Hello Everyone! Well, we've got a big story here today, based on the video game Imperator Rome. While the released version of the game did have its flaws, it did deliver a great emergent story I had to write down. I was playing as Rome, and when a civil war broke out in my country, something great happened that caused a great story. The game mechanics are down at the end but for now, one problem turned the war from something simple to a major struggle.
I hope you enjoy!
The Etruscan Chieftain sat at the table, struggling not to grumble at the two men sitting across from him. The two men who would decide the fate of his country. One was clad in the white robe of the Roman Senate, carrying a scroll of papyrus in his weathered hand, while the second man was clad in armor and had a white-knuckle grip on his sword. Just in case the negotiations got out of hand, two Roman guards flanked the entrance to the tent.
It had not been much of a war, as he and his men were locked in battle with the tribes in the north. They had pillaged and conquered, and with chests full of loot and caravans full of slaves they had made their way back home. Only to be met by a messenger halfway through.
The man was breathless, gasping as he fell onto the chieftain and told him that their southern border was burning. He told tales of Roman troops marching across the border, burning farms and sacking towns, the tale of a declaration of war the Etruscan armies had never received.
By the time the tired armies had marched back into their territory, the armies of Rome and its allies were waiting for them. What else could the barbarians do but surrender, as half the men in his army did not even have homes to fight for anymore?
Now the Chieftain of a once mighty tribe was seated at the peace table for a war he had never gotten to fight. The senator unfurled the roll of papyrus and placed it in front of the Chief. "As you can see, the terms of surrender are very generous."
"You want us to become your vassal! To fight under your yoke and send our tribesmen to battle in your wars?" The Chieftain growled, keeping his composure as the bile rose in his throat.
"Of course." The senator smiled as if the man had simply read what was on the page. "You will keep your land and your form of government, all we ask in return is a few hundred of your soldiers. As a token of our new alliance, our men will even help rebuild what we destroyed during this unfortunate war."
"Never! You cowards dared not fight us on the battlefield; you simply waited and pounced on us like vultures!"
The Chieftain gazed at the youth beside him, his own son, who was on his feet and glaring boldly at the Roman senator, looking as if he wanted to strangle the man. As if expecting him to do just that, the two guards flanking the entrance stepped forward, hands on their sword hilts.
"Silence! Sit down boy!" The chieftain snapped, watching his son slowly lower himself back to his seat as the guards moved back to their positions. He gazed at the scroll in silence, only pausing once to look at the face of his son, and again to gaze back at the senator.
His army could fight, and they could rise up and slaughter the Roman garrison here. They might even be able to defeat a whole army, but they would not be able to defeat the next army that Rome attacked them with, or the next. Not without great suffering to their land and homes.
But as a vassal of Rome, they could rebuild, they could bide their time, and when it was right they would make Rome regret not destroying them when they had the chance.
"I accept your terms." The chief declared, looking sharply into the senator's eyes as the man smiled.
"Good, our legions will begin importing supplies to get your homes rebuilt and your fields resown. You'll find you won't regret this." The senator smiled, stuffing the scroll back into his robe before standing up.
"This peace won't last!"
The general, who had mostly sat through the proceedings, suddenly stood up and leaned across the table. His hands grabbed the chief by the jerkin and yanked him forward. "You'll betray us! You'll betray us barbarian! I know, because the moon people told me!" He yelled, shoving the chief backward as his eyes glinted with madness. "We should just kill you now-"
"General Cryous, enough." The senator calmly ordered, grabbing the general by the arm and pulling him away. "We have no time for your madness today."
The pair left, followed by the guards, as the chief straightened his jerkin and turned to face his son. "Someday son, to their folly the Romans will release that their fool was right. They will be betrayed." He mused, watching his son smile before they both turned to leave the tent. Thoughts of war were for another day, now it was time to make the peace and help their people rebuild.
General Cryous shook off the senator's arm and stalked angrily away from the older man. He had once been the leader of Rome, had once been the man that everyone looked too. He'd had a vision for the nation, a vision for Rome to take over the entire world, to make Rome's friends cry out in joy and her enemies to moan in fear.
But the fools in the Senate conspired to take his victory away from him, and they'd elected him out and thrown him back into the army as a general. It was there, after a battle against another tribe, that he had been hit on the head and shown that he was special. That he was the emperor Rome needed! The Moon People spoke to him, the birds whispered secrets in his ears, and the dirt showed him secrets that mortal men were not supposed to know.
The old fools in the Senate could not see, but enough of the soldiers would, and soon he would take the reins of Rome and guide it to its true glory. Very very soon. Then they would worship his genius and praise him as the true emperor!
"Please let me through! I must speak with the Senators, please!"
The cries came from a boy, barely at his sixteenth year, as he struggled to push his way through the crowded Roman streets and into the Senate Floor. Slipping away from the hotter streets and into the Senate, he rushed into the main room, where dozens of white-robed senators paused in their discussions as he skidded to a stop.
"Senators, I bring news from three of our providences sir, they are in open revolt against Rome. General Cryous has raised his army in rebellion, declaring that he be made dictator of Rome." The boy gasped, struggling for air as he blurted out his news.
Senator Iunus gently shook his head. He'd been there to restrain the general's outburst when they were negotiating peace with Etrusca, but after that moment the general seemed different, more unhinged, and apparently, his madness had led to this.
"Thank you, son." He added, quieting the other senators as he stood up and began to pace the marble floor. "It is a sad day when we must take up arms against our own people, but to save Rome, we must end this rebellion before our enemies take notice. Rally your men and gather your legions, for we shall march to battle as soon as we are able."
The other senators nodded and quietly began to disperse. Unlike past times where war had come to Rome's doorstep, there were no arguments or objections, this time the speed of their response mattered more than anything. It was above petty squabbles of politics this time.
The madness of one man had led to this, and Iunus knew that if the war was lost, Cryous would take up the mantle of Rome's leadership again... not as its elected ruler, but instead as its dictator.
That would not be allowed.
Sweating under his helmet, General Turas lightly tapped the flanks of his horse with his feet, urging the beast to trot faster as the Roman army marched towards the only one of the disloyal provinces left.
Their allies had been faster than they were during the opening phases of the rebellion and had swiftly occupied two of the rebelling areas without much bloodshed. This fight, however, would be different, as the last province was where General Cryous's army was the strongest.
According to the scouts, the army wasn't there, which was a very good thing. The majority of Rome's forces were in the south, and while that large army was marching up to the battlefield, General Turas's smaller army was left to do a daring sneak attack.
He had 8,000 men with them, mostly farmers and field workers who were armed with whatever they had brought along. Only half of them had seen battle before, and only half of that number were experienced in it. A small detachment of professional cavalry marched with him, but this army certainly was not designed to survive battle.
That was why the Roman commanders had come up with a plan, a plan that would have his army attack and besiege a hopefully undefended rebel province, while the main army engaged the rebels in battle. It was risky, but it was all they had.
Now they were marching towards the Etruscan border, and after that, there would be only a few more miles until they could enter the rebel-held territory from behind.
"General! A host of men approaches from the north!"
Turas took off his helmet and glared against the hot sun, seeing the glint of spears and the sheen of armor in front of him. The horde was standing right on the Etruscan border, and for a moment Turas smiled in relief.
It looked like there were thousands of men on the border, and with the help of their vassal, they could have an easier time retaking the rebel-held land. Spurring his horse forward, he led his army towards their allies.
Only to be stopped by a wall of spears as the tribesmen roared and brandished their weapons, hostile intent in their eyes as their chieftain stepped forward with his own horse. He gazed into the eyes of the Romans who had once so callously stepped across this very border and slaughtered his people, turning them into little more than dogs who came when called and fought for their master's ideas.
"Your little deal of vassalizing us didn't take a civil war into account now did it Romans?" The chieftain laughed, watching the confusion spread across the faces of the Roman soldiers. "We threw in with your little rebellion, and it turns out that you can't cross our borders anymore without risking a war." He gazed at the pitifully small force, all hungry and disorganized, knowing that they stood no chance against his tribesmen if it came to that.
"Now turn tail and go home, because you aren't getting into our land."
Angry words rose up in General Turas's throat, and he almost ordered a charge out of sheer spite. But the resulting battle would get them nowhere, so he slowly turned around to face his demoralized men, the ones who had not heard the chieftain's voice shuffling about in confusion.
"Pull out, let's move!" He shouted, moving his horse through the crowd to get them moving again. "We'll just have to attack the rebel territory from the front."
As the Roman army started moving away from his forces, the Etruscan chief smiled. At long last, his people had been given their revenge
Attacking from the front was a suicide mission, especially since the rebel-held lands were all surrounded by hills and mountains, but what else could they do until reinforcements showed up? Cursing the traitorous Etruscans every step of the way, General Turas guided his horse through the rocky terrain and kept moving his men forward.
They had no idea where the enemy army was, the terrain meant that their entire army was in one long line and barely held together, and if they survived this they still had to deal with the Etruscan traitors. Somehow.
Damn, I can't see a thing Turas thought, wishing that the sunlight would stop beating down on them for a few moments, just for a few moments! His army marched beside him, half walking and half climbing over the rocks as they struggled to keep formation.
"General, I see the moun-"
The warrior's voice was cut off by the zip of an arrow as the feathered shaft slammed into his chest, causing the man to fall as more arrows rained down from the surrounding hills. Struggling to keep his rearing horse calm, General Turas drew his sword, shouting at his men to keep them from starting to panic.
"Draw swords! Draw swords and fight back to back! Aim javelins and return fire!" He yelled, watching his terrified men struggle to obey the orders as they ducked the arrows and maneuvered through the rocks.
An arrow shattered on the rocks near his horse and caused the beast to throw him to the ground. "Argh!" Turas growled, slamming into a large boulder shoulder first. The wrenching crack of bone could be heard even over the sounds of combat as he struggled to rise, transferring his sword to his good arm.
A quick stumble showed that the rocks were already slick with the blood of his men. With the small force barely able to withstand a proper battle, they were being slaughtered by this ambush.
"Fall back! Use the rocks as cover and run!" He yelled, snatching up a javelin from the ground and hurling it towards one of the distant hills, hoping he'd hit something. "Retreat! Re-"
A distant rumbling filled the air as the general looked up, his remaining men frozen by their curiosity as the volleys of arrows stopped. As the rumbling grew louder, smaller rocks began to bounce up and down, before the source of the sound showed itself.
A massive wall of boulders and earth rolled down the pathway, picking up the smaller rocks and obliterating the larger ones as it picked up speed and moved directly towards the shattered Roman battle line.
Turas swallowed, lifting up his sword and pointing it at the oncoming earth. They couldn't outrun this, but they would die like Romans, defiant to the end
General Cryous emerged from the hillside to gaze down at the packed boulders and earth that served as a shallow grave to the Romans underneath it. A mad smile came to his features as his men turned away from the sight.
Perhaps they had brothers, friends, or old comrades in the army that was now buried under the earth. Perhaps they mourned or questioned the events that led them to take up arms against their own people, but not he. No, this was a war to make Rome a better place. A stronger place under his rule and that goal was well worth slaughtering all the traitors that were sent against him. If Rome could not see it, then it did not matter, for he knew.
The moon people had told him after all, and why would they lie?
One Week Later
Onagers hurled stones from the rocky earth directly into the rebel-held city for the third straight day, smashing chunks out of the walls and slamming into the courtyard. Thanks to the supply of local stones the siege assault had gone on almost uninterrupted, but still, they would not submit.
General Juvios watched the onagers do their work, thankful that he had thought to bring them. Although he had nearly 15,000 loyal men with him, sending them against city walls with nothing but raw courage wasn't an option.
His army had finally crossed Roman territory and were informed by survivors of what had occurred before they marched towards the rebel-held city... marching over the bodies of their dead men, packed deep in the earth under their feet.
They had faced no resistance from the rebel forces, probably because unlike the small scouting force that had attacked previously, they were no bunch of farmers and herders, but instead they were battle hardened warriors.
Every member of the army was well armed, armored, and prepared for battle at every opportunity. They had faced down the fires of war and had come out the other side stronger and tempered, this was an army the rebels could not defeat.
The General looked over his men, most of them either watching the Onagers do their work or moving around the campsite. The city before them was quiet, too quiet, and the resistance had dwindled down to almost nothing from the previous two days. But they did not surrender when he gave them the offer, and he doubted they would.
He was pulled from his thoughts as a massive stone flew from an Onager and smashed into the southern wall, finally causing the stout masonry to crack under the pressure as the wall crumbled like day old parchment.
Nodding commands to the two men who stood beside him, he watched them dart towards the Onager crews, as the rest of the army began to assemble in battle formation. General Juvios walked down to join them, already sensing the impending battle in the air.
As the Onagers ceased fire and the last few stones smashed into the weakened city walls, the general mounted his horse and rode past his legions, swinging his sword down as the army began to march forward.
The battle plan had been discussed at length at the outset of the siege, and his troops were moving into position towards the massive hole in the wall. While the swordsmen drew their blades and locked shields next to one another, archers had already nocked their arrows and had fired the first volley of shafts into the city.
As expected, the rebel defenders were slowly coming out of their defensive holes now that the bombardment had stopped. And the first arrow volley caught them completely by surprise.
Men screamed as the shafts caught them unprepared, slamming into chests, legs, arms, and necks and sending them either ducking for cover or flying off the ruined walls with sprays of blood. A second volley cleared the walls as the swordsmen marched towards the hole, their blades sharp and their swords gleaming.
With a shout from their commanders, the ranks of swordsmen peeled off, charging through the city only to be met by the rebel forces.
Countless swordfights erupted as the men clashed with one another, their blades hacking and clanging against shields and armor. Roman vs Roman, and as the battle raged on through the streets, there was a certain calm to it. More warriors fell wounded than dead, and some of the rebel soldiers were starting to surrender in droves after they saw the sheer number of foes coming for them.
There was no malice in the eyes of the conquering Romans, no angry outbursts or acts of violence, the fighting simply stopped and the rebel soldiers were rounded up and stripped of their weapons.
General Juvios walked through the city, hearing only the faintest sounds of combat as he watched the rebel forces gladly surrender to his men, some of them even calling out to old friends on the opposite side of the battle line or mourning fallen friends.
As he saw these sights, his anger grew. No one wanted this civil war except for one madman in a position of power. General Cryous would have a lot to answer for when they returned him to Rome in chains. His bid to become emperor again had failed, and now the peace would have to be made. Striding up the steps towards one of the only buildings still offering resistance, he shoved the iron door open and allowed his guards to charge inside, gazing into the maddened eyes of General Cryous... the man who had once been his friend.
"No!" Cryous roared, his sword held in a trembling hand as he pointed to the invaders, turning towards the motionless guards. "Kill them you fools! Your Emperor commands it to be done!"
"You are the Emporer of nothing," Juvios responded, watching the last of the guards lay down their weapons. "You need help Cryous."
"Nothing! Help?" The madman screamed, spittle flying from his lips as he charged forward. "How dare you speak to your Emperor in such a manner?!"
Juvios's blade caught the blade of Cryous, sending the weapon flying and spinning end over end to slam into the far wall. His shield came up again to ram into the man's chest, sending him backward and onto the ground, where he struggled to stand up.
"You're all traitors! All of you, and I will not be taken back to Rome as anything less than its ruler!" He shouted, his mad eyes flashing around. His men had abandoned him, his dreams of rulership were shattered, and the moon people had lied to him! They had told him that all he wanted would be his! As his head began to pound, he screamed and charged towards the window overlooking the town. Perhaps he wasn't faithful enough, but to get away from these traitors and heretics, he'd fly to the moon and demand answers, he'd fly...
The Romans shuddered, even the most battle-hardened of them as the broken minded man hurled himself from the window, impacting the ground with a sickening crunch as the soldiers looked on in horror and Juvios bowed his head.
It was a shame that Rome had come to this, where one man's madness could infect an entire army to follow him, turning providences against their masters and setting men against their brothers in arms to fulfill a lust for personal power. The old warrior shook his head as the prisoners were organized for the long march home.
Sadly, it probably wouldn't be the first time that civil war would wrack the empire they were trying to build. Hopefully, there would be many years before the next one, and if the Gods were kind then Juvios wouldn't be alive to see it.
Whenever I had my first playthrough as Rome, I defeated and made the Etruscan Tribe my tributary. They gave me men and I was their overlord. All was well until a few months later when one of my generals (who was a lunatic) defected and turned a bunch of my lands against me. I had two armies, one larger in the south that was far away from the fighting, and a small army near the front lines. While the rebel army marched into my forts, I sought to enter the Etruscan lands to sneak into the rebel territory from behind.
However, I couldn't enter, and a little investigation showed that the Etruscans had become the vassals of the rebels and I couldn't get in! The betrayal allowed my smaller army to get slaughtered by the rebels before my larger army was able to defeat the rebels in their capital. It was awesome, although a bit worrying, and it made me wonder if the Etruscans had sought to betray me all along...
I hope you enjoyed the story, and as always leave a review, feel free to check out my other work, and have a great day!