Chapter 1: March on Roma

270 BC

The Roman Republic has pushed back the Etruscan League and are now on the cusp of victory. Only two generals stand between Etruria and Roman assimilation.

Tiberius Aelius Iullus and Tiberius Liburnius Bassus prepare for war. The Romans, with their legions and arrogant consuls, have attacked both Velathri and Arminium with ruthless efficiency, but have been repelled by the valiant efforts of the Etruscan military. Now with Rome recovering, the two generals replenish and increase the size of their armies. In the capitol of the League, chaos ensues.

"We must negotiate with Rome, her power is unlimited, we cannot win this war!" one magistrate yells. "You coward, where is your honor, we have defeated Rome once, we can defeat her again!" says another. Amidst all the shouting and cursing sat one man, calmly observing and figuring out a solution for their problem. The man's name is Publius Aurelius Trianius, leader of the most powerful political party in Etruria, and king of all Etruscans. Publius rose from his seat and one of the Etruscorum custodes, who noticed, shouted "SILENCE, the king will speak." Everyone in the council chambers instantly quieted and turned their attention to their king."I hear you concerns, but we have tried diplomacy with the vile and treacherous Romans, and they have rejected our diplomats with utmost hatred." The magistrate paled in fear and started to slightly shake."And we have won several heroic victories over those arrogant twats, but do not forget, they have allies, albeit few, but powerful allies all the same, we must not let our victories cloud our minds with invincibility, like the Romans." Many of the council members shook their heads in agreement." Our military might not be on par with the Hellenes and their hoplites, or the Gauls and their fierce warriors from the north, but we have done something that no other nation has done before, we have handed Rome multiple defeats, and if we can defeat Rome in open battle, we can win!" Everyone in the chamber yells with patriotic pride for their nation, for they know in their hearts that with Publius as king, they can win.

Aelius and his trusted advisors were looking over maps and formulating plans to end the war with Rome as quickly as possible. He turned to his recruiter."Octavius, how long until both armies are at full strength?" "We have recruited over 460 men general, which will take about a year to train and make the necessary equipment for them" said Octavius. Aelius growled in frustration, they did not have a year, the Romans are on their borders and will most likely attack any month now. Suddenly a messenger runs panting into the command tent."General, I have news from our spies in Rome." He hands the general the scroll and runs out to deliver other important messages. Aelius reads and re-reads the message, it seems that Rome considers the conquest of the rest of Italia unimportant and moves her legions to fight Carthage, and they make for the capitol of the trading empire itself, Carthago. This provided the perfect opportunity to expand their borders and deal with the Roman threat at the same time."This is splendid news, send a messenger to Bassus to prepare to mobilize and march on Rome the following year." One of the advisors salutes and runs out of the tent to find a messenger."Send word to the men, we march on Roma in one year's time."All the staff and advisors rush about, preparing for the battle to come, organizing paperwork and setting up supply lines. 'This is the opportunity we have been waiting for, thank the gods, we can deal a devastating blow to those arrogant swine who overthrew our rule and slaughtered our people, Rome will regret this' thought Aelius.

The column marched past with haste, the sound of marching feet could be heard throughout the Roman countryside, many citizens flee towards Roma, hoping the city walls and the garrison will protect them, others welcome the Etruscans, giving them a portion of their harvest and drink, wishing them good fortune in the battle ahead. Aelius, along with some of his personal bodyguards, watched the moving column with pride, for these men have been through thick and thin with him and their courage never wavered. He heard the familiar pounding of hooves on dirt and looked over to see one of his battalion commanders."General, I have news regarding the strength of our force." Aelius nodded for him to continue."Some local people from the countryside support our cause and wish to join our ranks as skirmishers and scouts." "Tell them that they are welcome to join our ranks, and that their loyalty to our noble cause will be rewarded." The commander nodded and returned to his battalion, sending a messenger to the skirmishers. A messenger arrives on horse and hands him a scroll."General Bassus updates you on his progress." The messenger rides off leaving Aelius to read the scroll, it would seem that Bassus is on his way to Rome as well, wishing to help in the siege and capture of the city and nearby town of Neapolis, known for producing the finest olives and olive oil on the Italian Peninsula. 'We need all the help we can get' thought Aelius, for Roma will be no easy conquest, for his ancestors have tried to take the Roman capitol and failed with much larger armies. He hoped that the overwhelming numbers of both armies and the skill of his soldiers would win the siege. Suddenly he heard shouting and the pounding of feet moving into battle formation, and from the surrounding countryside burst hundreds of Roman soldiers, charging at their battle line, a fierce battle cry arose from the charging men."Proelium!" shouted one of the battalion commanders, as the men braced for the impact of the charge. Aelius quickly sprung into action ordering the archers and skirmishers to fire on the advancing Romans, who let loose a barrage of arrows and javelins into the enemy ranks killing the first line of troops, but still they charged.

The Romans crashed into the Etruscan line, hacking and slashing at the shields of the Etruscan soldiers, but the line never broke or bent. The Roman's element of surprise has vanished, and now the battle was slowly turning into the Etruscan's favor. The Romans hacked and slashed with abandon, depleting their energy to fight while the Etruscans simply interlocked their shields and held the line. Whilst the battle is being fought, the extra battalions surround the Roman legionaries and attack them from the rear, while the cavalry run down and slaughter the Roman skirmishers and slingers. The extra battalions charged in, hacking down numerous Romans, then the battle line suddenly springs into action, pressing into the Roman line, slaying the tired and weary Romans and crushing their morale. The fighting wears on for 20 minutes, both sides suffering casualties. Then, the Roman line breaks, trying to flee the slaughter, but get cut down as there was nowhere to go. The Etruscan battalions move in and slaughter almost the entire legion, capturing high ranking centurions, but the general fled the battle when he saw the battalions surround his forces. The centurions were questioned and it was revealed to Aelius that only two battalions of Hastati and three battalions of Rorarii are defending Roma, most of the troops are being used in the campaign against Carthage. "Send word to Bassus of this development, it will play a key role in the siege" said Aelius to a runner, who took off with haste to the other general. 'Rome will pay' Aelius thought. Rome will pay.

The column hastened their pace when the walls of the city came into view, each soldier eager for battle. Aelius rides ahead of the column and looks upon the walls with contempt. This was the sight of a titanic battle between the Etruscan and Samnite coalition, and Rome, the commander happened to be his grandfather at the time. While the Etruscans and Samnites had superior numbers, the Romans were better trained and had better equipment that their adversaries, and that proved to be fatal for the coalition, for when the three armies met, it was a slaughter. He shook his head to clear his head and ready himself for the long siege ahead, for the Roman garrison and citizens will not give up their precious city without a fight. "Tell the men, surround the city, let no one in or out, and seize any supplies coming into the city." A lieutenant ran off to send messengers throughout the army, one of his battalion commanders rides up and salutes him."General, the defenders have spotted us and are preparing their defenses, should we not move in while they're unprepared?" "No, we do not have the necessary forces to take the city without suffering major losses, we will wait for Bassus and his army to reinforce us, then we will attack the walls." "Yes general, I shall tell the men to dig in and wait for your signal." The commander salutes again and rides off to his battalion.

The following morning, the sound of horns and trumpets filled the air. Aelius woke with a start and grudgingly put his armor on and went outside his tent to see an army on the horizon. A momentary spike of fear rushed through Aelius, thinking it was a Roman army, but once he saw the Etruscan banner flapping in the wind, he smiled, Bassus was here, and Roma will fall. Bassus looked to see the camp made by Aelius and his army, 'looked like they were digging in for a long siege' he thought. He saw Aelius and smiled, Aelius has been his friend since childhood and helped him in the battlefield of politics, now here he was, providing aid to his old friend in the siege. "Bassus, it has been too long my friend." said Aelius. "Too long indeed my old friend, too long indeed." The men clasped forearms and then proceeded to walk to the edge of the camp. "The garrison of the city is depleted ,Rome's legions needed the man power to fight her long time foe the Carthaginians, and they are desperate, their food stock has been depleted to almost nothing, and they are having a hard time requesting help, for their messengers get skewered by our arrows only a few hundred yards away from the city walls." Bassus thought on this, if the situation is as bad for the Romans as Aelius says, then the siege will go along smoothly if nothing happens in the meantime. Fighting and the screams of the dying could be heard from the walls of the city, javelins and arrows could be seen flying over the walls peppering the Roman defenders, some falling off the walls to the ground below. The Romans retaliated with their own javelins and killing a few of the besiegers, their screams of pain went right through even the battle hardened veterans of the two armies. "The siege towers are coming along nicely, in a year's time, they will be ready to assault the Roman walls and end their reign of terror over our people." said Aelius. Bassus came out of his pondering and nodded. "Good, we will slay many Romans by the time we are ready to assault the walls and the defenders will be few and those who remain will be weakened by famine and sleepless nights, we will surely slaughter them all." Bassus said. Aelius nodded in approval of Bassus's enthusiasm, with the combined man power and skill of both their armies, who both have fought Roman legions and defeated them, they will crush their long time foe.

The next day

The weary Romans awoke from another sleepless night of fighting off the besiegers, while they were successful, they lost too many good men in that skirmish, A cohort commander looked onwards to the Etruscan camp, hearing their songs of victory and defeating their foes. "Publius Atticus Carbo, the men are ready for their daily exercise sir." A low ranked centurion said."No, don't bother, we won't need it." said Carbo. 'I doubt we will be needing anything soon, only the courage to fight to the bitter end' he thought. "Yes sir, I will tell the men to prepare for the upcoming battle instead." The centurion saluted the commander and walked to his century.