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Slaves of Fear: A Land Unconquered
 

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Slaves of Fear: A Land Unconquered


  Slaves of Fear:

  A Land Unconquered

  An Artorian Novel

  James Mace

  Electronic Edition Copyright © 2016 by James Mace

  All rights reserved as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the publisher.

  Characters and events portrayed in this book are based on actual persons and events, but are used fictitiously.

  Legionary Books

  Meridian, Idaho 83642, USA

  http://www.legionarybooks.net

  First eBook Edition: 2016

  Published in the United States of America

  Legionary Books

  Cover Image copyright © 2016 by Cezary Wyszynski, used with permission

  All other images are licensed through applicable copyright holders, or public domain

  You wish to rule over the world, yet what surprise that many will not accept your slavery?

  - Caratacus

  The Works of James Mace

  Note: In each series or combination of series’, all works are listed in chronological sequence

  The Artorian Chronicles

  Soldier of Rome: The Legionary

  Soldier of Rome: The Sacrovir Revolt

  Soldier of Rome: Heir to Rebellion

  Soldier of Rome: The Centurion

  *Empire Betrayed: The Fall of Sejanus

  Soldier of Rome: Journey to Judea

  Soldier of Rome: The Last Campaign

  *Centurion Valens and the Empress of Death

  *Slaves of Fear: A Land Unconquered

  The Great Jewish Revolt and Year of the Four Emperors

  Soldier of Rome: Rebellion in Judea

  Soldier of Rome: Vespasian’s Fury

  Soldier of Rome: Reign of the Tyrants

  Soldier of Rome: Rise of the Flavians

  Napoleonic Era

  Forlorn Hope: The Storming of Badajoz

  I Stood With Wellington

  Courage, Marshal Ney

  * Stand-alone novel or novella with a direct tie-in to a given series

  Table of Contents

  Preface

  Chapter I: Valeria’s Elite

  Chapter II: Shadows from the Past

  Chapter III: Brothers’ Reunion and an Emperor’s Lament

  Chapter IV: Delivered by Neptune

  Chapter V: Slaves of Fear

  Chapter VI: Finding the Enemy

  Chapter VII: A Sacrifice of Blood

  Chapter VIII: Chasing Ghosts

  Chapter IX: Field of Sorrow

  Chapter X: To the Sea

  Chapter XI: Heading North, Heading Home

  Chapter XII: Consort to the Empire

  Chapter XIII: Winter’s Cold Embrace

  Chapter XIV: Valley of Riches

  Chapter XV: To Tame a Land

  Chapter XVI: Here We Will Stand

  Chapter XVII: Hard as Iron

  Chapter XVIII: A Triumph of Steel

  Chapter XIX: Freedom or Slavery

  Chapter XX: Heart of the Empire

  Historical Afterward

  Preface

  Four years have passed since the Roman invasion of Britannia. Though the imperial legions won a number of spectacular victories during the initial conquest, the imperial governor, Ostorius Scapula, realizes that Emperor Claudius declared victory far too soon. An ever-volatile land, hostile forces exist even amongst loyalists and allies. To the north the allied kingdom of the Brigantes is on the verge of civil war, while to the west Rome’s old nemesis, Caratacus, has returned. A former prince of the conquered Catuvellauni, he seeks revenge for the death of his brother and the subjugation of their people.

  For Centurion Magnus Flavianus, the years have been beset by nightmares and sleepless nights, brought on by the slaying of his lover and their unborn child. Despite his age and the numerous scars that mar both his body and spirit, he stalwartly remains with his legion as it prepares to face Caratacus. Across the mountainous reaches of western Britannia, in the land now known as Wales, Magnus hopes to find both atonement and peace within his tormented soul.

  Cast of Characters

  Romans

  Magnus Flavianus – A centurion primus ordo with Legio XX, Valeria

  Gaius Caelius Gurges – Magnus’ optio

  Lucius Tyranus Costa – Centurion Primus Pilus of Legio XX, and Magnus’ superior officer

  Marcus Furius Corda – A recently promoted centurion primus ordo

  Metellus Artorius Posthumous – Commander of the legion’s Fifth Cohort

  Publius Ostorius Scapula – Governor of Britannia

  Gaius Suetonius Paulinus – Commanding Legate of Legio XX, newly arrived in Britannia

  Julianus Flavus – Commander of Indus’ Horse Regiment of Cavalry

  Britons

  Caratacus – Prince of the Catuvellauni and leader of the Britannic resistance to the Roman occupation

  Amminus – Caratacus’ youngest brother, and a staunch Roman loyalist

  Eurgain – Caratacus’ wife

  Jago – Caratacus’ son, who is soon coming of age

  Sorcha – Caratacus’ young daughter

  Orin – King of the Silures

  Seisyll – King of the Ordovices

  Cartimandua – Queen of the Brigantes, allies of Rome

  Venutius – Cartimandua’s estranged consort, who is conspiring with Caratacus against Rome

  Elisedd – Chief of the Deceangli, a tribe along the northern coast of Wales, under the protection of King Seisyll

  Tathal – High druid and religious mentor to both Silures and Ordovices

  Alaric – A member of Cartimandua’s court

  Landon – Friend of Alaric, who volunteers as an interpreter for the Romans

  Chapter I: Valeria’s Elite

  Camulodunum, Eastern Britannia

  April, 48 A.D.

  Legionaries conducting javelin practice

  Though the day was overcast, it was unusually warm for the early Britannic springtime. The rhythmic cadence of hundreds of feet marching along the open field were accented by the chirping of birds and the calls of other indigenous beasts. The tall grasses were still damp from the night-time rains, which soaked the feet and ankles of the advancing force of imperial Roman legionaries. They soon came to a halt, the occasional glimpse of the sun reflecting off their metal armour and brightly painted shields.

  “Cohort!” the centurion primus pilus shouted.

  “Century!” his subordinate centurions primus ordo called over their shoulders.

  “Advance!”

  Eight hundred pairs of sandaled feet immediately stepped off, keeping behind their shields, their synched footfalls beating a dull tempo into the earth. They were in loose battle formation with each soldier covering a frontage of six feet.

  These men were not simply legionaries; they were the elite First Cohort of Legio XX, Valeria. Better trained than their comrades in the regular cohorts, they were hand-picked veterans, each of whom had earned his place, usually after at least sixteen years of service in the ranks. On rare occasions, a soldier would be elevated at a slightly younger age, while many who had the required time-in-service were denied entry into the cohort. Significantly older than the majority of their mates, they varied in age from early thirties to mid-forties, yet the years of conditioning and training allowed them to move with the speed and precision of much younger men.

  The First Cohort had only five centuries, instead of the usual six. However, each of these was at double strength of one hundred and sixty legionaries as opposed to
eighty. They were also the only cohort that was always kept at full strength. Whenever one of its soldiers retired from the ranks or passed on to the gods, the commanding centurions of the cohort would scour the rolls of the legion to find replacements. And unlike the rest of the legion, those elevated into the First Cohort were exempt from any sort of fatigue detail. They were also better paid. Their legionaries made almost the same wage as a decanus leading an eight-man squad in the regular cohorts. And because they were exempt from menial labour, these elite troops spent most of the duty day training to do what they knew best, what all soldiers of Rome were first and foremost expected to excel at.

  “First, Second, and Third Centuries…wedge formation!”

  With speed and precision, the double-strength centuries rapidly compressed their files and each formed into a massed wedge. The commanding centurion of each element stood at its apex. His optio positioned himself at the very back, ensuring formation integrity. The remaining two centuries stayed in their standard battle formation of six ranks, as they advanced on the flanks of the wedges. From above, the formation would have resembled the teeth of a beast or perhaps the wide tips of an enormous trident.

  Providing opposition during this training exercise was a single cohort of auxilia light infantry and two companies of cavalry. The commanding general’s orders had been for them to harass the veterans of the First, subjecting them to the variety of hazards expected from the ever-elusive enemies in Britannia, who often refused to fight the Romans on their terms. While the infantry stood ready to harry the cohort with blunted throwing spears and arrows, a company of a hundred cavalrymen rode at a fast gallop in a wide arc around the left flank.

  “Hostiles on the left!” an optio shouted.

  “Action left, set to repel cavalry!” the man’s centurion quickly ordered.

  The century anchoring the left flank rapidly shifted to face the new threat, with legionaries in the first two ranks kneeling and planting their heavy javelins into the ground, forming a wall of spears. Those in the subsequent ranks hefted theirs to their shoulders, ready to throw. The centurion commanding the cavalry blew his whistle, and the horsemen rode at a canter back towards their companions. The legionaries reformed and continued to advance with the rest of the cohort. As they approached their objective, the auxilia skirmishers unleashed a volley of arrows and light throwing spears.

  “Testudo!” centurions shouted.

  Even in a wedge formation, legionaries were able to bring their shields to bear. Those in front dropped to one knee, hunkering down behind the protective wall. The rest hefted their shields overhead, forming a nearly impenetrable barrier from incoming missiles. The spears and arrows clattered off the encompassing shields. The men in front slowly stood, with the entire formation adjusting itself to close any gaps.

  “At the half-step… march!”

  That eight hundred men in a series of compressed formations could still manage to continue the advance, all the while being bombarded by a torrent of enemy missiles, was a testament to their training, experience, and discipline. It was but one of many formations that every last soldier in the First had drilled since his first days with the legion.

  Watching the entire display was the Governor of Britannia, Publius Ostorius Scapula. A former legate, he had taken command of the Twentieth Legion soon after the initial conquest, four years prior. Following a standard three-year tour he returned to Rome. There he served for several months as suffect consul, before being dispatched back to Britannia. He was only the second man to attain the governorship of the province; the first being Aulus Plautius, the commander-in-chief of the initial invasion force. And while Emperor Claudius had been quick to declare victory following a series of decisive victories, the isle was anything but conquered. The lands under dominion of the Caesars only encompassed the south and southeast regions of Britannia. To the north was the vast Kingdom of the Brigantes. It was with good fortune that their queen, Cartimandua, was a strong Roman ally. They provided a buffer of sorts between Rome and the more hostile tribes further north. To the west, however, the people were anything but friendly. It was in these mountainous regions, beyond the River Sabrina, that their old enemy, Caratacus of the Catuvellauni, fled four years earlier. And it was into these treacherous lands that Scapula intended to unleash his army. If Britannia was truly to become part of the Roman Empire, then every last barbarian from Camulodunum in the east, all the way to Oceanus Atlanticus, would bow before the rule of the Caesars.

  “The First Cohort still fights with the same discipline and tenacity as I remember,” the governor said to the legion’s current legate, a thirty-six year old general named Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. Scapula then added, “Of course you’re used to dealing with elite troops. After all, wasn’t it you who first successfully led an expedition over the Atlas Mountains in Mauretania?”

  The legate grinned at the memory. “Yes, well, I think some of those lads were all brawn with little brain. There were many days when I felt a bit soft in the head myself for having attempted such a feat. These men here have a fine reputation, both in terms of valour and tactical savvy.”

  Paulinus nodded towards the ongoing skirmish, where the First Cohort continued to execute its drills with rapid precision. As they closed the distance, alternating ranks charged, while the rest unleashed their javelins simultaneously. It completely caught the auxilia infantry off-guard and they began to scatter.

  The legate then remarked, “If the rest of the legion didn’t have to spend so much time building roads and shovelling shit, the whole lot of them would become as proficient as the First.”

  “Yes, well, someone has to build the roads in this uncivilized land,” the governor noted. “And you cannot have slaves doing it. Damn things would crumble within weeks if you did.”

  “I’m told the people of this isle make terrible slaves; too fiercely independent of mind.”

  “Bloody stubborn, more like,” Scapula scoffed. “I honestly don’t know who is more difficult to control, the Britons or those damned Jews in Judea.”

  Satisfied that the training had gone well, the governor excused himself and rode back towards the city, where his palace and administrative buildings all sat on what had once been the capital stronghold of their indigenous enemies, the Catuvellauni. Seeing that the First Cohort was almost finished with their drills, General Paulinus decided to firs have a word with the centurion primus pilus, before leaving to check on the progress of a bridge that was being constructed by one of the other cohorts. He would then return to the fortress to deal with the endless tedium of administrative issues that plagued every legate in command of an imperial legion.

  The exercises finished to the master centurion’s satisfaction, he blew his whistle, and all ceased brawling. Legionary and auxilia alike rested on their shields, removing helmets and wiping copious amounts of sweat from their faces and hair. The senior officer then turned each century over to its commander and left to have a word with the legate. The commander of the cohort’s Third Century exhorted his men, giving them a few minor deficiencies to correct. He then dismissed his soldiers before removing his helmet and running his fingers through his hair, which was a thick mop of dark blonde. He walked with a slight limp, an old leg wound causing him much discomfort this day.

  “I’m getting too old for this,” he muttered.

  His name was Magnus Flavianus. Like a growing number of imperial soldiers, his lineage was anything but Latin. Of Nordic ancestry, yet born in Ostia, just outside of Rome, his grandfather had won the family Roman citizenship as an auxilia soldier. Now fifty years old, Magnus had served in the ranks since he was seventeen. On days like this, the incessant throbbing in his leg, not to mention a plethora of other aches and dull pains, served as a harsh reminder to both his age, and to the savage decades he’d spent in service to the empire.

  Even more painful was the knowledge that every last one of his friends from the early years was either dead or retired from the legions. His dearest f
riend, Artorius, who had had known for over thirty years, fighting side by side in Germania, Gaul, and even distant Judea, had left the army soon after the initial conquest of Britannia four years earlier. Artorius had been the centurion primus pilus of Legio XX, and had hoped, perhaps, his old friend would succeed him. Artorius refused to use his influence in the selection, however, and that promotion had gone to another.

  “Magnus!”

  The Norseman snapped out of his reverie and turned to see Master Centurion Tyranus, the very man who’d been promoted over him, walking briskly his way.

  “I’ve briefed my men,” the Norseman said, resting his leg atop a waist-high stone wall, trying to massage the pain away. “Optio Caelius and I will be overseeing a full kit inspection after supper.”

  “Good. And just so you know, we may be putting our training to use sooner rather than later.”

  “Who is it this time?” Magnus asked. “Surely our governor learned his lesson with the Iceni. When attempting to disarm an entire kingdom, an ally at that, one can only expect to be met with violent resistance.”

  Tyranus shook his head. “No, the Iceni are no longer an issue. Fortunately, King Prasutagus made Scapula see reason. He agreed to crucify the leaders of the revolt, provided he be allowed to keep his militias armed. Plus they will maintain their own security, negating the need for Roman troops on their soil.”

  “As long as they pay the required taxes every autumn, I don’t see why we should bother with them. I have to say, I actually like Prasutagus, he’s a rather affable fellow. Although, his wife, Boudicca, strikes me as an insufferable bitch.”

 
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