Travian: Tides of Conquest ~ The Old Vulture’s Nest ~ The Key to Victory [4/4]

[READ PART 3]

Appius Lacer was so delighted that he couldn’t help but talk aloud to himself. In that short moment, when his granduncle suddenly sided with those two loonies, Marcus and that peasant woman, the junior architect was scared that his plan had been threatened. The plan in question was relatively simple. He would build a fortress near the village, leaving the defense of the Old Vulture at its weakest until the Romans were close enough. Then they would strike.

However, eventually this worked even better than he could have imagined! Appius was questioning whether that woman, Kora, was simply insane or whether she was another infiltrator of Rome? He had to admit that she was way better than himself at deceit if the latter was true. Somehow, she had single-handedly managed to persuade the Old Vulture to waste tons of resources for nothing! He couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the audacity of it all.

In any case, this would all end soon. Whether Kora was a Roman infiltrator or not, he would not let her live long enough to find out. He did not need anyone to share his triumph of bringing Rome the key to their victory. It should be all his. In a few days, the Roman banners would be raised on the gates of the Old Vulture’s Nest.

Appius sighed. Sad, that Marcus seemed to not support his plan. He was a good playfellow, not too smart, but loyal, and that’s why still wasted his time in those forsaken lands. I made the right decision, he routinely told himself but somehow this didn’t sound as soothing as before.

Suddenly, Appius saw something that made his heart sank forebodingly. A woman’s bird of prey – a hawk – was perched at his window, looking directly at him, attentively, with those intelligent wide eyes.

 
 

Travian: Tides of Conquest ~ The Old Vulture’s Nest ~ Two architects [3/4]

[READ PART 2]

Every time Marcus visited the chamber where Plinus Lacer accepted his visitors, he always asked himself why the old vulture chose this place. Small, dusty, and dark, it could barely fit a vast wooden desk, some shelves, and a couple of chairs maximum. The rest of the unoccupied space was crammed with scrolls, as far as the eye could see. How on earth does he categorize them? A thought best saved for a drink or three.

“I already know what you are going to tell me.” Plinus Lacer said slowly, moving his eyes from the scroll he had read to the now approaching commander.

“And I’ll repeat it. A war is coming to the region, and we barely have 500 soldiers here.” This has been their usual argument for the past few months. “The northern part of Hibernia already fell under attacks of the Romans.” Marcus continued, “The pathfinders that were sent there didn’t come back. We need a decision sooner or later, Plinus.”

“Tell us something new. Isn’t it exactly why I built my fortress here?” Another visitor interrupted what Plinus was about to say, making Marcus more irritated. Neatly dressed in Roman clothes, handsome and refreshed, Appius Lacer was the complete opposite to Marcus. The latter recently did not sleep at all. The architect pulled piles of scrolls from another chair and sat down with the usual bored expression on his face.

“So, what’s your problem, Marcus?”

“My problem?” Marcus exhaled and slowly counted to ten, as his mother once taught him in his childhood. “My problem is that we do not need another fortress here; we needed to fix our own first! This is the oldest village in the region, and you are perfectly aware of what that means! Who cares about your new fortress? It’s ours who would be attacked!”

“And like I told you many times, swordsman.” Appius said, “It’s beyond repair.” At that point, Marcus was seething. He’d have to apologize to his mother at another time. “Well, Architect, tell that to the woman who fixed the damn thing not three days ago!”

Appius paused his scroll reading and looked at the brawny man. “You dare to compare complex defensive fortifications to that of a primitive peasant’s construction?” Marcus counted to ten. Then to twenty. Then thirty. It didn’t help. “I dare to compare you with a simple woman that repaired the mill. And frankly speaking, this comparison is not in your favor-”

“Enough!” The cold voice of the Old Vulture bellowed, stopping the argument in an instant. He turned his head to Marcus, and the commander saw the twinkles of joy in those old water-blue eyes of his. “You talk about that girl far too much recently, boy. It’s making me curious. If my grandnephew can’t offer us anything, then we are fine to use the last resort we have, aren’t we? Bring her here, Marcus; we’ll find out whether she is as good as you keep saying she is.”

The loud bang of the now shut door made that decision final, but Marcus didn’t care much. First time in the months, and countless arguments with Plinus, he was finally going to sleep soundly tonight.

[TO BE CONTINUED…]

Travian: Tides of Conquest ~ The Old Vulture’s Nest ~ The Fortress [2/4]

[READ PART 1]

Even if the village was initially named differently, it’s been forgotten for what seems like eons now. Located by the sea near the main crossroads and inhabited mainly by fishermen and traders, the Old Vulture’s Nest did not stand out in any way from tens of other seaboard Hibernian villages besides two things: it was known as the oldest existing village in the whole region, and, had an unusually high, even though not completed, Townhall. Its lengthy construction made it one of the landmarks of the territory.

There was also a third thing which not many knew about, but that was how the village got its rather bizarre name. The old ruler of this place, Plinus Lacer, was known to always sit on the balcony right under the Townhall roof, looking bold and grumpy most of his ruling life. He indeed reminded a vulture, patiently waiting for his prey to draw their final gasp of air before going in for the kill.

“I heard that the Old Vulture is on his last legs, huh?” The guard said, joining his commander going up the hill toward the Townhall. “I would not bury him right now,” Marcus replied, “For nearly thirty years that I live here, Plinus Lacer hasn’t aged a day since I first met him. Still, it’s impolite to call him Old Vulture even if he doesn’t hear it. He’s a good ruler who cares about his lands.” The guard nodded in agreement. Marcus smiled. His garrison was one of the most stable units on this seashore, in no small part due to the friendly and honest atmosphere that he managed to maintain with his soldiers.

“The fortress is growing,” The guard stated, following where his commander was looking. “They settled in only a week ago, and now it’s visible without a spyglass.”

“It is, indeed,” Marcus agreed, focusing on something.

“I do not want to sound scared, commander,” the guard admitted to Marcus, “but I do not trust our ruler’s grandnephew. He might be a good architect; I know you grew up together, but if he is on our side, why does he build a fortress next to us instead of helping us here? The wall-”

“Don’t remind me of the wall,” Marcus said abruptly. After a short time in silence, Marcus sighed, realizing he was a bit blunt to his guard. “Yes, you are right. I need to talk again about our defence to the Old Vulture. Dammit! To Plinus Lacer!”

[TO BE CONTINUED…]

 
 
 
 

Travian: Tides of Conquest ~ The Old Vulture’s Nest ~ The City Gates [1/4]

[READ THE INTRO]

She came to the village in the morning just when Marcus, as usual, was checking the posts. Small, awkward, in raggy clothes and with a bag full of scrolls over her left shoulder. Just another beggar among tens of those that Marcus saw coming through their village daily. Previous wars with the Romans had a devastating effect on this region. Still, many people were in motion, looking for places to settle and looting whatever they might find in exchange for food. Fortunately, their village was able to sustain the war with minimal losses.

A random catapult had hit the windmill, and the northern gales destroyed the wall, but that was about it. The latter made Marcus – the garrison commander – quite nervous. Pushing his nervousness aside, Marcus quickly noticed something odd about this woman with the scrolls at the gate, prompting him to get a better look at her. The first and most apparent difference was an old sleepy hawk sitting on her right shoulder without any leash or a cap. And second, the look of determination on her face when she came towards him.

“Are you the one in charge here?” The woman asked. She couldn’t be that young, Marcus thought, when he first noticed her at a distance. She looked in her late 20s, brown hair, long nose, and thin lips that made her face look a bit disproportional. Not the prettiest, but then again, neither was Marcus. Still, there was something odd that made her stick in his memory, and he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

“The ruler lives in the town hall,” Marcus said, looking at her with mild interest. “I do not think he has time to talk to every person who passes through our settlement, so you need to have a substantial reason to get his audience.”

“I don’t need the audience.” The woman responded. As she straightened out the shoulder strap of her bag, Marcus briefly saw the many bruises under it. The bag was apparently far too heavy for her and she must have carried it for a very long time. “I noticed that one of the wings on your windmill is missing… This means that, most likely, you do not have a miller. If I fix it, can I settle here?”

The question was so unexpected that the soldier laughed out of sheer surprise. The woman eyed Marcus patiently for his response, waiting for him to stop. He assumed she was too used to getting rejected.

“Lady,” Marcus said, still laughing at the impossible request. “The windmill wing is three times bigger than yourself and four times heavier than you at that. My friend, the architect already looked into it and found it beyond repair.” He thought for a moment. “Listen, I do not make such decisions, but you have my curiosity. If you manage to fix it, be our guest. I will pin a word for you to our ruler.” He laughed to himself again but stopped abruptly when he saw the woman crying. “I’m sorry, lady. It’s been a rough few weeks here. Can I help you with something else?”

“My name is Kora. And you didn’t upset me,” she replied. She smiled and Marcus soon learned those were tears of relief. Kora smiled. “Could you tell me the village name…”

“Marcus,” he responded. “The name’s Marcus, and we call this place the Old Vulture’s Nest.”

“The nest?” Kora laughed and turned to her hawk, who seemed to have been attentively listening to their earlier conversation. ”Did you hear that, Nenet?” She said to the hawk, walking past Marcus. “We’re settling in the nest, isn’t that funny?” Nenet abruptly made a screeching sound, making Marcus jump in surprise. What a strange bird! And its owner!

Three days had passed since that strange interaction. As usual, Marcus was checking the posts as he usually does. People were continuing to make their way into the Old Vulture’s Nest. Shouts of those selling goods at the market could be heard and rebuilding efforts gained momentum. Today was a little different from the normal, however.

The windmill was working again.

[TO BE CONTINUED…]

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Travian: Tides of Conquest ~ The Old Vulture’s Nest ~ The Road to Palace

Junior architect Appius Lacer had never been in such a bad mood before. All Roman gods! Just recently, he thought that Mercury himself was standing behind his shoulder, giving advice and securing his way to the noblest Roman patrician society. But here he was, years later, spending the inherited gold coins from his father, bribing every last servant possible. Appius hoped Paregoros was also standing behind his shoulder. He would need some comfort after the amount of Gold he spent already. I made the right decision, he told himself.

After what seemed like an eternity, Appius’s luck was about to pay off. He was finally invited to feast in the emperor’s palace! The chief imperial provisor’s third daughter was chosen to replace one of the Vestals. A major event. The emperor wanted to make this occasion as memorable as possible for the old servant. Of course, there were over four hundred guests in there, but Appius Lacer didn’t plan to waste the chance he was fighting for so furiously. The emperor should remember him!

And the emperor did remember him! Sort of. First of all, the wine turned out to be not so innocent as Appius believed. Second, the soon-to-be Vestal was too young and too beautiful not to get kissed by any man before she became the priestess of Vesta for the next 30 years. At least, this is what fermented grape juice whispered to the hot head of an enthusiastic architect. The rest seemed somewhat of a blur for a moment.

Despite the chaos that ensued, it looked like Mercury was on Appius’s side after all. The architect wasn’t killed on the spot. Servants simply pulled him through all the halls, throwing him into the mud in the backyard of the emperor’s palace with one recommendation – never come back to the palace.

It would take more than a bit of mud to discourage Appius. He isn’t the son of his father for nothing. His father, Hibernian fisherman who had managed to make an entire fortune selling goods to Rome in a span of a few months; this was nothing! Appius realized two more things, though: no more bribes to servants or fermented grape juice. A deadly combination, that. Instead, he should just bring something valuable enough not to just get accepted to the palace but to get honoured as a hero. He had everything to make that happen.

A few days had passed since that blurry evening, and Appius found himself idly looking out of the window, waiting for the messenger from the palace. Yes, here he was! Finally!

Appius met the messenger, taking the scroll and opening it with shaking hands. It was his own letter of apology, re-sealed with the emperor’s signet. Across his text, there was one single word written, enough to make Appius’ heart jump for joy:

“Approved.”

Appius felt a small tear in the corner of his eye. What is this? A twinge of guilt?

Whatever. Hours later, the word approved was still on his mind. Looking in the mirror, he imagined the laurel wreath on his head. Every triumph required sacrifices, and the ones he was making were no different. He would gain the Old Vulture’s Nest to Rome.

[TO BE CONTINUED]