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Thread: Not for Glory

  1. #1
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    Not for Glory

    "You'll do..." the Recruiter said as he looked me over as a piece of horse flesh on sale. "What is your name, boy?"

    Rubbing sweat and dirt from my face, earned from a long day of cutting wheat, I answered. "Lucas Victus, bond servant of Tiro - the owner of this Villa."

    The recruiter - still looking me over, nodded and smiled. "Victus, huh? Well, consider your debt to Tiro forgiven. He has given you to the Imperial Army as a soldier in his stead."

    That was about right, I thought, giving him a glare. Tiro was the kind to pay his slaves and bond servants wages so low that it would take them a lifetime or more to pay for their freedom, or pay off their debts. This has been the way of his father, and his father before him. Now his son was being brought to do the same. It was just like Tiro to worm his way out of fighting in a war. It really didn't matter now; I was free, and paid a much better wage than the pittance that was provided to me by such a master.

    I nodded in understanding, keeping my contempt for my former master in check (for now) "Very well, what will you have me do?"

    The Recruiter smiled, and pointed me to a wagon with a half dozen other new conscripts: "Get on."

    I complied, and after all accounts were settled, the wagon, recruiter and all began a long journey south. During the trek south I was given a very big picture of the Empire's geographical and political situation. The Empire was currently ruled by Emperor Atticus the Third, who is supposedly kept in check by a weakening Senate.

    To are north are a loose coalition of tribesmen, off-shore raiders and nomadic warriors. Should they ever truly organize into one cohesive force they would match any army on the planet.

    To the west is a large ocean, further west unknown land spoken of in legends and stories from north men traders and captured slaves.

    To the south is our main rival when it comes to economic strength. The Land of P'tah was there, a land of fertile rivers and blistering heat, the peoples being split up into three groups. There were the main body of olive skinned who made up the diplomats, priests, professional soldiers, business men, and politicians. There was a city state of slaves within the south's borders which borders which made up the bulk of city builders. Finally, there was the less organized slave army which was used as cannon fodder. As our Empire was currently undergoing a war of expansion in the south, this was the direction that was given the most detail.

    Finally, to our east was a large and imposing mountain range, and beyond that lied plains filled with horses, horsemen and a brutal war chief gaining power and men under him at a frightening rate. The Imperial Army's has achieved only two victories against this force of horse soldiers, and those were both hollow.
    Last edited by jdd2035; 12-10-2017 at 08:06 PM.

  2. #2
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    South we went, to a fortress overlooking a sea separating the Empire from the Land of P'Tah, along the way the wagon was filled with new recruits, then recruits had to walk as more were added. By the time we got to the fortress there were eighty of us or a full centuria. The fortress' name was Fort Giaus, and there the eighty of us were trained to be legionaries, we moved rocks from one part of the fortress to the other to become strong, we ran to condition our bodies, and we were made to swim to become more coordinated. We were taught how to use the gladius, shield, and spear. But more importantly we were trained how to fight and act as one cohesive unit, not individually.

    Every day it was the same thing, move rocks, run, swim, fight and repeat. Time went on, days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. My closest comrade in arms became a man from a northern province; he had tattoos on his wrists and neck made of a strange blue ink. His name was Leif, and he didn't believe in Imperial gods. He mentioned this to me to try to get a rise out of me. My reply of "Your peoples gods, or my peoples gods; it doesn't matter. The clergy always get over paid." Must have impressed, because after that we got along well.

    His people were conquered and absorbed by the Empire about a century and a half ago. Never the less he was considered a citizen of the Empire by birth and was conscripted like the rest of us. During his youth he was taught by his family to fight in single combat and during what little spare time we had he taught a few tricks, kind of a supplement to the regimented approach to combat the Imperial Army trained us in.

    Our training according to the bureaucrats had ended and the centuria's orders were finally ready. We were to march south under the General Caius, the son of the Emperor, and retake a strong hold that was captured the the forces of the land of P'Tah. The centuria that I belonged to was a part of an entire Legion, including three centuria of cavalry, siege engines and the rest being infantry.

    We started off in the morning. It would take at least a month to arrive at the strong hold, and who knew how long after that to retake it. The days ground on and on, soldiers began missing their homes, horses got sick then some of the soldiers. Still south and east we marched, all the while the General spoke and shouted about how we will “Retake the Empire’s land for its glory!” At about the third day this grew old and most of the Legion began to ignore his speeches and words of encouragement. By the end of the week rations began to dwindle as well as the Legions morale. To resupply, we made a stop at an outpost near the Antiacus river. This reprieve proved beneficial to the Legions morale. We had food that didn't consist of salted meat, drank wine, and several took women into their tents. Fresh supplies were put into our packs and the supply wagons, and we continued on.

    The next outpost which was at the Abasi Oasis on the entrance and exit of a caravan road through the desert; the outpost belonged to the Empire at least on paper. In reality it was too far from any major stronghold belonging to either the Empire or the Land of P'Tah that it really didn't belong to any one. Again we ate food that was not salted, drank wine, and took women into our tents. Those that did, take women into their tents unfortunately had their throats slit. To make matters worse twenty horses were stolen during the night. The morning was hot and we buried our dead in shallow graves and continued on.

    The farther south we marched, the hotter it became. The hotter it became, the more uncomfortable our armor became, and the heavier our shields felt. As we got closer to the strong hold we were supposed to retake the desert when from sand, to rocks and sand to a kind of scrub, and hardy grass; the oasis' and water holes were dotted with date palms and even a few orange trees. The land also showed signs of sheep, goats, horses and camels, civilization in some form or fashion was close.

    We were about two days from the stronghold when the Legion was attacked. Our scouts never reported back that day, and we had marched to the point of exhaustion on the insistence of the General.

    We were crossing a grassy valley when the first wave of about five hundred enemy soldiers appeared.

    "Form up!" Commanded the General. "This unorganized rabble cannot defeat us! For the glory of the Empire!" There were five thousand Imperial soldiers in our legion we had them out numbered.

    We were forming into ranks when they began their charge, throwing their spears and closing with clubs and hide shields screaming like wild men.

    We were barely able form the first rank of the forward cohorts when the main body of the enemy crashed upon our shields like ocean waves crashing on the beach but as they crashed they spit something from their mouths into the faces of our soldiers. Our soldiers recoiled in pain as the enemy continued pushing the ranks back and apart, our archers never had a chance to nock an arrow.

    It was about then when the second and third rank had formed and we were finally able to start pushing back. Shields were locked, gladius' were drawn and we began to press forward. That was when we got flanked the lightly armored enemy soldiers had sprinted to either side of the legion and attacked without warning.

    The General called this enemy a rabble, unorganized. Nothing could have been further from the truth; they picked their moment to strike when we were beyond tired, they attacked with the sun at their backs, and they struck without flinching.

    We were still organizing our numbers counted in-spite of our unpreparedness, of the initial five thousand Imperial soldiers that started off this attack had easily brought our numbers down to closer to three thousand, but time came back to our advantage as our cohorts began to form in earnest, there was hope. The right wing cohort formed up and turned the tide of their attackers as did the left cohort soon after. This bought enough time for the rest of the remaining legion to form up their cohorts and gave us the chance to rally.

    Once we began to rally the enemy initiated a retreat which our cavalry pursued. That was when the second wave of enemy soldiers attacked. This was not an enemy cohort; this was a full enemy Legion or their equivalent. Their archers fired off a volley of arrows before their cavalry charged into our already punished flanks. Our Legions ranks were effectively broken. The mission to retake the stronghold ended in a disaster, and our great General who fought for the glory of the Empire jumped on the nearest horse and galloped away with his tail firmly tucked between his legs.

    I was one of the soldiers in the middle of the Legion, and when our lines were broke I continued to fight until a cavalry man charged me. Taking up an enemy spear I got lucky and speared the riders leg and horses chest. The horse must have kicked me in the head when it reared back because the last thing I knew my ears were ringing and every thing was fading to black.
    Last edited by jdd2035; 12-10-2017 at 08:08 PM.

  3. #3
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    The next thing I clearly remember is waking up, I had a splitting headache, my ears were ringing, and my skin felt like it was going to boil off where anything heavier than air touched it.

    "Is he alive?" questioned a feminine voice through the fabric walls walls of the tent I found my self in.

    "He's alive" I announced, before making the mistake of trying to sit up. The instant my head rose from the rug that was my makeshift pillow the tent spun like a tumbling act and I dropped back onto it, which made my head ache even worse. I rubbed my face and noticed that there was a thick growth of stubble on my chin, I did not want to think about how long I was unconscious.

    That was when another voice from the corner of the dark tent spoke "I wouldn't be too hasty in getting up. I had to sew your scalp back on with horse hair. You are lucky to be alive."

    My hand instantly went up to the coarse stitches holding my head together and I replied "You have my thanks." I turned my head in the direction of the voice and saw a shrewd looking older gently man in at least the late forties, he had a sharp pointed beard of salt and pepper hair. He was wearing a light tan or dark off white turban, and matching robe that was common of the people of P'Tah.

    He smiled at me with a set of bright white teeth and replied, "Before you thank me. You should know that you owe my wife and I your life. I believe that your people have a tradition that if you owe someone a debt that you can not repay, you become their slave?" Now the wheels were turning in my head, he had me over a barrel and at this very moment I couldn't fight it but I could get a better sense of what kind of master I would be doing work for.

    Smiling at the situation because really there wasn't much else I could do about it yet I asked "Some time soon, I will be healthy enough run from this place. What is to stop me from doing that one night?"

    The old man smiled back at me and stated "Where would you go? This is a foreign land to you. You may know the general direction of your home land but you do not know where food or water is to be had beyond the caravan road. There are bandits, poisoned wells, the sun, and many other things that can kill you within a day. Besides, if you run, I alert the nearest garrison about a runaway slave. You will then be tracked down, taken prisoner, whipped for running away, and then worked to death in a salt mine." This was a matter of fact statement not a threat just what will happen if the situation presented itself.

    My eyes had finally adjusted to the dimness of the tent and I had noticed that my gladius and lorica where also collected. I smiled at the old man and said "then I find being your bond servant until I am able to repay my debt."

    The mans devilish smile grew on his face and he replied "Good. For your work you will be given food, water, some wine, a tent over your head, and a portion of the money gained with the sell of our animals." As bond servant agreements went, that was a very generous one. I offered my hand and said "Help me up" the tent spun once again but I was able to maintain my balance and we stepped outside.
    Last edited by jdd2035; 12-10-2017 at 08:09 PM.

  4. #4
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    The light was painfully bright, almost to the point of blinding, and the heat felt something akin to a bricklayers kiln. It was almost enough to knock me down to the white hot sand. After a few minutes of blinding glare my eyes once again adjusted and I was able to get a better look of my new master and his wife. The man, his name turned out to be Abasi had a thinner build then I first realized and it looked like his body was nothing but hardened sinew, his eyes were keen and hard against the sun and of a dark brown. Naomi was his wife and she was just as hard as the desert as he was with dark tanned, leathery skin and hardened almost black eyes.

    They were shepherds, and tended a herd of sheep, a smaller herd of goats for milk and two or three camels and had a small group of other slaves. They seemed to be getting along well enough, if not a rather sparse life.

    My muscles were sore for being in one position for so long, but once I was able to move about I started to feel better. The rest of the day was spent walking with the couple learning where some local watering holes, valleys of forage, and date oasis’. The next day, I began doing my work; there are times in a person's life when an opportunity presents itself in the guise of simple tasks, this I recognised as one of those times. My first personal task was to learn the language, of those around me.

    Every chance I got I listened to those around me, greetings, and farewells were a breeze to pick up. Conversations on the other hand took more effort, setting at the mat that was our eating area I gave the greeting I had heard spoken most often. The group looked at each other and chuckled at me, finished their meal, and promptly left. I expected that, with barriers in language, skin tone, and time under Abasi’s ownership being what they were. But there was one constant people will always gravitate to those who are most alike themselves. The next time we ate I tried the same approach, again, and again I was undaunted in my approach. Until one evening meal, I gave my greeting, and one of the more amiable of the slaves replied “Why do you greet us in our language? It’s not the language of your homeland.” he asked.

    My reply was simple “I am not in my home land.”

    The slave smiled and replied “You are quite right, I am Bhati, I will teach you how to speak our language.”

    We shook hands and began as student and teacher, he taught me how to speak the language of P’Tah, and how to write in both P’Tah and Imperial. As it turned out he was a businessman and traded spices and silk from P’Tah for wood and furs from the Empire. That was before the war, when it started the ports closed and he lost everything. This life of bond servitude was all keeping him fed and sheltered.

    Each morning I set to work, taking special interest in wall building, not for any sort of engineering interest though I did glean some of that, but for the physical exercise. Moving the rocks and boulders, lifting and placing them kept my body strong, and increased my stamina. I embraced the heat, my skin went from a bright pink to a dark tan, while my hair lightened several shades. But most of all I listened, I listened to the other slaves and I listened to Abasi and Naomi.

    It didn’t take long for me to grow weary of a life of indentured servitude, it may have proven beneficial to Bhati but sooner or later I would make sure that I was free of it once and for all. But until then I would do what was required of me with zeal and competence. Abasi found me to be a willing and capable servant.

    As the days passed my arms and chest grew larger, my mind grew keener as I learned how to speak P’Tah, and listened to those around me gathering news. Abasi was a businessman and to run the kind of business that he ran required the active knowledge of three main things; the weather, the lands political situation, and the military goings on in the area. Though this I learned that I was not the only survivor of the ill fated march to recapture the Imperial Stronghold, and that General Caius had been killed within the hour of his retreat. I had learned that the other survivors had been taken prisoners, and then sold into slavery. The numbers and where I could not glean yet.

    I had soon became accustomed to being a shepherd, I was restless and would much rather not have been one but once a rhythm is established I could perform my duties with little effort. I spent my time watching sheep and using branches to keep my swordsmanship in some form of practice. I was finally dressed as a proper shepherd of P’Tah wearing a robe and turban, purchased with my own stipend. This was done more as necessity rather than fashion or culture; my close were wore out, these new close kept the heat from my body and sun off of my skin, but the robes proved effective.

    As a bond servant I was not allowed to purchase weapons, however I was allowed to keep my lorica and gladius maintained. To guide and defend the flocks I was given a shepherd's crook, a kind of staff made of hard wood that had a kind of large hook at one end. It worked well against most of the deserts predators and scavengers, save for the barbary lion. If a shepherd encountered one of those he was given a horn made from a rams horn to alert other shepherds to the danger and call them into help fight off the threat. These were all I had when thieves made an attempt to steal Abasi’s sheep.
    Last edited by jdd2035; 12-10-2017 at 08:11 PM.

  5. #5
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    It was evening and I had just set up my tent in front of the coral gate when they arrived intent on killing me and stealing whatever they pleased. They approached with the setting sun on their backs and had their daggers drawn. I was outnumbered three to one and they began to close. I stepped back towards a campfire with my shepherd's crook in front of me like a fighting staff or polearm.

    There is a tenant in most fighting studies that says something to the effect that if you can hit your opponents and they cannot hit you then you have won. In practice things are a little more complicated and rather than try to attack these thieves with the intent to kill I focused more on confounding and aggravating them. My thrusts were quick just enough strike their knuckles, a close knee, or some such while at the same time I worked to put the campfire between me and them. I was patient waiting on an opportunity to present itself saving my energy.

    These thieves were slow witted, and sloppy fighting, and soon one made the mistake of stepping over the campfire in an attempt to surprise me. As soon as he did I hooked his leg with my shepherd’s crook and yanked the thieves leg out from under him. The thief fell into the fire and while his clothes didn’t catch fire the thief's hands and face did get scorched. He let out a scream as he scrambled back onto his feet. His compatriots moved out of his way and in that distraction I made my first offensive move.

    I stepped forward and thrust my shepherd’s crook into the next thief’s teeth. The combination of the thrust and step forward was more than enough to break his teeth and send them scattering in the sand. In one smooth motion I took another step, placed my shepherd's crook behind the last thiefs leg and shouldered into him. The three thieves were knocked down for the moment and at that time I took up my horn and blew a warning. There was shuffling in the evening twilight and I could hear the bleating of sheep, and goats. The first, and last person to arrive was Abasi, the other slaves either ignoring the horn or not at their posts.Nevertheless now that the odds were a little more even and the thieves having already been hurt the fight didn’t last much longer with the thieves retreating. Abasi wanted to charge after them but I caught him by the shoulder and shook my head to the negative “Don’t chase them.”

    Abasi turned to me with the look of hurt on his face and asked “why? Who are you to tell me what to do.”

    I replied “rushing into the night in anger, after an enemy you don’t know the number of will only get you killed.”

    Abasi acquiesced reluctantly indignation still in his eyes he asked “Why did you fight so hard? Those sheep are not yours and I am holding you against your will. You could have easily let them pass, take their fill and say a jackal had taken them.”

    I replied looking out into the night “those men intended to murder me, and take your sheep. I don’t abide by either. Especially getting murdered.”

    Abasi smiled “You are honest, and in spite of what you say, you still defended my sheep. From now on, you well be my chief slave.” With that he left me at my post, the next day he poured out the full measure of his indignation on the slaves that didn’t show up. Each one of them was given forty stripes save one.

    I did not know how to be the chief slave, I knew from example how to be centurian and followed that example. I helped the other slaves in setting their tents, showed them how to use their shepherd’s crook as more than just something to beat animals with. But as for keeping sheep, goats, or camels I knew only what I did before, and the other slaves were far more experienced in that. But I did lead and I did follow Abasi’s orders.

    This afforded me a great opportunity, not only was I in charge of the other slaves I was also made a steward. As part of my stewardly duties I was sent to the nearest settlement for supplies. It so happened that the nearest settlement was Ft. Commodus renamed Ramses.

    There I was just a faceless slave, nothing more than a piece of privileged property. They didn’t notice me there as I bought supplies for Abasi, deliver messages, or gather information on the layout of Fort Commodus. Every time I entered the fort I made note of the number of men garrisoning it, the times when patrols made their rounds, and which P’Tah soldiers were lazy. At the tavern I listened to the soldiers talk as I drank my beer slowly. Then I would leave, a lowly slave ignored, and treated with apathy, and contempt, never with suspicion.

    I would come back with my task finished, and continue the work that was in the pastures. I had gathered information and even made maps of the fort for later use. But for now I was a slave and unable to do anything with it. I had made it up in my mind that my immediate goals were to rescue any of the ill fated legion I was in form slavery, and to then either make it back to the Empire, or if the chance presented itself to help the Empire retake the stronghold. From there I didn’t have any sort of plan, but the very first thing I needed to do was gain my freedom from the indentured servitude.

  6. #6
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    That however would take some time. What was once foreign had now became a daily practice and then became routine. Mornings I would check my master's flock see that they were feeding and watering. I would pick wild dates from the oasis palms and feed the pregnant ewe’s their treat, and rub their heads with olive oil to keep the flies and other insects off of them. In the afternoons sheep, goats, camels and rams all laid down down in what little grass there was and in the shade and I punished myself. In all earnesty I lacked the common sense the gods gave a sheep to lay down in the shade when it was hot, but that was when I had time and leisure to train my body. I may have been a soldier for a short time, far shorter than I had been an Imperial bond servant, or a P’Tah slave, but I liked being a soldier. It meant that I was free, that I was not property, it meant that I could choose my own destiny.

    In the evening Iead the herd to their pasture and supped at the slave’s table. A squat little two board table that had roasted goat meat, maybe ram on special occasions, date wine, slaves beer, wheat soaked in water, and plenty of water, or goats milk. I would then stand my post at the entrance of the pasture. Four hours a night then finally sleep, when Bhati would relieve me. When my head landed on that rolled up rug that made my pillow, I would fall instantly asleep. Most of the time I could not remember my dreams I slept so heavily but when I did it was mostly dreams about time spent at Fort Gaius.

    Our Centurion would lead the training on the practice field outside of the Fort. I was in the third centuria, fourth cohort, of the first P’Tah legion. The Centurion would holler a command and the entire centuria would move as a unit. We would push with our shields, thrust with our gladius’ and reset ourselves for another push. We would use rudis and wicker shields and would spar against the third cohort, or the first cohort if we were practicing to fight outnumbered. We would take turns first defending then attacking. There were six separate formations that we practiced each for a separate occasion.

    To my left was Leif, he was several inches taller than I, and had more reach with his gladius than I could muster. We worked well together I would cover his gladius arm with my shield, and he would guard my weaker shield arm. That was the nature of the cohort, the left side was weaker than the right, due to the shield being heavy.

    Then, my dream turned to the ill fated battle, it was not our training that failed us, it was our leader. He had drove us hard pushing fifty miles a day for the entire week, in the heat just to get to the fort that much quicker. It was folly, we were attacked in waves, and the dream would end with a horse’s hoof pummeling my skull. I would wake up as a slave as I did that first evening, after the ill fated battle.

    The next day as soon as the sunlight would brighten my tent would start all over again. Breakfast started with wild dates, more grain soaked in water, and goats milk. The dates were bitter, grain had poor texture, and the goats milk was partially curdled. The end of the week saw me back at the fort. Fort Commodus, or Fort Ramses as it stood now, was the stronghold the First Legion was to retake for the glory of the Empire. It was a strong occurrence of irony that I could walk into and out of the strong hold unprohibited, without having to lay siege to it. This incredibly humorous to me while at the same time, it proved devastatingly frustrating.

    Near the gates of the fort was a tavern where slaves could gather, and drink beer, and spend what little stipend of money was provided to us by our masters. The beer was flat, warm, filled the belly, and most beneficial to the owners kept the slaves drunk enough to refrain from rebelling, but still effective enough to do what menial tasks is needed to be done by us indentured servants.

    After my business was done done I would return to Abasi’s flock and return to my duties. Beyond my regular duties as a slave, I also saw to the duties of the other slaves. This left a bitter taste in some of them, having to follow orders from one such as I, so new to the house of Abasi and Naomi. Nevertheless I chose who would stand which watch, where they would feed their portions of the flock and where they would pasture them.

    Bhati continued his lessons in writing and in speaking the language of P’Tah, and in trade I began teaching him what I knew of the sword and more importantly the spear. As slaves we could not own weapons for fear of a rebellion, but the shepherds crook worked in an emergency, and a shepherds crook could be used like a spear when needed.

    The evening would then come again, and it would end in a night of heavy sleep under a tent. From time to time as I drifted off to sleep I thought of my goals to free my cohorts. First I would have to find them, as I have not seen them at the slaves tavern it appeared that they had either been taken further from the battle or were not allowed to leave their masters sight yet. Without the completion of this goal, my second goal, that to retake Fort Commodus could not be completed.

    I did not want to retake the stronghold for the glory of the empire, nor for my own glory. I wanted to retake the stronghold for the simple fact that I was tasked to do it, that it has challenged me, and that it would improve my station.

  7. #7
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    Level completed: 54%,
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    I may not been the most educated man, but I am no fool. I was not about to start a rebellion across the lands of P’Tah and the Empire to free every slave that I found. No I understood that in the world I lived in slaves were necessary, every road, building, and aqueduct; every pound of grain, mutton, and fruit was touched by slave hands. It was the dirty nature of the world I lived in and it was necessary. I hated being a slave, to be property of another man, and most of all being unable to go, nor do as I chose. Bhati, the failed business man, embraced slavery, he was clothed all be it simply, fed, and under the protection of his master relatively safe from abuses of the law abiding citizens of this world. My goal was to free the men of my cohort, if others get freed alongside then so be it.

    But for right now I was a slave, and I made it in my mind to be above reproach in my duties. During the day a horn echoed in the valleys, it was another horn of alarm. My flock was nestled in a pocket of a valley that I partially secured with a stone wall and I was able to leave them for a time. I rushed into the direction of the horn.

    Arriving at the source of the alarm one of the other slaves had been surrounded by a pack of feral dogs. Not the wild predators of the land of P’Tah but those that have been forgotten by their owners and left to rove the wilds. There were only a few dogs, but I’d rather it be a pack of men; the dogs had surrounded my fellow slave and one was about to hamstring him when I caught it with the hook of my shepherd’s crook and threw it to the side with a yike.

    Approaching my fellow slave I ordered “get to my right and keep them in front of us. If you don’t we will die.” The dogs snapped and growled as they attacked once again “Attack together, shout together!” There was no fire to maneuver around, nor was there shields and armor to protect us, it was two guys with sticks fighting feral dogs. The first dog attacked and met my thrust as I yelled while in the air. To my right I heard the yelp of another dog being struck and the shout of the slave.

    Another slave showed up in time for the dogs to regroup I indicated the slave on my right and said “get to his right, attack as one, shout as one!” The sheep and goats bleated and squealed in panic behinds us as the dogs attacked once again. The dog closest to me bit my shepherd’s crook and I pushed forward. The dog kept a grip on the crook and fell back. In its struggle my crook twisted and snapped. It scrambled to get back up and I thrust the splintered end of my staff the soft part of the dogs throat.

    Another dog was about the take advantage of my dropped guard but its head was cracked hard by the slave to my right. It yelped and ran off, after that the dogs wounded, and bruised found that the flock was too difficult to attack and choose to attack one another before finding the weakest of the pack and tearing that apart.

    When satisfied that the flock was safe I returned to my own. That night the three of us were rewarded with an extra bottle of date wine and a whole yearling sheep for our meal. As slave we were nothing but property but, that evening we lived it up like nobles.

    The next morning came way too soon, my head ached, I had to squint even more so than normal, and there was a foul taste on my tongue. The heat was nearly unbearable and I felt like my movements were jerky, and stiff. The hours passed slowly, and it seemed that my water skin was less than adequate to quench my thirst. I knew exactly why I felt such illness upon my body, it was the date wine. Heavy drink, and not enough sleep caused this and the entertainment I had the night before was outlasted by the discomfort of the day after.

    At midday I took a break, I did not sleep but I found a place of shad near a spring. I drank the cool water and sat in the shade. From time to time a sheep or goat would come to visit me, I would pet them, and at the same time check them for wounds, thorns, or anything else that may have done them harm. They would then just as quietly leave once again and drink some water and return to the flock.

    As the evening came, the headache went away as all pain does over time, my tongue was cleansed of the disgusting taste and the sun seemed more forgiving. It was soon time to lead the sheep back to their pasture for the night where they could be watched for the entire night. I stood and began leading the sheep and contemplated the difference on how a butcher leads VS how a shepherd even on such as myself leads. I lead in front of the flock making sure that there was no danger in its path and looking back to make sure that they were not being attacked. A butcher had to drive a flock from the back and force it to go where he wanted them to.

    Autumn was drawing near, and with it the time to sell, rams for breeding, wethers for meat, and late lambs for feasts during the fall and winter months. We would keep the main body of our flock until the spring, but the our rams and all of our goats will be sold. With any luck they would sell for a good price. Not all slaves would go, there were still flocks to manage after all. For this task Abasi chose Bhati and myself to go with him.

  8. #8
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    Level completed: 54%,
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    jdd2035's Avatar

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    The trip took us several days, past Fort Ramses, and down the caravan road to the city of Kheb. Abasi and Bhati explained that the city had started out as a trading post, but because of it’s location along the Asim river it grew to be a fair sized city. No where near the size of P’Tah’s capital but large enough to be considered bustling, and a place where nearly fifteen thousand people lived. It was controlled by the religious and more powerful branch of P’Tahs government.

    P’Tah’s government was divided into two separate branches as it were, there was a figurehead who governed the day to day running of the land, the building of the infrastructure, the accounting for taxes, and the creation of civil laws and most everything else within the borders of P’Tah. There was also the priesthood, they had control of the military, criminal law, the collection of tithes, and diplomacy between other nations. IT was much more complicated than this but the important parts came down to the figure head controlled things inside of the borders of P’Tah, and the priests controlled things outside of the borders.

    My observations of Kheb was that it was all that it was described, there was trade, and there was thousands of people living, and working within it. There was a garrison captain talking with a merchant, an auctioneer selling slaves, and a caravan leader negotiating with a bargeman trying to get his company down river.

    Where we were headed though was still outside the city gates, it was a near the livery underneath one of the walls and protection and watchful eye of the guards. There were several pens and corrals for livestock, which we herded out rams and goats. We were not the only shepherds there, we had plenty of competition.

    Abasi sighed dejectedly “we have arrived too late. We will never sell our animals for a good price now.”

    I looked at him, he was a good shepherd, wise in his own regard, but he was also not confident when it came into business dealings. “Soldiers are hungry people too” I said to him, “if we sell to the butcher, you are right we will never get their value. But…” I pointed out the captain “fresh meat can go an incredibly long way into currying favor with his men, and if we sold right to him he would be happy to not have to pay the exorbitant prices for meat from the butcher.”

    Abasi shook his head “No, if we sell directly to him, the butchers will be angry, and I’ll have to give them a discount next time.”

    I insisted “Trust me, if you can get into good terms with the soldiers, and guards you’ll not have to fear the butchers, and you’ll get loyal customers. But if it doesn’t work then I sure we can make a recompense to the butchers.”

    Abasi frowned but finally acquiesced “You may be right, I will allow you to speak with the captain.” I bowed my head and took my leave.

    The captain had moved on to another merchant, one that was selling armor both leather, and metal. This gave me a way to start conversation; speaking in the language of P’Tah I spoke “May I suggest a guilted undershirt if you are going to purchase one of the metal lorica, it prevents the the shoulders from wearing down.”

    The Captain looked at me, and asked “who might you be?” He saw my garb and the chin strap scar, “a former soldier, now a slave?” almost disgusted at my presence.

    I bowed my head and stated “I am Lucas, bond servant of Abasi, the shepherd. I have been a slave or bond servant for far longer than I ever was a soldier. My master would like to sell you fresh meat in the form of goats and wethers.”

    The Captain raised an eyebrow “and why would I want to buy sheep and goats that are not slaughtered? I have no need for them, I’m not a shepherd!”

    I kept my head bowed “Oh, good captain, may your shadow never grow less. May I say that if you were to purchase our animals and feed your men, they would feast, for days, have fresh meat for even longer, and you would be a champion in their eyes. Not only that but to fed your men by purchasing directly from us you would be saving your garrison’s quartermaster money which will make him incredibly happy.”

    The Captain smiled “You speak the truth. I will see your master.”

    The Captain met with Abasi, and Bhati, the pair with the lead of Bhati struck an amiable deal with the Captain. He was happy receiving so much meat at such a little price, and Abasi was happy receiving such a good sale of his sheep and goats, and currying favor with the city guards in the process.

    “Ah haa!” Abasi exclaimed with joy “this is a princely sum of silver, with it I can purchase new bucks, rams and slaves. Enough to set Naomi and I up for quite sometime.” He was grinning from ear to ear “Lucas and Bhati you both have done, incredibly well today! You will be amply rewarded.”

    I smiled, rewards were rewards rather a slave, or a free man people enjoy being rewarded for their work. The reward came in the form of a triple share of the sale that was to be our reward. Bhati decided to spend his money a new robe, and turban in the fashion of a shepherd. I decided on a pair of sandals in the fashion that an Imperial soldier. Not for any sort of combat reason, however they were there, but because the afforded the most stability in the ankle and protection for the soles and toes of my feet.

    They felt good, they were made of an exotic thick leather dyed a deep red and laced up to my middle calf. In spite of my status, the fact that I couldn’t carry weapons, nor wear armor, wearing sandals reminiscent of a profession that I actually enjoyed improved my mood tremendously.

    We were to spend a few more days in the city of Kheb, as Abasi didn’t want to waste the trip. He spent the first day picking out cloth for Naomi to make cloths from later on. The next day was used to purchase supplies; spices, lamp oil, bags of grain, and other sundries. Finally on the last day Abasi spent time at an auction purchasing livestock, he bought a pair of buck goats that had long horns, a trio of rams with white wool and large shoulders, finally at this same auction he bought five new slaves. These slaves were nearly broken and half starved, they had an ill look, they had come from one mne or another and had been worked beyond their usefulness to whichever master they had belonged to.

    Not all slave owners were like Abasi who followed the idea of ‘bricks are made of slaves, the strong make many, the weak make few, and the dead make none’. Some treated their slaves worse than animals, the worked them to exhaustion, barely fed them, and sheltered them in pens exposed to the air with more investment into the pens than any shelter. Neither Abasi, nor the cruel slave owners were the exception, they were part of the full spectrum of slave owners. Abasi kept his slaves fed, clothed in something besides rags, and gave them shelter in the form of tents; he was on the better side of the spectrum. The slaves Abasi purchased would be in good hands in a couple of weeks.

    We finally left the city of Kheb and started the long trek back to the pastures, and corrals familiar to Bhati and I on what is currently considered the far edge of the land of P’Tah bordering the Empire; while at the same time the Empire considered it their lost territory, and had made it their quest to retake the area. During the trip, the newly purchased slaves remained quiet and ate like ravenous dogs during the first evening. Without recognising them as human by walking upright, it was difficult to differentiate between the broken slaves and animals.
    Last edited by jdd2035; 11-01-2017 at 10:30 PM.

  9. #9
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    Level completed: 54%,
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    jdd2035's Avatar

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    The next morning we started off at sunrise, traveling down the old caravan road. We met up with and passed, or met up and were passed by other travelers. Eventually though we were left traveling on our own. The heat was bearable for Bhati, Abasi and I but for the newly purchased slaves still in their rags they took the full brunt of the sun on their bodies. The traveling was slow with the new slaves needing rest and water often.

    The day passed, with the noon sun beginning is slow fall into the evening, we continued until it was too dark to see and stopped for the night. The first task for the newly acquired slaves were to collect camel dung to start a fire. Deserts got cold at night, and there is little if any wood to build enough of a fire to combat the cold. It was the sheep, and goats that warned us of danger before we even started a fire. Soon after the sheep started bleating in panic, we could hear dog growling, a bark and the cry of one of the slaves as the dog attacked him. The attack was quick, the sheep squalled and bleated even louder, as several thieves came from near by rocks. The newly acquired slaves were the first to be attacked, cutting their defenceless flesh without thought. Bhati, Abasi and I put our backs to one another as the thieves closed. As one neared me I kicked up sand and dung into the thief's face.

    The thief recoiled and I lunged at him, we both tumbled to the ground and I grabbed the wrist of his sword in a wrestlers grip. I twisted his wrist and the thief let go of his club. It was the kind that was used by P’Tah’s dark skinned warriors. A solid stone fastened to a hardwood handle with leather straps. We separated and scrambled for the club I got to it first, picking it up I gripped it with both hands and struck him hard in his face. His jaw dislocated making his face sag in a strange way. The thief’s body twisted, and I struck him again in the kidney, as he fell to his knees I struck him one last time in the back of the head. It had been quite some time since held anything other than a shepherd’s crook in my hand, but holding a weapon, any kind of weapon felt good, the weight of the stone growing heavier as it passed through the air, the smooth feel of a well worn hand grip, and the abrupt shock and session of movement as the head felt solid purchase. It all felt good, visceral, it was a base pleasure of living in the moment something which was sorely missed.

    The dog that had attacked the slave charged me while I was still off balance and sank its teeth into the forearm of my rove. I drove my knee into its throat as the dog, and my arm came down and it let go with a yike. I turned on my heal and pummeled one of the pair of thieves attacking Bhati. Using the club I struck the thief’s skull and he dropped, lifeless and Bhati used the distraction to finish off the second thief attacking him. My mind was racing, there was not much difference between my last encounter with thieves and this one except there were more thieves and they were better equipped. Abasi was also attacked and called out, the thief had Abasi pinned down shouting curses at him with a dagger dangerously close to the shepherds throat. I pummeled Abasi’s thief in his kidney, shoulder and skull. If there were more attackers they had either sped away or were otherwise disinclined to make an attack , the skirmish was over.

    The wheels in my mind didn’t stop turning when the fighting stopped. I began rummaging through the thieves belongings. They didn’t need them any more, I found a bag of gems, and other precious stones, a pouch full of silver coins, the thief’s all were armed, most had clubs but one had an Imperial pugio type dagger. It was a beautiful leafed shape knife, with a rosewood hilt, and an edge sharp enough to shave with. I slipped it into my belt started to adjust my cloths, and started to clean my hands with sand when Abasi spoke up “you can’t keep that, slaves are not allowed to arm themselves.”

    That’s when I turned toward Abasi and stated “Abasi, my kind host, you saved my life and held me to that debt as a bond servant until I was able to repay such a debt. Now, correct me if I am wrong but if I had not clubbed your attacker just a few moments ago, you would be dead?”

    Abasi stammered in protest but eventually he said “Yes, I would have been. But I...”

    I cut Abasi off “My debt is paid in full, combining the work I have done for you for the last several months and longer my debt is more than paid off. I am no longer your bond servant or slave. Now, we can do this the honorable way where you absolve my servitude,and I’ll finish this job of returning you, and your livestock to your home, or I can leave you here now to the thieves, predators, and your shame.”

    Abasi was disgruntled but relented, “You are free to go. Your debt to me is paid in full.”

    I thanked Abasi for my release and split the spoils of the fight between Abasi, Bhati and myself I kept a larger cut considering my status as a freeman. I was free, and that fact made me giddy. There was no more incidents that evening and the three of us all rested and slept. It wasn’t a deep sleep but we still work up more rested.

    The next morning we took stock of the kind of damage the thieves had done. The slave that was attacked by the dog was dead, another one was wounded but still alive. The other two had disappeared during the night. The four of us, Abasi, the last remaining newly purchased slave, Bhati, and I continued on, eventually we passed Fort Ramses, and the following afternoon we finally reached Abasi’s home.

  10. #10
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    EXP: 31,310, Level: 7
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    Level completed: 54%,
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    jdd2035's Avatar

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    I now had my freedom, but freedom without goals was a wasted life. I had accomplished one goal I had finally gained my freedom. The next goal was still a long way off I had to think as to how to accomplish it. My next goal was to free the men of the legion I belonged to, I knew by listening to Abasi that there were survivors and that most likely they were used as slaves to mine salt and other materials; mine slaves were not allowed out of the mines because they tended to run away.

    After I had freed them, then what? Was the question. A slave freed by force can easily be a slave once again, or scourged to death when they have been caught. Not a pleasing thought, I could buy maybe one or two slaves with my earnings but my cohort was four hundred eighty men. I couldn’t even buy my entire centuria with the money I had. It would have to be violence that freed my compatriots.

    “So, where will you go?” Abasi asked shocking me out of my thoughts I looked up shaking the confusion off, he had asked me this before, after I asked him a question about what was keeping me from running away. The question had a different purpose this time and it made me smile. “First thing I am going to the garrison’s tavern and have a meal, the likes of which I never had as a slave, bond servant, or soldier!” I exclaimed “milk, honey, beef, Imperial wine, cream, and a large bowl of olives, and you’re coming with me.”

    Abais stopped me “Wait, you can’t go in there looking like a slave. You need proper cloths of a free man. Here look through some of my old things, and see if there’s anything of interest to you. Naomi will make the adjustments.”

    I picked out a lennon tunic, burnt orange in color that reached my knees, belted with a red belt with brass buckle to accommodate my pugio and my sandals. I picked out a red shepherds turban which could wrap around my face in the event of a sand storm. Naomi complimented “You are quite the dandy” and any day a woman compliments a man in such a way is a good day. Soon, Abasi, and I had made our way to the garrison tavern, there was a stark difference between the slaves tavern, and the garrisons.

    The noise level it self was louder, there were many men, and women they had smiles on their faces before drink and addled their minds for the evening. The smell was just as bad, a mix of body odor, grease, and alcohol, added to that was the smell of various perfumes and scents to mask everything else, but the atmosphere was less grim, and much more jocular. When we found our table, I gorged myself savoring every bite, every sip of that meal, hours after the fine meal was nothing more but crumbs and empty bowls I was still chuckling, belching, and laughing. It felt so very good to be free, and that made the meal taste even better. It was a celebration.

    As Abasi, and I let our overly full bellies rest I asked him, “how difficult would it be, to find a specific slave?”

    Abasi leaned forward and asked “and why would you want to know about a specific slave?”

    I shrugged and answered mostly honestly “he is a friend, and a compatriot, and I would look into his welfare.”

    Abasi nodded understandingly and said “If you can get me a description, a name, or distinguishing marks I may be able to find him but I guarantee nothing.” I described Lief, gave his general position in my cohort and the description of his tattoos.

    Abais took a few mental notes and asked one last question “And what will you do if I do find him well.”

    Again I answered mostly honestly “I would like to have you buy him and free him with my money. After that I will part company with you.” Abasi nodded once again “I will see what I can do.”

    I thanked him and ordered another bowl of cream and honey dates.

    After such a feast it was slow going back to Abasi’s home. As soon as my head hit the cushion of my bed , not just a rolled up rug and a matt, I drifted into sleep thinking of my comrade. Lief was from the northern part of the Empire, and was conscripted a few weeks before I was. His people were conquered a century and a half before and had been integrated as Imperial citizens over the generations as they assimilated into the Empire’s culture. It was not a total assimilation as he still wore the tattoos, he also fought in their ways of spear and sword fighting.

    We often sparred in our leisure time, I trusted my scutum and gladius while he worked his spear, and manica he had the definite advantage in reach often striking fast probing my greater defense for a weakness. When I first began sparring with him I would be soundly beaten, he was fast and when he stuck my shield it felt like a sledge hammer hitting it. But as I grew more comfortable with my role as a soldier, and grew in my skill of fighting with a gladius and scutum, I would beat him, not soundly but I would win.

    “Keep your shield up” Leif instructed as his thrust his spear forward. I would block the attack, but would have to maneuver back as the spears butt-spike collided with the side of my shield throwing me off balance. The next match I deflected his thrust but when the butt spike whipped around to knock me off balance I anticipated it and stepped to the side letting the swing crash upon my shield. The lesson learned was to be mobile in a fight, this was not something I was trained to do when fighting in formaton. We went back and forth until both of us were tired, and covered in blood, and sweat; even when in practice people still got hurt but nothing more than a good brawl in a tavern. These sparring matches remained in my dreams until daylight shook me from my sleep.

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