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Caesar IV Heaven » Forums » Story Archives » The Silk Road - A Story of Ancient Rome
Topic Subject:The Silk Road - A Story of Ancient Rome
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Civis Romanus
posted 02-11-01 00:19 ET (US)         
A Story of Ancient Rome in the time of Caesar Marcus Aurelius

TYPE (Genre): Epic Fantasy/Adventure. TONE: Drama/Comedy (nothing silly)
STYLE: Highly Descriptive. Rich Characterizations.
VOICE: 3rd Person Narrative w/Dialogue.
CONSTRUCTION: Multi-paragraph encouraged. No limit on post size.

CIVIS ROMANUS: 30ish Chief Military Advisor to Caesar. Master swordsman. Brown hair, blue eyes, medium heighth and build. Spouse of Apolita. Father of Apollonia and Civis the Younger. (Civis Romanus)
GAIUS ACCIPITER: Immortal Angel with sensitivity to humans. Tall with green eyes that flash hues of blue, gold or red when using personal powers. (Jayhawk)
MAGANHARD: Visigoth warrior, 6 ft., with sandy colored hair. Ice-blue eyes. Shaggy beard. Unkept appearance. Appeared in Damascus. (Benson)
MARCUS HORATIUS: 21 year old legionnaire. Cohort leader. Clara's merchant father demands excessive dowry. Joined travellers in Syracusae. (Caesar Alan)
RADKO: Stablemaster on Civis' villa. (Nutmegger)
ROULV DANIA: Runaway Christian slave of nordic descent. Appeared in Tyre. (Proconsul Creaticus Dania)
SEPTIMUS ODYSSEUS: Moderate heighth, grey haired young man of mixed Ch'in heritage. Apprentice magician who carries similar yellow medallion as Sin Ying. Joined expedition in Tyre. (Cyber Paladin)
SIN YING: Orphaned oriental girl in Rome with vague memories of homeland but no other recollection. (Jaguar)
TITUS TARQUINTIUS: 21 year old Tribune. Brown hair, brown eyes, olive complexion. Assigned by Caesar to accompany Civis on his mission. (Micah Aragorn)

APOLITA: Spouse of Civis Romanus. Celtic girl educated as a Roman on the Isle of Celtia. Thick auburn-colored hair and hazel eyes. A few years younger than Civis. (Civis Romanus)
APOLLONIA: 10 year old daughter of Civis Romanus and Apolita. Favors mother in appearance. (Civis Romanus)
CIVIS THE YOUNGER: "Civi" is the 7 yr. old son of Civis Romanus and Apolita. Favors father in appearance. (Civis Romanus)
CRASSUS: Former Roman legionaire and Cohort Leader in Damascus. Fled into Parthia following failure of conspiracy to assassinate Civis.
OSROES: Seleucid Parthian rebel leader.
VOLOGEZES IV: King of Parthia in the time of Marcus Aurelius.

Please do not use this thread for plot discussions or other communication among authors. Please conduct these activities in this DISCUSSION THREAD.


[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 09-22-2001 @ 02:46 PM).]

Micah Aragorn
posted 04-12-01 05:21 ET (US)     151 / 295       
The group listened with interest as Civis Romanus told them every detail. But none listened with more intense desire to hear every word than Titus Targuintius. This is what he had been waiting for this long journey. With every element of the discussion being told, Titus would marvel at the technique Civis used, would wonder at words spoken and ideas expressed. Would show glee at the way Civis would answer a question with a question to get the Parthian king thinking of the possibilities. Now he knew why Caesar had sent the Commander on this mission of diplomacy. Titus could only hope that the lessons he was learning could be put to advantage in pursuit of his career.

The diplomacy lesson ended abruptly with the voice of young Civis trying to shout above the din of the drums. "Father! Faaatheer! Do we have far to go I'm already tired of riding and it's too hot."

Civis looked at his young son and could see that the latest episode had taken a toll on the child. His color was pale in comparison to his usual hue and he seemed to be more listless in spirit than his usual curious personality.

"Soon,Civi. Soon you will be able to rest" Civis trying to comfort and reassure his son. He turned to Gaius with concern in his eyes.

"He will be alright Civis" Gaius comforting his friend.

Septi moved closer to the young Roman and kept a watchful eye. As they rode he would talk to Civi and Sin Ying and try to make games to occupy their time and their minds from the journey and the hot sun.

Civis Romanus
posted 04-12-01 16:08 ET (US)     152 / 295       

In the center of Civi's being seethed the demon. Cursed immortal! I know who you are, now. Gaius Accipiter, indeed. So that is your name in this millenium, is it? Aythadis in another, Jayhawk in another to be. Countless names, countless personnas, same interfering immortal. This continent or another, it matters not to me. We shall meet again... and again... and again...

Civi tossed and turned in his bedding. Sin Ying awoke to hear his whimpering. At first frightened, she recognized that Civi was behaving no differently than he had numerous times before. Besides, Uncle Jay said that Civi would never truly hurt her.

Sin Ying left her bedding and took the two steps over desert ground that separated her from where Civi lay in troubled sleep. She crouched down and placed her hand on Civi's forehead as she had numerous times before.

His forehead was moist with perspiration. This was something new. She left her hand there after only a momentary hesitation. Sin Ying began to think the pleasant thoughts that came to mind whenever she tried to calm the boy. Civi responded by ceasing his tossing and turning, though his breathing was anything but rhythmic.

Something warm formed and began to grow inside of Sin Ying the more she thought her pleasant thoughts. As it grew, Civi became calmer, his breathing less erratic. Finally the boy slept as easily as he could.

Sin Ying sighed and removed her hand from Civi's brow. She made as if to rise, then hesitated. Without thought, she leaned over and placed the gentlest of kisses on the sleeping boy's temple, so lightly a feather would seem a lead weight in comparison. Then the Ch'in girl made her way back to her sleeping place and comforted by the warmth she felt inside, she herself nodded off to sleep and in her dreams travelled to a distant land filled with strange buildings, fantastic creatures and people like her wearing many different colored cloths.

Accipiter opened his eyes directing their gaze to objects other than Civi and the girl. At times he found it grossly inconvenient to feign sleep to keep up appearances. But, there was no helping it when in the company of so many and the need to mask his true identity was so great. At least he benefitted in that the quiet time of feigned sleep permitted him to contact in secret those who otherwise would be forced to stay away.

And it was in these quiet times that he could visit with Sin Ying as she slept and help her with her search for lost memories; and help them both when the demon rose within Civi to pursue its attempt to control the boy and use him as its instrument towards its avowed goal: Set human upon human and drive all humanity towards the ignorance and barbarism from whence it came...

The sun rose brightly into a cloudless day and the men of Parthia and Roma began their eastern journey once more. A roving contingent of Muhnguls was said to be near the Caspian Gates, between the cities of Charax and Apamea south of the Caspian Sea. It was they who the messenger said were disrupting traffic on the Silk Road. Vologezes directed his army to the northeast, the Romans alongside. Before them rose the first of a number of mountain chains that would have to be travelled. Crassus knew there would be an opportunity soon.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 04-12-2001 @ 04:26 PM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 04-13-01 16:01 ET (US)     153 / 295       
It was not yet the hottest time of the year, so their capes wrapped around their bodies to ward off the slight chill on the wind was sufficient to keep body heat trapped and the wearers comfortable. And so they passed over the crest of the first mountain chain between themselves and the Caspian Gates.

There would be no stopping at cities in between. This was an army marching with urgency. Muhnguls were already ravaging the area around Apamea and, said the messenger, the small garrison at Apamea and Charax felt they were too small to hold out should a full scale raid be mounted by the Muhnguls.


Evening had fallen on the large farm where Sudellon, his wife and two children, a boy and a girl lived their lives. As little in the way of fertile ground as there was, Sudellon felt blessed by the gods that he was owner of sufficient land that he could feed his family and the families of others in the nearby village from the land that he tilled. Others were not so fortunate and had since fled to the village to learn other trades, or to another part of the Empire, or died from disease. He dipped his freshly baked bread into the thick broth his wife had prepared for supper.

Horses? Strange voices? An unknown dialect? The door burst open and Sudellon beheld men he had never seen in his life before that moment. Brown faced men, dressed in pieces of animal hide, looked at him from eyes partially hidden by epicantal folds that gave their eyes the appearance of being slanted, not rounded. Long straggly mustaches drooped from both sides of their upper lips, but little or no facial hair grew elsewhere on their faces. Their stature was short, but their arms were thick with muscle and each and every one of them entered with swords drawn.

For the family at supper, there was time only to scream as the metal blades slashing down and about reflected gleaming light from the candles placed here and there about the room. Sudellon fell first, then his wife, then the boy and much later, the girl.

In the village those still out and about could see the flames rising into the night from the structure a distance away in the place they remembered as Sudellon's. Fear gripped them as they heard the approach of many hooves and shouting in a tongue unrecognized. To where should they flee? In what could they hide? The answer... there was no answer. Slashing swords and burning torches ended life in the village as it had been before the arrival of the Muhngul.

The invaders finished their pillaging and headed west to find their next opportunity.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 04-17-2001 @ 10:19 PM).]

posted 04-17-01 11:02 ET (US)     154 / 295       
The party had halted for the day. Sin Ying was getting tired of always sitting down and ran up to Civi.

"Tag, you're it!" she yelled and ran away giggling.

Civi laughed and started chasing Sin Ying around, trying hard not to be in the way of this many people. When he caught up to her, he tagged her and the roles were reversed. Sin Ying started to run after Civi who was headed in the direction of the soldiers that had joined the party.

Out of nowhere, one of the soldiers grabbed Civi and covered his mouth. Sin Ying skidded to a halt. "Let him go" She said. "We were just playing tag. We're sorry if we are in the way. We'll go play on the other side of the camp if you like."

"No, that's ok, little girl. Go tell Civis Romanus that I would like to see him. I'll take care of little Civi here until you bring his father to me."

Sin Ying started to cry and ran as quick as she could to find Civi's father. Instead, she ran head first into Gaius Accipiter.

"Uncle Jay, where's Civi's dad? Some man with the soldiers has got Civi and won't let him go until I bring his dad."

Tears were runing down her face and she was out of breath from running so hard.

"Let's go find Civis. What did the man look like who grabbed Civi?"

"He didn't look Parthian, Uncle Jay." Sin Ying began to describe the man in a bit more detail and Gaius started to get angrier by the minute.

"Crassus" was the only thing he said and he picked up the pace to find Civis.

Civis Romanus
posted 04-17-01 21:58 ET (US)     155 / 295       
Civis Romanus, heart in this throat, ran at an easy pace behind the young Ch'in girl who was leading him, Accipiter and five auxiliary legionaires to the place where Civi was being held. It was not a long run for any of the men, but Sin Ying stopped at least once to regain her breath before she ran on again. Behind them, Titus and Marcus were fast approaching, having heard what happened moments after Civis and now running to catch up with the other Romans.

Civis entered a clearing and he could see across its moderate expanse a man holding his son closely, a short Roman sword at the boy's throat. There were other men there as well. All were Parthians. They made no effort to disarm the man with the Roman sword, nor interfere in any way. One Parthian officer near Civis approached him cautiously and in Parthian told Civis they thought it best not to interfere in a Roman problem, but that King Vologezes has been informed. The legionaires behind Civis glared at the Parthian officer, but said nothing.

The man holding Civi was indeed the man Accipiter suspected.
"Crassus! Release my son!" ordered Civis.

"Yes, commander. Of course, commander. Anything you say, commander," came the derisive reply. "If you want your son, come for him... commander."

"Crassus, you are a Roman! Why oppose your own countrymen and threaten the life of a Roman boy!"

"Romanus, I am no Roman. You saw to that when you stripped me of my position! I have no country! And you are to blame! There is only one way you can gain your son... through me; or are you too great a coward to try!?"

There it was. Civis looked around him and saw the eyes of every Parthian focussed on him. A new figure arrived on a horse. It was King Vologezes. He quickly surmised what had occurred, saw Crassus with Civi and almost as if he himself was precast as part of the drama said, "It seems Commander Romanus, you have a dilemna as well as a challenge. We Parthians shall not interfere in a Roman problem. I think your diplomatic background will make the reasons clear. You must settle this among yourselves." Vologezes addressed his men immediately. "Parthians... Do not interfere! That is my order!" The Parthians backed away from the two Romans.

Civis now appraised Crassus' position. The renegade Roman stood with his back to a flat, upright stone effacement that was part of a rock outcropping too steep for a man to climb. Any attempt to attack him would surely result in the boy's immediate death. The Parthians wisely, or purposefully, made no attempt to rescue the boy. Should Civis attempt any subterfuge, lie to Crassus about his intentions or permit any of his men to fight in his stead, his position both among the Parthians and his Roman companions would be severely undermined and the mission put in immediate jeapardy. Clever man, thought Civis.

"You cannot fight and hold the boy hostage at the same time, Crassus," said Civis.

"I shall release him, Romanus, if you vow as a Roman and by the blood of your family and ancestors that you will meet me here and now, you alone, in single combat."

Civis hesitated considering all of his options. Crassus waited only seconds then said, "Go ahead, think about all of your choices, commander. You will find you have only one. Run and I will end the life of your son and pursue you and every member of your family until all are dust. Fight me now, and maybe, just maybe, you will prevent what I predict. What will it be, commander?"

"Father..." said Civi in a voice pleading for help and filled with fear. There was only one choice.

"What shall be the weapons, Crassus?" said Civis.

Crassus smiled in anticipation. "The weapons of a legionaire, Romanus: helmet, shield, breastplate and gladius." Civis only then noticed that what Crassus listed were already near him, on him or leaning against the rock effacement near two Parthian soldiers. How timely and convenient. Suspicion grew in Civis' mind as he glanced at the weaponry and then towards Vologezes. The King's expression was masked. Civis could guess at what was being hidden.

"As you wish, Crassus." Civis was already armored and wearing his legionaire's helmet. He turned to one of the auxiliaries and motioned to the man's shield. The auxiliary gave it up readily to Civis whispering, "The gods be with you, Commander." Normally a man of his rank would never presume to speak unless addressed first by a Commander. Civis appreciated the unexpected gesture.

Civis turned to Titus, Marcus and the others. In a low voice he said, "If I fall, do what you must to save my son." Titus and the others nodded their understanding. Civis finally looked at Accipiter. Silent communication flowed between them. "My friend, do not interfere in what I must do. See to the safety of my son and the others. You know what must be done." Accipter's eyes briefly flashed bright green with gold. Civis knew the immortal understood.

Armed and ready, sword drawn, Civis turned to face Crassus. "Release my son, Crassus! Arm yourself! You shall have your wish fulfilled if you are so able. I accept your terms on the life of my son, the blood of my family, my ancestors and the Empire of Roma that you have foresaken! Fight, traitor!

Tension and expectation mounted among all present as Crassus released Civi to the nearest Parthian, picked up his shield and drew his sword. The two Romans began to circle each other looking for an opening to mount an attack...

Cyber Paladin
posted 04-18-01 07:16 ET (US)     156 / 295       
The two full-geared Roman charged at each other.
"Crank!" As skillful and as experienced as they are, they encountered with a shield bash.

The air seemed to stand still with the echoes of the metal collisions. Then the two men fought like raging tigers.

"It's weird." Thought Civis as he successfully blocked the last thrust from the traitor. Many years of military life told him that the glare that was reflected from a Roman gladius is silver with a tinge of gold, but Crassus' blade was with a tinge of greenish purple.

The battle went on. Civis' long military life earned him an edge over the young traitor, who couldn't do anything but to evade and block.
"Crank!" The Roman commander parried his enemies blade, and landed a blow on his breastplate, but once again against Civis' common sense, the blade slipped outward instead of inward, tearing through the armor. The warrior cursed at himself and at the same time, Civis catched an evil grin on the traitors face.
"How's that Romanus. Now chew on this!" And Crassus thrusted his blade, right after Civis' blade was slipped out of the way.
"Yaarrrrrgh!" Civis turned and twisted his waist as hard as he could to evade, the blade missed by an inch, but Civis was already out of balance.

Out of his breath, Septi ran to the venue just in time to see Civis fall, and catched a tinge of purple on Crassus' gladius as he raised it, ready to chop down on the Roman commander, who was rolling up.
"No!!" Septi shouted at the very tip of his voice, and as if guided, he raised his palm, facing the raging traitor.
The purple blade missed Civis as if it was pushed away by Septi's palm, but yet he was so far away.
"Now who's behind this!" Crassus roared in anger.
"I am! You cheater!" Septi stepped out from the expedition. "Look at your blade!"
The everyone's sight landed on the traitor's gladius, which is reflecting with a tinge of purple.
"It's poisoned! It's coated with a deadly poison!" Septi surprised himself that he can actually said that in Parthian.

"Well, young man. If it is the case, then I declare Crassus the loser, but if it is not, I shall see your head rolling on the floor." King Vologese said while trying to mask his astonishment, but the audience wondered since when did the King became the judge of the contest. Vologese called one of his men, and tested the blade on a dog wandering nearby, the dog was given a small shallow cut, but it died nearly immediately after it jumped in pain and barked wildly. Dark red blood came from it's mouth while it finally laid down. His breastplace was also found to be thickly coated with oil. The fact was crystal clear. Crassus glared at Septi, with his fist firmly clenched, shaking with anger.

"Crassus, I feel ashamed that I even wasted my time duelling with you." With the last word said, Civis turned to get back his son.
"I'm so sorry, Roman, that you cheated." The Parthian king said, trying to look disappointed and shocked, but clearly he was not a good actor. Then everyone began to wonder if the King was involved, but Civis said in reflex, "He is no Roman."

With Civi back safe, the expedition hurried back to their camp and began the discussion on how to leave the Parthian Empire as soon as possible.

[This message has been edited by Cyber Paladin (edited 04-18-2001 @ 07:24 AM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 04-18-01 21:59 ET (US)     157 / 295       
"Take the Roman named Crassus to my tent," ordered Vologezes as he watched the Romans and others with Civis go back to their section of the encampment.


Vologezes paced back and forth with barely suppressed anger in his voice. "Fool! Did you think the treatment of your armor and the poison on your sword would go unnoticed by the other Romans? We would have had to kill them all to prevent what you did from being reported to Aurelius!"

Crassus could not meet the king's eyes with his. "Your Majesty. I saw it as a reasonable gamble. I would have destroyed the armor and the sword before anything could be detected."

"Well its too late now. By the rules of confrontation you must be imprisoned then put to death for cheating." The king paused. "You will have another chance, Crassus; but it may very well be your last. You will be imprisoned, but you will somehow mysteriously "escape"... at least that is what we will tell any inquiring Romans. I just hope Romanus isn't correctly perceiving who you are actually working for, because that would make many things very difficult for me... and for you."

Vologezes struck a small suspended metal plate with a wooden hammer and summoned the two guards waiting outside. "To the holding compound. Chain him, but see that he is fed and given water. Do not harm him in any way. Understood?"

"Yes, Your Majesty," answered the ranking Parthian. Crassus was directed at spearpoint to the tent's exit and towards the holding compound. Shortly afterwards, a messenger from the Romans was admitted to the tent.

"Yes, I will meet with him," replied the king to the messenger's request. Civis Romanus entered the tent of King Vologezes thirty minutes later accompanied by Titus.

"We have imprisoned the cheater, Commander Romanus," volunteered the king almost immediately upon Civis' arrival.

"I did not come here about Crassus," replied Civis without warmth in the tone of his voice. "I have come for the answer to my proposal."

"I have not decided either way, Commander."

"Then we shall not accompany your army any farther. The Muhnguls as you call them are your concern. We have other business in the east. When concluded we shall return by way of the Silk Road. It is then and no later that I shall receive your answer and report it to Caesar Marcus Aurelius. You know our expectations and what we offer in return. I believe it is very clear. Until then, King Vologezes, think long and hard and do make your decision. I do not know if Caesar will permit a second opportunity such as this."

"Until then, Commander," replied Vologezes, struggling to control his anger.

"Yes, until then, your Majesty," said Civis matter-of-factly. He bowed and exited the tent with Titus at his side.

"Arrogant Roman," hissed Vologezes between clenched teeth. "Be gone and pray the gods see fit to have the Muhnguls find you and make a spear's ornament of your head."

Civis walked briskly towards his camp. When no one was close enough to hear he said to Titus, "The man has no intention of agreeing to our terms. He seeks the Eastern Mediterranean coast and its cities. If not for the Muhnguls he would be busy building up his forces for an attack."

Titus nodded his head. He thought the same. "Civis, that means we most likely will be in league with the rebels."

"Most likely, Titus. But only indirectly. We do not want to spill Roman blood. Let the Parthians spill Parthian blood among themselves and then we Romans perhaps can achieve our goal of easy access to the Silk Road."

"Civis... Is this the way of Empires?" asked Titus, the implications becoming increasingly obvious to him.

"It is sometimes the way it must be. In our duties we do not always have the choice of ways, just the obligation and the duty." Civis fell silent as he strode back to the Roman camp, as did Titus who was thinking about what he had seen and heard that day.

The Romans left the camp of the Parthians at first light and travelled their own way towards the east.

Civis Romanus
posted 04-20-01 20:59 ET (US)     158 / 295       
The Roman mission forged ahead of the much larger Parthian army. The Parthians spent as much time searching out the area trying to make contact with the Muhnguls as they did moving eastward across their empire. Consequently, the Romans were able to move eastward at a much faster pace.

Civis remembered Accipiter's warning about the effect of the sun in this region and maintained proper headdress. The Roman Auxiliaries were guided in this by Accipiter as well. Only occasionally did an Auxiliary experience too much sun and even then Accipiter always seemed to have the right prescription "in hand" to make the soldier well once more. All others fared well, including the children.

Civi was none the worse for his experience in Crassus' grasp. Afterwards, he peppered his father with questions about the battle until Civis was fairly driven to exhaustion trying to answer them. It was then that Radko, or Gaius, Titus or Septi would be called upon to draw the boy away from his constant questions.

Days passed without incident, that is, until the incident involving two of the mission's key members who happened, that day, to be the designated scouts. It all began early that morning...

Eminence Grise
posted 04-25-01 03:14 ET (US)     159 / 295       
A single horseman, dressed in ragged clothes pounds his way East. The horse, of good quality, but lathered with sweat, makes miles disappear beneath it's feet.
The horsman has a sneer on his patrician face, a glower of hate in his eyes. Released in the thick of night by an unnamed servant of Vologezes, Crassus chases the party of Civis Romanus. Twice now the man has humilated him.
There will not be a third time Crassus vows and calls on Hecate, the Queen of the Night for help.

Meanwhile the small caravan led by Civis Romanus heads further East, oblivious to the treachery behind them.

Eminence Grise
posted 04-25-01 03:30 ET (US)     160 / 295       
Whoops, missed that 'cliffhanger,' Civis.
Now which key-members would be out scouting?

Septi and the tall Goth Maganhard saddled their horses. They had offered Civis to scout that morning and maybe do a little hunting on the side. The Roman commander had accepted, eager for a change in diet. Their trip had been quiet these last days, without any encounters with the invading Munghals. It seemed to Civis the raiders had taken a more Southernly course.

Soon they were off into the low hills they were crossing on their trek East. In the far distance the pastel shaded contours of some large mountains could be seen. Septi spotted a deer and the two gave chase. They crossed a few dried out gullies then follwed on deeper into the hills. A rocky outcrop blocked their view then suddenly the deer came pelting back from behind the rock, ignoring the two riders.

Cautiously they approached the outcrop and peered around it's edge. What they saw chilled their blood. A group of several hundred of the tough steppe horsemen was moving down the gully towards them.

Civis Romanus
posted 04-25-01 21:27 ET (US)     161 / 295       
"Aiiiieeee!" The shrill cry of one of the Muhngul riders alerted the rest to the two men he spied near the rock outcropping. He pointed in their direction even as the two riders wheeled their horses in an attempt to pull back behind the rocks to avoid detection.

The Muhngul leader waved in the direction of the two riders and shouted something sounding unintelligible to Septi and Maganhard. It didn't matter, though. The two riders were not going to wait for the translation anyway as they had put spur to their horses' flanks to put as much distance between themselves and the steppe riders as quickly as possible.

Fifty of the Muhnguls followed their leader's command and took off in pursuit of the two riders. The Muhnguls were set upon raiding the area and didn't want warning of their planned assault to escape ahead of them. Besides, if these were part of a larger party, there could be glory in the kill and more than one of the Muhnguls desired glory that day.

Maganhard did not relish fleeing an enemy, but duty demanded he alert Civis and the others to the Muhnguls presence. Septi knew a little about the Muhnguls and had no desire to be in their presence, duty or otherwise. So both drove their horses onwards to the west as fast as the horses could carry them.

The gully slowed the Muhnguls as they attempted to guide their horses from its trough to the flatter, higher ground above. This gave Septi and Maganhard a lead over their pursuers that they exploited to the maximum. They never heard the hoofs of the Muhngul horses galloping behind them. They didn't have to. They knew the Muhnguls were there and following swiftly.

Civis and the rest of the mission were flanked by cohorts of the Auxilary Century escorting them east through the Parthian Empire. Marcus rode easily with Civis conversing on some experiences they had in common. Accipiter seemed uncommonly quiet and distant. Once, Civis looked over his shoulder to see the tall man riding, back stiff and upright, but with his green eyes closed. Well, thought Civis, as usual Gaius is "here" but then again... A shouting ahead of them caught his attention.

"Muhnguls! Muhnguls! Behind us! Riding fast!" This came from the bigger of the two familiar figures. Maganhard was a little ahead of Septi and closing fast on Civis and the others. Suddenly, Septi's horse staggered. The horse's momentum carried Septi forward and he tumbled from the staggering horse falling to the ground in a heap. Septi lay there unmoving. Sin Ying cried out, then put her hand to her mouth when she realized the magician wasn't moving. Civi was too shocked to say anything.

Civis was distracted by the dust rising in the distance behind his two returning comrades. While Radko and Dania hurried to check on Septi and his horse, Civis drew Marcus' attention to the rising dust. "Riders... a lot of them," said Marcus, mirroring Civis' thoughts exactly.

"Form up your Century, Marcus," said Civis calmly. "Maganhard, Titus... See to the children!" Civis looked towards Gaius. Civis nodded. There was nothing further that needed to be said to the tall man with the green eyes. Civis drew his sword from its sheath and prepared for battle.

The Century, as commanded by Marcus, advanced forward to set up a battleline to defend the fallen Septi, along with Radko and Dania who were helping the Tyrean. Dania had his Parthian bow and other weapons at the ready, but Dania felt somewhat relieved to see the Century take up a position between them and the advancing party of Muhnguls, who could now be seen riding at top speed sending up clouds of dust behind them.

The old dilemna again reared itself in Dania's mind. Dania did not want to use the weapons, but would be compelled to use them to defend Septi or Radko if necessary. This persistent conflict warred within him once more, friendship vs. belief. Would he ever see the path to rightousness clearly?!

Civis saw only one thing... Fifty Muhnguls bearing down on them, weapons pulled and ready. Along with the mounted soldiers of Rome and their Centurian, Marcus Horatius, Civis, his gladius drawn and ready, braced for the Muhngul onslaught...

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 04-25-2001 @ 09:45 PM).]

Cyber Paladin
posted 04-26-01 07:49 ET (US)     162 / 295       
The Muhnguls ride nearer and nearer, all following a man who seemed like the leader, who have two large flags erected from his back.

The century of Rome stood still, ready for some action, which in fact they've missed in these days of peace.
It's the soldier's pride to be able to even stand on the battleground, preferably on the front rank.

On the other hand, Titus, Maganhard and Gaius already retreated with the children to the bush far behind the battleline, and still riding as fast as they can. Radko realised on that rate of approach even Septi wakes up it'll be too late to escape from rioting horseshoes. So he decided to take the risk, and pulled the unconscious youngster on one of the caravan. Then he juiced every bit of pace out of the horse, trying to get out from the front.

The Mongol riders dashing like wind, closer and closer. But all out of a sudden, the flagbearer raised his right hand, and every single Mongol stopped. Right on spot.
Even Civis widened his eyes on this, he's never seen such tactics... no... The Parthian tactic!
"Everybody to the right! Into the woods!" Civis commanded, and the Roman riders immediately follows. The echoes of Civis words couldn't be heard, as it was covered by the dreaded sound of hundreds of arrows flying in the air.

As the last rank of Roman entered the forest, the arrows hit where they were. Hundreds of arrows, approximately fifty by fifty, arrived one wave after each other. Every Roman jaw dropped on how fast these sturdy little men can fire arrows.
The daring scout of the century went ahead to check, only to find the dust raised by the Mongol riders, but none to be seen. It seemed like they've been never their before, but the sound of the arrow, and those stuck on the grass, seemed too real to believe that the Mongols weren't there.

"My God... those chaps fire even faster than Parthians... on horseback!?" Rumors raised among Roman soldiers. Some of them even suggested chasing and see 'who's better'. But the chatter broke when Civis came to the crowd.
"I say, do not chase. Our mission is to go East, not to battle with those men. Let them kill the Parthians, or the other way round. But certainly it's not for us." Enough said, Civis waved the century, and the remaining expedition, to ride as fast as they can, trying to catch up with the children. Septi, on the other hand, was still unconscious.

Civis Romanus
posted 04-26-01 21:54 ET (US)     163 / 295       
Marcus, anticipating Civis' request, detailed five auxiliaries to scout ahead and determine if the Muhnguls were indeed gone. Accipiter, concern in his expression, dismounted to check on Septi.

The young Tyrean was beginning to stir, groaning some as the pain of the bump on his head began to radiate all around. Accipiter bent over the prostrate magician, using his robe to hide what work he was doing. He shooed Civi and Sin Ying away, then told Radko and the others to go about there duties, that Septi would be fine. They left as they were told. Civi and Sin Ying walked backwards facing Gaius, and bumped into Civis, who was walking to check on Septi's condition himself.

None could see Accipiter lay hands on the head of Septi; nor see his green eyes flash gold with hints of blue then become green once more. Septi simply ceased to moan and his eyes opened. He looked around, tried to sit up, achieved the position but winced with the pain of the headache he felt. Accipiter stood up. "He will be fine," said the tall man. "He probably would benefit from some water."

On cue, Dania appeared with a sheepskin filled with water kept cool by Radko's ingenious methods of shading vital supplies. Septi drank deeply, wincing less now even as he tipped his head back to consume the cooling liquid. "My horse?"

Radko answered. "Fine, just exhausted from the gallop and scraped a little from the fall. Its injuries are dressed and he will carry you again in a day or so. You should ride one of the other horses for now."

Civis looked at Septi, relief visible on his face. "Would my white stallion serve that purpose adequately?" Septi's face lit up even as another sharp jabbing pain coursed through his head.

"Would you mind, Civis?" he asked. Civis laughed. "I won't mind. The question is whether the horse will mind or not." They all laughed, even the ever soulful and somewhat melancholy Gaius joined in. Sin Ying didn't hesitate to help Septi to his feet. Civi, ever so full of questions, opened fire on Septi even as they began to walk to where Civis' white stallion was being prepped by Radko to carry the Tyrean.

Just then the detail of five auxiliaries returned. Marcus took their report. "No sign of the Muhnguls anywhere, Commander," he told Civis.

"Good, Marcus. Let's try to put some distance between ourselves and wherever they may have gone. Be sure a column of your men rides on either side of our flanks to shield the caravan, if you will."

"Yes, Commander. I have already given that order."

"Excellent. Proceed."

From a distant rock formation, two asiatics called Muhngul by the Parthians watched with interest the movement among the foreigners. Said the shorter Muhngul to the taller, more muscular man next to him, "So these mounted soldiers are what the Parthians call Romans. They appear disciplined and formidable, though our arrows seem to have frightened their commander. I do not think we need fear these Romans, or especially their leaders."

"Do not be too quick to judge. They suffered none of their men to be struck by our arrows. We sent many flights to no avail. Soon we would have exhausted our arrows and then we would have had only our swords to defend us against as many of their men as at the beginning. No, they may appear frightened or weak, but their leader may in fact be much cleverer than we suspect. I think it best to let them pass and trouble only those we came to trouble, the Parthians."


"There will be glory, my son, for all of us this day in another place. Pick your place and time wisely and the greater will be the reward. As Son of the Kahn, this is a lesson you must learn well."

"Yes, Father," the young Muhngul replied. "I obey the word of the Kahn." So saying, the young asiatic and his father quietly left their positions, found their horses and rode back to join their soldiers now heading southeast and away from Romans.

Accipiter suddenly straightened up, the expression on his face changing, his eyes taking on a look of distant concentration. Civis studied him carefully. "A problem, Gaius?"

The tall man refocussed his eyes on Civis. "No, not a problem now, nor for us this day. But a problem many years hence... We are safe, Civis, and can proceed." Romanus never tried to pry too deeply into the meaning of his friend's words. He accepted them at face value, no matter how obtuse they appeared. If Gaius said they were safe, then they were safe. Civis proceeded to restart the caravan's travels east assuming they were indeed safe as Gaius had said.

There were beautiful, snow capped mountains in the distance and Civis intended that they would be camped at their foot as soon as possible.

Cyber Paladin
posted 04-28-01 02:01 ET (US)     164 / 295       
Though tension rised among the expedition, and even the kids felt some pressure as they were surrounded by full-geared troops, two days passed without problems.

The white capped mountains seemed so distant, even after two days of travelling. It seemed so beautiful, so eternal, so cold. Watching all mortals kill each others, fool each others, love each others, hate each others, with cold indifferent eyes. But for now, even the Gods are concerned about the little caravan travelling towards it, can it rest as before?

The morning sun was welcomed by the expedition, it was warm, yet not so hot like hell when in the desert. The camp was made in the pasture, near a small transparent glimmering stream.
Everything was normal, Radko and Dania always busy about something. Civis, Titus and Marcus always having political discussions. Manganhard always playing with some stones, craving something. Gaius always watching, smiling here and there. But Septi seemed not so normal these days, though he was making breakfast as usual, he seemed making it while sleeping.
Actually, he seemed so drowsy these days, after the assult of Mongols. He even couldn't answer some questions from the kids. Sin Ying, perhaps because of being a women, first noticed this apart from Gaius, who knows everything.
"Septi, you didn't sleep well?"
"Well... er... yeah..." Septi answered with a yawn, his brown eyes lost focus with the eyelids halfway down.
"What's wrong? Are you ill some sort?" Sin Ying asked, and put her right hand on Septi's forehand to see if he got a fever.
"No... just can't sleep..."
"Well... should've told all of you before..." Septi recalled. "I saw Master quite some days before. He founded out I was not from the Odysseus family."
"What!?" Sin Ying's surprised tone catched everyone's attention.
"Yes... and last night, and the night before, Master said I was actually his son."
"What!?" Everybody except the troops was really caught off guard by this.
"I don't know how to say this... but it's a strange feeling... now I don't even know if I should call him dad or not."
"Oh Septi, come on it doesn't matter." Titus tried to assure the young barbarian with a piece of bread rolling in his mouth.
"No... on one hand, I hated him because he abandoned me when I was young. My mom died giving birth to me. He then solded me to the childless Odysseus family in order to make his travelling to the Alps easier. I hated him for this. But he was my Master. He taught me everything. He loved me I knew. So what should I do? Everytime I sleep, or take a nap. Master shows up. I don't know how to face it..."
"Well, don't worry Septi... it's all over, isn't it? I'm sure Will regreted what he's done when you're young. And your magician blood make your way back to him. Then he make it up by caring for you, loving you much much more. Teached you everything, and even gave you that medallion..." Gaius stopped, knowing that leaking some information about that medallion isn't so good for now, "He loves you. See? It all makes sense."
"Yeah... maybe you're right..." Septi smiled, a gesture missed by the kids for two days.
"Okay now young man, get some sleep." Gaius said in his compelling voice, and took over the pot holding the half-cooked breakfast while the young barbarian hestitatly walked to his matress.

Civis Romanus
posted 05-01-01 16:17 ET (US)     165 / 295       
The mission pressed forward leaving behind the warm lowlands in favor of the pass between two towering peaks that would take them across the chain of mountains stretching north and south from their vantage point.

Accipiter rode near Civis and began to mumble something about "Marcus Polus" or something sounding similar to Civis.
"His name is Marcus Horatius if I recall correctly," said Civis to Gaius.

"Hmmm? Horatius? What about him?" said Accipiter.

"I said, Marcus' family name is Horatius, not Polus," replied Civis.

"Polus? Who said Polus?" said Accipiter, a puzzled expression on his face. "I said 'Polo' not Polus."

"Who is this Marcus Polo, you referred to?"

"Marco Polo, Civis. I said Marco Polo."

"Okay, so who is this Marco Polo?" Civis persisted.

"The man who will rediscover the Silk Road."

"What? Did we lose it already? When? I didn't see the route change direction?" Civis quickly swiveled around in his saddle to see if the path had veered off in some unseen direction.

"No, the Road's not lost to us. But years from now it will be."

"Oh," said Civis, relief in his voice turning to concern. "Then how is it lost?"

"Ignorance and greed; war and barbarism." Accipter's voice took on its melancholy tone once more.

Civis knew enough of Gaius' nature not to question what was being said. He had traveled to many a strange location and to many an era in the company of the immortal riding beside him. Civis had been lifted above the ground by machines slung under bags of unbreathable air. He had been dragged through the air inside of a thing with a nose that spun. He had been in an enclosed metal chariot that moved swiftly on four soft round wheels without a horse to pull it or push it. He had met ancient Pharaohs of Egypt long dead before the date of his birth. He had been in the company of Apollo, Venus and other earthly manifestations of the gods. He had fought the undead, battled Huns with the beasts of the earth and confronted Accipiter's evil brother, Deyhawk, in his lair. Who was he to doubt anything Gaius said?

Civis listened quietly, only now and then gently prodding Gaius with a carefully selected question to get his friend to say something more about Marco Polo and the Silk Road. But there was one question he did not ask. It was a simple question. Now that Civis knew about Marco Polo, the man in the future who would reopen the Silk Road; would Marco Polo know anything about Civis Romanus and the others, the Romans who travel the Road this day? Sadly, Civis did feel he would... Why? As Gaius said, "Ignorance and greed; war and barbarism" would do its best to hide the past.

Civis for awhile felt the same melancholy being felt by his friend. They road higher into the mountains in silence.

Micah Aragorn
posted 05-02-01 04:44 ET (US)     166 / 295       
Titus felt a chill as a cold wind suddenly gust past the advancing party. This was certainly different from the arid heat he had been traveling in since....since....he couldn't remember the last time he had been in cooler weather. Had so much time passed since he had left his parents and Roma? He certainly had seen a different world outside the confines of the current Roman empire.

But he would not be Titus if he did not ask himself questions about what lies ahead or what had transpired behind them.

Thinking to himself " Had that been the last of the diplomatic talks between Roma and Parthia? Was Civis' job finished there or would he pursue it further upon their return? Return!!?...When? Their current direction headed them out of Parthia but to where? He could not recall any other Romans being this far past the eastern boundary.

And what of the Muhnguls? Their advance surely threatened the boundaries of Parthia and of Roma. Would dispatches that were being sent be able to reach Caesar?

Once again a cold gust of wind blew past him and this time he wrapped his cloak about him from the sudden chill......
While further up the mountain pass...

"We must stop for water and supplies soon" the guide spoke to the hooded man.

"No! Not yet! When we reach Hamadan. We have enough till then. I paid you a good amount of Parthian coin to get me there quickly. So earn it!" The hooded man made his point quite clear to the guide. Crassus was in no mood to debate. He had every intention to beat Civis to Hamadan or further if necessary to fulfill his promise to the Parthian king and to himself.

[This message has been edited by Micah Aragorn (edited 05-02-2001 @ 03:17 PM).]

Micah Aragorn
posted 05-06-01 03:52 ET (US)     167 / 295       
It got colder as they continued to move through the pass of the Zagros. They had reached the summit and headed down the other side. But being still half a days journey to Hamadan Civis decided it would be better to camp and reach Hamadan early tommorrow. Finding an area wide enough they set about encamping for the evening.

"Drink this Civi. It will help to warm you." Septi handing the young roman a cup of hot broth.

The boy took the cup and shivering from the night air drank the clear liquid. He could feel the warmth run down his throat and settle in his stomach. His chill slowly subsiding.


"Yes, Civi" answering his son as he also drank the warm broth.

His young voice sounding unhappy, "I miss Mother and even Apollonia. When will we see them again?"

Civis could not answer him right away as the reason of why they had brought the young boy on this journey would not be understood. "Not long Civi. Not long." was all he could say to passify the boy. Yet in his mind and heart he too missed them. It had been some time since Civis had written to his wife and daughter. He promised himself to remedy that soon.

As the sun rose over the tops of the mountains the encampment had already stirred and was moving further down the mountain pass. By midday before them lie Hamadan. Although not the expanse of Seleucia, Hamadan's importance to Parthia lie within its necessity for communication with the eastern and western borders. Agriculture and stockbreeding the staples of this area were well replenished by the waters that ran off the low range mountains of the Alvand Kuh.

Curious eyes watched as the Roman Century and its leader rode further into the urban settlement. Especially the eyes of a particular hooded man hidden from sight. His lips curling at the ends in a sinister smile.

[This message has been edited by Micah Aragorn (edited 05-06-2001 @ 03:59 AM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 05-06-01 12:38 ET (US)     168 / 295       
Accipiter was engaged in conversation with one of the locals. This continued for a measurable time until finally courteous "goodbyes" were exchanged and Accipiter returned to the Romans encamped outside of Hamadan.

"We need not be concerned with the Muhnguls, it appears," began Gaius. Civis listened closely preferring to draw his own conclusions.

"Why is that Gaius?" the Roman asked.

"Because the Muhnguls were imprudent enough to engage a detachment of Parthians well to the west of here."

"Surely a detachment wouldn't be enough to stop the horde we saw," observed Civis.

"No, probably not. But I am told the main body of Vologezes mounted archers was close by and arrived in time to fall upon the Muhnguls. Muhngul prisoners, of which there were few, included their leader."

"That, I think, should end that threat for awhile."

"It should normally, Civis. But it is known that the leader's son escaped. So peace will come to the area more as a respite than anything of permanence."

Civis considered these developments, then he shrugged his shoulders and pursued the matter at hand. "What do they say is ahead of us?"

Gaius looked towards the east. "We exchange the cold of the mountains for the heat of the plains and desert it appears."

"I'm not sure which is worse," commented Civis. The low pitched bellow of a camel in the distance ended the conversation as Gaius and Civis turned to find its source. In the east heading towards Hamadan they could see a long line of camels, some ridden by robe draped figures, others piled high with goods. It was a caravan from the east travelling towards them on the Silk Road.

Eminence Grise
posted 05-07-01 03:16 ET (US)     169 / 295       
Gaius greeted the Arab caravan leader in what to Civis sounded as the throat damaging Arabic. These linguistic skills must be one of the more useful ones his angelic friend possessed.

A while later the tall man wheeld his horse around and rode back to his own party, while the Arabs pushed on Westwards.
"Trouble? " Civis asked.
It seems the Munghuls are raiding across Samarkand as well. Part of the road through the Pamir Mountains has collapsed, which means the a detour of a couple of weeks. There also seems to be some dynastic trouble brewing in Ch'in."
Civis nodded.

The road was never easy, he thought, longing for his wife and daughter. At this rate they would spend year travelling there and back. Maybe more.
It was not a comforting thought.

Mixed up my alteregos once more...

[This message has been edited by Jayhawk (edited 05-08-2001 @ 05:11 AM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 05-09-01 00:00 ET (US)     170 / 295       
The buildings of Hamadan and the huts of Merv were now memories as distant as the lands from which the Romans had come. Before them, a long trek having passed, were the buildings of the bustling trading town of Bokhara. As the troop camped outside of the city and Civis and the others entered, faces peered out of doorways and windows to stare at the unexpected and unusual appearing travelers.

Indeed this was a trading town, as the residents quickly confirmed. There were "public places" by the score scattered all about the town and most thickly around the area the Romans recognized as a bazaar. Youths tugged at their clothing asking for payment for tasks the travelers didn't need to be done. Beggars pleaded for coin to feed their families or their own stomachs. Richly garbed merchants studied them keenly wondering if this was a caravan with merchandise of special interest and speculating on what kind of deal would win the day.

And then there were the women. Old, married, young or very young, some staring at them from under pottery jars balanced on their heads, some from the front of their dwellings; and of course the others. These were the ones who resided in the public places and waited for the lonely traveler to appear and then fall prey to their "come hither" glances. These were not evil women. They worked a trade just like the rest in the town, only their trade had definite risks in the partaking. No, not from the women themselves; the risk resided in the men who controlled them and who had no qualms about taking advantage of a weak or drunken customer. It was a town where money could be made in many ways and most certainly was.

Civis Romanus looked around at the faces of the men who made up his mission. Nothing was missed by these weary travelers. Only in the innocent eyes of Civi and Sin Ying could he find hope that they all could depart without incident. So with a silent prayer to the gods, Civis reminded each of their individual tasks and he sent them about to do the things necessary for the journey to Samarkand. It would have been better, he said to himself much later, that they had bypassed the village of Bokhara completely and never stopped there at all.

Indeed, it was a very close thing that his mission didn't depart less one of his valued companions. It was a very close thing indeed... And this time, Crassus had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Civis Romanus
posted 05-18-01 16:00 ET (US)     171 / 295       
Roulv Dania placed the freshly cleaned clothes on the cot Civis Romanus used for sleep, then turned to speak to the mission's commander. "Will there be anything else, Master Civis?"

"Hmmm? Oh, no Dania. Thank you. You've had your supper already?"

"Yes, only moments ago."

"Then you're free to do what you want for the night, Dania. I can fend for myself this evening. See the town or something." Civis turned his attention back to the scroll on which he was writing his thoughts and didn't notice Dania as he quietly exited the tent.

See the town? What's there to see? Dania looked towards the squarish buildings that made up the town proper. Not very appealing. The slave staggered as a broad hand slapped him hard on the back and a gruff yet familiar voice interrupted his thoughts.

"Ready to do it, Dania?!" exclaimed Maganhard.

"Do what, Maganhard?" the slave answered.

"See the town, of course," grinned the Goth.

"Not tonight, I think."

"Not tonight?! And why not tonight? Do you have something to do? Did Civis ask you to polish his armor or something?"

"No, the Master does many of these things himself. In fact, he won't let me touch his armor or his sword. He's somewhat different that way."

"Different he is..." Maganhard's voice trailed off as thoughts of his own stirred about in his mind, then he returned to the original subject. "Well, if you have nothing to do then you should be ready to see the town." In his own inimitable way, Maganhard subsequently convinced Dania to follow him by grasping the slave's elbow and propelling him towards the town. He let go of Dania's elbow only after the Nordic ceased protesting and resigned himself to his fate, whatever it might be that night.

Now on the main street they saw entrances to every establishment possessed by the town. Barter, beverage, games of chance and other entertainments were there for the asking... if one had the coin. Maganhard produced a small purse and motioned to one of the establishments. Dania looked in the direction Maganhard pointed and gulped. It would be a vastly different night than any they had spent on the Silk Road so far.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 05-27-2001 @ 11:56 PM).]

Proconsul Creaticus Dania
posted 05-19-01 14:47 ET (US)     172 / 295       
"Are you really sure you want to enter THAT house?" Dania asked with a little hope in his voice but felt his heart sink to the bottom of his stomach as he looked at Maganhard.

"What's wrong with that house?" answered Maganhard and started walking against it. "It has all the fun in the other buildings collected under one roof, so we don't have to leave if we get bored"

"Argh, never mind" Dania resigned but came to think at what had happened back in Douro Europa

He took Maganhard at his right arm and stopped him. "Be careful what you say, remember what happened back in Parthia".

"Don't worry Dania, that was only a small misunderstanding, people here are much more polite, they are used strangers here" and with those words Maganhard entered the house while Dania hesitated a moment but then followed.

It was almost like getting hit by a wall. The air was thick by the smell of unwashed bodies, sweat, spilled beverage and food. In a corner two men were playing on some instruments never seen before by Dania. The music sounded strange, high waving tones playing with each other like butterflies on a hot summerday back in Danias homeland.
....Back home with the fresh air, the singing birds at springtime, deer presenting their fawns in the early summer...Dania got interrupted in his daydreams by Maganhard who gave him an elbow in the ribs.

"Like something to drink? I'm paying"

"Just a small glass of beer if they have that, thanks"

"They don't have beer here, here have some wine instead, you do like wine don't you?"

"I like the taste of it yes, but I get drunk too easy"

"Don't worry, I'll keep an eye on you. Here, let's take seat here" said Maganhard and stopped by a table strategicly placed close to everything but also protected by a small L-shaped wall bearing some of the roof.

They hadn't sat there for long before the first 'lady' presented herself and on bad Parthian asked if they would give a drink. Dania waved her away while Maganhard had his back turned while looking for someone for gambling.

A few minutes later Maganhard and three other men were busy playing some game Dania had never seen before. He had nothing to do but looking at the game and sip his wine so as time went on he started to get bored. Maganhard could see this and after some arguing he got Dania involved in gambling, saying he would help with money just in case. At first Dania lost one game after another but as he got the feeling for the game he started winning.

Time went on, the air was hot and Dania got thirsty, and before he knew of it he had started on his fourth cup of wine..........

[This message has been edited by Proconsul Creaticus Dania (edited 05-19-2001 @ 02:51 PM).]

Micah Aragorn
posted 05-23-01 04:38 ET (US)     173 / 295       
Dania could no longer taste the alcohol content of the wine he was drinking. It flowed down his throat like water and sips turned to gulps. And with each cup his senses became numb, speech slured, things about him would not sit in one place. Yet all the while he played the game in front of him that Maganhard had convinced him to play against his better judgement. And he was winning, winning, and winning some more. Dania hoped it was because he had quickly become skilled and proficient at the game but realized he probably was just plain lucky. That luck was keeping Maganhard smiling and wondering how Dania was doing it considering he had no previous gaming experience. But the others about him were becoming increasingly more agitated at his winning streak.

"Magannnnnhard, am I glad you convinssssed me to play....(hiccup)play....(hiccup)this game. It'sssss lotsss of fun..(hiccup). The wine was definately causing a reaction.

Maganhard looked down at Dania with a smile and slightly laughing "I'm glad you like it but maybe you should take it easy with wine. In fact I think you've had enough!"

"No. I'm fine. Don't worry....(hiccup) But actually I need to find use of somewhere to relieve myself. So I thinggg I'll have to quit for awhile (hiccup).

One of the men playing the same game and irritated at Dania's luck sharply replied, "Wait, you can't stop now. Give us a chance to win our coins back. It's only courteous"

Dania looked up at Maganhard and trying hard to stand still and focus asked," Is that true my friend?"

"I have not seen it written anywhere" was Maganhard's reply.

"Okay. SSSSo if you'll excuse me(hiccup)I'll be leaving" Dania taking his winnings turned and although swaggering from side to side left the building to find a place to relieve the wine.

The man at the gambling table still irratated at Dania's luck glanzed at five of his comrades that had been sitting nearby. He motioned with his eyes at them and they understood getting up and also leaving.

Dania now urgently seeking a place away from the crowd turned the corner and entered a narrow alleyway between buildings. He could no longer withhold his urge and placing one hand on the building felt like a great weight was being lifted. Feeling better he started to return to get Maganhard.......

As Dania turned he suddenly felt the breath knocked out of him and he sank to his knees gasping for air.
"You need to be taught some manners" one of the five men surrounding him said as a sandaled foot kicked at the stunned Dania.

The same man grabbed Dania's coin pouch saying," And I don't think you'll have anymore use for these." Once more he kicked Dania sending him back lying on the ground.
The others moved in to finish the job and each took his turn at kicking or hitting a now near unconscious Dania.

The leader of the group pulled out a daggar and raised the blade to end Dania's life. The arm holding the blade stopped in mid stroke as the large hand that grasped it quickly pressured the release of the daggar to the ground.
And as the attacker watched the ground his feet never touched race by him the only thing he saw for a brief second was the side of the building his face now collided with five feet above the floor.

Maganhard faced the other angry men who now sought to make an example of him. They each drew a weapon or picked up something to make the odds in their favor.

The first one lunged at Maganhard with a dagger and backing away the blade only tore at cloth. The men now started to surround him. A second swung a stick which landed on the shoulder and a third using a blade swung from the other side. Maganhard unable to repel both attacks could feel the sting where the tip slashed the exposed arm.
Once again the man with the stick swung at Maganhard's head but grabbing the arm before it could connect and with one swift downward jerk broke the wrist of the attacker and held the stick to protect himself.

The attackers advanced once more. And once again surrounding him they advanced to finish their foe.

"If you wish not to see the sunrise tommorrow then by all means continue." A voice from the alley entrance caught the attackers attention and looking saw the armor of two Roman soldiers.

With swords drawn and advancing at a fast pace Titus and Marcus went to the aid of their companions. The looks on their faces was unfriendly and they were not likely to hold back the use of their skills. The attackers quickly looked at each other and decided to abandon their attack running quickly down the opposite end of the alleyway.

Titus grabbed Maganhard's arm to help steady him and ease him to a sitting position. and Marcus ran to where Dania lay motionless on the ground.

"Did you say something wrong again, my great friend?" Titus trying to lighten up the situation.

Both looked over at Dania. Marcus in a serious tone said they needed to get him back to camp and quickly......

[This message has been edited by Micah Aragorn (edited 05-23-2001 @ 02:16 PM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 05-27-01 23:15 ET (US)     174 / 295       
Roulv Dania growned loudly. "Go ahead and groan; serves you right," mumbled Radko as he wrapped the slave's upper torso tightly in lengthy strips of white linen. "Lucky you didn't have your side caved in." Dania growned as if in reply, but Civis and the others standing nearby knew the injured man heard not a word being said to him.

Then, without warning, Dania rolled over onto his side and heaved everything up he had inside. "Now look at this mess!" exclaimed a thoroughly perturbed Radko. "Who's going to clean this up? Me? Wrap this bone, sew that cut, salve this wound! Old Radko will put you back together again! Well! Who's going to put Radko back together again when he's lying there in a pool of his own blood?"

Civis reached deep inside and mustered up the most soothing voice he could. "Radko... We all know you are concerned for Dania and Maganhard and not for yourself...despite what you are saying."

Radko looked at Civis and said nothing. As always, Civis knew what the Stablemaster was really thinking. Radko turned his attention back to the slave lying unconscious still on the cot. Civis continued. "Will he mend?"

"I think so... No bones bent inwards. Maybe cracked, but not separated. He will show the blows by discolorations. He should mend, I think. A horse would have to be destroyed after a beating like that, but Dania will mend."

"And Maganhard?" asked Civis.

"A little thread and a few strokes of a fire-cleaned needle and he will be fine," commented Radko.

There was an increasing level of disturbing noise coming from the town center. Marcus abruptly left the tent and returned hurriedly a few minutes later. "Trouble, Civis," was all he said.

Civis hurried out of the tent to see that auxiliaries were scrambling for weapons and shields and forming into a makeshift defensive formation such as might be used by legionaires. They were aligning against what looked like a stream of dancing lights heading from the center of the town, and with the lights was the sound of an angry crowd.

The front element of the surging crowd stopped dead in its tracks when their torches illuminated the armored front of the Roman defensive line. A few stones lifted and thrown towards the Romans bounced harmlessly off their shields and other pieces of armor. Civis, Marcus and Titus at his side, called out in Parthian, "Halt! Advance no farther or we will raise swords and strike you down!"

"Your men attacked our townsfolk!" cried out a voice from somewhere within the crowd.

"Your 'townsfolk' as you call them attacked two men of my company without warning in a dark alley!"

"They were criminals!" The visageless voice persisted.

"Criminals? Whose only crime was to win at one of your games of chance? Is winning such a crime in Bokhara that it is deserving of robbery and a beating?" countered Civis.

"They cheated!" said the voice.

"How did they cheat? Magic money? They used your gambling toys in your own town in one of your own establishments! Tell me how they cheated and I will punish them myself!" There was silence now. Civis strengthened his command, "TELL ME!" There was no response. "Then disburse and return to your homes. You have no business in this camp!" The crowd still hesitated. "GO, I SAY!"

With that Civis sent a silent signal to Marcus who verbalized a command to the Century. Every man in unison stepped forward two steps and then slammed his sword on his shield. The resulting clang of sword on shield flew in the direction of the rabble and returned again after echoing off the walls of the nearest most buildings. The crowd of torch carrying men stepped back in fear. Some dropped torches right on the spot and ran back towards the town. The rest continued to step backwards keeping wary eyes on the massed Romans. Then they turned and began to make their way back to Bokhara. The stream of torches now faded away as the last of them were extinguished when the lights of the town made the torches unneeded.

Civis continued to watch the torches disappear until the last of them was extinguished. Then he turned to Marcus and said, "Post a double watch tonight. No one leaves or enters the camp after this. Assemble a litter for Dania. We depart the area tomorrow." Marcus saluted and went to do as directed. Civis returned to his tent only to find Accipiter there waiting for him with a frown of concern deeply etched on his otherwise expressionless face.

"I must speak with you, Civis. There is danger ahead and there is something I must do..."

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 05-28-2001 @ 00:15 AM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 06-08-01 15:58 ET (US)     175 / 295       
It was the next morning that Accipiter once again mounted his horse and disappeared into the day heading eastward on the Silk Road. Civis Romanus watched him until horse and rider were nothing but a small grey spec in the distance, and then disappeared completely.

"Where is Uncle Jay going?" said a small voice near his side. It was Civi.

"He must do an errand before we arrive," answered his father. Then another voice spoke, older yet childlike as well. "Is it dangerous?" said Sin Ying.

"No, Sin Ying, not for Gaius." The children looked at the disappearing spec that was Gaius Accipiter, then they turned and stared at Civis. Neither understood the import of the reply, but accepted at face value that Accipiter would return.

Civis had no reason to doubt Accipiter's return, but it was the message the tall man with green eyes would carry from afar that was his primary concern. When the likes of Zen and Accipiter were in communication, no one could predict what would transpire. Accipiter himself could only hint at the possibilities. Something about warlords, sorcery and grave danger unlike anything encountered thus far. It seems the Ch'in were in turmoil and yellow cloth was at its roots.

The Romans mounted their horses and resumed their journey eastward. It would be days before they entered the land of the Ch'in. Residents of Bokhara watched their departure with mixed feelings. Those who hated outlanders were glad to see them leave. Those who enjoyed the newness presented by outlanders regretted their leaving. There were even a few women who shed tears... but very few. There had been almost no time...

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