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Chapter 1 Part II

Marcus Longinus

By Tomos JacksonPublished 3 years ago Updated 2 years ago 8 min read
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OBSOLETE - READ "THE ALEA OF ATLAS"

After that they sat in silence, Certus finishing his stew while they listened to the banter and joking of the other Alea cavalry soldiers that made up Marcus's patrol.

Finally, seeing that most of the men had finished their food, Marcus rose. "Alright, enough scoffing and gossiping like women. Mount up men!"

The patrol quickly put out their fire, rinsed out the pot, bowls and spoons and packed them away in their saddlebags. Marcus saw to the preparations of his own horse as Certus cleared their belongings from the temporary campsite and began preparing his own mount for a recurrence of their patrol.

Marcus was ready first and looked out over their route winding past the Viridi Mountains that formed as the border between Campania and Terra Aquilarum. They would have to pass close to those mountains on their way across the North Eastern border of the Republic and back down South towards Castra Collis.

As his eyes traced the route he would take a figure, small and indistinct burst from the trees at the base of the Viridi Mountains followed quickly by several more figures sprinting after the first.

"To horse!" Marcus called at once, "To horse at once! Movement to the North West!"

His men scrambled onto their saddles, dropping whatever it was they had been doing before pulling their shields and lances and forming up around the tribune. Once they were all gathered around him, Marcus waved them forward and they began to gallop down the hill after the sprinting figures.

As they drew close it became clear that the figures were Ogodai, large, grey skinned bipeds, on average stronger and faster than humans with sharp teeth and black hair the pursuers were clad in mail and gripped, what was for them, short swords. The Ogodai in the lead was clad in simple leathers and appeared to be armed with only a dagger which he kept at his side. Clearly he was hoping for speed to be his savior.

Marcus gestured and two of his riders broke off while the remaining 18, followed Marcus and Certus towards the pursuers. There were about ten of them and upon sighting the Atlan cavalry they skidded to a halt and began to run back towards the cover of the trees. They were fast, faster than any man on foot, but not as fast as a mounted cavalryman. The horsemen rapidly covered the distance between the two groups and, when they realized they would never make it back to the cover of the trees in time, the Ogodai skidded to a halt once more and whirled around holding their blades out towards the horsemen trying to form a wall of blades to scare the horses.

Unconcerned with their stance, Marcus lowered his lance and aimed it at the chest of the central figure. The distance between them closed and only now did it occur to the defenders that the lances would reach them before their blades could scare off the horses. They tried to twist away from the lances. Only a few succeeded, but one of these was Marcus's target.

Twisting sideways, the Ogodai mostly dodged the lance's point, the edge of it carving a bloody line across his large chest, before the warrior lept into the air and caught Marcus across his own chest with his large arms, blowing the wind from out of his lungs and causing Marcus's horse to go speeding off down the field without him as he fell to the earth. Meanwhile the force of the impact one his one arm had made the Ogodai go careening off to the side so the both of them lay on the grassy field.

Dazed and struggling for breath, Marcus stumbled to his feet, knowing that his opponents superior strength would allow him to recover quicker. Sure enough, as he stood the Ogodai was already on his feet and closing the gap between them dagger in hand as he clearly had lost his blade on the impact.

Marcus yanked out his own short sword and got into a fighting position to face down his larger opponent but still backing up. He knew that time was on his side in this fight. Soon the patrol would wheel around to finish off those who had survive the first charge. The Ogodai seemed to realize this too and switched from a cautious approach to full on charge. Marcus stopped his withdrawal not wanting to be caught off off balance by the charge and making it seem he would take it head on.

Of course Marcus was not that stupid. Without his shield he would be crushed by the charge and butchered. As his opponent closed the distance, at the last possible second Marcus dove off to the side and rolled to his knee as his opponent barreled past him. Standing quickly to his feet again he turned to face the Ogodai again. Angry, but not yet enraged as Marcus had hoped, the creature turned once more to face his foe. Marcus could feel the approach of the horsemen and knew that he didn't have to wait much longer. To his surprise the creature moved on him at a fast but cautious approach again, rather than sprinting. Marcus was fine with that as it left him with more time and so he began backing up again. The creature gained on him but not fast enough and the thundering of hooves behind Marcus was becoming more distinct. Surely the creature could see them too, but he was focused on his prey. Perhaps, Marcus thought, he seeks to use me as a hostage? It didn't matter he wasn't gaining nearly fast enough for him to catch Marcus in time.

Suddenly, when the creature was a mere three or so meters away it launched into a sprint again, catching Marcus by surprise. He tried to leap to the side as he had done before, but he was too slow, and with a roar of triumph he caught Marcus mid-air and threw him to the ground hard, causing Marcus to lose his grip on his short sword and once more lose the air in his lungs.

The Ogodai raised its dagger to plunge into the tribune's heart and Marcus lifted his arm in an instinctive and futile attempt to protect himself, from his fate.

Suddenly a lance point flew out of nowhere and crashed right into the chest of the warrior, the impact, sending him flying away several feet from where he had been stood. The rider with the lance wheeled his horse around and Marcus could see the rider was grinning extatically.

"Certus!"

The young servant raised his lance in triumphant victory.

Marcus laughed. "Oh I have never been so glad to see you stupid face before in my life!"

"Ah master," Certus said with a grin as he rode up to Marcus and leapt from his horse, "you say that every time."

"Well I see no reason to break from tradition now, do you?" Marcus responded as his servant grasped his arm and hauled the tribune to his feet.

"Well do you think we could break the tradition of me cleaning up your clothes after saving you?" Certus inquired hopefully.

"No."

"Ah hell. Don't know why I even bother then."

The two shared a laugh when they were interrupted by a rider approaching from the South where Marcus had sent the two riders after the fleeing Ogodai.

"Tribune!" One of them called out.

Marcus turned to see the two riders riding behind the Ogodai in question, their lances pointed at his gasping and sweat drenched body. He was typically tall for an Ogodai, bald except for a topknot that fell from the top of his head to his lower back.

"Sir," the rider began, "this one surrendered and requested an audience with our leader."

Curious, Marcus gestured for the Ogodai to speak.

His voice rough and gravelly, the Ogodai began speaking, his unfamiliar tongue mashing the words of a foreign language, "Greetings tribune. I thank you for my timely rescue from my enemies."

Marcus gave a short laugh, "I wouldn't count yourself rescued creature. Our peoples are hardly on friendly terms."

"It is on that very topic I came here to speak."

Marcus was taken aback. This was not the response he had expected. "What are you talking about Ogodai, speak quickly and straightforwardly, I have little time or patience for word games with an enemy.

The Ogodai grinned, his alien features and sharp teeth giving the smile a predatory appearance and Marcus had to suppress a shudder.

"I have come to off the surrender of my tribe to the people of the mighty Atlan Republic and its senate."

Marcus took a step back in shock, as if the words had been blows. Around him the riders began muttering among themselves in shocked whispers. These were not men privy to the politics of the nation and its precarious position in the world. But even they realized that such a surrender would be a major turning point in the Republics fortunes. With peace in the North, the legion could afford to bolster defenses elsewhere and the state of siege that plagued the nation by its surrounding enemies would end. The Republic might even be able to counter attack.

Marcus recovered himself as best he could. "You make a bold proposal Ogodai. Do you have the authority to make such an offer. You travel alone and pursued, you could be anyone for all I know, seeking to trick me into complacence to allow your escape.

"Understandable tribune." The creature agreed, "I am, what you may term, the prince of my tribe. My uncle seeks to claim the tribe for himself and his followers have made his position strong, it was they that you slew so effectively. They have my father, the current chief of our tribe under virtual arrest while my uncle rules in his stead. He seeks to kill me as my fathers only heir and then claim the tribe for himself."

The creature shook its head sorrowfully.

"My own followers are not numerous enough to succeed in defeating him on their own and other tribes see this as a test of my strength and so will not aid in the resolution of this crisis. In my hour of desperation I turn to you. Return to me my tribe and I will vassalize my people to act as a buffer state for yours and support you in your endeavors whatever they may be."

Marcus considered. The Ogodai "prince" could be lying for all he knew, and seeking an opportunity for escape. On the other hand, if he was telling the truth it would be well worth investing in a Northern operation to free up the border indefinitely. Besides if he did escape, what was one more Ogodai running loose.

"Very well," Marcus said, "But first I need to know your name for the report I will be sending my superiors."

The creature gave Marcus another of its predatory smiles, "Of course tribune. My name is Lur."

Marcus nodded and turned back towards the patrol around him. Picking out two riders he pointed to them "You and you, ride back to the Castra Collis and prepare for my return with the," he glanced back at Lur, "ambassador of the Ogodai."

The two men saluted and galloped off towards the camp.

As for the rest of us lets get this Ogodai on the move. I'm sure there will be plenty of important people who will be interested in what he has to say."

With that Marcus remounted his horse and lead his patrol back as a slower pace, thinking that he might just have in his hands, the fate of the Republic, and perhaps, the fate of all Esgarond.

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About the Creator

Tomos Jackson

Stories have always been a source of inspiration. I aim to reproduce that in my own writing. Developing ideas of one's potential by reading it in the lives of others can be a powerful force to encourage bettering ourselves in the real world

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