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The siege(2,000 words - perspective exercise) (1 Viewer)

mov101

Senior Member
So, this is my first short-story posting attempt on this forum *palms sweaty & all that*...it's more an exercise of perspective that I recently attempted...judge away :). P.S. to 'whore' myself out, I also publish some of my stories on my blog.

General Braulino
- Today many of us will die on the battlefield! Today, lots of us will lose arms, legs, friends…but today is not about us! Today is about the Empire! Today it doesn’t matter if you are slaves from the Libyan Desert, or thieves from the slums of Rome…Today we fight for the glory of Rome! For some of you this might be your first battle…and if you’re stupid enough, it might also be you last one. Fight for your life out there, because the ogre barbarians won’t hesitate to kill you if you’re weak and inattentive. The most experienced ones, guide the new ones on the field…stay united…All of you, take a good look at our unit’s standard! Take a good look at the damned vine leaf! Where it goes, you go…follow it and only it on the battle field and do only what I say! I repeat, stay united and pray to Mars, maybe he’ll take pity on your scum souls and he’ll let you live another day. Now, pay attention to the course of action prepared for your lazy assess, ‘cause when the sun rises, we’ll run towards that wall…and if you remember what I’m saying now, it might as well save your petty lives.
We’ll wait for the catapults to create a breach in the wall. When the battle horn rings twice, we march towards the southern wall of the castle. We’ll march with medium pace for two thirds of the distance, in loose formation and, when we’re one third away from the breach, we sprint until we’re inside the walls. On the way to the wall be careful! Arrows, stones, animals, flames and who knows what other devilish objects will fly towards you. Keep your shields up, move in zig-zag and DO NOT stop for anything in the world! Our soul mission is to get in, open the main gate for the chivalry and kill as many Thracian bastards as we can…When and if any of you scums reach the interior of the castle, we’ll form a circle formation and try to resist and repulse the attacks of the defending party. We’ll have to fight them, but also to clear the way for Oldman Polino and for Assasin Gariano so that they can open the damned gates…if they don’t make to the door, we’re all doomed!
After and if they manage to open the gates, if any of you are still alive, we’ll climb on the top of the wall from the interior so that we can kill any leftover Thracian scum there’ll be on it; we have to create a free path for our main corps and for our chivalry. The Thracians will do as they always do…wait in the main market in a square formation, waiting in a narrow path…but if we manage to get our entire army inside the walls, they won’t stand a chance.
- Now, pray again to Mars and take a big sip of wine, it might be your last one; the sun rises!


Oldman Polino
I’m too old for these types of battles. A man my age should stay home, care for his farm, play with his grandchildren, drink the sweet, red wine made from the grapes that I grew…The sun shining in the morning from behind the hill, my slaves bathing my beautiful, young life…eh…instead, I’m probably the eldest roman to ever take part in a siege…for the glory of Rome…bah! What glory? Against who? A bunch of scared Thracians who don’t even have the guts to fight us in open field…And with whom? A bunch of convicts, slaves, good-for-nothing bastards…all led by the greatest general that ever lived…Braulino-half-a-man…I swear on Mars’ sword that this has to be the funniest fighting division from the entire, magnificent Empire of ours…
At least our beloved general has a little respect for me and for the assassin…but I’m guessing that’s only because we are indispensable for this mission of his…otherwise he would’ve treated us like the rest of the ‘scums’…eh, at least he told them to protect me until I reach the gate…if I put my life in their hands, I’ll end up dead before I can even swear at them…hah! I’m too old, way too rusty for this…I should never have said yes…
Finally the horn…twice!
The 5[SUP]th[/SUP] division Gemina started marching towards the south wall of the Thracian establishment. Arrows started flying from the top of the wall…at first, it seemed that none of them had enough power to reach them, but it was just a training shot. The second string of arrows reached the marching army, managing to hit more than ten people and bring them down. “Keep you damned shields up, you worthless scums! Rome’s Glory is in your hands!”, the general kept shouting as they almost reached half the distance…however, since the noise was so loud as everyone was shouting, swearing at the enemy, encouraging each other or crying like little children, nobody had the time to listen to the general’s orders…
I swear on Venus’ dress, I never saw such an un-organized army division! Half of ‘em will die until we reach the damned wall…why aren’t they keeping the damned shields up?! Argh! Let’em die…I’m too old for this…
As they reached the last third of their distance towards the south wall, the Thracian archers started shooting flaming arrows trying to scare the attackers. They managed to do so in some extent, because some of the younger soldiers panicked and broke the lines, creating chaos and stalling their advance. The Thracians starting throwing rocks, sticks, even a pig as the roman first line was reaching the walls. “Run you worthless scums, run! If you don’t reach that wall alive, I’ll search for you in the seven hells and kill you again!!!”. When the soldiers got to the breach in the wall, the Thracians panicked and some of them even jumped from the wall over the romans which were scrambling into the castle. A storm of arrows hit the 5[SUP]th[/SUP] division as they were forming a defensive circle inside the castle, in a narrow gap. When they regrouped they noticed that only two thirds of the initial men managed to get to that point. A Thracian pikemen division came from the main square and started an attack on the division, as the archers on the walls were bringing havoc from above. While defending, the division slowly moved towards the narrow door near the main gate so that Polino and Gariano could get in and open the big gate. “Fight you scums! Fight like your mother would be in that castle! Fight or I’ll kill you myself!”, the general shouted, as he himself was fighting for his life with two pikemen at a time…
- This is our moment, Gariano! Let’s go, open the damned door!…what do you mean, if I have the key?! Of course I don’t have the god damned key…use your lock pick, use your dagger, just open it!
What a bunch of useless monkeys…in my day, if you weren’t prepared for a battle, you just weren’t enlisted in the damned division…it’s all the fault of our Grace, it’s magnificence, the General…I can’t feel my left arm anymore, and I swear on Neptune’s beard, if Gariano doesn’t open the damned door soon, I won’t be able to keep these pikemen away anymore, and that’s it for the day, we’re gone! Maybe it’s better this way…it’s all in vane…I shouldn’t be here anyway…I swear on Saturn’s clock that if I survive this battle, that’s it, I’ll retire for good! General-tall-as-a-horse can offer me the Emperor’s seat, I’ll still refuse him…
- I thought you’ll never open that door! You must be the worst assassin in the Roman Empire’s history, Gariano! There, go right…




Gariano the Assassin
If he shouts at me one more time, I’ll kill the oldman with his own axe…on the right, ok…now what? I’m trained to move in the shadows and kill people in their sleep…how am I supposed to find the room with the lever and open the gate?
- Old man! Where’s the room with the lever?!
Why does he always have to shout?! Yeah, sure, swear on all the gods you want, old man, nobody’ll save your old ass on this cursed wall…
- Move it, old man! We’re almost there!
Of course, put the assassin to lead the way, why not? What could happen, it’s just a siege…I bet that the Glory of Rome will guide us…hah! After I open this gate I’m off…I don’t know why I joined this division in the first place…money? fame? Sure, I’ll be remembered in the history books as the guy that opened some gate in some battle…Mitza and Fitzy must be wondering why I didn’t show up in the last couple of weeks…the Green Water brothel in Byzantium must be so lonely without me…Old man Polino moves so slowly…his heart might give up before we reach the top…”Come on, you old dog! Rome is counting on you!”. I wonder why he joined this division…he’s way too old for a siege…The stairs are not guarded…the entrance to the room is not guarded…the stupid Thracians were so surprised of our forced march that they forgot all about their precious main gate…hah! In a few minutes this will all be over and tonight a beautiful barbarian woman will feed me grapes on the top of this cursed castle…There’s the door…”Hurry up old bones!!!”…I wonder why he’s so cautious…old as an oak tree, but scared like a newborn chicken…good thing we’re almost there…



The Thracian archer
Yes…not a care in the world…they don’t even know I’m here…stupid romans. So what if they have better technology, better training…they’re as stupid as my goat’s crap…look at that one, he can’t even open the door…Push it, don’t pull it! Hah! This will be a piece of cake…and that old man, he can barely carry his rusty legs up the stairs…they won’t see this coming…
As Polino and Gariano were circling the tower in search for the room with the lever, the archers in the tower cleared the way and hid themselves in a secret room, right in the attic of the tower; they had a perfect view from top to bottom, managing to spy and notice all the action and seeing if anyone attempted to walk up the stairs…
That old guy might die before he reaches the top…soon enough, we won’t have anyone to fight with…I thought that these romans are scarier, better fighters, not just some blokes picked up from some slums or from some random brothel…
- Ok brothers, be ready…they’re almost here…when they go for the door, we jump! Rome might prevail, but not today!!!
The three archers jumped from the attic each with a dagger in his hand…the two soldiers were so shocked that they didn’t even had time to draw their weapons out. The fight was over before it even started…a dagger in their necks was all it took to finish the two romans.



The romans downstairs desperately tried to hold the lines while they waited for the signal from upstairs and for the gate to open…they were outnumbered eventually, as the archers decimated them one by one and the pikemen just held them up in the corner. Eventually they were all dead; General Braulino was the last man standing, dying from a pike in his heart, his last shout being “For the glory of Rome!”
The main army waited in vain outside the castle for a while, looking for the signal that never came…the gap in the wall was too small for a whole army to march through it and they were too poorly equipped to destroy the wall…they maintained the siege for two more weeks as they managed to build new siege towers, ladders and a big ram to break the main gate. The 5[SUP]th[/SUP] division Gemina, the ‘Slave Division’ perished that day and it was never mentioned again in the roman history books. It was considered to be a shameful mark on the Roman etiquette.


 

Smith

The Fox
Senior Member
You have a lot here, and with it a lot of potential, but also a lot of work to bring out that potential.

The first thing I noticed was the interesting way of story-telling, and I now understand what you meant by a perspective exercise. It is basically told through the characters. An issue I had with this, was that they *spoiler alert* all died, so how are we getting this information? There are a couple of ways this could be fixed without having to go back and do a bunch of re-writing. You talk a lot about Mars, so maybe these four different stories are the different accounts of the characters who are now being judged in the after-life? I don't know much about Roman mythology, but maybe something to consider.

Now, aside from that, there didn't seem to really be too much separating the characters. General Braulino's speech is alright, but it needs to be divided up in some fashion rather than be the daunting block of words that it is. Maybe add in the perspective of a Roman soldier for part of it, listening to his words dripping of Roman loyalty. Speaking of which, he doesn't seem to talk too much like a Roman Legatus (general). You did it very well for the first few lines. The rest of it could use a rework. I'll try my best to serve only as an example.

Legatus Braulino

"Men!"

I galloped along front of the ranks of faces, from silent cold convicts to fear-stricken peasants.

"Today!... Many of us will die. It is to be expected. You may sit and wonder how. Maybe to an arrow, a sword, a spear, or trampled in the dust by the hooves of mighty beasts. If you live, you will have lost a friend, family, some piece of you... but today is not about us! Do you forget where you come from? Do you not bear your allegiance on your shield? Your chest? Rome is in your hearts! Today it doesn’t matter if you are slaves from the Libyan Desert, or thieves from the slums of cities… Forget who you are and remember what you are! My Roman Legionaries!"

They let out a cry and bombardment of swords on shields. My praetorians began to rally the men into their formations. It came to my attention, at the mention of my most trusted Praetorian Lucius, that not all the men were aware of our course of action. This was intentional. Now it was too late to desert.

"For some of you this might be your first battle, and if you’re foolish enough, it might also be you last. Stay attentive and stay united! Praetorians! Front!"

A dozen men also on horseback placed themselves at the front of their divisions. Light gleamed off their magnificent armor.

"My most experienced ones, guide us all to victory! Let our effort not be in vain! All of you, take a good look at the unit's standard in which they bear! Take a good look at the damned vine leaf! You are all weathered warriors, you know your duty. Where it goes, you go! Follow it, and only it, on the battlefield and do only as commanded! I repeat, stay united and pray Mars take pity on your scum souls and let you live another day. Now, pay attention to the course of action prepared for your lazy asses, for when the sun rises, we’ll run towards that wall," I turned Goliath and stood in the stirrups to face the east. "And if you remember what I’m saying now," once more I faced them, "it might save your petty existence."

"We’ll wait for the catapults to create a breach in the wall." Praetorian Lucius took over with a roar, opening the mouth of his helm that resembled a lion. "When the battle horn sounds twice, we march towards the southern wall of the castle. We’ll march with medium pace for two thirds of the distance, in loose formation and, when the drums boom we sprint until we’re inside the walls. It pains me to remind you to keep your shields up and never stop moving. Take control of the gate house and kill as many of the Thracian barbarians as you can. If any of you are still alive, form a circle formation about the gate house and repel their counter attacks. Clear the way for Oldman Polino and Assassin Gariano, let them open the damned gates."

I was about to finish my speech but thought better of it. Sure enough, Lucius had one more thing to say.

"And if I find their bodies didn't even reach it..." He paused to stand up in his stirrups. "DECIMATION!" he screamed. (decimation was one of the highest forms of punishment)

A smile touched my lips. Lucius always put on a show.

"After the gates are open, push far enough into the city to allow me and the main force to infiltrate. Push to the market district in the city center, and we'll flood in, encircling them and ensuring annihilation. The Thracian swine will do as they always do, breaking formation, hiding in buildings, using women and children. So kill them all."

"Now, pray again to Mars and take a big sip of wine, it might be your last; the sun rises again on our empire!"


I'm not trying to step on any toes. I cannot write it better than you. It is your story, after all. Just trying to provide an example of how you could give it more of an appropriate feel with word choice, and also some basic knowledge and research of the ancient Roman forces. Their tactics, ranks, the terms they used, etc.

In the end, your idea of using perspective in this way is new to me, and very cool in my opinion. I think it isn't being executed in the best way yet.
 
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mov101

Senior Member
Thanks a lot for the feedback Smith. This type of 'perspective' writing is also a first for me...just an experiment I wanted to do...I kind of like it though and I'll try to perfect it. :)
 

Smith

The Fox
Senior Member
Thanks a lot for the feedback Smith. This type of 'perspective' writing is also a first for me...just an experiment I wanted to do...I kind of like it though and I'll try to perfect it. :)

No problem, and definitely. It should provide a good challenge for you, and that is how you better yourself as a writer. Keep at it, you have what it takes. I have a soft-spot for ancient Rome. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and the Total War series, some of my favorite games. ^_^

So, I look forward to more of your writing!
 

dvspec

Senior Member
I liked it. Tomorrow at a decent hour, I will look closer and give more feedback. This post is to mark it in my feed. Good job though.
 

dvspec

Senior Member
I like the overall idea. The perspective shifts keep a reader from getting involved with the characters though. This is a great exercise to be used when you have written a story and are editing it. Get out of your MC head and into the heads of your other characters. Find out what they are thinking, what they would do, to make sure that they are developed enough to carry their parts of the story.

Calling this a siege, though, doesn't seem right. This was an attack. A siege is sitting around for months waiting for your targets to starve to death because they ran out of food. A lot less exciting, but that is what the reality would have been. The General's speech is to long. Pre-battle build up, needs to be encouraging and motivating.
 

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