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Executor
2011-06-09, 05:31 PM
It had been a week since the Storm. A week since Centurion Marcus Andronicus of the 12th Legion had lost his way in the most otherworldly storm he had ever seen in his ten years with the Legions. They had been deep in Gaul, in the parts without roads, and where no map had ever been drawn. Deep in the savage lands of the most savage people on Earth. The 12th had covered a lot of ground that day, and Marcus' century was just making it into camp when the Storm hit. It had begun with a sudden sharp wind from the West, blowing hard and growing steadily, till the roar of it drowned out every word anyone spoke, even the shouts and screams of the terrified. The clouds seemed to charge back and forth across the sky like disciplined cavalry, the earth shook violently, lightning streaked through the gathering darkness, thunder roared like a thousand lions. Veteran Roman soldiers, men who had seen a thousand horrors, despaired and threw down their arms and shouted that it was the end of all things. And in the centre of all the chaos, Marcus looked to the skies, and he saw a figure, with a beard of the purest white, who seemed to be directing the storm. He saw Olympian Jupiter himself, and Jupiter looked down upon Marcus, and stretched his great arm towards him, and there was a crash of thunder, and Marcus saw no more.

That was a week ago.

When Marcus had awoken, he was in a small woody clearing, with eight other soldiers of his Legion, and two Cretan archers who had been auxilaries in Caesar's army. They now stood behind him as he looked up at the stout wooden gate of the village that many days marching along an unknown road had brought them too. The rain beat down hard on them, and the legionaries had wrapped their dark red military cloaks around themselves, both for warmth and to protect their mail armour from rusting. The Cretans, wearing only leather and wool, were less daunted by the rain, but carried their bows unstrung to preserve the strings. Across every man's shoulder was a forked staff, designed to carry their considerable burden of gear on the march, while their shields were slung across their backs. The ten men, even the otherwise indomitable Centurion Andronicus, looked very weary, very muddy, and very far from home.

"Where are we, sir?" asked Lucius, one of the legionaries, a towering man of great mirth, easily the largest of their little band. Marcus glanced over his shoulder at the huge legionary. Marcus himself was taller than normal for a Roman at ten inches past five feet, but at six and a half feet, Lucius was practically a giant.

"I don't know, Lucius. Not Roman territory, that's for sure" Marcus snapped back, the usually calm centurion's nerves having grown frayed around the edges over the last few days. There were a few grumblings amongst the men, the usual military discipline being unraveled by the stress of being lost, coupled with the centurion's testiness since the Storm. Marcus silenced the grumbling by raising his swagger stick, the twisted stick of vinewood that every centurion carried as a symbol of his authority. However, instead of striking one of the men with it, as many centurions would've, Marcus used it to knock on the gate three times. Within a few seconds, a slat opened and an old, weathered and not particularly attractive face of a man appeared in it.

"Why, you be a strange looking bunch, ain't you? Eleven of you eh? What business do you 'ave in the village o' Bree?" the man said. Though his accent was strange, somehow Marcus could understand the words, though something in his mind told him that this man did not speak Latin or any tongue Marcus knew. Still, he answered.

"I am a centurion of the 12th Legion of the Roman Army, sir. My men have been seperated from our legion, we are tired and hungry, and we are looking for an inn," Marcus replied, trying to sound confident, despite everything. The gatekeeper looked puzzled for a moment.

"Well, sir, I ain't ever heard of no 12th Legion, nor any Roman Army, nor any Rom' for that matter. But, if you 'ave the coin for it-" at this Marcus nodded, every man had a small purse of denarii and sesterces hanging from his belt "-then I suppose it won't do no hurt to let you in" the gatekeeper finished, an opened a small sally-port in the main gate, and stood aside to let pass into Bree.

"Hey Stelios, the gatekeeper, his face reminds me of your mother" one of the Cretan archer said to the other in his curious Greek accent, as soon as the gatekeeper had returned to the gatehouse.

"Funny Delios, I think he looks more like your wife" Stelios shot back, not missing a beat, as the small band of soldiers passed onto the muddy main street of Bree. The villagers looked at them with suspicious, wary eyes, never having seen anything that looked like the Roman soldiers. Marcus led them along the street that the old man had indicated, until he came to a brick building about two stories tall, with a central main building and two wings forming a courtyard in the front. Outside the door, there hung a sign, with a prancing horse, and words that read: "The Prancing Pony by Barliman Butterbur". Not caring who Barliman Butterbur was, or what his inn was called, Marcus opened the door and led his men in, grateful only to be out of the rain.

The barman greeted them by the door. He was aging, somewhat portly, with a wide, open face that looked perpetually ruddy from sampling his own brew, slightly hunched shoulders and a welcome smile.

"Good evening masters." The man said respectfully, reaching up to remove his hat, and then slapping his head as he realizes he isn't wearing one.

"Butterbur is my name. Barliman Butterbur. Not often we see soldiers in these parts. Why, last time it happened was my grandfathers time. Bad business that was, but needed to be done. Though I don't suppose you'd know about that, being outsiders... or travelers, I should say. You'd be from Gondor then? Or from Dale, though I don't suppose I know what would bring you so far West. Let me offer you a table by the window and a drink on the house, and I'll see if I can put you up for the night. Business is doing so well I don't know what to do with meself, but I daresay I can squeeze you in a room, as long as a few of you don't mind sleeping on the floor. I'll have Nob run you all baths. Nob! Nob! Get over here Nob, you wooly-footed slowcoach! Where is he.... Anyway, until then I'm sure we'll all appreciate your fine company."

Soon Marcus had filtered out the fat man's constant stream of words and observations, as he noticed a rugged, dark man eying him with more then passing interest. Despite the heat of the warm inn, the travel-stained man in the corner had a dark green cloak wrapped around him, and a hood over his face so that only the lower section of a pale face could be seen. The man placed the stem of some strange wooden implement in his mouth and puffed on it.

Quickly, the Centurion took a glance around the main room of the Prancing Pony. Unlike the taverns of Rome, this one was completely enclosed, except for the heavy glass windows. A hearty fire roared in a hearth at the end of the long room, and the many long wooden tables of the room were occupied by men of all sizes and shapes, most laughing and feasting and taking long drinks from heavy mugs. All seemed to be dressed strangely and, Marcus noted with a surpressed snicker, they all wore braccae like barbarians. 'I really shouldn't mock them', he thought 'We've all been wearing ours given this weather'

One of the men, by the name of Faustus Janarius, began to voice an objection to sleeping on the floor, but Marcus silenced that with the simple gesture of crossing his arms so that the tip of his swagger stick projected above his shoulder, and all of the men standing behind him could see it. Faustus fell silent, and Marcus smiled at Barliman as if nothing had happened.

"A room and a round of drinks would be excellent, thank you sir" Marcus said to the barman, who smiled widely and then led them up the stairs to the upper floor of the Prancing Pony. He had two rooms available, with four beds each, so a few of the legionaries would have to sleep on the floor, as Barliman had said. The rooms were simple but comfortable, sparsely furnished with beds, a small table and a pair of chairs, and some closets. Nob finally appeared shortly after the men began to unload their gear. He seemed to be some kind of. servant child. Marcus concluded that he must be Barliman's son, helping his father with his business. He also concluded that children in this land had exceptionally large and hairy feet. Whatever the case, Nob provided the Romans with basins and tubs of warm water, to their everlasting gratitude. As soon as the diminuitive Nob disappeared down the hall to another of Barliman's calls, Marcus turned to his men.

"Boys, you have twenty minutes to wash and shave. Undress uniform tonight, tunics and swords. Meet downstairs when you're all washed up, and we'll see what food Mr. Butterbur can provide us" He said. He was met with a happy chorus of "Yes sir" from the men, and then they disappeared into their rooms to spend a happy twenty washing off the dirt and grime of a week of muddy marching. With a bit of the soap Nob had provided, a bronze straight razor from his pack, and a lot of hot water, Marcus carefully scraped and shaved away seven days growth of brown beard from his face. He smiled at himself in the mirror and rubbed a hand on his newly smooth face, to make sure he hadn't missed any patches of hair. He looked like a proper Roman again. He put on the cleanest and driest dark red tunic he could find in his pack, and around the waist he buckled on his belt, his sword hanging on the left side of his body, in contrast to the regular legionaries who wore theirs on the right.

When Marcus came downstairs, he found that his men had already claimed a long wooden table, and were sitting with mugs of ale and plates heaped with roast pork and vegetables and warm, fresh bread. One of the servers laid out a similar plate for Marcus as he sat down at the head of the table, and the Centurion dug into the food with the voraciousness of a man who had eaten nothing but hardtack and cold meat for the last seven days. Some of the vegetables were strange and unknown to him, but he shoveled them into his mouth anyways, too hungry to care about what they were. All of it was delicious, and the ale especially so. Normally, Marcus did not drink beers or ales, like most Romans he considered them vulgar, but considering the circumstances, he was willing to overlook that, and he took long, hearty gulps of it.

They ate in silence, with the large mouthfuls of soldiers who had gone hungry for many days. The only noise were the small "mmm"s and the sound of sucking on greasy fingers. Finally, Lucius spoke up, after swallowing his last mouthful of pork and bread.

"That man in the hooded cloak over there, he's been staring at us this whole time" Lucius said, and pointed towards a distant corner of the mainroom. Marcus twisted and looked over his shoulder. Sure enough, there was the man, wrapped in that dark green cloak even more travel-stained than Marcus' own. Now that he could get a proper look at him, Marcus noticed that the man was lean and very tall, with long legs resting on a stool in front of him, shaggy dark hair with grey flecks and, from what Marcus could see through the shadows of the man's hood, a stern face. He looked like a grim fighting man, which made his wearing of effeminate trousers make Marcus snicker a little. He snickered a little bit more, but suppressed it as an over odder habit of the man suddenly caught his attention. In his mouth, the man was holding something, that strange wooden implement from before: A long wooden stem with a small bowl at the end of it, which seemed to be... smoking. Then the man removed the stem from his mouth and blew out a long stream of smoke, and then put the stem back in his mouth again. The centurion arched an eyebrow at this, and then stood up from his stool.

"I'll see what he wants" Marcus said to his men, who did not reply, still preoccupied by the food in front of them. He walked across the dark, smoky room, beside the intense heat of the roaring fire, and came to stand before the cloaked man, while resting a hand on the round pommel of his sword.

"Excuse me sir, but one of my men noticed that you are staring at us. Can I ask why?" Marcus asked.

The man took the strange wooden thing out of his mouth and lowered his legs from the stool to stare frankly at the Centurion. Marcus found his estimation of him growing in the silence, he was clearly a careful man, who was likewise assessing the Roman even as Marcus assessed him.

"Forgive me." He says softly after a moment. His voice is slow and quiet, the sort of voice one develops when used to being listened to and obeyed. Most officers shout and bluster, even Marcus at times, but emperors learn the value of silence.

"But you are a mystery. In this part of the world, any fighting men are a rare sight, and you especially so. I recognize neither your armaments, nor your uniforms." He said, then raised his hand to signal for a drink.

"And mysteries can take you to strange places, even to your death." he added softly as Nob placed a mug of ale on the table before the man.

"Mysteries get you killed? Then let our mystery be revealed: We are soldiers of Rome, and we have lost our Legion. I am Centurion Marcus Andronicus" Marcus said, raising his chin with pride in his rank and his position in the Legions. The man sitting before him crossed one long leg over the other and took a long puff on his pipe, regarding Marcus with deep grey eyes.

"I have never heard of such a place as 'Rome', but I can perceive many things, Marcus, and I perceive that there is no malevolence in you. Ambition, perhaps, and cunning, and a certain sternness, but there is no evil in you, Marcus of Rome" The man said, before looking past Marcus, and furrowing his brows. The Centurion looked over his shoulder to see a man sitting in a shadowed corner of the tavern's main room. He was a strange one, with a sallow, ape-like face, slanting eyes, and long, hairy arms. He looked like one of the Carthaginians that his father had told him about as a child.

"In that one, however, there is mischief and malice. He may try to harm you if he can, not because you have done anything to him, but merely because he loves mischief. Many travellers meet at the Prancing Pony, from many parts of this broad world. In any case, you have given me your name, it is only polite that I give you mine. In this part of the world, they call me Strider." The man said, before taking another sip of his ale.

"I thank you, Strider, for the warning regarding him. If you excuse me, I must get back to my men" Marcus said, jerking his head back to indicate that he would return to his table. Strider nodded, and raised his pipe to his mouth once more. Quickly moving across the common room, Marcus resumed his seat next to Lucius.

"Gives me the shivers, that man over yonder" the burly Legionary said, gesturing the sallow-faced man as Marcus sat back down and took a swig from his mug.

"What was the smoking one's problem, sir? Does he have a name even?" asked Amulius, the eldest of their little band.

"No problem at all, Amulius. And his name is Strider" answered the Centurion, stroking his chin as he sat in thought.

Marcus stroked his shaven face as he sat, mulling over recent events within his head. The Centurion may have risen up from the ranks, but he was not uneducated as many of the legionaries were in Caesar's army. To be a centurion at all, he had to know his letters. Though he was not as educated as Aurelianus, the lone patrician of their little band, Marcus was no dumb brute. But somehow, he could not get the image of Jupiter from the Storm out of his mind's eye. That image had been haunting his dreams for a week now, and with the image were words, words that Jupiter himself spoke to Marcus in his dreams. As he thought, he muttered the words lowly to himself, for they burned within his mind for a reason he could not tell.

"Seek for the Sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur's Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand."

"What's that sir?" said Aurelianus, always a keen ear for poetry, as he set down his mug of ale.

"Nothing, just gibberish from a dream" Marcus replied wearily, running a hand through brown hair cut short in Caesar's style.

"Perhaps not, they say that dreams are messages from the Gods" said Delios.

"So the Gods are telling me to make love to your sister?" quipped Stelios with a cheeky grin, soon punished by his Cretan comrade punching him in the arm, and a small scuffle broke out between the two archers. For the first time in what seemed like a long time, Marcus laughed, an honest, hearty, true laugh, and the whole table soon joined in.

"Watching those two Greek idiots beat on each other is fine and all" Aurelianus said, his refined accent clear from the lower class speech of the rest, as the laughter, and the scuffle, died down and the soldiers returned to their food and ale. "But what's our next move, sir? I consider myself an educated and traveled man and I haven't the foggiest clue where we are, sir"

"Hmm, Barliman!" called out Marcus after a pause, looking over his shoulder for the fat innkeeper.

"Barliman!" The Centurion called out again as the innkeeper did not immediately appear. With a speed belied by his girth, Butterbur appeared from the kitchen at the back of the main room, wiping his hands on his apron and then wiping the sweat from his balding brow.

"Yes Master Marcus, what can I be doing for you and your fine band? More ale? More food perhaps? Bob is just pulling out some fresh loaves, and we have plenty of cheeses, meats and vegetables, even some dried fruit. Or if you're looking for some dessert-" Barliman said in rapid-fire, but soon was stopped by Marcus raising a hand.

"No, just a map is all I want, if you have it" said the Centurion.

"Oh of course, Master Marcus, we always keep a couple maps lying around for the wayward travellers that show up here in Bree. Why, just the other day I was talking to a company of dwarves-" said Barliman, who was about to launch into yet another anecdote when Marcus raised his hand again.

"Just the map, thank you" he said with a smile. With a bow, Barliman Butterbur rushed off to retrieve the maps.

"Sure is a lot of children in these parts" Stelios remarked as he watched the great number of short people, with curly hair and large feet, coming in and out of the tavern.

"Or midgets" Delios added, before taking another swig from his mug.

Soon, a large parchment map was brought to their little table, and plates and mugs were cleared away for Marcus to spread it out on the table. To his left sat Aurelianus Appius, most educated of all of them, and to his right sat Gnaeus Horatius, who had been in the Legions for longer than anyone cared to remember and had seen more of the world than the whole rest of them. And all of them were befuddled, for the lines and names upon the map before them seemed to match nothing they knew of the world. The ocean was on the western side of the land, that was the same as what they knew, but other than that, the land they saw before them on the map was utterly alien. A dot in red ink marked their location, the village of Bree, in the centre of a region called Breeland, itself a part of a larger region known as Eregion, bordered by mountains to the east and the ocean to the west. The whole map, along the top, was labelled 'The Known Lands of Middle-Earth'. The Romans sat dumbfounded, trying to make sense of the map they were shown, no man speaking a word, while in the rest of the common room, one of the short people had sprung up upon a table and launched into a merry song, something about an inn and beer and a man in the moon.

"Sir, I have seen many great maps and charts on my visits to Alexandria... This map does not correspond to anything I have ever seen or known" spoke Aurelianus at last, rubbing his brow with a finger and a thumb as he often did when stressed. The short man on the table had begun to clap to go along with his song, and soon the whole rest of the inn was clapping along in time.

"Perhaps we have crossed the Outer Seas themselves to a new world entirely" Sergius Pinarius said softly. The quiet philosopher did not speak often, preferring to think deeply and say little, but was always listened to, as a rule, when he did. The song grew in volume and raucousness, as the short man began to jump up and down upon the table in his dancing.

"I don't know, men, I don't have the answers. We must find some kind of-GODS' BLOOD!" Marcus swore, his eyes wide and wild. The short little man, taller than most of his comrades, with bright eyes and a little cleft in his chin, had falled off the table upon which he had been dancing, and upon hitting the floor, he had disappeared into thin air, as if he had never been there at all. The whole room was quiet for a moment, and then uproar erupted. Cries of confusion and anger filled the air, questions and accusations flying around. Amidst all the confusion, Marcus caught a glimpse of Strider slipping away and up the stairs to the second level of the inn.

"Perhaps we are all a little tired, I think it's time we get some rest" Marcus said, and he rolled up the map neatly. Finishing their drinks, the Romans stood up from their table and, thanking Barliman very sincerely for the wonderful meal, passed up the stairs and to their rooms.

So, once upon a time, I played an RP here in the Playground, where players took characters from other fictional universes and inserted them into Middle Earth at the time of the war of the Ring. I have decided to make a full fanfiction out of my part in that particular RP: The part of a small band of Roman soldiers inexplicably stranded in Middle Earth.

You already read what I have so far, so what do you think of it? And I'm also looking for some advice: What part should Marcus and his Romans play in the War of the Ring? Should I introduce more Roman characters later on in the story? I'd like to have them interact with the Fellowship, but another "Other people join Fellowship" story would be boring, so I would like to them to have their own quest/mission/task to do in the War of the Ring, while still be involved in the main action of the War's southern theatre (The fighting in Rohan and Gondor)

What do you guys want to see Roman soldiers doing in Middle Earth? That's essentially my question. Also, how is my writing? What sorts of impressions do you get about the characters from this brief excerpt?

super dark33
2011-06-10, 04:30 AM
You should spoiler that, that eats almost half a page.

Morph Bark
2011-06-11, 08:11 PM
And here I thought this would involve Aragorn becoming a Roman Emperor and the other LotR characters doing stuff in Rome, rather than Romans in Middle Earth. :smalltongue:

Executor
2011-06-11, 11:24 PM
And here I thought this would involve Aragorn becoming a Roman Emperor and the other LotR characters doing stuff in Rome, rather than Romans in Middle Earth. :smalltongue:

Ah, that is a good idea as well, but I think I shall continue on with the one I am already writing. Sorry to disappoint(?)

Saeyan
2011-06-12, 09:07 AM
LOTR fic! If done properly, real people in Middle-earth fic can be very enjoyable.

What do I want to see Romans doing in Middle-earth?
Adapting to their new environment. After that, well, I have no idea.

Characters

Marcus seems like a no-nonsense sort of guy.
I get the feeling that the two Cretans are going to be turned into the Weasley twins.


Your writing
I think you've woven in explanations of Roman terms and customs very well (though I did have to look 'braccae' up) - none of the usual infodumping here.

I would have preferred some sentences tightened up. There were a few grammatical oversights (inconsistent tenses mostly), and many punctuation errors. Luckily, there is a simple and effective remedy for these problems: a beta reader!

(I used to beta for a few people, but I'm a bit busy lately, so I can't help you here)

Executor
2011-06-12, 12:36 PM
Another short excerpt for you guys, but an important one.


For a long time, all was silence in the room of Centurion Andronicus and his comrades as he lay upon the floor and stared up at the wooden ceiling. His men had tried to save one of the beds for him, but Marcus would not take it. 'No centurion should be more comfortable than his milites' he told them. Now, horever, with Gnaeus Horatius sound asleep on the bed that was going to be his, Marcus began to regret that decision. For hours it seemed, he tossed and turned and tried to sleep, but found that he couldn't. There was a restlessness in him, something gnawing on his mind, preventing him from slipping off into sleep. And always when he closed his eyes, he saw the face of Jupiter reciting that gibberish poem again. It was clear that the Gods would allow him no sleep tonight.

Throwing off his woolen blankets, Marcus sat up and, with a sigh, pulled on his heavy military sandals. Then he stood up and put on his belt and sword and, collecting his cloak from where it hung on the peg by the door, he left the room. Securing his cloak around his shoulders and pulling up the hood, Marcus went down the stairs and passed through the common room and left the building.

Outside, the rain had stopped, and the night air was cool and fresh and cleared Marcus' mind immediately as he breathed in deeply. He looked up to see that the stars and Moon were bright tonight, but he soon frowned for he also saw that the stars in this country were strange and alien to him. 'Great Gods, where did you send me?' Marcus thought to himself as he turned left from the door of the Prancing Pony and began to walk down the street. As he walked, he hummed old marching tunes to himself, and soon he felt his spirits lifting as he walked. Many things troubled the Centurion's mind, but for now there was no worry, there was the Moon and the stars and the fresh night air.

Marcus' humming soon died though as he came to a crossroads and, looking down the righthand road, he saw that the road was cloaked in a darkness so heavy it seemed as if a black stormcloud was sitting there upon the ground. A cold sweat arose on the back of his neck, and he felt all the hairs on his body bristling as he looked into the blackness. Looking to his left, Marcus saw that a large building, perhaps some kind of merchant's store, had torches hanging on sconces near the door, underneath an overhang to protect them from the rain. Collecting one of the torches and holding it high, with his free hand on the hilt of his sword, Marcus slowly began to walk into the darkness. He did not know what drew him down that way, but as the dark cloud enveloped him, he felt a growing fear inside him, as if some cold and clammy hand was reaching out to squeeze his heart, and the fear soon turned to despair. Who was he to challenge this all-encompassing darkness? Even the light of his meagre burning brand seemed dimmed within the darkness.

Then, within the very centre of the black fog, Marcus saw something. A shape, of a person perhaps, laying in the centre of the road, and stooped above the person, like a pair of the foulest carrion-birds, were what appeared to be two men, hooded and cloaked in all black, and a great terror seemed to be about them. The despair within Marcus turned to terror, and as one of the black-cloaked men turned to stare at the Roman, he sunk to his knees and let the torch fall to the ground and covered his face with his hands. A thin, high, strange laugh was heard from the black-cloaked men... No, not men, Marcus realized, but some kind of creature, for the laugh that came from them could not belong to any man.

"They laugh at you" said a voice that Marcus did not recognize. It was similar, yet so unlike, the voice of Jupiter that spoke in his dreams.

"What son of mine would let a foe laugh at him like this? You are a Roman, you are a son of Mars! Arise, son of Mars!" the voice said forcefully.

Now Marcus uncovered his face, and saw the two creatures sniffing about the person who laid passed out upon the road. He looked down and saw the dim, flickering flame of his torch was still alive. As he seized it, it flared into bright new life, and Marcus sprang to his feet and swept out his sword, which glittered bright and deadly in the torchlight, and he charged down the street towards the creatures, brandishing both the sword and the torch as he did.

"ROMA! ROMA INVICTA!" he cried, and the beasts seem to recoil from the warcries. They screamed back at him, high-pitched, thin, wailing screams which sent daggers of fear stabbing into his heart. But before he was upon them, they rose and turned and, with great speed, fled away, and the cloud of darkness disappated as they left, and the fear left him as the beasts fled.

Sheathing his sword, Marcus knelt down by the fallen person, and saw that it was one of those little people with the large feet from earlier, with a cloak of green, and curly hair. Rolling him over, Marcus saw that he was still breathing, merely knocked out. Casting down the torch, the Centurion collected the little man in his arms, with more difficulty than he expected for the little one was plump and fat for his size, and he turned and ran back towards the Prancing Pony.

_______________________________________

"Barliman! Barliman bring warm water!" Marcus shouted as he kicked in the door and entered the common room with the little one in his arms. Instantly all the revelry ceased as a silence fell over the room while Marcus deposited the little man on a clear table. Murmurs ran through the crowd as the Centurion, with an experienced eye and hand, began to check over the little fellow for injuries. He saw no cuts nor punctures and felt no broken bones, but the little one's skin was pale and cold to the touch, and there was a cold sweat upon his brow.

"Why, that is one of Mr. Underhill's party!" Barliman cried, his face pale, as he came up behind Marcus with a bucket of warm water. Seizing a rag from Nob, Marcus dipped it in the warm water, then wrung it out and gently pressed it to the little one's forehead. At the touch of the warm rag, the little one stirred, his eyes almost immediated opened and looked up to meet Marcus' gaze.

"Frodo?" he said weakly. "Where is Frodo?" he continued more forcefully, attempting to sit up, while the Centurion pushed him back down with ease.

"You must rest, you were attacked out in the street" Marcus said, but the short fellow would not listen.

"I must tell Frodo!" he said, and he bolted up and, with a surprising haste, ran out of the common room down the hallway to one of the wings of the building. Dropping the rag and leaving a shocked Barliman Butterbur behind, Marcus pursued the little man, down the hallway, till he came to the open door near the end of the wing, one of the many rooms of the inn, and he heard the little man's voice within.

"Frodo! I have seen them! I have seen them, Frodo! Black Riders!" he said. Turning to the right, Marcus came to stand in the doorway, and he saw that the whole room seemed smaller, to be in proportion to its smaller occupants. Four of them there were, one was the one he rescued earlier, and there was a second that resembled the one from the street, and a fat one that stared hard at him with suspicious eyes, and the last of all there was the one that was being called 'Frodo'. Taller than the rest of his comrades, with a cleft in his chin. Then Marcus recognized the last one as the strange little man who had been singing and disappeared.

"Black Riders?" Marcus repeated slowly. At that moment, a man stepped into view from the shadows in the corner of the room. It was a familiar, pale, grim face. It was Strider.

"Marcus, what are you doing here?" Strider asked sternly.

"I could ask you the same thing, Strider" Marcus replied.

Omeganaut
2011-06-12, 08:44 PM
I like it, although you are stretching the canon somewhat there. I like your writing style and wish you luck on your endeavors. I heartily await your next installment!

Oh, and I like your avatar!

Executor
2011-06-15, 11:18 PM
And the adventure continues.




"You involve yourself in matters far too great for you, Master Marcus" Strider said softly, and it was like an authority had been revealed in him such that Marcus had not seen before. He no longer seemed tattered and travel stained but tall and stern as a king. Such severitas Marcus had not seen in any man other than Caesar himself. 'Where did that thought come from' he suddenly wondered. 'Caesar is a descendant of Venus and a proconsul of Rome. This man is some mere forest tramp. Caesar was a conqueror, a lord amongst men, with the blood of Gods in his veins. 'No matter what his bearing' Marcus thought 'I will not be cowed by this Strider'.

"When I see innocent..." the Centurion paused for a moment as he grasped to remember a certain word from his dream that seemed to fit the short little men "halflings attacked in the streets by demons out of the Underworld, it becomes a matter for me, Strider" Marcus' dark eyes seemed to glint in the firelight as he stared at Strider hard.

"Yes, yes, Frodo, this man! He saved me out there! He drove the Riders off, perhaps he can help us?" said the halfling that had been attacked out in the street.

"Wait a tick" said the fattest of the lot "Halfling? Begging your pardon, sir, but we're hobbits, and not half of anything!" he said with an indignant huff.

"Easy Sam, perhaps Merry is right. What is your name, sir?" said the tallest of the lot.

"Marcus Andronicus, Front-Spear Centurion, 2nd Cohort, 12th Legion of the Roman Army, master?" Marcus replied tersely.

"Underhill, you may call me Underhill" the hobbit answered.

"This errand is far too great for you, Marcus. It is far too great for the whole 12th Legion. Their hope lays only with me, only Strider can take them by the secret ways through the wilderness to safety" Strider said, his tone even but sure and stern.

Marcus slowly stepped into the room where they stood, the ceiling barely high enough for him. The whole room, all the furniture and beds and everything, seemed made in proportion to the hobbits. He walked across the room, taking slow, deliberate steps, his hobnailed caligae stomping on the wooden floorboards of the room. All eyes were upon him, Strider's keen, piercing greys and the wide, innocent eyes of the hobbits. He came to stand by the fire, where once the merry little blaze that had been crackling now seemed dimmed and dull, perhaps by the memory of the black demons in the road. Marcus closed his eyes and was silent for a long time, breathing in deeply and exhaling slowly. Again, he saw the noble face of Olympian Jupiter with his beard of white, again he heard the words in his mind.

"The Gods have been sending me visions in my dreams" he said at last, slowly and carefully.

"A vision of the face of Jupiter, the King of the Gods of Rome, and he speaks words to me, a riddle I cannot answer. Perhaps, in this strange land, you strangers will know of what Jupiter speaks

Seek for the Sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur's Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand.

The words echo and burn in my mind. I see little men before me that can be described as, and my apologies Master Hobbit, halflings, but the rest of it is an enigma to me" said Marcus, resting one arm upon the mantel and setting a hand upon the hilt of his gladius. He looked towards Strider, and saw a shocked and confused face.

"Of this Jupiter I have heard not, for our God is Iluvatar, and He shall suffer no other, even the Valar are merely his servants, perhaps your Jupiter is one of them. Regardless, perhaps I have the answer to your riddle, Marcus. The halfling does indeed stand forth before you, Imladris is the valley of Rivendell, where I shall take these hobbits as fast as their feet shall carry them, and behold, the Sword that was Broken!" Strider said, and he cast back his cloak, and it was like he grew in stature and authority once more, and he set a hand upon the sword hilt at his side and with one smooth movement swept it out. And Marcus saw that the blade was not unlike the long swords preferred by the Gauls, but far finer in make, yet indeed the sword was broken off, a foot beneath the hilt. Despite that, the edges were hard and keen, it must have been a mighty weapon indeed before its breaking, and it caught the light of the fire and glimmered like a burning brand as Strider held it aloft.

"I am Aragorn son of Arathorn of the house of Valandil Isildur's son, Elendil's heir, and if by my life or death, I can protect these hobbits, I shall, even if you come against me with your whole legion, Marcus Andronicus" Aragorn said, and there was an inner fire burning in his eyes. For a long, tense second, all was silence, and then Marcus chuckled, a chuckle which became a laugh, to the puzzlement of all around him.

"You folk do go in for the theatrics in this strange land, that is for sure. For a moment it seemed as if I was within one of the great epics of Troy. No Aragorn, Arathorn's son, I have not come to hinder your task. Indeed, I believe the Gods sent me here to help, and my men as well. For I see the Sword that was broken, and I see the halfling that forth shall stand, and you have told me of Imladris. Praytell, what is Isildur's Bane?" Marcus asked as Aragorn relaxed and sheathed his broken sword.

"Do not speak of it here! The black riders are close!" said Aragorn suddenly and harshly. Immediately, Marcus made a mental note to ask later. The curiosity of a Roman was not something to be easily deflected.

"You say you have been sent here to help, Marcus Andronicus, yet I am certain that all you desire is knowledge, knowledge of the way back to your home, in whatever distant land that may be" Aragorn continued.

"It is said that the lost man misses his home the most" Marcus replied.

"In Rivendell, there dwells the great elf-lord Elrond, and he is mighty in counsel and lore. If any might know how to find your home again, Marcus, he does" Aragorn said.

"Then it is to Rivendell that my path shall lead" Marcus answered.

Ender Wigin
2011-06-17, 07:10 PM
Hmm... Its good that you're having the Romans interact with the main charactors, (and I would love it if they met Gandalf,) but try not to alter the actual trilogy too much. "Behind the scenes" sort of actions would be good, so try to find things in the Lord of the Rings books that are only slightly mentioned, only explained enough to avoid plot holes. (Which you will never find in that series. EVER.) Just find a place where the Romans could squeeze into and let them run wild. You should also make them participate in the war of Helms Deep after Rivendell. (With a few stops at some villiges Saruman is terrorizing.)
Other than that, AWESOME!!! I love the story and I hope you will make more of these soon!

Cracklord
2011-06-27, 01:46 AM
So, I read over your story. You're doing a good job adapting our fairly open RP into something coherent and legible, and I always felt it a shame we never followed the story any further. (I have two regrets in that regard. The Lord of The Rings Game, and The Kingdom Hearts Game. So many stories untold...)
I don't need to complement your prose, or give you advice on your writing, as you are quite able to handle both things. So here is my advice:
You need to add an antagonist. Unless them being there actually increases the odds against the fellowship, there is absolutely no point to the story. Because The Good Guys could win without them. It stands to reason they could win with them.
Good luck. As usual, if you need advice about Tolkien, I'm happy to advise. Keep writing, and good luck at Boot Camp.

Executor
2011-06-29, 05:21 PM
And on with the show.


When Aragorn was finished explaining the route to Rivendell to Centurion Andronicus, he sketched out a map for him upon a slip of parchment, outlining the way along the Great East Road to the Fords of Bruinen and thence to the valley of Rivendell and the house of Elrond. Taking his leave of the hobbits and the Ranger, Marcus returned to hold counsel with his men. Rousing them from their sleep, they assembled in Marcus' room, some standing, others sitting on the bed and floor in a crowded circle in the small room. Leaving out no detail, Marcus told them of all the events of the night: of his encounter on the road with the demons in black, of Strider's true name, of the hobbits, of Imladris, the Sword that was Broken, and Isildur's Bane. Last of all he told them of his visions from Jupiter, and the riddle that the God kept repeating to him. Many times he had to pause in his account to answer questions, and Aurelianus in particular kept pushing him for more details about the Black Riders, though the fresh memory was still evil for Marcus and he would speak little of it. The only think he would not speak of was the voice of Mars in his ear, something within him told him to keep that fact to himself. When the account was finished, a silence hung over the room. It felt as if they had left the world of mortality and reason and entered a land more akin to Gods than men.

"I wish that my brother Quintus were with us for he is an augur and surely he could interpret the will of Jupiter in this matter" said old Faustus Janarius, running a hand along the stubble on his head.

"What is Isildur's Bane?" asked Cassianus Amatius with a flicker in his dark, cunning eyes.

"I don't know..." Marcus said softly "Aragorn would not speak of it, I think he feared it"

"Did he not say he is an heir of Isildur?" replied Aurelianus.

"Yes, yes he did. The Bane must then be whatever brought doom upon his house. Sir, you said he spoke with great pride when he revealed his name and the broken blade to you, he spoke like a patrician bragging of his ancestor's deeds. Though he speaks fairly, we all saw how he looked in down in the common room, and he looks rough and uncouth. I think that hard times have fallen upon the Isildurii" said Lucius as he prodded the dying coals of their fire with a poker.

"Why, that is unusually insightful of you Lucius!" Aurelianus said.

"Lucius Pullonius is not just another pretty face" the giant laughed.

"And not much of a pretty face either" Delios added, and a chuckle ran through the room.

"Whatever it is, it seems like it could be valuable... to the right persons" Cassianus pressed, a strange light coming into his eyes.

"If those persons are the black demons from the road or any like them, then they are NOT the right persons" Marcus cut him off with a stern glance, and for a moment there was silence in the room, and the broad-shouldered Centurion and slight-built Legionary each had a hard look at the other, until finally Cassianus broke his gaze and looked at the floor with a sudden look of something like shame on his face, though none in the room had ever known the scoundrel Cassianus Amatius to feel shame before.

"Regardless of what the Bane is, what I want to know is: Why go to this Rivendell? Here there is food, there is drink, and more importantly: There are many saucy wenches with fat bosoms and plump thighs. What more could we want? I say we stay here." said handsome Livius Didius.

"Don't you ever think of anything more than women, Didius?" Aurelianus asked in exasperation.

"What more is there?" Livius answered.

"It's not his fault, Aurelianus, the Gods just put his brain in one head and not the other" said Stelios as he ran a whetstone along the inner curve of his kopis; the heavy-bladed chopping sword that both he and Delios carried rather than the straight short swords of the legionaries.

"Livius brings up a good point: Things are good here in Bree, the people are friendly, and since it sits upon a crossroads, why not wait until we hear a trade caravan with knowledge of the way home?" spoke grizzled Gnaeus Horatius, while he scratched at an ugly scar along his cheek given to him by a Gallic spear.

"You saw the map with your own eyes, Gnaeus, as did I, and I do not think this is our Earth at all. It is too... too different from everything I know, and I am not an unlearned man" Aurelianus replied, rubbing his brow.

"The Centurion's dream, this Strider character, these hobbits. I think it is all a sign from the Gods" said Faustus.

"You think your morning piss being yellow is a sign from the Gods, Janarius" Cassianus laughed, but there was no amusement on the older soldier's face.

"Don't blaspheme" he said with narrowed eyes.

"Whether the Gods guide us or not, this fact remains: I am the Centurion and you are my soldiers, so the decision is mine" Marcus spoke at last, and he closed his eyes and crossed his arms as he sat in thought.

Again silence took the room, except for the muffled sounds of revelry in the common room below and the crackling of the embers in their hearth.

"What is your decision Centurion?" Lucius said finally.

"We march at dawn. All of you, to bed now. Dismissed." Centurion Andronicus answered, opening his eyes and standing up. The rest of his band all stood and, as one, they saluted in the Roman fashion: Clasped fist against the chest, and then extending the arm straight out in front of them, with palm down. Marcus returned the salute and then, without a word, he and his men returned to their beds.

Sleep took him quickly, and whether by his own will or theirs, there would be no dreams from the Gods tonight.

As for antagonists: Yes, the odds against the Free Peoples will be increased, in part because of the presence of the Romans. I haven't quite got to the point of revealing that yet.