly. The men with The Messenger protected his rear as he pushed forward slaying huge numbers of Cuman soldiers from his horse.
As his small group pressed forward, they eventually made it to the leader of the Cumans. With a blow from his pike, the Khan of the Kanglis Cuman was killed, and the remainder of the army fled. The Mongols took to the pursuit.
The new leader of the Cuman asked for a halt to hostilities, and The Messenger was sent to negotiate. A huge amount for tribute was agreed upon, and The Messenger led the convoy which conveyed the treasure.
A band of former soldiers fell upon the convoy of treasure with the design of taking a large portion of it. The 30 men ambushed the caravan on the trail. The Messenger gathered the convoy closed together and single handedly protected the tribute.
When the bandits scattered in their failed attempt, The Messenger chased each one down and beheaded them. He added the heads of these men to the treasure as he returned to the Mongol army.
The amount of wealth the two tumens obtained in their march around the Caspian Sea was immense. Nearly half the army's caravan was treasure. Each soldier had accumulated a great amount of wealth. It was time to rendezvous with the great Khan.
They continued east unmolested. They had been exploring for three years, and the journey took its toll on everyone. General Jebe was feeling poorly, and many soldiers were experiencing some illness.
The Messenger's wife also had the sickness. Before reaching the Syr Darya River and the waiting Mongols, she died. In revenge for the death of his family, The Messenger had killed thousands of men. However, now he had no family left. He avenged her father, but now she was gone.
He went to Genghis Khan, and asked to be relieved of military service. With the stories of his bravery and military skill, the great Khan was reluctant. Very rare were the talents which The Messenger showed. The growing empire could use those skills. The eventual return west would require well trained soldiers.
However, the story of The Messenger's losses persuaded the mighty leader to listen to his words and let him go. Genghis Khan heaped upon The Messenger great riches before he left. He took a great horse, plenty of silver and gold, and a valuable letter.
What happened to The Messenger, who was not even 17 when he left, is unknown. There are many stories of a great warriors wandering around Asia and Europe. Perhaps one of these was about the young messenger's adventures. We may never know for sure.
Term Paper: The Rise and Fall of the New Convicts Class: Ancient History 101 Student: Danu Apu Nagappattinam ID Number: DAN-2873-883
Who were the new convicts? What did they do? Why would anyone wish
2 to consider them? Were they important? Did they have any major impact? In this first part of this paper, we will explore who they were and what they believed. We will discuss how, after they reached the pinnacle of their power, they ended up being disconnected with the real world, and how this led to their downfall.
The "new convicts" were a political movement in the ancient world. While little is known about the actual members, they did have a major impact on the eventual fall of the super power known as the United States of America. Their rise to power was quick, and they were relevant for less than thirty years. However, their influence shook the foundation of the society, and led
2 to its undoing.
The name new convicts was likely given to them at the height of their power when one of their members was convicted of disclosing the identity of an undercover operative. Thus, Libby "The Scooter" Lewis, gave the label to the entire political movement.
While this political movement may have existed for some time, a charismatic leader eventually led to them holding a very powerful position in the government. He became the chief executive of the United States government. The name of this particular leader has been lost
2 to us. However, from several sources we have a possible name. In these sources he was called Saint Ron.
Saint Ron had several beliefs that his followers would grab onto in the attempt to maintain power. While it is known than Saint Ron suffered from an infirmity of the ancients which caused doublethink in its sufferers, his followers did not allow this to prevent them from following his lead.
Thus, because of his charismatic leadership, his followers build a system completely disconnected with the real world. For instance, Saint Ron spoke of small government, but under his leadership and those of his followers, the government increased its size. This was one of the cornerstones of the new convict movement. Often the leadership would say they were for one thing, but implement the opposite.
Nevertheless, this particular stratagem gave them wide support. Their policies convinced many people that the only thing keeping them down was the government; thus, the masses would support the new convict candidates. Their promises and talk were completely disconnected with the actual implementation. They only stated these things
2 to obtain popular support. However, the actual policies only benefited a limited number of people. Everyone wanted to be one of those few, and thus supported new convict candidates in the belief that they would benefit. Since their movement was built upon a complete disconnection with reality, it would cause their eventual undoing.
In an effort to convince the masses that they were attempting to get the government out of the people's business, they had a policy
2 to cut taxes. Everyone was for paying less. In actuality, these tax cuts benefited the very top echelons the most, but could easily be sold to everyone. While they were decreasing the amount of income, they were simultaneously increasing the size of government. Therefore, the new convicts ran enormous debts. Because of the decrease in revenue, they had nothing to pay for the increase in the size of government.
U can C you can see, their policies could never lead to a sustainable system. When times were hard and something needed to be done to stimulate the economy, the debts were too large that no money could be found. It was a major economic downturn that resulted in them losing power for good.
To illustrate further this disconnect with reality, there was one small stretch where they did not hold the executive branch in their 30 year reign. An opposition leader was in charge for an eight year stretch. This was the only time in their entire span of influence with solid economic growth.
It is not that they lost all power. They had plenty of members in the legislative branch. Nonetheless these members wasted their time with trivialities. The new convict members of congress spent all of their time attempting
2 to dethrone the opposition leader. Hence, they spent a great deal of time discussing sexual conduct. They did not enact any legislation favoring their position. In this way, they allowed the economy to expand.
Once they regained a position in the pinnacle of their power, they enacted a large number of their policies. Since these policies were not grounded in reality, the consequences were dire. They got involved in several conflicts which further depleted resources, both financially and environmentally.
At the pinnacle of their power, they had control of the legislative branch and the executive branch. Further, they could appoint friendly members to the judicial branch. They could fully enact any of the policies favorable
2 to their point of view.
As I have stated numerous times, one of the major problems with the new convicts was this complete disconnect with reality. Instead of using evidence to support their ideas, they would base their beliefs solely upon the opposite of what the opposition believed. Further, they would use everything at their power in an effort to convince people that what beliefs they held were indeed true. There were new convicts in the media outlets continually expressing the view that what they said was a reality.
For instance, when it was obvious that humans were negatively impacting the climate, the new convicts denied the evidence. They used all of their political might
2 to deny the scientific data. They had several media outlets decrying the falsity of the human influence of global climate change. Hence, with their influence, instead of attempting to rectify this growing problem, they simply went on increasing the negative impact. Instead of accepting the reality of the situation, they denied it and made things worse.
By using the channels of communication to disperse their unreality, they convinced ordinary people that those that used evidence and research to make decisions were the bad guys. They attempted to make educated people out as non-standard. They called them elitists, as if it were an insult. They attempted
2 to build a gap between those that used rigor and experiment to determine reality, and those that simply wanted to be told what was true.
Thus, it is clear that the new convicts did not base their policies in any sort of logical manner. They simply chose a position and did everything in their power to assert that the opposition was at fault for spreading false information. This would even be the case with clear real-life situations.
Term Paper: The Rise and Fall of the New Convicts Class: Ancient History 101 Student: Danu Apu Nagappattinam ID Number: DAN-2873-883
What the new convicts believed was discussed in the first paper. It was pointed out in the first paper that their ideas and policies were not based on anything but ideology. They did not worry about facts or consequences of their policies as long as they matched their ideology. In this section, we will look at the effects of these beliefs, and how they implemented them.
Since the new convicts had vast resources, they used them whenever possible. They had news outlets, televideo, a thing called the interwebs, and even archaic audio-only transmissions. Further, they had these groups of people called think tanks. The sole purpose of these think tanks was
2 to release quotes for use in the media, write contrary commentaries, and put forth the agenda of the new convicts and their positions.
With all of these influential media outlets in place, they would use them for a variety of things. In the beginning, they used a very ingenious tactic. They would use all of their media resources to label the independent media outlets as biased against them. In an effort for fairness, these outlets would garner to their positions. Thus, these fair outlets had to provide a point of view that did not conflict with the unrealistic positions of the new convicts.
Furthermore, because the positions and ideologies were not based on anything factual, the new convicts experts could say anything. Further, no one could contradict them because they would cry bias. It was a loop that caused great damage
2 to the open society that was the United States of America.
To illustrate, the new convicts were very anti-taxes. At every available opportunity they would decry that taxes were hurting the country. Never mind that these taxes paid for services that greatly benefited the people and industries that gave the new convicts their opportunities. The United States government had a huge military that gave all of its citizens tremendous security. The government maintained alliances with other countries that provide a large amount of business opportunities. What the taxes paid for gave these new convicts opportunities throughout the world.
Nevertheless, their anti-tax stance caused the government
2 to borrow huge amounts of money to pay for these services. Even as the amount that the government owed ballooned 2 to unmanageable levels, they would continue to ask for more tax cuts. They would claim that only tax cuts can generate employment. Once again, a position that had no basis in any actual research. Hence, if any legitimate news outlet would claim that this position was untrue, they would claim media bias. Therefore, their policies began to spiral out of control.
At the height of their power, many of the goods and services offered by the various governmental agencies became taken for granted. In this way, the new convicts could push their unsustainable anti-tax policies on an unsuspecting public. The average citizen would not think about all of the services that were provided by their government. They just liked the idea of paying less. Thus, these policies led
2 to a quick fall from power for the new convicts.
At first, they lost the legislative branch. Hence they could no longer enact any legislation that they wished. They played a very obstructionist role
2 to prevent the opposition from destroying all of their in place policies. Also, they continued to have their media influence. Thus, any drastic policy changes would cause outrage from the think tanks and the friendly media outlets. In this way, the opposition party in control of the legislative branch had to temper their legislative actions.
Shortly afterwards, the new convicts lost the executive branch, and they had to use their resources
2 to hold onto the remaining policies. They called for a new spirit of non-partisanship. Of course, what they meant was to continue with their policies. They would cry fowl whenever the opposition would not agree with them. Furthermore, since they would always vote together, they would point out that the opposition party was not reaching out to them whenever legislation would pass.
Since their policies were not based in reality, there were legitimate reasons they lost power. With the vast amount that was borrowed and the lack of any oversight, the economy became very unstable. Even over the short term, their policies caused an enormous economic catastrophe. When their policies did not result in prosperity that was promised, support for the new convicts greatly decreased. They lost support for many of their positions. It appeared that reality had a bias for the opposition party.
They used all of their resources
2 to fight any legislation meant to fix the economic problems the government was facing. They attempted to sabotage all proposed fixes. They hoped that the opposition in power would fail. In fact, there were many from their think tanks and media personalities that openly admitted this. They bluntly stated that they hoped the new executive would fail. Of course, they did not think through what that would entail. It would mean a deepening economic crisis that was almost the worst their country had ever known. With the failure of this new administration, the economic crisis could become the worst. Further, their policies were actually responsible for the situation their country was experiencing.
Nonetheless, the new convicts did not gather their influence and resources for nothing. While they did not base their policies on any research or evidence, many believed that they were still for the best. After all, many of their followers were doing quite well. This wealth and influence was supposed
2 to trickle down to the masses. Of course, greed was preventing this from happening. The wealthy new convicts were into gaining enormous wealth for its own sake.
They maintained their influence as long as they could. They used all of their resources to sabotage all policies contrary to their positions. After all, they continued
2 to have strong influence in the judicial branch. Not to mention, their societal influence through their media outlets and their other resources were free to operate without governmental intervention.
The new convicts would need
2 to use all of their vast resources if they were to maintain any influence at all. Thus, they would have to take drastic action. In a last ditch effort, they gathered to determine their course of action. Their eventual solution was drastic and daring. It would reverberate throughout their society for generations. They used their influence on such a drastic measure. It was an all or nothing proposition. We will look at that in part three.
Term Paper: The Rise and Fall of the New Convicts Class: Ancient History 101 Student: Danu Apu Nagappattinam ID Number: DAN-2873-883
In the previous section we found the new convicts losing their influence. At the time, the national economy was in dire straits. Because the new convicts were in power, the general public blamed them for the situation. In an effort to stay relevant and retain power, the new convicts had to take some drastic measures. We will look at their last initiative in this part.
The new convicts felt their sliding popularity which led them to losing the legislative branch of the United States government. They had some time
2 to enact a diabolical scheme to retain influence. They had not finished enacting all of their policies, and they believed that if they were given a chance everything would be fine. As has been stated numerous times, their core beliefs and policies had no basis in reality.
They needed a scheme that would give them a chance. Thus, they had a person infiltrate the opposition. This charismatic individual quickly rose in the ranks. This scheme shifted the blame from off the new convicts and onto a targeted group led this implanted opposition member. After all, they still had their media outlets saying whatever they needed to say.
Thus, when this charismatic leader was elected
2 to the chief executive post, their scapegoat was in position.1 Everything was working out as planned. Even before a single policy was enacted, the new convict controlled media began criticizing every move the opposition made. They were going to ensure that even the slightest misstep on every enacted legislation was going to be shown as a failure. The new convict legislators still in power would fight at every turn. They would attempt 2 to add amendments to derail all opposition policies. They were obstructionists.
The new convict media outlets would harp on every little thing. Since their legistlators all voted in a block, they continually claimed
2 to be left out of the process. They would cry that any talk of bipartisanship was a false campaign promise. Of course, bipartisan legislation would be whatever the new convicts wanted. There could be no compromise.
The media controlled by the new convicts had spent years complaining about various organizations. These organizations helped people get into housing. These organizations assisted poor people obtain governmental representation. These organizations epitomized the position of the opposition. Thus, these groups had
2B to be destroyed.
Therefore, with all of their positions solidified and their scapegoat in office, they began their final solution. This action would give them a permanent majority in the legislative branch. Furthermore, it would certainly give them a boost in chances of retaining the executive branch.
What they needed was a segment of the opposition party to place blame. This segment had to be easily identifiable. It was important to be able to clearly identify this group. Further, this group had to be have some very wealthy members. These wealthy opposition members would forfeit their wealth to pay for the short term needs of the rest of the country. That is, they would pay for new convict policies.
While this group of wealthy opposition members would certainly have its share of popular personalities, they counted on the citizenry
2 to accept the free money from this minority group. The popular athletes and media stars could easily be shown as leeches draining money from average citizens and producing nothing to society. At least, the job to convince the public of this was given to the new convict media outlets.
They had planned to round all of these scapegoats up and fix everything. They had not quite determined what to do with this vast group. However, something cheap and effective would certainly be devised. Perhaps they planned on some mass shower or something. The influx of money taken from this group and the outgoing influence of this group on the opposition would be highly popular with new convicts.
The only snag, this policy had been tried before with disastrous results. The new convicts hoped that no one would put the two policies together, but that was not to be. Their last ditch effort ended in failure and they lost all influence.
However, the ripples of some of their policies shook the civilization to its core. The powers of the executive became so great that many citizens did not notice the change into Imperial rule. They did notice when this new imperialism led to an attempt to take over the remaining countries.
In an all or nothing attempt to gain domination over the entire world, this United States did not end up with it all. Thus, their civilization fell to ruins. There is nothing left of them except fragments from here and there. In fact, there are many who do not believe that they even existed. It was all because of the power and influence of the new convicts.1. "Barack Obama takes office as Republicans’ scapegoat", The Ancient Pravda Fragments Vol 2, (2000-2100): 47.
Term Paper Professorial Review for Student: Danu Apu Nagappattinam ID Number: DAN-2873-883
While Professor MacInnes's theories on this so-called United States of America are interesting from a anthropological standpoint, this is not an anthropology course. Further, there is little evidence that the shallow ocean and rocky islands that lie between Europe and Asia were ever a powerful continent. Nevertheless, tales of the lost continent of North America have no place in my history class. We deal in concrete evidence and well supported historical events in this class.
Also, an entire paper with only one citation is certainly not up to grade. Research in my class means more than a fragment of an ancient tabloid known for UFO stories and stories of the paranormal. If you can find support for your theories, you will need to come up with a great deal more evidence.
Finally, this is a term paper and not a text message to your mates. Be careful to use proper language and stop interspersing your text-messaging shortcuts in your paper.
By the way, I believe "Neo-Con" would be more properly translated into New Conservative rather than New Convicts. While your version does make a bit more sense in this context, some of what the ancients said did not always make sense. How can a conservative believe an anything new? You will have to start over to pass this class.
It was a dark and stormy night, and Marcus Villius Sextus was sound asleep in his bed. Even the occasional clap of thunder did not wake him. However, he did awaken with a start when a tall stranger sat on his chest. A small oil lamp allowed the slightest amount of light into the room. In the very dim light, Marcus could see the stranger's thin muscular frame as he was stripped to the waist. After a crack of thunder, Marcus smelled the unmistakable odor of blood, and he noticed a shimmer from the crimson color covering the stranger's torso.
"Help!" cried Marcus. "Guards help!"
"Scream all you want," the stranger said in a calm and softly menacing voice.
Marcus stuggled to free himself from under the stranger, but was trapped. "Who are you? What do you want?" he asked.
"You sleep soundly -- like a man without anything on his conscience."
"I have done nothing wrong. Why should I not sleep soundly?"
"Does the name Aemilia mean anything to you?"
"Aemilia? I was acquitted of that."
"Ha ha ha," the stranger laughed menacingly. "While your generosity towards the jurors was satisfactory to them, the gods were not sufficiently swayed."
"From that curved sword over your shoulder, you are clearly not a Roman," replied Marcus. "What would a barbarian like you know of our gods?"
"Do not Romans fight with the non-Romans regularly? Would this not make these so-called barbarians tools of Mars -- the god of war?"
"That is a well rehearsed speech whoever you are," Marcus replied as he briefly increased his struggling.
"The name is Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius," replied the stranger in a whisper.
"Ferrarius? You were never a blacksmith!"
"I let my steel speak for itself," replied the stranger raising his dagger.
"Wait! Wait!" cried the pinned man struggling to get free. "If you spare me -- I can make it worth your while."
"The messenger of the fates will not be swayed by your bribery."
"Then... Then... I will improve my sacrifice to the gods! I can pay! I have resources!"
"Attempting to bargain after your lot is cast will get you nowhere as well."
Another clap of thunder erupted as Marcus attempted to avoid the drawn dagger. He struggled as hard as he could but was completely pinned under the stranger.
"Is there nothing that I can do?" Marcus begged.
"Your hubris brought you to this point," replied the stranger. "Only someone with great hubris would believe that you can bargain with the fates. I assure you that you cannot. Your best bet would have been to humbly accept your fate."
"Wait! Wait!" screamed Marcus. "You are not some god made flesh. You are just a tool of the fickle fates. I must warn you that I am under the protection of Marcus Licinius Crassus. He is a very powerful man, and he will avenge me!"
"Do you think this action was not cleared with him first?"
"Help! Help! Help!" Marcus cried as he writhed to avoid his fate.
The dagger plunged into the throat of his victim, and Gaius said quietly, "The fates are satisfied."
When the assassin was certain that Marcus was dead, he climbed off of him. Gaius took a deep breath and gave a heavy sigh. With this, he picked up the lifeless body and walked into the atrium of the house. As he emerged from the Cubiculum, he noticed a house servant standing there.
The servant asked, "What is to become of me?"
"Your master is dead. In all likelihood, you are now a freedman. You may choose to do whatever you wish."
"Free? That is exciting," the freed slave said in an unsure voice.
Gaius continue to carry the lifeless body towards the entrance at the front of the house. Getting in the way and pointing at the scabbard over Gaius's shoulder the freed slave asked "What kind of sword is that?"
"It is a shamshir. It is the sword of my people," Gaius replied as he continued to attempt to get past.
"It is not straight like a Roman sword. It is curved."
"A straight blade limits length when it comes to drawing the sword. The arm can go only so far away from the body. A curved blade reduces this problem. It still can be long and still quickly drawn."
"Interesting... So, when you killed the guards," the slave asked continuing to get between the stranger and the door. "Why did you not kill me?"
"I had no quarrel with you," replied Gaius with a glare in his eye. "The fates only asked only your master to pay -- and those that would assist him."
"Oh! Say, you are covered in blood -- are you all right?" the slave asked continuing to obstruct the exit.
"The blood is not mine."
"What will you do now?" asked the slave breaking eye contact and looking over the stranger's shoulder.
Gaius threw the body of Marcus Villius Sextus at the slave, turned while drawing his scimitar, and opened up the belling of an armed individual attempting to kill him from behind. The second slave dropped his short sword and attempted to contain his internal organs. Another slash from the scimitar opened up his neck and he fell to the ground dead.
The first slave collapsed under the weight of his former master's body, and was pinned underneath. He struggled to free himself, but was unable.
"I am sorry!" cried the pinned slave. "He talked me into it."
"You were free to choose your path after the death of your master," replied Gaius. "You chose poorly."
"So did you," replied the pinned slave.
The stranger wiped the bloody scimitar on the pinned slave's tunic and returned it to its sheath. Coolly, he pulled out his dagger, and peered over the dead man at the trapped slave.
"I am not a freedman," he responded with a quick thrust to the throat to the slave.
The stranger removed all of the bodies from the house. He laid them out side by side and exposed them to the elements. In this way, the scavengers and insects would have easy access to the dead flesh. Further, anyone passing by would know that a vendetta was served.
Once the bodies were outside, the stranger cleaned himself off with the water in the impluvium. He grabbed his lamp, and did a quick search of the house to make sure his task was complete. When he was satisfied, he grabbed his tunic and returned to his home.
Since Rome does not allow wagon traffic during the daylight hours, the streets of Rome were bustling. There was no solitary slinking away in the cover of night for this assassin. Thus, Gaius had to dodge the wagons and carts making deliveries on his way home from Marcus Villius Sextus's villa. On the other hand, it was not unusual for someone to be out and in the streets at that late hour. Thus, his presence did not raise any suspicions.
He made it back to the blacksmith shop with little difficulty. Waiting for him when he arrived home was a teamster with a load of wood. His crew arose and unloaded the wood after Gaius paid the man.
With this transaction out of the way, Gaius headed up to his apartment on the third floor. He had a very strenuous night. He eagerly made his way to his bed chamber, and disrobed. Wearily he climbed into his bed and quickly fell asleep.
However, his rest was short lived because just after first light he had a visitor. Titus Aemilius Mancinus anxiously entered the blacksmith shop. One of Gaius's servants awoke him, and he met Titus in the main room of his apartment..
"Is it done?" asked Titus.
"There are plenty of other resources to determine this besides disturbing my sleep," replied Gaius grumpily.
"I know," responded Titus apologetically. "I was -- am -- just too anxious."
"Marcus Villius Sextus is dead," replied Gaius.
"And -- his family?"
"The fates smiled upon them."
"What does that mean?"
"They were not at home -- and were spared."
"I want them dead! Dead do you hear me!"
"What would you have me do? Travel the four corners of the earth to chase them down?"
"Yes! I want them dead!"
"You could never afford such an adventure. Further, it was not part of the agreement."
"No!" Gaius said with a raised voice. He took a deep breath and continued in a calmer voice, "If the fates return them to Rome for their own revenge for this incident, I will take care of them. However, I will not go against the wishes of the gods."
"The gods be damned!"
"Watch yourself citizen Mancinus."
"I apologize," replied Titus.
"No need to apologize to me. The fates were kind to you in allowing for the elimination of Marcus Villius Sextus. I suggest you apologize to them and double your offer of thanks."
"You want to be paid double?"
"You misunderstand," replied Gaius in a calming voice. "My fee remains the same; however, you should make a sacrifice to the gods. If you had no thought of giving such thanks, you should make it a big offering or the fates may come after you."
"Are you threatening me?"
"Sextus did not have the resources to protect himself from the fates. Do you?"
"That is all I am saying on the subject. You may leave the remainder of your owed payment on the table and leave me."
"I will not be swayed by your threats!"
"As you wish," replied Gaius returning to his bed chamber.
Gaius did not bother seeing Titus out. Further, he did not bother removing his clothes. He just fell back into bed. However, Gaius did not sleep for long before another visitor came looking for him. Once again he met the visitor in his main room.
"You should not leave such large sums sitting around," began the messenger pointing to several coins on his table.
"Thank you," replied Gaius. "It was payment for a recent business transaction. While we do not often have this kind of money around, it is a part of the business."
"Very good," replied the messenger. "I represent Senator Marcus Licinius Crassus."
"Please send my regards to the Senator. It is an honor." asked Gaius.
"I will see to it. He has a proposition for you."
"He can speak to one of my guildsman for smith work. He does not need to consult with me."
"It is not about smithing."
"I see. What does the senator wish from me?"
"Tragic events occurred during the night at Marcus Villiaus Sextus's villa."
"Tragedy can strike any of us at any time," replied Gaius.
"This was a well directed tragedy."
"As you say."
"A vendetta was carried out on a person under the Senator's protection."
"Sometimes the fates will not be denied."
"Be that as it may, Senator Crassus was greatly impressed by these events."
"What does this have to do with me -- a humble blacksmith?"
"Can I be frank?"
"The senator is a man of much influence, and he knows things."
"Even men without influence know things."
"That is true. In any event, there is fine villa that is now unoccupied," stated the messenger.
"That is a tragedy," replied Gaius.
"My master is willing to offer this villa for certain jobs to be undertaken."
"What does any of this have to do with me?"
"I do not wish to be indelicate. Do I have to spell it out?"
"Obviously, you do."
"My master informs me of certain facts. He believes he knows how you supplement your income from the guild of smiths in your service. For instance, where this pile comes from. In fact, I am aware that your skills are much admired in certain circles. My master wishes to take advantage of these skills. In exchange, he offers you the villa of Sextus for simply accepting his offer. In the future, he will jobs for you to do. He wishes to assure you that it will be very lucrative business for you."
"Why would someone with these admirable skills wish to work for the Senator?"
"Do you not know who he is?"
"Of course I do. Who does not know the wealthiest man in Rome."
"His wealth and influence come with many advantages."
"If I were the one you seek, and I am not saying that I am, what kind of advantages could the Senator possibly offer?"
"I have been authorized to offer you whatever you wish. What advantages are you looking for?"
"Again, hypothetically, would the Senator offer the advantage of not doing a job if this person does not wish to?"
"I suppose within reason that could be arranged, but it would come with limits."
"If this alleged person decided to join you, would you give him the advantage of informing innocents that they should leave so they do not get hurt?"
"I would assume that would not be part of the bargain."
"For such a dangerous undertaking, the only advantage you offer -- this person you are seeking -- is material wealth."
"I suppose that is true."
"Do you suspect Senator Crassus is attempting to be in competition with the fates?"
"You are declining the offer?"
"I am not the person the Senator is looking for."
"You are not the person the Senator is looking for?"
"You can go back to his villa now."
"I will go back to his villa now."
Gaius declined the offer from a very powerful man in Rome. This would have to have influence in the life of Gaius. However, Gaius had been owned once, and he said he would never allow that to happen again. Thus, he showed the messenger every courtesy he could as he showed the messenger the door. It had been a busy day already, and he wanted to see if he could get some more sleep.
With the offer from Crassus's messenger still fresh, Gaius knew that the senator would increase his pressure. Marcus Licinius Crassus was not a man who would accept 'no' for an answer. Thus, Gaius believed that this was a message from the fates to leave Rome for a while. However, he did not know where to go. He needed a believable excuse to leave the city, but he did not have one.
However, before he could go anywhere, he had some business to finish with Titus Aemilius Mancinus. However, he did not wish to be seen going there. Being seen with Titus could put the entire Marcus Villius Sextus incident on public display. Marcus had many enemies, and it was best if Rome did not know who performed this vendetta. It was bad enough that Titus came to his home that day.
Gaius watched the house from a distance for most of the evening. When he was sure Titus was home, and when it was well after dark, Gaius stole into Titus's villa. Titus was fast asleep in his bed when we was awoke with a start as Gaius sat on his chest.
"I do not recommend you screaming," Gaius whispered.
"Who are you? What do you want?" asked Titus in a hush.
"It is your friend Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius."
"Ferrarius? Have the fates turned upon me already?"
"Calm yourself. While I am here on business, you will likely survive the transaction."
Gaius freed Titus of his position under him, and sat next to him on his bed.
"There was a misunderstanding between us that needs to be straightened out," explained Gaius quietly.
"No there..." began Titus.
"I did not mean to imply that you needed to double my fee."
"Please," responded Titus with his hand up. "Let me explain."
"When I went to your place this morning, I had every intention of doubling your fee."
"That is why I had that amount with me. I was impressed with how you handled the entire affair."
"There was no need to pay extra."
"Please. Sextus took everything that I cared about -- my daughter -- and essentially my wife. All I have left is my money, and wealth does not mean anything without my loved ones."
"No! My passions overcame me this morning. You were right. I felt the fates were cruel to me, but they were kind enough to allow me to get my revenge."
"The fates can be cruel," replied Gaius. "They were very hard on me until I went to work for them."
"I was in the moment this morning. I was blind to the good things they have done for me. You showed me the way, and I made several sacrifices to the gods today. In fact, I would pay you even more to give thanks to the fates."
"I cannot accept the excess you paid or any further gratuity."
"You have no choice. I will not accept what I gave you back."
"As you wish."
"The fates have convinced me to move on from this incident. I now plan to remarry, but in the meantime, I am going to purchase some new servants to help out around here."
"Yes, I dispatched an agent this afternoon to travel to Campania to purchase some new house servants."
"Naturally! They have the biggest and best slave market there."
"Perhaps I should travel to Neapolis."
"You should! A freedman like you needs a wife. You should go there and purchase one."
"If the fates permit it... For now, I will wish you a good evening."
Gaius silently made his way out the same way as he entered. When he reached the streets he began humming quietly. His business with Titus was successfully completed. Further, he had a destination and an excuse to travel. He would make the arrangement in the morning, and would depart the following morning.
Many would hire a wagon to travel the long distance to Campania. However, Gaius always traveled on foot. He put his necessities in a bag and slung it over his shoulder. Naturally, this included his dagger and his scimitar. It also included the money he received from Titus. It would go towards expenses along the road.
As dusk approached, Gaius found himself looking for a place to camp. However, an inn sounded quite inviting to him. He approached one that was strangely quiet for this time of year. When he asked about a room, the proprietor acted quite suspicious. Nonetheless, he was shown to a room for the night. Gaius ate his meal alone and went to bed early.
Gaius knew that the fates had brought him to this inn for a reason. All of the signs pointed to it. Thus, he kept his dagger and scimitar with him as he slept. All of his senses were alert as he lied in bed. The slightest sound awoke him. However, he would stay frozen there until sleep would take him again.
It was getting close to dawn when he heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps entering his room. He stayed still listening intently. He calculated that three men had just entered his room. He still remained motionless. One of the men made a grunt just as was ready to jump on Gaius which was his signal to move.
Before rolling off the bed with his weapons, Gaius threw his blanket into the face of the man attempting to jump on him. The blanket in the face startled the man on the bed and before he could do anything, Gaius had his dagger in his left hand and his scimitar in his right.
Gaius worked his way to his feet as the man struggled with the blanket on the bed. Once free, the man on the bed briefly looked at Gaius trying to figure out what had happened. In his confusion, he watched as Gaius thrust his dagger through the man's eye. As Gaius removed the dagger, he put his hand over his eye and began screaming.
With the wails of pain, Gaius rolled over the man in the bed to where the other men stood frozen in awe. In one fluid motion Gaius unsheathed his scimitar and opened up the belly of one of the men. His dagger was in the throat of the other one before either men could react.
While holding his intestines, one of the men looked over as his partner fell down dead. He tried to ask for mercy, but Gaius's dagger was finishing the job that the scimitar started before he could utter a sound. The man on the bed was still screaming about his eye.
Gaius calmly walked over to the man, only to notice that it was the man from which he obtained the room.
"You took my eye!" yelled the man as he saw him.
"You run a terrible inn," replied Gaius as he finished the man off.
Gaius went through the entire inn looking for other patrons. Each room he entered had a story to tell. There were bloody bodies in most of the rooms. The possessions of these travelers were piled in one corner of their respective rooms.
Eventually, he found who he believed to be the real staff for the inn. They too had been brutally murdered. The scene explained a lot of things. It was clear that the fates had finally caught up with these men. Gaius carried the bandits out into the open to expose them to the elements. He might have to explain things a local magistrate, but he knew he had nothing to fear. Further, in the near future, the fates would have something else for him to do.
With the incident at the inn, Gaius had to spend some extra time in the town. Being only a days travel from Rome, it was a bustling little place. There was a government mansiones nearby where official travelers stayed. A magistrate was summoned from this place to investigate the scene at the inn.
The investigation was short, and Gaius was free to leave. However, it took most of the morning. He would not make it to the next way station if he traveled that day, so he would have to leave the following day. For his trouble, the magistrate got him a room at the mansiones for the night. He would not have to sleep in the inn where the murders occurred. However, he had to find something to do for the remainder of his afternoon.
Gaius wandered around for a bit, and found a seat under a tree to rest.
"Are you Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius?" a man asked as he took a seat next to him.
"Who is asking?" Gaius replied.
"I know who you are," the man answered.
"Is that so? Who am I?"
"You fought in the Third Servile War on the slave side, and you are now on the run."
"If that were true, the only way you would know is if you too were a slave on the run or a deserter from the army."
"Let us just say that I am acquainted with someone who is one of those."
"Very well, what do you want of this Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius?"
"He has skills which would be a great help for me."
"And in return for this help, he gets what?"
"I keep his secret."
"What if he does not agree to your terms?"
"Exposure -- which could lead to his untimely demise."
"Let me make sure I have this straight. If he does this job for you, he gets silence from you, but if he does not, he dies. Do I have that right?"
"In essence you understand the situation."
"And what if I am not Ferrarius? What then?"
"You are him all right."
"I suppose I need specifics of this job in order to make my decision."
"Oddly, the target goes by the name Gaius Cornelius Carrarius."
"It is quite a common name."
"This owner of a small cartwright guild is a barbarian slave on the run like you."
"Fixing carts is a good trade at a place like this."
"Be that as it may, he has dared me to expose him. That is what I was going to do, when I heard you were nearby."
"What does any of this have to do with the job you want done?"
"You are thick barbarian!"
"As you say..."
"For my silence, I want you to permanently silence Carrarius."
"That seems like an awful lot of trouble for a person of such inconsequential importance"
"Do not worry yourself about the nature of the job, are you going to do it or do I expose you to your new magistrate friend?"
"I suspect you want it done tonight."
"You are on the move. It would seem odd if you lingered."
"Since I have no choice...."
"Good," replied the man as he arose and walked away.
The first thing Gaius wanted to do was find out about this cartwright. It should be easy enough. He just walked to the shop and asked for him.
"I am Gaius Cornelius Carrarius. What can I do for you?"
"I just spoke with a man who claims he knows who you really are."
"You go back and tell that scoundrel that I am not leaving. He can crow all he wants."
"I am not here to collect. He sent me to kill you."
"I find myself in a similar position as yourself. If I do not do as he asks, he will make it difficult for me."
"If you give into his extortion, he will just ask for more."
"I am aware of that. This is not my first dealing with such men."
"What do you want from me?"
"I want to know the person who knows your secret?"
"My secret? No one knows."
"There is not a single soul in the area that knows about your past?"
"Not that I am aware."
"Clearly, our friend has a list from someone. He has used his persuasive technique to extract some information from someone - an ex-slave or an army deserter."
"Not a soul here knows about my past."
"There are not a lot of people in the area. Do you know of someone who could be ruined if his secret were revealed?"
"There is Mettius Aedinius Primulus, but how could someone find out about that?"
"Secrets can have lives of their own. Do you know where I can find Primulus?"
"He has a villa east of here. He is powerful in the area, but he certainly does not know my secret."
"Perhaps, but he is my next lead."
Afternoon was beginning to break into evening when Gaius arrived at the villa of Mettius Aedinius Primulus. Mettius was lazily lounging under a tree until he spotted Gaius. At that point, he jumped up and started running.
"Help! Help!" he screamed as he ran and waved his arms frantically.
Gaius watched Mettius run away, and took his seat in the shade. Slaves from the fields came running to their master's aid only to find him being chased by no one. Despite his misgivings, he sent them back to work. Slowly and cautiously he returned to where Gaius was sitting.
"We meet again Primulus," began Gaius.
"Apollodoros -- my old friend. What are you doing here?" asked Mettius nervously.
"There is a name I have not heard for a long time," replied Gaius.
"Do you not go by that any more?"
"Not since the days with Spartacus."
"You were there? My memory is not what it used to be. So my friend, what is it that you want?"
"Someone in the area is blackmailing locals. They are using their secrets to obtain favors, money, influence, and the like. I naturally thought of you."
"I would never..."
"Succumb to extortion? That is not the Primulus that I know."
"What are you going to do?"
"Put a stop to it -- naturally."
"What do you want from me Apollodoros?" asked Mettius Aedinius Primulus.
"I am sure it was you who gave my name out," replied Gaius.
"And, I would like you to return the favor."
"What do I get in return of this favor? No one would believe anything a barbarian like you would say -- especially after I tell them what I know about you."
"In exchange for your information, will not kill you."
"That is a good joke -- you are joking -- right? Right?"
Gaius just coldly stared at Mettius. Mettius began to squirm and sweat began to bead on his face. He was going to try to outlast Gaius, but Gaius knew the coward of the Third Servile War too well.
"All right!" exclaimed Mettius after a few moments. "You win. The man goes by Spurius."
"Is that all you have? No praenomina? No cognomina? How am I to find this person?"
"You do not find him. He finds you!"
"He already has. Now, I want to return the favor."
"Listen -- I spend all my time avoiding him. I have no interest in where he lives or who his friends are."
"And you know nothing about places to avoid."
"He is powerful and has influential friends. They will destroy me or even kill me!"
"You are wrong. A person like this has no friends. His acquaintances will cheer his demise -- not seek vengeance."
"You do not know that. His business could be quite lucrative. He may spread his wealth around."
"Very well," replied Gaius as he got to his feet. "I hope you sleep soundly."
"What? What is that supposed to mean?"
"I will see you around."
"Wait. Is that it?"
"I guess so."
"So it is farewell then?"
"Yes for now," replied Gaius as he began walking away.
"You were satisfied right?"
"What do you think?"
"I really do not know anything."
"If you say so," Gaius said without looking back.
Gaius stopped and looked over his shoulder. "I am listening."
"Do you know that magistrate that investigated your little incident at the inn?"
"Good day to you Primulus. Sleep well."
"You never heard that from me!" Mettius yelled as Gaius began walking away again.
"I do not even know who you are," replied Gaius.
Mettius Aedinius Primulus slumped into the chair vacated by Gaius. Relief washed over him, but anxiety soon over came that. He thought a trip to the country was in order. He began making plans to leave in a few days. If there was going to be trouble, he did not want to be around.
It was dusk when Gaius made it back to town. He wandered around a little bit more, and then went to the mansiones for his evening meal. Gaius had a long day, and a good meal was most welcome.
While Gaius was eating, the magistrate entered. He was shocked to see Gaius eating his meal in peace. The magistrate watched him suspiciously for a few moments before beginning his own meal. He would occasionally look up at Gaius as he ate, but Gaius fully ignored him.
After getting his fill, Gaius got up and went to his room to rest. He had had a long day, and he had a long night in store for him. Thus, he wanted to get in a little rest while he could. At times he heard footsteps outside his door, but no one knocked or attempted to enter. The footsteps would just stop in front of his door, pause, and continue on a short time later.
Gaius rested for several hours and it was well into the night when he left his room. The magistrate peeked into the hall as he left, but Gaius pretended not to notice. Gaius walked outside for while. Unlike in Rome, it was quiet at this time of night. He took a seat under a tree, and reveled in the quiet sounds of the night.
A few hours later, the magistrate was awakened by a man sitting on his chest. He struggled and tried to scream, but Gaius was in full control of him. Gaius had one of his large hands covering the magistrates mouth to keep him quiet. In Gaius's other hand, he held his dagger which he showed to the magistrate.
"I have been doing this a lot lately," whispered Gaius admiring his dagger.
The magistrate struggled, but his struggles were in vain.
"You will listen first, and I will let you say something on your behalf. However, if you try to scream, cry out, or even talk loudly, you will be dead before you emit one syllable. Is that clear?"
The magistrate nodded.
"It has been brought to my attention that you have used people's secrets against them. Further, you have used these secrets to collect other secrets. In this way, you have a large collection of people from which to extort money, influence, and the like. A list in which I was added today."
The magistrate shook his head in denial as best he could.
"In your denial, you have confirmed my suspicions. An innocent man would be confused by such a twisted set of facts. Thus, I want the list."
The magistrate did not know what to do.
"Now, I am going to allow you to speak on your behalf. Do not bother denying the truth of these accusations. It would be a waste of your final breath. However, I will allow you to say anything you wish. Remember, anything above a hushed tone will be quickly squelched. So, what do you have to say for yourself?"
"You work quickly Ferrarius," whispered the magistrate. "or should I call you Apollodoros? Or, do you have other names? In any event, I am impressed with your skills."
"I indeed have many names, but thank you for your kind words. Now about that list..."
"Why would I give you my list? What could you possibly offer me to give you the list?"
"You are right," replied Gaius as he cut the magistrate's throat. "I would have spent my last words on something more repentant -- to each his own."
Gaius left the magistrates room as silently as he had entered. He went out to find the magistrate's cohort, and then he hoped he could still leave in the morning.
Gaius's wanderings around town were not for naught. He used the time to scout various locations. Therefore, in the darkness and stillness of the night, he walked directly to where his tunic hung. He used a nearby jar of water to clean off Magistrate Spurius's blood. The location was clearly a spot where nearby house slaves could clean up. It was perfect.
After cleaning himself up, Gaius needed to find the man that had hired him to kill Gaius Cornelius Carrarius. While in most instances this would be a daunting task, Gaius believed he knew where his quarry would be at this time. Again, his wanderings served a purpose, as he snuck up on his quarry.
"Magistrate Spurius is upset with you," Gaius whispered in his ear.
With a start the magistrate's minion returned, "Where have you been?"
"Is Gaius Cornelius Carrarius not there in his bed?"
"Well -- yes -- but I have been waiting here most of the night. Wait -- why is Spurius angry with me?"
"You did not inform him of your -- er -- cart repair business."
"He did not need to know. How did he find out?"
"He wondered why you were so anxious to see Carrarius out of the way and did some investigation of his own."
"I guess he was bound to find out. Wait! why were you discussing this with him?"
"He too is an admirer of my work. We had a nice conversation over the evening meal."
Gaius was worried about this particular lie. He did not know if anyone was watching them have their evening meal. Anyone watching would know that they had not spoken. However, he had to take the chance. If he could get past this lie, then his story would hold more weight.
"What else did you discuss?"
"Oh this and that."
"We talked about the value of this special list of his."
"What of it?"
"He was concerned that it was not safe in -- uh..."
"With me? He does not think it is safe at my house?"
"He did not really come out and say that as much."
"What did he say?"
"Quiet down," Gaius hissed. "You will give us away."
"Sorry," the man whispered. "What did he actually say?"
"He was just remarking about your new found untrustworthiness, and how he might look for someone he could trust."
"There were no names brought up."
"But he was thinking that it would be safer with you!"
"I said he was appreciative of my skills...."
"I would be glad to be rid of the thing."
"Nothing formal has been discussed."
"No! If you want it, you can have it."
"Calm down," Gaius said attempted to settle the man down. "This can be discussed when I come back through town."
"No! let us go now and get it."
"You said yourself that Carrarius is there in bed. He is not going anywhere."
"I know, but...."
Gaius's plan had worked. The magistrate's associate was sitting on a valuable item, and he was tired of guarding it. He was also upset about the apparent lack of trust with the magistrate. With his cart repair business about to lose a formidable competitor, he would not need the extra income.
The pair went to a secluded spot behind the man's house. There was a few loose blocks in the building's foundation. The man removed a block and pulled out a wooden box.
"This is it," the man declared.
"I do not...."
"No! You will take it."
"Very well," sighed Gaius. "Now, after my next job, I'll need someplace to clean up. I will also need a nearby place to hang my tunic. Do you know of someplace I could do that?"
"My servants wash up over there. There are some water jars you could use."
"Where?" asked Gaius.
The man walked to where a few water jars sat. Gaius removed his tunic and set it aside before following. At this point, the man wondered what was happening. The spot was quiet and dark, so he had not noticed that Gaius had removed his scimitar from its sheath.
"What are you doing?"
"I am preparing to remove a cartier from business."
"Why are you doing that here?"
"I do not wish to soil my clothes."
"Oh! I cannot tell you how happy I will be rid of that list."
"You have no idea."
"The fates have finally caught up to you."
"Do you have any last words?"
Gaius swung his scimitar and it opened the magistrate's minion up from his left to his right side. He stood there in stunned silence as his intestines spilled from his belly. A rush of pain filled the man's entire being. However, before he could utter a sound, Gaius's second swing opened up the man's throat. He let out a gurgling cough, but was unable to do any more than that. He fell over in a heap.
"I would have said something more substantial, but that will have to do," Gaius said with a grin.
Gaius used one of the available water jars to clean himself up. He grabbed his tunic and the box and headed back to his room at the mansiones. He made sure that no one saw him enter his room. He knew he did not have much time before dawn, but he would have a bit of a rest.
Gaius had planned to leave at dawn to give him plenty of time to get to the next way station. However, he awoke just after dawn. Despite the somewhat late start, he had a long conversation with the proprietor of the mansiones. Also, he had a small meal with the proprietor. The man gave Gaius some provisions for the road. The two men said their farewells as Giaus went on his way.
As he left town, he heard a blood-curdling scream come from the mansiones. His handywork had been discovered, but no one came to question him. Perhaps on his return he would speak with his old friend Mettius Aedinius Primulus, and find out what had happened.
In the early afternoon, he stopped and built a small fire to prepare his lunch. The small box and the list made excellent kindling for the fire. It had been a good day for the fates.
Gaius continued his journey southwards on the Appian Way towards Campania. He expected to be away from Rome for nearly two months, so his journey had just begun. The paved roads made the walking fairly easy, but there were other dangers lurking for travelers.
"The Fates have been kind to us," stated a man as he stepped onto the road.
"Aye that is true," said his companion.
The men walked up to Gaius and stood in front of him. They glared at him. Gaius stood there silently as the men blocked his path.
"What is the matter friend? Do you not speak?" continued the first man.
"Yeah, you do not seem too talkative," added his companion.
"All right friend," Gaius finally replied. "I believe you have misinterpreted what the Fates had in mind."
"What is that supposed to mean?" asked the first man.
"Yeah what?" added the second man.
Again, Gaius stood there silently.
"Apparently, he has had enough friendly conversation," the first man said to his companion.
"Friendly conversations make the time go swiftly," answered the second man.
"Okay talkative one," the first man said to Gaius "strip and give us your pack,"
"Be quick about it," added the second man.
Gaius removed his tunic, folded it neatly, and put it into his pack. He held his pack at arms length in front of him.
"You are a smart one then," stated the first man as he took the pack.
Before his companion could add anything to that, Gaius's dagger was in his eye. As he placed his tunic in the pack, he had removed the dagger. He had concealed it under the pack as he held it out. Thus, he caught them off guard.
The first man saw this action, dropped the pack, and began to run. Like a lion, Gaius pounced on the fleeing man. From over the running man's shoulder, Gaius plunged his dagger into the man's heart. He removed it as the pair tumbled to the ground.
The second man remained where he was screaming in agony. Gaius pushed him towards the side of the road. The man remained on his feet, so Gaius walked up to him from behind and slit his throat. He cleaned his dagger off the man's tunic, and walked over to his pack.
He looked himself over, and did not find a drop of blood. So, he removed his tunic from the pack and put it on.
"I do not think I would call that kind," Gaius stated as he walked away from the two highwaymen.
Gaius continued walking for a while before he came to a man on horseback. The rider was wearing a bronze Roman legion breast plate which had seen better days. He was not wearing any other legionary equipment such as a helmet.
"Apollodoros!" the man on horseback called to Gaius as he neared. "I should have recognized your handiwork."
Four men walked out onto the road behind Gaius as he approached the horse and rider. Gaius looked over his right shoulder and then his left to size up the men. He returned his stare to the rider.
"You are a bandit now Horatius," Gaius returned. "You are really moving up in the world. It is you Horatius -- isn't it? I have not seen you since you deserted. In any case, if you begin to run away, I will know for sure it is you."
"You and your slave friends took everything from me!" replied Horatius angrily.
"Like being enslaved was a ewer of joy for us."
"You deserted your comrades," responded Horatius to change the subject. "just like I did."
"Spartacus asked me to guide 10,000 former slaves safely out of Rome. When I returned, it was over. What is your excuse coward?"
"Be careful what you say Apollodoros," Horatius threatened as he lowered his spear towards Gaius. "We have you surrounded."
Gaius laughed at this, stripped off his tunic, and placed it in his pack. The men did not rush him as he unsheathed his scimitar and dagger.
"You have changed your weapon," Horatius remarked.
"This is shamshir. It is the sword of my people," replied Gaius. "I left your sword in the body of one of your comrades."
Horatius was enraged by this comment and thrust his spear at Gaius. The clumsy strike was easily dodged by Gaius. However, he dropped his dagger, grabbed the spear, and yanked it out of Horatius's hands. Calmly, with the spear in his hands, Gaius returned his scimitar to its sheath and retrieved his dagger.
With the dagger safely in his pack and the scimitar sitting on top, Gaius twirled the spear above his head and made a few flourishes with it. He placed the butt of the spear on the ground, and tested to point for sharpness. He just shook his head when he discovered how dull it was.
The four men who had been doing nothing during this exchange decided to draw their short swords. Cautiously, they closed in towards Gaius and Horatius. Gaius stood there unconcerned leaning on the spear.
"Give us your pack," Horatius eventually stated "and we will let you live."
Gaius laughed heartily at this suggestion, and Horatius's men closed in some more.
"I will not ask again," Horatius threatened.
With that, Gaius stopped leaning on the spear, swung it around, and smacked the closest man on the side of the head. That man fell to the ground hard. With another spin, he took the legs out from another man. He pushed the butt of the spear into the face of another man -- knocking him back.
He stuck the spear's point just below the sternum on the fourth man. The third man got another shot to the face with the spear's butt just before the tripped man got a blow to the head. With another sweep of the spear, all four men were on the ground.
"You would not harm an unarmed man?" begged Horatius.
"If you say so," replied Gaius as he thrust the spear into Horatius's throat.
Horatius tumbled backwards from his horse and struck the ground with a clanging thud. With that, Gaius went around and finished off Horatius's men. Once he was sure they were all dead, he checked himself for blood. Once again, he managed to avoid getting any upon him. Thus, he retrieved his tunic and put it on. He slung his scimitar over his shoulder and looked around.
While the two fights had not taken a great deal of time, they did have somewhat of a tiring effect on Gaius. Thus, he decided to take Horatius's horse to the next way point -- perhaps farther. After all, he was just two days from Rome, and he had killed nine people. It was going to be a long journey.
With a horse, Gaius could travel much faster than he could on foot. The down side of traveling with a horse was that it was expensive to stable overnight. However, if he could travel twice as far in a day, it would balance the expense at the end of the journey. However, with the way things were going, that would be a big if. After all the trouble he had run into so far, it was not unreasonable to assume that it would continue.
After Gaius obtained the horse, he made it to the first way station by late afternoon. He had made good time, but he did not want to risk going farther that day. Thus, he made arrangements to spend the night. Surprisingly, he did not run into any trouble at this location. By morning, his former nemesis's horse was well rested to continue the journey.
Just before midday, Gaius reached the next way point on his journey to Campania. There was plenty of time to make it to the next stop before nightfall. Thus, he decided to have a leisurely midday meal at the inn there before moving on. After eating a nice meal, he left the inn to continue his journey.
"Aslan?" a woman asked Gaius. "Aslan is that you? You have not changed a bit."
"Aslan?" replied Gaius. "I have not heard that name since I was a wellid, but I am not Aslan."
"Oh silly me," replied the old woman. "Aslan would have grown old too. However, you are the spitting image of an Aslan I used to know."
"Well, I am not from around here, so I doubt there is a relation," replied Gaius.
"Of course not, neither am I. I knew Aslan a lifetime ago, perhaps I confused you with your father."
"Well, perhaps that is true, but I never knew my father."
"What is your real name?"
"That I do not know either."
"Where are you from?"
"My mother used to speak of an area north of the Black Sea -- but -- I do not think such a place exists any longer."
"Do you know that for sure?"
"I had an opportunity to look for it, but I did not have much to go on."
"What was your mother's name?"
"I only knew her by her Roman name, and I do not even know if she was my real mother."
"So, how did you hear the name Aslan?"
"My mother -- the woman who raised me, used to cry that name out in the night..."
"Can we sit and talk awhile?" asked the old woman.
"Certainly," replied Gaius.
"I do not want to be a bother. If you are going somewhere..."
"Please. It is my pleasure."
While she was only perhaps twenty years older than Gaius, the woman was frail from many years of hard service and ill treatment. The short walk seemed to use up all of her energy. Eventually, the two found a shady spot to protect themselves from the midday sun. The woman seemed relieved to be off her feat even for a short while.
Gaius offered her some wine and some of his travel provisions. At first she refused, but then accepted them graciously. She ate as if she had not eaten in days. Gaius waited patiently as she ate her fill.
When her appetite was satisfied, she said "I am on my way home."
"How are you getting there? Perhaps I could help?"
"I am going the same way I got here -- by walking."
"I hope it is not far."
"Do not you worry yourself. I will make it."
"If I can help in any way."
"When I was a young girl," the woman began ignoring everything Gaius said. "my family raised livestock. We moved around looking for fresh pasture land. My father was quite the horseman. Our livestock would then be traded for other goods. At the time, some of our people prospered in the slave trade with Greece. This brought in wealth which meant there was money to be spent on our stock. We became somewhat prosperous for nomads. My father was satisfied with the way things were. He was not going to get involved in slaving. However, the land was fertile and our animals did well, so there was no need to change."
"That sounds like happy times."
"It was. I was quite happy."
"And then you met Aslan?"
"More importantly, that is where I met Aslan's brother Emre."
"My father started us off with a handsome dowry. Our stocks did quite well. More importantly, no one bothered us. With war and strife all around, we left them alone and they left us alone. We did not have trouble from the Romans, the Seleucids or any of the groups that seemed to cause trouble in the area. However, some people capitalized on these troubles by trading the captives to willing buyers."
"There are always those that wish to make money on the misery of others."
"There was lots of money to be made, but Emre and I stayed out of the troubles. I was going to give Emre a second child when our troubles began. Aslan had just gotten married to Bolour, but his wife's family refused to pay the promised dowry. He cared deeply for her, so he was reluctant to divorce her. Emre and I decided to take them on to help us. We were having a slight problem with bandits, and Aslan's help would be welcome."
"She was a beautiful young thing. With their help, we hoped to double our stocks and give them a good start. With Emre's help Aslan quickly discovered who was stealing our stock. It was a young man from a slaver family -- Bolour's family. The thief's father was enraged over the accusation. The two men showed the man their proof, but his Scythian pride would not believe it. A feud between the families erupted."
"Over some stolen animals?"
"Some people just enjoy conflict no matter how small and no matter what the consequences turn out to be. Late one night, these slavers came into camp and took Bolour and me away. She kept screaming, 'Aslan! Aslan!' Aslan came after us, and they slit his throat right in front of us."
"Did Emre come after you?"
"They had already killed him," she sobbed. "These slavers sold us, and we ended up in Rome as agricultural slaves. I am now on my way back home."
"Scythia is a long way from here," replied Gaius. "Let me help you."
"You already have," replied the woman. "I am home now."
The woman died on the spot. Gaius spent the woman's last moments with her, and they were happy moments.
"Where did you get this horse?" asked a young man as Gaius rode into the next way station on his road to Campania.
"She was given to me by a former associate," lied Gaius.
"I think you stole it!" exclaimed the man.
What could Gaius do? He obtained the horse from a man who was going to rob him. There was no reason to believe that that man obtained the horse legally. Thus, he could very easily be riding a stolen horse. However, he could never admit that.
"I assure you that I did not steal this horse," Gaius explained.
"Perhaps your associate stole it then!"
"That is none of my concern, nor is it yours. However, you can rest assured that if he did steal her, he will never do anything of the like again."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"If I say the man that gave me this horse will never steal again, you can count on that being the truth."
"You killed the man for his horse?"
"Not at all. He attacked me, and I defended..."
"So, he is dead!"
"He was a brigand, and he got what the fates wished."
"And you obtained a horse for free. That is very convenient."
"I would happily abandon this mare and continue on my way if you wish it."
"Oh, you will hand over the horse all right, but you will not simply walk away -- barbarian."
"Stranger, I have no beef with you. If this is indeed your horse, you may have her," Gaius said as he dismounted. "However, tread lightly or you may regret wagging your tongue in such a manner."
"You speak as if you are not a dead man already."
The man drew his short sword and swung it at Gaius. Gaius rushed at the man and the sword completely missed its mark. The man's arm hit Gaius instead. With a quick twist of his body, Gaius grabbed the man's hand and freed the sword. It fell harmlessly to the ground. With a quick push of his elbow, the man was forced backwards. Gaius bent over and picked up the sword.
"Citizen," began Gaius before the man could rush forward "I have no quarrel with you. As I said, if the horse is yours, you may have her. If it is not, leave us be. However, you have forfeited this sword."
The man thought about charging at Gaius to retrieve his sword. He thought it over quickly and decided not to take that course of action. "You have not heard the last of me!" the man said as he ran away.
"I had better have!" exclaimed Gaius after him.
The man did not even take the horse. It became clear to Gaius that the horse was going to be trouble. He could not prove where he got the horse, and he could not prove that it was not stolen. The horse could prove to be more trouble down the road.
Nevertheless, it had been a long journey, and the death of the slave woman saddened him greatly. However, he had given her happy last moments. He was pleased with that. Thus, when he was at the end of the days journey, he was looking forward to a quiet night.
He entered the inn for a meal and a room for the night. The available food smelled glorious when he entered the inn. A hearty meal would hit the spot. He exchanged the pleasantries with the innkeeper, and made the necessary arrangements for the night.
He hoped that the man that confronted him earlier would not find him again. He hoped the warning took hold. He did eat his meal in relative quiet. There were minor skirmishes during the meal, but that was normal for a place such as this. Apart from those incidents that did not involve Gaius, the meal was uneventful.
Unfortunately, after he finished eating, he was accosted by the man from his arrival. With four comrades, the man walked up to Gaius and ordered him to step outside.
"I informed you earlier that our interactions were over," assured Gaius.
"Not until I get my sword back."
"The only way you will get it back is through your heart."
"I do not think so," the man replied waving at his four friends.
"Listen," replied Gaius in an irritated tone. "You do not know me, or what I am capable of. Your pitiful group of friends does not change that. Thus, if you would like to see tomorrow, you will leave me alone."
"If you were so formidable, then you would not be stealing horses."
"You must be hard of hearing, so let me make this clear to you. There was a band of seven highway men pestering travelers on the Appian Way north of here. They will pester no one now. Their leader, an army deserter named Horatius, was upon the horse I acquired. Since him and his six allies would not need the animal in question, I took it."
"Do you expect me to believe that you single handedly killed seven men?"
"You may believe whatever you wish. I assure you that seven is not even close to the most men I have killed in one fight. You have had a taste of what I am capable and survived. Consider yourself lucky, and go home."
"My honor will not allow me..."
"Your so-called honor will result in your death and that of your friends. What good will it be to you then?"
"You will step outside, and prove yourself."
"I have nothing to prove. It is you who wishes to prove something. I wish to have nothing to do with it."
"You are a coward!"
"You should not tempt the fates lest you wish to meet them."
"You speak tough words, but can you back them up barbarian?"
"I fail to see why you wish to have an end of your life at such a young age. Is life here that unbearable?"
"You act as if you will survive this fight."
"No. I act as if I have experience in fighting. Your group garners no interest from me."
"You will fight us horse-thief."
It looked as if Gaius would not be able to avoid fighting the man and his friends.
Gaius did not wish to fight the five men. The leader of these men had been wronged, but he was attempting to right this with the wrong person. He and Gaius were allies in a sense, but the man would not listen to reason. The man wanted to fight someone, and unfortunately he had chosen Gaius.
"Oh cruel fates," cried Gaius. "Why do you test me so? Have I not proven myself worthy?"
Reluctantly, Gaius joined the five men outside. He was still going to attempt to convince them to not fight. However, he had the feeling that his words had little effect on the men.
"It is not too late!" Gaius began. "The fates can still change their minds on your destinies."
"Barbarian!" replied the leader. "Prepare to die."
The leader, who lost his sword to Gaius, waved his hands to indicate the men put their plan into action. The four men drew their short swords. Gaius left his weapons in his pack in the inn. He was going to see what he could do to convince these men that they had no quarrel with him.
Two men rushed Gaius immediately with another rushing in a delay as to not have them all arrive at the same time. The leader and another remained where they were as a reserve. The first two men arrived on opposite sides of Gaius nearly simultaneously.
Gaius side stepped their thrusts just in time. He rushed one man and grabbed his arm. He stepped in front of that man and parried the thrust of the other with that man's sword. With a quick flick, he hit the other man's hand with the flat of the blade.
"Look out!" Gaius yelled as he kicked that man.
The third man arrived and thrust at Gaius. With a block and that kick, the thrust went to where the second man stood. With a twist and an elbow, Gaius relieved the man he was controlling of his sword.
With a wave and a flourish, he relieved the third man of his sword. The second man had his sword tucked under his arm, and was rubbing his hand. He just stood there looking at Gaius. It looked as if he was puzzling on why Gaius just saved his life. The now swordless men moved back towards the group's leader.
The man in reserve pointed his sword at Gaius and cautiously advanced. Gaius glanced between the stationary man and the one advancing. The one rubbing his hand just stood there. Thus, the sword Gaius had grabbed from the one man he threw on the ground by the other sword.
The advancing man cocked his head at this move but continued to advance slowly.
"Get him!" shouted the leader.
The advancing man looked back and gave the leader a stern look. Afterwards he continued his slow advance with his sword out front.
Gaius continued to glance between the two armed men. The one remained standing there puzzling over Gaius's actions. While Gaius was looking away, the advancing man charged. However, instead of thrusting his short sword, he raised his sword above his head and attempted to hack at Gaius from above.
Gaius caught the man's arm on its way down and the force caused him to drop his sword. With a quick turn and a push, the man fell backwards. Gaius picked up the sword and put it with the rest. The man with the sword remained motionless for a moment. He then sheathed his sword, and turned and walked away.
"Where are you going?" asked the leader.
The man simply looked at him and continued to walk away.
"He realized that this was not his fight," replied Gaius. "If you think three unarmed allies are better than four armed ones, we can continue this. However, I do not recommend it."
"Honor says we have to finish this," replied the leader.
"It is finished," replied Gaius. "Honor does not dictate that you all must die -- a victor was chosen."
"I do not feel that my honor was upheld," shouted the man knowing that he was defeated.
Gaius left the swords on the ground and walked over to the men. "I am not your enemy. I vanquished your enemy. If you cannot see that, I will kill you right here. However, I do not wish to."
"Who are you?" asked the man.
"I have been known by many names. The name I go by now is Gaius Conelius Ferrarius."
"We were defeated by a barbarian blacksmith?"
"You cannot judge a person by what they look like or from where they hail. Experience is what shapes a person. While I can handle myself in a fight, I would not wish my life experience upon anyone."
"Okay Ferrarius -- the fight is over. However, you can keep the horse if I could get my sword back."
"Very well," replied Gaius.
Gaius entered the inn where his pack was sitting. He opened it up and retrieved the man's short sword. He walked out with it, as the man's companions gathered their swords and left. He walked over the the man and handed the short bladed weapon to him.
"Did you really kill seven bandits to get that horse?"
"I have no reason to lie about these things," Gaius said before turning around to go back into the inn.
As Gaius was walking back to the inn, he heard the sound of a sword being slowly unsheathed. He gave a heavy sigh, and readied himself.
Despite the man's best efforts, he could not sneak up on Gaius. He clumsily attempted to thrust the sword into Gaius's back, but the experienced soldier easily dodged the attack. With the sword and arm of his foe beside him, Gaius grabbed the sword, twisted it around and plunged it into the heart of the man.
"I was hoping that you would have stained my honor by making a liar out of me," muttered Gaius to the dieing man. "Alas, you got your sword back when I thrust it into your heart. It is truly sad."
The man fell to the ground in pain. The local people did not do anything to apprehend Gaius or aid the man. Gaius knelt down and held the man as he was dieing.
"How would your honor have enjoyed defeating someone in an unfair fight?" asked Gaius as the man breathed his last breath.
Another death on his hands, and Gaius was still a long ways from his goal of Campania. Furthermore, the latest death was causing some difficulties. In front of the standing court, the man's uncle brought an indictment against Gaius charging him with murder. Thus, Gaius would have to defend himself against the charges.
Gaius was placed in custody until his turn in court. He would be taken in front of the local Aedile who would act as judge. The killed man's uncle recruited several people to act as scriptores and they signed the complaint. The inscripto stated that Gaius killed the man without provocation after an argument.
"Magistrate, my name is Titus Sextus Genucius. I am here on behalf of my nephew Titus Decimus Genicius who was brutally murdered by one Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius. It all began with an argument over a horse. My dear nephew had lost a horse to thieves and he accused the mighty blacksmith of taking it," began the testimony of the accuser.
"My poor nephew's first attempt to retrieve the animal in question resulted in him losing his sword to Ferrarius. Later, when he attempted to retrieve the weapon, he got his sword back when the defendant thrust it into his heart. My nephew had no chance to defeat such an accomplished fighter, and lost his life in the attempt to retrieve his stolen horse and his stolen sword."
The three jurors sat quietly as the plaintiff described what happened to his nephew. He also outlined how he would show that the defendant, Gaius, was looking for a fight the entire time he was in town. After he finished his statement, Gaius got a chance to tell his story.
"I am a stranger in this place. I am travelling to Campania in search of help for my smithing guild. The road has been fraught with dangers and hazards. However, the fates in their fickle ways brought me to this place safely. Further, they gave me the mare in question. I do not question their motivations," began Gaius's response to the charges.
"When the deceased threatened me with harm in an effort to acquire the gentle animal, I offered to give him the mare. However, he treated me as if I were a bandit and attempted to take the animal by force. I disarmed him and sent him on his way. On the road, I had dealings with some highwaymen. Thus, I am somewhat experienced in the martial ways and dealing with armed assailants.
"Later, the man and four of his friends accosted me at my lodgings after I finished eating my evening meal. They challenged me to a fight. A fight in which I resisted participating. However, the accused spoke of his honor being besmirched. He would take no other result. The altercation was short, and I left his four companions mostly unharmed. However, in a show of good faith, I offered both the sword and the mare to the man. However, when I returned the sword in question to the Citizen Genucius, he attempted to use it upon me. In my defense, I reluctantly killed the man. In no way did I initiate the fight, nor did I wish to kill the plaintiff's nephew. The fates forced the issue upon me."
With the opening statements given. T. Sextus Genucius brought his witnesses. They were acquaintances of the dead man, and they had various descriptions of the fight in question. It was clear that several of the scriptores, who signed the indictment, did not see the fight in question. Upon cross examination, Gaius easily impeached these witnesses.
The three jurors listened intently to the prosecution's witnesses. Some of them gave a fairly accurate description of the events. However, they would miss key features and gave the benefit to their comrade over the stranger. The dead man had several acquaintances, but it did not seem he had too many close friends. The four that accompanied him on the day of his death did not appear for the prosecution. Gaius found this odd and began searching for the men.
During the prosecutorial testimony, a theme began to emerge. The Genicius family did not know much about horses. It was beginning to become apparent that the horse Gaius acquired from Horatius was not stolen from the individual in question. While Gaius still felt bad about having to kill the man, a different picture of the man was beginning to emerge from the witnesses. An image the uncle did not intend to paint.
When it was Gaius's turn to submit evidence, he did not know many people in the area. Further, there were not too many that would testify against the Genucius family. The family did not have any close friends, but the locals were loyal to the man they knew rather than the stranger in town.
The four men that came to the fight with T. Decimus Genucius were not to be found. It appeared that they were no longer in town. During the prosecution, Gaius looked all over for the men. It was beginning to look like they would not appear at the trial.
After a meager attempt at calling witnesses, Gaius was about to give up when one of the four appeared. It was the man that he saved from being accidentally impaled. Gaius called him to the stand.
"My name is Gnaeus Genucia Agricolus, I am a freedman once in employ of the Genucius family. I can testify that Decimus Genucius never had a horse stolen. In fact, he would regularly accost travelers and accuse them of stealing. Often, he would end up obtaining their horse or obtain a cash payment. This changed when he met the defendant."
Gn. Cenucia Agricolus went on to describe how Gaius was the first person to fight back. Thus, the deceased recruited him and three others to threaten Gaius. However, the plan did not work because Gaius would not frighten. Further, when the actual fight broke out, Gaius easily defended himself. It was Decimus's first defeat, and he was quite upset about it. However, he could not let it rest.
It turned out that the Genucius family had paid him a large sum to leave town and not testify. The former slave felt the Gaius had saved his life. Thus, he returned the money and decided to testify on behalf of the defense.
After the witness was cross-examined, the testimony stood. It did not take the jurors long to decide. Gaius was easily acquitted. He was free to leave.
Gaius had once felt bad for killing an innocent man. However, from the trial he learned that the man was anything but innocent. Gaius's faith in the fates and his trip was restored. He was considering turning back, but instead he pressed on towards Campania.
With all of the incidents occurring along his journey, Gaius was greatly behind schedule. It seemed that every way point, there was another delay. The latest stop which led to some time in court was putting him further and further behind. He had planned to make the 280 miles round trip to Campania and back in a month of traveling. There was no way he could make up that time on foot. Thus, he was going to continue riding the horse. It was the only way to make up the time.
Further, the mare was going to have to be pushed a little faster. While Gaius did not wish to mistreat the animal, doubling the distance he would travel on foot was not going to make up the time. This was particularly true if incidences, like the ones he became involved in, continue to occur. Thus, he would have to pass two way points on his daily journey. Hopefully, the mare could manage the distances.
Fortunately, the journey started off well. Gaius made it to the first way station well before midday. He would allow his mount to rest for a bit before continuing. Gaius entered the inn to rest and hear the latest news from other travelers.
After the rest, Gaius continued his journey; however, he was not going to make up ground today. Between the two way points he was stopped by a large number of armed men.
"Dismount Blacksmith!" shouted one of the men.
"I recognize you," replied Gaius staying on his horse. "You were a companion to Titus Decimus Genicius."
"You are correct. We are here to avenge his murder."
"Murder? The court found it to be self defense and not murder."
"We could care less what your court decided Barbarian."
"Ha! I guess you disagree with what Gnaeus Genucia Agricolus did."
"We were told to make ourselves scarce, and he did not."
"You were paid to make yourselves scarce...."
"As you say, but it just goes to show that you cannot trust a freedman."
"I did save his life from your friend's blade. Is he here as well?"
"As a matter of fact he is. Now quit stalling and dismount."
"I believe it is not in my best interest to comply," replied Gaius frankly.
"We can make you comply. We have you twenty to one."
"Actually, it is twenty to two," replied Gaius. "While she may not look like much, I am sure this mare could whip you in a fight."
"Barbarian, you are pretty funny for a dead man."
"I am far from dead."
The leader waved his arm to approach the mounted Gaius. Gaius pulled on the reigns to turn the mare. She turned so Gaius's right hand was facing the approaching group. While doing this, he drew his scimitar.
The men approached slowly, as Gaius continued to spin his horse. Gaius had his weapon on the outward side in which the horse spun. One of the men got close enough that Gaius landed a blow across the man's face. The man recoiled in horror as the blood steamed down his face.
At this, each of the men stopped their advance. They drew their weapons, and then continued to advance. Suddenly a man rushed in, but was out of Gaius's reach. However, as the man attempted to land a blow, the hind end of the horse pushed the man to the ground. Shortly, Gaius's mount stepped on the man with her front hooves. The man shouted out in pain. The hind legs followed as the mare continued to turn.
The two men who had fought against Gaius suddenly froze with fright. Several of the others continued to get closer to Gaius on his whirling animal. When a man got close, he either felt the sting of Gaius's razor sharp scimitar, or was pushed aside by the animal. If they were lucky, they avoided being trampled. However, many of those were then cut trying to stand as Gaius swung around.
After several minutes of this, seven of the men were either dead or gravely injured. The remaining men encircled the horse and rider, but were out of range of Gaius's weapons. Thus, Gaius stopped the spin.
"Do you give up?" shouted Gaius.
"What?" asked the leader in stunned surprise.
"Oh I know," replied Gaius with a smile. "You have not yet begun to fight. I agree, and it shows."
"Get him..." replied the leader as he was just about to rush Gaius.
The remaining men took his lead and took a step forward and then a step back. At this action, Gaius gave out a hearty laugh.
For several moments the men looked at each other wondering who would make the next move. They had their weapons drawn, but their leader seemed somewhat frozen with fright. Thus, they just looked around waiting for something to happen.
As the men stood there wondering what to do, Gaius whirled his horse around again. He stopped when he had selected a direction that was most free of injured men. Horse and rider rushed the man who stood in this spot. As the stunned man just stood there, Gaius swung his sword and caught the man across his chest. The skin pealed away and blood began to pour out. The man shouted in agony.
Gaius and his Horse turned and struck the stunned man standing next to him. By this time, the inaction had worn a bit off the combatants. Thus, they started to move. They scrambled around looking for a good place to be. As a few of them got close, Gaius started the twirl of his horse again. Hence, the men kept their distance. There were now eleven uninjured men attempting to encircle Gaius.
"Do you still think you can force me to dismount?" asked Gaius.
"You are still outnumbered," replied the leader who was still a bit shaky.
"Well you got me there," replied Gaius.
"It is not too late to give up!"
"The same could be said of you."
"Our honor will not allow us..."
"To admit defeat," Gaius said finishing the man's sentence. "Very well, since you did accept the payment of the Genicia family, we shall finish this."
The eleven uninjured men moved cautiously around Gaius. The remaining nine -- who had various injuries and some had already expired -- were further up the Appian way. They would no longer pose a danger to Gaius. However, the uninjured eleven were a different story. They were wary and on the lookout for what Gaius would do next. Being surrounded by eleven men, Gaius was not even sure what he would do next.
As the eleven moved around Gaius, he countinued to look for an opening. As the men moved around, Gaius slowly turned his horse in a circle. Occasionally, he would switch directions that the horse turned. However, for quite some time, no one made an aggressive move.
The leader of the group would occasionally make some sort of hand gesture. He directed where the men should go as they continued to surround Gaius. Suddenly, as if on cue, all eleven men rushed towards Gaius at once. Instead of his previous tactic of circling on his horse, Gaius just urged his horse to go the direction she was facing. Thus, singling out a sole attacker. That attacker held his ground and was pushed aside by the horse and trampled. He cried out in pain as his leg was crushed by the weighty horse. He was now out of action.
Once again, the remaining scrambled. They believed their advantage would be served if they kept Gaius surrounded, but their efforts kept failing. Now with Gaius free of their circle, they would have to attempt to flank him. Further, they had just lost another man and everything would be more difficult with the fewer number of men. Also, they were no closer to getting Gaius off his horse.
As the men regrouped and moved, they continued to attempt a surround him. However Gaius had no interest in being out-flanked. Thus in an effort to stop his adversaries' tactics, Gaius would charge at a man or group of men. If the men stood their ground, they either met Gaius's scimitar or his horse. Also, they would have to gather up and begin their flanking movement again.
After a few charges by Gaius, most of the attackers got out of the way. Nonetheless, three men fell in these encounters. The leader and his friend, who had seen what Gaius could do, were careful not to be in Gaius's way. Nevertheless, the group was slowly dwindling down. The once mighty group of twenty was now seven.
These remaining men were becoming very wary of Gaius's prowess. Having just watched him dispatch thirteen of their comrades, the remaining were greatly on edge. Their leader was having a difficult time keeping them from abandoning their task. He had doubts on the mission himself.
"If you were not such a coward," shouted the leader, "you would dismount your horse."
"Ha ha! If you were not such a coward," replied Gaius, "you would not have come after me with twenty men."
"At every turn you dishonor us."
"You are fighting for the honor of dishonorable men. I cannot add to this."
The men gathered around the leader, and they had a brief discussion. They had watched many of their friends fall to the martial abilities of Gaius. In Gaius's eyes, it was clear what they were discussion.
"Okay stranger," shouted the leader after the meeting. "we have decided that we will let you go."
"Alack and alas!" cried Gaius. "I am afraid the fates disagree with you."
"What?" they all exclaimed in unison.
"You have watched your friends and perhaps family fall at my hands. Many of you will not rest until you see me dead. Thus, at some point in the future, you will garner more forces to face me. I cannot allow that to happen. No my friends, you must all die today."
At those words, all the men ran. Gaius on horseback could easily track them down. He charged at one man and swung his scimitar across his back. He then turned to the next man running and killed him in a similar manner. One after another, Gaius chased down the men running down the road attempting to avoid Gaius's sword.
In order to avoid horse and rider, a few did not stay on the road. In this way, they finally got Gaius to dismount his horse. The leader of the group was one of the men that abandoned the road. He believed he could travel easier than a man on horseback. Further, he believed he could out distance Gaius once he ran in pursuit. In this way, he prolonged his life. However, no one could escape Gaius's blade completely.
Gaius ran after one man through the hilly terrain just off the road. Around the trees, and up and down the hills the men ran. Without slowing his pace, Gaius cut the man across the back. Down he fell. Gaius turned and went after the leader of the group. After a short chase, Gaius caught up to the man.
"Please! Please!" cried the leader of the group as Gaius approached him. "I will not tell anyone. I promise!"
"Why do people threaten other people's lives with such ease, but grovel for their own when the situation is reversed?"
"Please! I was just following orders."
"Ah! The excuse of the ages! You act as if you had no choices. You act as if you were fighting for the honor of honorable men. You act as if you did not know that the Genicia family were criminals praying on unsuspecting travelers."
"Please! I did not..."
Gaius was going to slice the man open with his scimitar; however, he drew his dagger instead. With a quick swipe, the leader's throat was opened and blood spilled out in great quantities.
"The fates are satisfied," Gaius stated quietly.
Gaius made sure all twenty men were dead. Some of the injured who had not yet succumb to their injuries, he ended their suffering quickly. He made sure that he accounted for all twenty of the men. Even one left alive would gather forces against him, so he had to make sure they were all dead.
When it was all done, he was tired and his horse was tired. Nonetheless, he had to push forward. He could not stay where he was. He needed to make it to the next way station. He would not make up the ground he wanted to on this leg of the journey. He hoped that once he reached the coast, he could make up ground then. However, he was sure the fates had more in store for him.