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Aeterna Roma RPG

Ending One Chapter, Starting Another


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68 AD

It had been a hard few weeks for Annis. It wasn't often, but now was one of those times she regretted leaving her family and forging her own path. What was left of her family, anyway. She felt occasionally angry at herself for being so selfish, leaving her poor brother to run the village almost by himself. But she reasoned that she wouldn't be of any use to anyone anyway - sixteen years old, no head for politics or running a village. Wulfrun was better off without her. Fedelmid, perhaps not so much, but mothers had to let their babies go sometimes. 

Annis's luck had been running dry the past few weeks, though. She had taken on a pair of Roman legionnaires by herself and gotten herself injured, though she'd managed to dispatch them. Then, she'd had to hightail it out of the town she'd done it in, knowing that someone would eventually match her to the crime. With little food or water, she'd been foraging for herself and tending to her own wounds. She almost didn't mind the silence of the forest, but she knew she couldn't stay out here forever. Her wound almost healed, she decided to make her way to the next town she knew of and hopefully find an odd job for some coin. 

Stepping into town, she felt almost directionless. There was a strong outcropping of Romans here, too many for her to bother with. Sometimes, you had to sleep in the same bed as the enemy to make it through, even if she hated every second of it. She walked from building to building, inquiring for jobs that needed doing, but it seemed no one was willing to take on the skinny blonde girl, or had anything for her to do. Defeated, she slumped against the wall outside of a tavern and took a draught from her water skin. She would find something eventually, she always did. 

@Knight

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Owyn barreled into the blonde lass with a grin a mile wide on his face. He just about stopped, but he gripped her by her shoulders. Blonde, skinny, Briton, good enough for him. His eyes flared like gemstones as he took her by the hand.

"Run!"
At that moment, a plume of smoke and fire escaped from down the street, and suddenly men and women with blue woad paint upon their faces were running into the street, spears and axes in hand. Owyn himself was naked, covered in soot and blood, and he'd lost his sword killing the supply clerk. He'd snuck in via a shipment of wine, with nothing but a reed to breathe by, and opened the supply depot's gates from the inside. Now, they had to get away, and any Britons would be carried off and tortured, so fuck it? Take this lass along!

He gripped her hand tightly, that wolfish grin dancing across his face, and moved to run back past the tavern and further into town. They needed to disappear, and fast! The flames were already beginning to spread, and Latin cries were echoing through the town.
 

@Echo

 

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In one moment, all had been silent. In the next, all hell had broken loose and Annis was nearly knocked over by a large man, clearly a warrior of some kind based on the paint on his face and the gleam in his eye. Chaos reigned and confusion clouded her mind, and the only word that cut through was "run!" So, she did, surprised by the hand gripping hers but willing to ignore it so that she could escape the danger. As she realized the direction they were running, back into the thick trees, she felt a flash of annoyance. She had just come from there this morning! Why had she stopped in this village? 

"Come on, there's a clearing this way," she said, pointing a little further west. It was away from the road and surrounded by thickets of undergrowth. It would be a safe place to stop for a rest, and as hungry as she was, she couldn't run for very long. Soon enough, they came upon the clearing she had suggested and she bent over, panting to catch her breath. At length, she whirled on the man, suddenly realizing his state of undress with a bit of embarrassment. But her anger outweighed her embarrassment. "What the hell was that? Who are you?" 

@Knight

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They were in the clearing, and because Owyn had been running like a dog for the past few years, he had barely lost a breath. Instead, he just broke into an award-winning smirk as he went to take the lass's hands and raise them in a mutual celebration of victory.

"I'm the man who just burned a Roman supply depot, is who I am!" He cheered, just barely resisting the urge to dance about, as it might set certain parts of his anatomy to dangling. Instead, he turned away, dropping her hands, and looked about him. He knew where to go from here to find the agreed meeting point, as his orders to his warband were literally 'when it starts burning, run, and kill any Roman you meet'. Then, he turned back to her, still smirking. He was an idiot, but when it came to women, Owyn could judge at a glance. Young, desperate, beautiful. The excitement of the raid had faded, and now he was thinking of the night ahead.

"You're quick, for a stick. How about you join with my little bundle and we can make a mighty...bigger bundle?" He shrugged. "We have food."

@Echo

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Annis pulled out her water skin again and took a sip, about to grudgingly hold it out to him before he grasped her hands again and raised them, obviously still keen on celebrating. Annis was in a less jovial mood and she jerked her hands out, a little less than excited about the developments of the day. "Well done," she said, clipping her urge to respond with her real feelings. She held out the water skin, keeping her ears open for movements in the trees. Who knew whether the Romans would come this far to pursue the culprits? "You might as well have kicked an anthill. The Romans aren't going to take this lying down." 

She fixed him with a look at him calling her a stick. "I don't even know you," she said suspiciously. "And I work alone." But at the mention of food, her demeanor changed slightly. But before she could respond, the wind changed and carried the sound of Roman voices toward them. "Get down," she hissed, ducking to hide behind a bush. "Great. Just great." She was going to be blamed for this if they were caught. She was just an innocent bystander! 

@Knight

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Kicked an anthill! Good! Fuck those Romans! He was Owyn of the Brigantes, as fine a warrior as ever existed! Unfortunately, he was also 21 years of age, and that meant he felt he pissed fire and shat lightning - nothing could stop him. In combination, he was corded with muscle, and fit as a warhound. His first instinct wasn't to hide - no, no, that was smart. Best to run, best to move. But instincts could get you killed.

So he leaned down and dropped behind the bush. The voices were getting louder. Owyn glanced to the left, and spotted it - a fallen tree, propped against a stone. Just enough room for a big man and a young woman to lie side by side, hidden by the foliage, beneath the great oak.
Softly, Owyn placed his lips against the girl's ears.
"Come with me."  He whispered.
He took her hand, and gestured towards the felled oak. Gentle and easy, he moved them both towards it, and pushed away the branches with his arms. Mud creased in around him as he lay, chest down, in the shadow of the forest-father. He beckoned her in.

@Echo
 

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Posted (edited)

Annis did enjoy getting her revenge on the Romans, really she did. But she wasn’t as much of a firebrand as this bloke - more methodical, careful, she considered herself. She knew blowing up a Roman outpost was foolish and risky, unless you had the numbers to offset the risk. Maybe she ought to go with this man, at least for a while - any Roman who saw her would associate her with the screaming hordes who had blown up the town, even if she wasn’t involved. 

She hadn’t seen how many Romans there were, so the best first step was to hide. She crouched behind her bush, perfectly concealed, but the big man next to her would surely be spotted. He told her to follow him and again took her hand - what was with that?- but she followed despite her renewed annoyance and lay next to him, not disgusted by the mud because of her extended stay in the forest. In the quiet of the moment, she felt his large, muscular body pressed against hers and her heart fluttered. But she reminded herself to stay focused - they were in real danger. 

As the voices passed, she ventured a peek over the log before ducking down again, silent. “There are only three. Are you fit to fight? We can take them.” 

@Knight

Edited by Echo
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So they might well die, so what? Of all the ways to go, Owyn was entirely open to losing his lifeblood on the ground of his forefathers fighting their enemies. He'd fucked enough, won glory, and lived a decent life!
See? That's how stupid young men are at 21.

Three more? Good. A fight. He was naked, sure, but his blood was up and he was strong. Those fucking Romans had the advantage when it came to their iron walls of shield and armour, but man to man, Owyn was a monstrous presence (so he liked to think).
But first...

"Wait." He whispered, and in the dark, he looked her in the eye. He could die over the other side of that log, and he wasn't going to see the Morrigan without a beautiful woman's face in his mind's eyes. She was beautiful, young, and if they got out of this alive? Who knew? Then the grin sparked across his features, and he was over the log before he could think. Three, she was right. No armour, but Roman red tunics, spears and torches, with their shortswords at their hips. They were in a line, looking around, but Owyn had got lucky.

So, Owyn was good, but he wasn't 'kill three men unarmed' good.
His father's words began to hum in his head - 'Get a weapon, pup, that's the first step'.

So he slid over the log like fog over the surf, and took four silent steps and came up behind the last one. With a single motion, Owyn stole away the man's gladius and dug it into his back. That weakened his grip, and he wrenched the pilum away and hefted it in a smooth, elegant throw that took the second Roman in his chest as he turned.

Oh.

Now, he was fucked. The third had turned, had his pila levelled, and was charging him, and Owyn had no armour, no weapons. Hopefully the Morrigan had good eyes.

@Echo

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Annis had no plans to die today. She still had so much left to do, still had revenge to enact on the Romans for taking her father and scattering her village’s warriors before she was old enough to help. If this man wanted to die, that was fine - it would be his choice. But Annis didn’t plan on it. 

Shifting so that she could get to her pack, she was distracted by his words and met his eyes. They were startlingly clear, blue like the summer sky. She was taken aback by their intensity, so before she could say anything, the idiot was over the log and heading toward the Romans. “Wait,” she hissed in vain. “Idiot.” Barely daring to breathe, she looked over the log again and watched him. He almost seemed capable of taking all three on his own - but not quite. He lost his weapon after stabbing the second soldier and the third leveled a pila at him. 

Without thinking, she drew her sword, which had been resting in its sheath attached to her pack. Moving quicker than she knew she was capable of, she ducked under Owyn’s arm and the pila and drove her sword into the Roman’s chest before he could react. With an effort, she wrenched it out and, for good measure, swiped the sword across the man’s throat, bringing silence back to the forest with a final thump of his lifeless body on the floor.

Annis was silent a moment, then she gave a genuine laugh. “You,” she said through chuckles, “are an idiot. What were you thinking? I had two of these, I was going to give you one.” 

@Knight

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FUCK. YES.

Three more Romans dead, and his blood was up. All he wanted to do was kiss this lass, not only because she shined like the sun in winter, but because she had just saved his arse and she needed thanking! Fortunately, he instead just laughed right back at her, grinning from ear to ear once more.

"...You had two swords? Lugu curse me, I could've used that!" He could barely get the words out, he was just too busy laughing and trying to keep quiet. Still, work to do, and best to get it done. Owyn yanked off a tunic from the first he'd slain, and buckled on the man's swordbelt. He then heaved the corpses into the bushes, methodically and quickly - he'd done it more times than he could possibly count.

"Look, there's a meeting place about a league from here, I know the way." He whispered once the corpses had been hidden. "You can go your own way, you'll be fine, or you can join us and have a warm bed and companions. I'm Owyn, by the way, of the Brigantes." They had to move soon, but he hoped she would join. She was a talent with that sword, and soon enough she'd find her feet - and if those feet landed at the foot of his bed, so much the better.

@Echo

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Posted (edited)

Annis watched as the man lit up again, grinning despite herself. He had a sort of charm about him, she had to admit. Something contagious about his smile. Taking out a dirty rag from her pocket, she swiped it over the sword a few times. “Well, if you’d stopped and asked, I would’ve given it to you,” she said with a playfully mocking tone. “Do you always run headlong into battle? My father would’ve made mincemeat out of you.” At the mention of her father, someone she hadn’t talked about since he had died, she sobered up and clenched her jaw, turning away. 

Recovering her composure after a moment, though, she turned back as he spoke. It did sound tempting, and if he had as many warriors as it seemed he did, it might be good to stick around them. She got lonely during her long sojourns in the forest and there was safety in numbers. “Does your group fight like that often? By blowing things up, I mean.” He then introduced himself and after a moments hesitation, she smiled. “Annis.”

@Knight

Edited by Echo
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They fought the bloody Romans anyway they could! With fire, with spears, with axes, with javelins, swords, hounds, and landslides, road blocks, horse stampedes. Fight like wraiths in the night, like hounds snapping at the heels of their masters! Bite the hand that rips away your homeland! That was Owyn's view, and he fucking loved it. It felt like he was living again.

Oh, fuck, he had best be on the hoof. They'd be waiting for him soon.

"Your father may have, but these Romans don't think like us." He cackled, looking upwards to get his bearings - yep, he knew where he was. Two miles west, and round Ceratumnus's Hill, and he'd be there. Best to get moving. "Annis. Fuck me, you're beautiful. Come on, let's get moving. We usually do raids like that, but it's all about opportunity."

Owyn was moving as he spoke, heading directly west with a practised woodsman's air. He kept speaking as he moved, skipping upwards and through the woods as he did so - this country was their home, and he knew Annis would be just as accustomed.
"So, what's a lass like you doing round here? Me, see I'm a killing man in a land conquered by sandal-wearing boy fuckers. You, you look like you should be winning sword-wife competitions somewhere. You know how to fight!"

@Echo

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Annis had heard of the cells of Briton fighters who were rebelling against the Romans in a more organized fashion than she was. The analytical part of her mind saw the wisdom in having a group around you; not only were you safer that way, you also had the opportunity to do more damage to the Roman oppressors. But the prideful part of her didn't want to admit when she needed help.  "You do seem like a good warrior," she said with a grudging smile. Her expression turned to surprise, and a little pleasure with the compliment, but she didn't comment on it. "I guess I'll tag along." Make it seem like she was doing him a favor. 

She followed along easily, having stopped back by the log to grab her pack. "If I were a wife, perhaps," she laughed. "You're doing some good for our land, at least. I'm... trying. To do the same, I mean. I left my tribe a while back. I've been making my own way in the world."

@Knight

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Doing some good!? Er...Yes! Definitely that! That's what he told everyone! He yelled and boasted how the Britons deserved their land, and the Romans were vile invaders to be quashed and scourged and generally attacked. Truth was, though, Owyn just enjoyed it all. He was twenty one, he was born to fight, and the life he lived of drink, excitement, and violence meant more to him than any settled existence. Of course she was coming along, he noted, for she'd seen him naked and very few woman could see him naked and not follow on. Using the pila as an aid, he weaved quickly, occasionally glancing up.

"I suppose I am, yes. You'll fit right in. We love fighting, we drink, we try not to do any harm to fellow Britons..." And, because they were young and strong, they tended to revel and dance any chance they got. It was a life well lived. "You're young, but no one will touch you." and he glanced sideways at her, briefly. "Without your express and explicit permission."

He enjoyed the movement, and his voice was quiet enough that soon, the sounds of the Roman parties began to drift away.

@Echo

 

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There was a certain quality about fighting that Annis enjoyed as well - obviously, it made the blood rush through her ears and her heart beat faster than running or swimming. But it was also the principle of the matter, the fact that she was trying to do what so many Britons wanted to be able to do. She was proud of herself for standing up for her countrymen, trying to stem the flow of Roman oppression. Her own tribal lands had not been captured yet, though her family had been broken up by the battle led by Eppitacos. She liked to think her efforts had helped that. 

"Thank you," she conceded, "for letting me come." Nothing more. If she was offered food, she wouldn't eat as quickly as she wanted to. She couldn't show weakness, even to her own fellow Britons. "How long have you been with this group?" Could they be trusted? She decided she wouldn't sleep tonight, not until she got a good gauge on the people she was sleeping near. She chuckled a little at his innuendo. She was a little new to the world of love, but not unexperienced. 

As they walked, and as the sounds of the Romans faded, she found herself relaxing a little more. 

@Knight

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That settled it! Simple and effective, just how he liked it! Once she was of marrying age, he'd plough her into the ground, and continue raiding around Prydain until the fucking Romans put tail between legs and fled back across the seas!

See how stupid he was back then? Young men have minds full of nothing but fucking and fighting, and they're usually only any good at the second. Still, for all his idiocy, Owyn had that winning grin that he flashed back at Annis as they moved. 
"Oh, think nothing of it. We're all children of this land, and we're all one against the bloody Romans!" He declared, moving a set of elm branches aside with his spear and allowing the young girl past. His strong arm glistened with muscle, but the mud and blood had started to dry and he casually brushed a few flakes from his forearm. His short hair was drying, though the moisture had still left it plastered to his skull.

"Since the betrayal of our warleader, Eppitacos, Belatucadros save him." Owyn gave a low huff at that, but he still seemed cheerful. "We're three dozen strong, and they follow me for my blood is strong and hearty with the nobility of the Brigantes." He declared it proudly, for to be a nobleman was a great and proud thing, even if it didn't carry any brains with it.

@Echo

Edited by Knight
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