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Chapter 3: Roads In Winter


Started by Kilivin
Post #99975
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Chapter 3: Roads In Winter

3E 289, 3rd of Sun's Dawn: The past months had been an idle one for Arnilius as well as many others of the expeditionary force. It had been agreed from many of the men that the Emperor had wished to wait the winter before moving further inland with the two legions at his back. Some spat at the idea, eager to fight, while others accepted the wait from fear of their unknown enemy. It had been nearing a full year, and their foe had remained hidden. The only reports that they had been given was from the corpses of returned scouts or scouts who did not return at all. Even the emissaries the Emperor had sent to their king to negotiate have been met with no return. This caused a great unrest among the legionnaires, Arnilius included.

Arnilius was with his friends, Lilissandra, Zan'ir, Loknar, & Dol; along with many other legionnaires and masons. They were tasked along with other legionnaires of the other three legions to guard and assist in the building of a road between Ionith & Septimia. It was a cold, wet, and windy day, with any pray of warmth being met with icy daggers striking the bare skin on them. The sky was blocked with left over clouds from last night's storm. The storms were a common thing, and some thought them to be unnatural with how violent they were at times. Arnilius never paid the storms any mind, and along with many others; he blamed it on the different climate. Loknar and Zan'ir seemed ignorant of the cold, but Dol cursed as he stood by a fire near the watchtower built by the legionnaires the week past. It was barely lit from the strong winds, and to Arnilius it seemed more like a pile of burnt coals.

“Damn the winter! Damn it to oblivion!” Loknar chuckled at Dol's remark as he stood watch while the masons chiseled away stone on the ground, “I never knew the Orsimer to be strangers to cold.” Dol scoffed at his remark, “The only cold I'm not a stranger to is death. All the other forms of it can lick my boot!” Zan'ir stared deeply into the coals of the fire and spoke cryptically, “Death is not cold. Death is hot like fire. It burns into your thoughts before it takes you.” Dol laughed, “Those who fear death make it to be what they fear most! You obviously don't want your whiskers burnt!” Zan'ir snarled at Dol's laughter but remained silent despite his disgusted look. Dol had continued on ranting afterwards pacing about as he did so in a futile attempt to keep warm, “If you ask me, this damnable cold can lick its own boots dry!” He continued cursing until a great gust of wind seemed to only brush against his cheeks. Dol's face turned a darker shade of green as he grimaced, turning his face to anger.

Arnilius was leaned against a leg of a watchtower not but a few feet from their fire. He was wrapped in a thick cloak of mountain-lion skin over his back from one of the weavers at Ionith. The woman who made it had a face of stone, but her clothes were made of fine red and blue silks like that of a queen. It contrasted her face, however, that was not any bit pleasant, but her skills at her craft were of the very best. It was so with many of the two thousand or so colonists that had moved to Akavir. Arnilius was apprehensive to the colonists presence on Akavir, though. He knew it was no place for civilians to be from the goings about around them. There was no love for the empire where they were, he could feel it.

He was lost in thought staring at one of the stone masons hammering into the ground, smoothing the stone of the road. His mind fixated on the hammering, and he began to hear the screams of battle around it. This was until he was snapped to by Lilissandra repeating his name for a number of times he did not know. “Arnilius!” She spoke somewhat frustrated. He turned to and replied in humility, “Oh, apologies. I was thinking of . . never mind.”

Lilissandra quirked a brow and a smirk and continued as she paced around him, “You really do think too much. You ought to be glad, you know. We get to see this wonderful new land without one battle but keeping our asses warm.” She had a thick sarcasm to her words. Arnilius replied softly, “You don't like it here?” Lilissandra turned to him as she leaned against another of the legs of the tower across from him, “I don't like the cold. I don't like the quiet it brings. Nor do I like being able to see miles through these plains, but with over thirty thousand legionnaires we don't get even a welcome party.” She turned to look at the other three about the fire in a struggle to stay warm. Arnilius turned his gaze to them as well and continued, “Maybe we just caught them unaware. If a foe is so weak and unprepared to abandon its cities, maybe we have nothing to fear?” He spoke with a tone that dripped with sarcasm. He knew there was something to be feared in a foe that retreats before striking. Loknar, overhearing their conversation, replied to this in a voice deep and rasped, “Fear is a wise thing to have. Perhaps the Emperor is doing what he thinks best.” Dol heard this and belted out almost without a thought, “Fear! I spit on fear! If it bleeds, I'll kill it.” Lilissandra smirked and responded, “And what if it doesn't bleed? Will you run and hide like the rest?” Dol grunted but gave no reply. After a moment of silence, Zan'ir continued in a grim tone once more, “What if the prey is not seen?. . What if you do not see the fight awaiting you until it takes you and kills you when you do not expect it?”

These words pierced Arnilius' courage at the core. Never has he faced a foe he had never seen, and the thought of it made him cringe. He felt as if someone were to respond, but it was interrupted when the corpse of a legionnaire fell between Arnilius & Lilissandra with an arrow in his head. Loknar & Zan'ir quickly moved to their feet as another legionnaire then flung his head over the side of the tower above them shouting, “Raiders!” Arnilius grabbed the horn off of the dead legionnaire's waste belt and blew it long and hard. Suddenly panic began to build as the hundred or so legionnaires flung into response from their campfires and assistance of the masons. Arrows flew past all of them in a wild chaos, and screams could be heard from legionnaires being shot before they could move. Arnilius grabbed his shield on the ground next to him and continued to blow the horn with his right hand as a rallying cry to the other legionnaires. Lilissandra and two other legionnaires had helped the masons into cover while Dol & Loknar got in formation with the another dozen or so legionnaires.

Arnilius noticed many of the legionnaires were beginning to quell in fear as arrows had struck around them. He came across the corpse of a legionnaire on his side, a Praefect in charge of the hundred men building the road. A rage flew over him as he saw four arrows jutted out from his chest. He then started barking out orders to the legionnaires cowering behind their shield from the arrows that had been flying towards him at his left side. “Legionnaires! Form a shield wall with the rest! MOVE!” He then blew the horn once more as he moved up with the line as well. It was two thick with around thirty men in each line, with archers behind that line. Once they were formed as a unit, the arrows stopped coming from over the hill. They were sat there with shields raised for not but a few moments. It was as if their unseen enemy had loosed all of their arrows and left them to stand among the dozen dead and others moaning in pain.

That was until they saw their foe over the hill only a couple hundred yards away. They were in a full-on charge and they wore mostly shoddy crafted leather and steel armor from what Arnilius could see. Most of them had blades while others seemed to have weapons Arnilius had never even seen before. He barked out only one word, “Archers!” Another legionnaire repeated this and the archers behind them readied their bowstrings. Arnilius' hands that were once trembling had suddenly stopped as he began to go numb. Another bark of orders was let out, “Loose!” Suddenly two dozen arrows were shot just over the heads of the line in front of them. The foe that was charging them, without shields, tumbled over as every arrow seemed to hit a target. The two dozen raiders that had fallen seemed to be a fraction of their size, however. They continued to pour over the hill like a swarm as the archers continually thinned their unorganized charge.

This was short-lived, however, as the crazed screams of the battle-charge from the enemy grew louder. In a matter of moments they were upon them. One foe naively clashed against Arnilius' raised shield and he quickly stabbed the raider in front of him. After a twist of his blade, he followed it with a kick to send him back to the raider behind, disrupting his charge. He only saw the legionnaires to his sides fighting, with the clattering of steel and shouts of battle as well. Their shield wall didn't falter in the slightest as the rest of the force continued their charge, but they began to conform around their line. Both flanks of the line shouted this aloud, and Arnilius pushed back the blood-crazed raider upon his shield and slew him with a quick diagonal stroke from shoulder to side. He pulled himself away from the front, and a legionnaire took his place as shouted over top of the battle, “Circle up!!” He blew his horn and repeated these words until the line began to pull back around the archers behind them, which had been shooting between the line with skillfully placed shots. Arnilius saw over the fighting that the enemy had stopped pouring over the hill, and a horde of enemies were rushing around the sides of them.

He was panting as he turned to the northeast road towards Ionith when a force of cavalry were charging in. His view was blurred, but he assumed it was the Legion so he took to his horn once more then roaring to the other legionnaires who had been faltering fending off the hundreds of raiders, “Hold the line!” He then pushed forward a man cowering back from a leg wound into the line to keep fighting, and moved into it as well. He stabbed at his foe from behind his shield, but each time he killed one, another took place. Finally a horn was blown as a loud trample was heard. Raiders were being cut apart from behind and those at the front began to cower away and flee. Arnilius' turned and saw Dol with his giant two handed ax out slamming into the back of one of the fleeing raiders. The rest of the few dozen or so raiders were chased down on horseback by the rest of the hundreds of cavalry, and Arnilius noticed General Tirelius dismounting during the terrified screams of the raiders fleeing. His face was that of stone as he crossed the field of dead, stepping on the bodies of the raiders without care, some still alive that the legionnaire behind him killed after he passed. He paid no mind to them, and continued walking across the field.

He approached the battle-worn legionnaires who were panting and exhausted. Many were wounded, but none had been wounded fatally. Arnilius noticed a certain bit of joy in the General's eye looking upon the men until he was directed toward Arnilius by one of the legionnaires. Arnilius, a bit shocked, stood upright despite his exhaustion and saluted the General. The General squinted his eyes as he scanned Arnilius head-to-toe. He then spoke in an unsatisfied tone, “Your first real battle and not a scratch on you. Not the same I can say for the rest of the men.” Arnilius then stopped his salute and replied, “The men fought bravely, your excellency. I would prefer their scratches to dead soldiers any day.” The General chuckled, which surprised Arnilius, “You did good, Arnilius. We tried sending word to return due to this force going to attack the roads, but they killed the scout who was to send that message.” He knelled down to one of the dead raiders and spoke as he removed his helm, “Something you'll find of interest is that -” He finally removed the helm of the raider, surprising Arnilius, “This foe of ours is a human.” The dead man laid there with dried blood around his lips, his skin pale as snow now. Arnilius was shocked and without words as the General continued, “There are things we would discuss, Arnilius. The Emperor would have words with you.”

The General turned after he spoke with Arnilius at his heels, “But your excellency, what would the Emperor have with me?” The General was assisted by one of the legionnaires to his horse, he then spoke before galloping off, “It's about your brother.” Arnilius was struck with a gasping mouth. Lilissandra came behind him and spoke in a tone familiar to him, “It looks as if the Emperor wants a word with his child.” She smirked, and the remaining legionnaires along with the masons returned to Ionith with the General's contingent of cavalry.
This post was last modified: September 20th 2013 12:42 PM by Kilivin


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BlytheAlarynn
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Brilliant as usual. I can't get enough of your choices in dialogue and the story itself is riveting!


Alejandro Jodorowsky: "Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness."
Keep your eyes open and your mind without favor.
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Kilivin
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(September 20th 2013 12:44 PM)BlytheAlarynn Wrote:  Brilliant as usual. I can't get enough of your choices in dialogue and the story itself is riveting!

Thank you! It's a whole lot of fun to write about the characters you have in your head (as I'm sure you know). Producing their dialogue, thinking of the sound of their voice in your head, and pretty much the whole process becomes just really fun once you have a real idea in your head about that character. Smiling
This post was last modified: September 20th 2013 12:56 PM by Kilivin


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" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcxKIJTb3Hg "

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Profession - Armorsmith Specialist
Class - Templar
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BlytheAlarynn
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(September 20th 2013 12:56 PM)Kilivin Wrote:  Thank you! It's a whole lot of fun to write about the characters you have in your head (as I'm sure you know). Producing their dialogue, thinking of the sound of their voice in your head, and pretty much the whole process becomes just really fun once you have a real idea in your head about that character. Smiling

I can definitely relate! Keep it up, I am awaiting the next chapter! (:


Alejandro Jodorowsky: "Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness."
Keep your eyes open and your mind without favor.
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Kilivin
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When are you gonna continue the story? I'm really interested. Winking_grinning
This post was last modified: December 5th 2013 12:32 PM by tamriel's explorer


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(December 5th 2013 12:30 PM)tamriels explorer Wrote:  When are you gonna continue the story? I'm really interested. Winking_grinning

Oh, thanks! I think I might pick the story back up soon actually. Most likely on Christmas Break. Smiling


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" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcxKIJTb3Hg "

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