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Voyage of the Ninth

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Joined: 06 Oct 2006
Posts: 584

PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 3:37 pm    Post subject: Voyage of the Ninth Reply with quote

Ok so just bunging this up here, its something i toyed with a while ago, its the start of an idea for a book that kind of died on me, and i may pick up again some time.

(the XXX's are bits i need to check up) appologies for any language that does not get filtered.


Centurion Cantius of the 1st Cohort 9th Legion hated the rain, born as he had been many miles to the south of Rome in the town of XXXXX, he had been in Britain for a year and all it did was rain. Often in that year he had wondered what he had done to piss off the gods?

The 9th had been sent north to put down a minor rebellion by the Scotti; they had once again been raiding south of the wall.
The wall built by the Emperor Hadrian was a mighty piece of roman engineering stretching from XXXXX to XXXXXX, it was there to keep the naked barbarian scum penned back in their sty?s, it was as much defensive as it was awe inspiring to these simple minded mud hut dwellers. But every now and again one of the tribes got juiced up on their local brew and tired to prove they could still fight the great Roman army.

The 9th had set sail from XXXXXX about XXX weeks ago, they would normally have marched north along the great road networks that criss crossed the country, reminding all they passed that the Romans were still here and that they owned this sodden outpost of the empire.
But not this time.
2 legions had recently been recalled to Gaul to put down yet another Germanic incursion, and now the legions were spread very thinly across Britain, mobility was the answer to this and the Romans certainly possessed that, with several fleets of XXXXX?s stationed at various harbours around the country. The Legate Simonius had ordered the captain of each ship to unload all of the non necessary officers and staff, they needed as much room as possible to get the Legion to its destination, his own command structure of Centurions and Optios would carry out their duties while aboard ship.

The 9th had made landfall at XXXXXXX and had quickly marched to cut the Scotti line of retreat, the local cavalry garrison from XXXX had kept the enemy in sight since they had crossed the wall 2 weeks before.
The legion were deployed across the enemies line of withdrawal.
The Scotti were heading home, with their plunder of gold cattle and slaves, they had no idea what awaited them.

It was dawn on the 4th day since the 9th had landed that the enemy came into sight. They had at first it seemed halted in confusion but it soon became clear it was more fear at the sight of the 6000 strong legion arrayed across the valley in front of them. They had no where else to go, their line or retreat was blocked by roman cavalry who had harassed them for days and the only other way past the wall was by sea, they had to fight their way home if they did not want to now end up as slaves sold off to the 4 corners of the roman empire.

Cantius had fought in the centre with the first cohort, the 1st always fought there, where the fighting was hardest, not that this had been one of their hardest battles, it had been over in less than 30 minuets, there had been 10,000 of the enemy, but many were old men and children by the end fewer than 2000 remained.
They must have been driven south to raid out of desperate hunger for many of them were emaciated and looked half dead, the survivors would have to be treated with care if the legion was to make any money selling them as slaves.

As the legion prepared for the return to XXXXXX to board ship again, Cantius was called to Legate Simonius command tent.
On entering the tent Cantius snapped to attention. The legate was a man of extreme presence and Cantius admired him above all other men, they had been on campaigns across the empire spanning a career of 15 years together. Both equally hated this current damp shit hole of a country and looked forward to being recalled to Rome or some other warmer part of the empire, though knowing their current luck they would end up in the northern Germanic forests in the freezing snows, the thought made Cantius shudder!
?Someone step on your grave centurion? said Simonius.
?No sir just this damp shit hole we find our selves in now sir.?
?Well I need you at your best right now so shake it off, I need you to detail a XXXcohortXX? To march these new slaves south, we don?t have the room on the ships to pack them in, get them moving tonight, I want to sail at dawn?
?Yes Sir?
Cantius saluted, span on his heel and marched from the tent and set about his duties, the sooner he completed this the sooner they could leave, as soon as the thought entered his head he uttered an involuntary groan at the thought of yet another cramped seas journey.

The next morning the ships set sail once more bound for XXXXX in the XXSevernXX estuary, to await the next call to arms. There was a slight squall blowing from the North bringing with it the threat or worse to come, but Simonius was determined get back to his home base and not be stuck up in the north so late in the year.
The fleet was made up of X20X XXTiremesXX and on this return voyage was running guard on 15 Trading ships packed with supplies of weapons, food, clothing and the gold captured by the troops on the wall over the past year, not as much these days but still as sizeable sum. It always amazed Cantius that these barbarians who could not fight for shit and lived in wood and mud huts, could produce such amazing jewellery. He himself owned a gold torc of great value; Simonius had awarded it for saving his life not long after they had arrived in Britain. Cantius had taken a Spear in the thigh for his troubles and even now it ached when the weather got really bad, which in this green green garden of rain, rain and yet more rain was all the bloody time.

About 3 hours into the voyage the look out called a warning,
?Storm approaching to stern?
The Captain wanted to try and ride the storm front for as long as possible before running for safe harbour, and up until now they had made great headway it was only now things were starting to look dangerous, The waves were lifting and rolling the ships, there was no safe anchorage in sight, all they could do was tie the sails and try and run before the storm, where ever it may take them, and given their current direction that looked like southern Ireland. That thought alone scared the shit out of Cantius.

Within 30 minuets the storm was upon them, the sails had to be furled before they or their masts where ripped clear of the ships, all oars had long since been shipped and the oar holes locked tight to keep the sea out. Despite this they were still shipping water at a dangerous rate, the slaves were freed from their oars and all, soldiers and slaves alike were bailing water as fast as they could.
Everyone was rushing around getting in the way of the few proper sailors on board, the Optios and Centurions who had assumed the roles of the normal ship command structure were badly out of their depths, things were getting out of control, Cantius was worried, his men did not like the sea on a calm day and this was far from that.

Suddenly a massive wave smashed into the side of the ship, pushing hard over onto its starboard side all but capsizing the ship, his Optio Gaius was floundering at the rail, without a pause for the danger involved cantius charged over across the sloping deck, grabbing one of the trailing sail ropes as he ran, just as Gaius was about to topple over into the raging seas Cantius grabbed him by the back of his hair, that stupid pony tail he insisted on growing and stuffing under his helmet as padding, was finally good for something. The Strain on his arm was immense it felt like it was being pulled from its shoulder socket, Cantius had a momentary thought for the strain this must be putting on Gaius?s hair at which point he heard him roar with pain, Cantius was on the verge of giving up, he was losing the feeling in his shoulder and Gaius hair was coming away from his scalp. Cantius was on the verge of letting go or sliding over himself, when they were both saved as another huge waved hit the ship hard, tipping it almost over onto its port side, the pair were thrown back on deck so hard they flew almost half way across the ship.

Gaius grinned at Cantius, blood running down his face from his scalp ?better to be bald that drowned, thanks ?, of all his men Gaius was the most comfortable at sea born a fisherman son and as such very used to the vagaries of the ocean.
Cantius wiped the handful of hair from his hand and then the two men tied them selves together and started to run a line up the middle of the ship, if they created a rail of rope the length of the ship the men could tie them-selves to it and ensure that no one else was swept over board.

Each ships centurion should have organised the men into shifts to keep the bailing going at a constant rate, otherwise exhaustion would have soon set in and their next stop would have been Neptune?s graveyard. However due to the fewer men bailing the ships were soon wallowing lower in the water, unknowingly this actually saved them, as they rode lower they were much less at risk from toppling in the roiling seas.

Cantius cast a glance over the ships rail, it was near the end of his bailing shift and his arms ached and his muscles burned especially the one he had used to save Gaius, in the dark raging night he could make out some of the other ships from their stern lanterns flickering against the dark backdrop of the sea and the raging storm, although this was still only possible when the lightning light up the night changing it from utter darkness to a normal dark night gloom. The fleet was spread across the sea and Neptune alone knew if they were all still afloat it was going to be a very long night.

What Cantius did not know was that the storm would rage for 21 days and nights, by the time it blew its self out the men were all exhausted, even working in shifts the constant work had worn them to the bone, not even the famed stamina of the legion had been enough to cope with this storm, 30 of the XX150XX galley slaves had died from the constant strain and the storm its self, Cantius had also lost 12 men to the storm before he had got the safety rail strung up the length of the ship. He was furious at himself for not having thought of it sooner.
The captain of the XXXXXX was called Parmenion, he had also lost men, in total he had lost a quarter of his ships crew, brave men each and every one, men who had exposed themselves to the storms fury in an attempt to keep the ship afloat.

He needed to speak to Cantius urgently, since the storm had started to die down in the early hours he had started to take some readings and soon realised he had no idea where in the hell they were! The stars had all changed position, he thought he recognised some but they were not where they should be.
?Parmenion? acknowledged Cantius
?I have some bad news and some worse news for you?
?lets have the worst first, I?m too tired to build up to it?
?We have been running South west for XXXX days at a speed I would not have thought possible, we have been swept south of the land of the XXIrishXXX, or else we would have run aground on the first night at sea, Parmenion paused and stared out over the ships rail?.
?basically what I?m trying to say is I have no idea where we are?
?none what so ever? asked Cantius now truly awake and alert.
?well according to most sailors we should have fallen off the edge of the world many nights ago?, Parmenion paused to let that sink in.
? My father once told me that during his journeys around the edge of the old Persian and Greek empires that he had heard many stories of travels to far off lands, to XXchinaXXX, IndiaXXX all seemed to be to the east, but once he told me a story of a land of hot humid Jungles many many weeks sailing to the west, Until I came to Britain I always thought that?s where they meant?
Cantius laughed utterly lacking in humour ?I bet one hour in that bloody cold place soon persuaded you that was a mistake??
?your not wrong there, where was I?? replied Parmenion

?ah yes! my father an his stories, he had been told the tale by and old XXarabXX sailor who had said the tale had been passed down through his family for decades, Many many years ago a ship had been swept west for weeks by a storm, probably something very similar to what we have just been through, when they returned 5 years later, laden down with gold and precious stones, the captain and his crew told of cities with strange buildings that reminded him of Egypt.
There was a great civilisation who spanned a land so vast they could not contemplate sailing around it. They had lived there for 3 and a half years recovering their strength, learning the ways of the people and trading from their holds. Eventually when they had all recovered and all their wares were sold they shipped oars with a ship half full of treasure and half of food of all kinds and many many water skins, they could not count on a storm to power them home, in the end it had taken them XX185XX days to sight land and despite loading down with huge stores of food and water they had had to resort to catching rainwater and fishing to replenish their food stores. The crew had stayed at home for 2 years preparing for a return to the strange land, they had lived off the tales of that place and the riches they had aquired for most of that time, never did one of them have to buy a drink in the tavern and not one of them wanted for anything, the captain of the ship gave shares of the wealth to all, but at the same time never had one of them told exactly where they had been, when asked they had given a vague wave in a westerly direction, why give away the details of and endless pot of gold. The Crew had set sail at the start of spring with the promise of returning to their families in another 2 ? 3 years time, after 10 years the families stopped waiting?.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Without meaning to sound needy or anything, if anyone gets time i would appreciate some feedback, abuse, general coments etc on this.

It will help me decide if i want to move forward with more on this story, i have a few on the go and should really concentrate on one.

I will post the other main one soon, but im up to 13000 words on that one.
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Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't say I know much about Roman times or the such, although if you want any help with the engineering, that is something I'm particurlarly interested in.

As for the style, I'm afraid to say, I didn't really read it, I read for a while, got bored and now I'm replying. Harsh, I know, but I didn't like the style although I think perhaps the fact that there are quite a few X's everywhere didn't help much. Also, just because I didn't like the style doesn't mean that others won't. I thought Julian May's Golden Torc series was akin to a pile of tick-infested dung, as you might remember from our debate about it on the last forum, but quite a few people regard it as interesting and well-written. So I'm not trying to discourage you, just pointing out that I don't find it interesting and people similar to me most probably won't either but you'll never please everyone.
Ian Fulguirinas(dragonkillernz)
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