Previously on Gladius
"Sir Centaurian! The sentry reports he has spotted Gauls heading towards our camp. What are our orders?"
Perito, caresses his newly formed beard twice and said,"I will talk to them. Our forces are outnumbered and inexperienced here. If we decide to fight the Gauls, a heavy bloodshed is unavoidable. Get my horse ready, I shall go alone."
"Sir! Let me accompany you", said his favorite soldier, Stenos. "Stenos, I am aware of the consequences. I'll take nothing but my shield. If my horse, Tuono returns to the camp without me, massacre the Gauls. If I were to die, you must assume my position. A century cannot exist without a Centaurian."
Perito rode towards the marching Gauls, through the dense Coniferous forests of Germany, on his brown steed. Thousands of Gauls marching towards his camp, stopped right there watching the enemy come towards them.
As one Gaul prepared to throw his javelin at Perito, Perito spoke in Gaulish," I come in peace!"
Gauls were confounded when they heard fluent Gaulish from Perito.
"I, along with my father, used to catch fish in river Rhine. So I can speak good Gaulish. I come here in peace. On your stead, I will talk to the emperor. I will implore him to free Gaul. I,myself have a score to settle with that emperor. Roman legions, ten years ago, attacked my little village in Spain. We were fishermen. I was the son of the chief. Our village used to collect pearls from the sea alongside fish. Romans, who until then were dependent on India for pearls, saw this opportunity and attacked our tribe. They captured my father, the chief. Yet, undeterred, I along with my fishermen crew, led an armed rebellion. We failed utterly against advanced Roman warfare.
My father died in captivity due to a fever. My crew and I were imprisoned for few days, then were used as Gladiators.
Now, after years of struggling I command a Century.
Gauls, we share a common enemy. I plan to free my village in Spain from these Romans. You plan to free Gaul.
We, the brethren of Rhine, shall together overthrow the Roman reign."
Perito has gained their trust with his story. Gauls saw him as an advantage. Even if their peace talks failed, Perito can be an useful ally who would reveal the weaknesses of Romans. He was welcomed grandly in the Gaul camp. They were assured enough finding him weaponless in their camp. They ate, drank,danced and played all day to strengthen their bonds.
"Alright everyone, this is called a paper. You can write on this thing. Well, traditionally you dip a quail into ink and write but I cannot find them here. Let's use the burnt wood instead." Perito called the Gaul chief towards him.
He made the chief write,' Burn the Gaul camps. Do not worry about me', in Roman on a piece of paper he brought with himself. He used the illiteracy of Gauls against them. Gauls didn't have a written script. So Perito had the chief write for himself his fate.
"You did good my Lord!" Perito said, "you wrote your name beautifully. I will take this as a souvenir to Rome." The chief laughed and presented it to Perito.
Perito waited till everyone drifted to sleep. There were ten night guards watching carefully for an ambush. Perito gave his horse Tuono this piece of paper and directed it to go towards the Roman camp. Tuono was bred and trained by Perito since it was a foal.
It understood his every command perfectly. Now, all that Perito had to do was to distract the Gaulish guards to make way for Tuono.
There was a huge stuffed boar in the chief's tent. Perito sneaked in, stole the stuffed boar and dressed it with his armor.
"Camps are built at a site with ready drinking water. This camp too must have a stream or a river nearby. The water body cannot be in the south because that would block their retreat. It cannot be in the east because that's where I came from. Well, there are low lying lands in north. Maybe that's where the water is." Perito thought to himself like this and chose a careless night guard who was isolated from other guards in the northside. He knocked the night guard unconscious with his helmet and disguised himself as a night guard. He dragged the boar down to the place where he believed there was a water body. His assumption was right. He found a calm stream. He dropped the boar into the stream, not before tying it's tail to a nearby branch to make it look like a drowning 'Perito'. He then called out to all guards saying that Perito, fully armoured, is drowning in the stream in the north. Six night guards accompanied him to the stream. While four of them jumped to save 'Perito' from drowning, two stayed at the bank. With a dagger he found on the night guard's costume, he silently killed away the two night guards.
Amidst this chaos, Tuono had already set out to Roman camp, where Stenos was waiting eagerly. Stenos read the message, readied the Century and followed the horse to the Gaul camp.
Here, Perito, quickly jumped into the stream with his shield to escape the other four night guards. Using his shield as a raft and a branch as an oar Perito navigated himself downstream. Sensing his deceit, two guards swam towards him while the other two ran to the camp to alert everyone. The dense and strong Roman shield held Perito like a surfboard.
He outswam those guards and to his luck, his camp too was located in the banks of the same stream.
"Timing is everything now. Ah! If only I could see the Gauls burn".
Meanwhile, the soldiers dug a canal around the camp with their dolabras (axes) and poured into it their week's supply of oil.
They then set this ring of fire to prevent the Gauls from escaping. Not before killing away the night guards with their arrows.
The heat woke up the Gauls. Fiery arrows rained like meteorites upon them eliminating every Gaul tent and it's residents.
Every burning Gaul body was uttering only one name," Traitor Perito".
The ones who weren't burnt, succumed to the smoke. The ones who escaped both smoke and fire, couldn't escape the stampede.
Ten thousand Gaul men and women died that night. Thus, a dreadful rebellion was put out without a single Roman life lost. The cheerful Roman Century when returned to their camp, saw Perito disguised as a Gaul night guard. They might have shot him but the Roman shield he held told them that he is the choreographer of such gruesome massacre.
Perito hugged Stenos. "Stenos! My brother! I have but one favor to ask, which only you can fulfill."
Stenos looked at his beloved Centaurian with glistening eyes and bowed down saying," I'll lay down my life in pursuit of your need".
Perito smiled and said," Stenos. Please recover my armor! That thing is mighty expensive! It is lined with silver after all! If I go to the emperor without it, he'd not only cut off my three months of salary but also whip me naked."
The whole Century laughed.
(After this successful suppression of Gauls Perito and his Century was summoned to His Majesty's court, where he honored them.)
"Perito. You and your century single handedly took over such a huge force. Why didn't you take help of other centuries who were stationed just yards away from you? And why on earth would you burn them to death? You could have imprisoned a few. You're living upto your nickname,' Perito the mindless butcher'."
"My Lord ! Master of Rome. Emperor of Europa! There was a reason why I did what I did. I committed such a heinous and gruesome act to strike fear in our rivals' heart. The news spread faster than the fire we lit. Celtic tribes and tribes in further north are surely cowering with fear. They fear Perito. They fear Rome. You needn't worry about uprisings or rebellions in near future. Our territories are secured. "
Perito's words frightened the emperor. This lowly fisherman, who once fought for him in arenas, is now showing immense interest in administration.
"Perito! I'm very pleased with you. You are promoted to-"
"I refuse!" told Perito.
"Perito!" yelled the emperor." How dare you disrespect my authority! You can be sentenced to death for this. Apologise at once!"
"I mean no disrespect my Lord. But pray think about it. Haven't I got a reputation to live upto now, as you mentioned earlier?
Centuries can't fulfil that reputation. Free me and my century from centuriship. We'll serve you as a special operation unit. A surprise attack. A hidden weapon. Our reputation and ruthlessness will aid us to do that. I, along with my existing Century and my gladiator brethren will be the part of this team."
Before the emperor could decline his request, the Senate and council passed the motion forward. An applause followed their approval.
Emperor had to go with Senate's decision.
"Perito, you shall be the commander of this special operation unit, which will hereafter be called Talons."
Talons went on to be one of the best units of Roman legions. Talons raided with astonishing speed and left behind ashes of kingdoms.
They were feared throughout the empire.
Previously on Gladius