Wolf Legion; Rome's Vampire Wars Ch 1 free preview
The Entire Roman Empire is Infested with Vampires and it's up to the Wolf Legion to Save Humanity!
TitleWolf Legion; Romes Vampire Wars By Philip KatzCopyrightCopyright 2012 by Philip Katz Cover Design by Philip Katz Wolf Legion is a work of fiction based on historical information and is a product of the authors imagination. Any resemblance to persons living in the last 2000 years is purely coincidental.DedicationFor my first fan: Sylvia Rosa Katz 1940- 2002Preface More on Ancient Rome by Philip Katz IMPERATOR; the Life of Gaius Julius Caesar Published by Copperhill Media Katz, it should be noted, has an exciting narrative style. The words pop on the page and he keeps the story moving. As an author, he has a natural sense of plot and timing and has written snappy dialogue that stays in the vernacular of the time period. Imperator is truly a historical novel, bursting with historically accurate details, but the story is told in such a way as to never be dry or lifeless... ---- Eve Marx, Record Review Newspaper. I devoured each (chapter) in absolute awe of anyone who could absorb history in such fine detail and then turn it around and personalize it in such a way, that you could actually believe Caesar himself to be the author. //Katz starts in Caesar's childhood, introduces us to life in the Subura, gives us a taste of his family and culture. He then captures the brutality of war, the conundrums of politics and the sense of history this man was making...----Laura Novak, Reporter; ABC/CBS/NYTimes. Caesar becomes a flesh and blood person before your eyes. His courage, his organization, his far seeing political abilities all come to life on these pages. Really just a great, involving read. Highly recommended! ---Brian Heffron, KLCS-TV, PBS Los Angeles, Ca. Imperator (Published by Copperhill Media), is filled with gritty battle scenes, political strife, sex and civil war against the rich cultural backdrop of Republican Rome and her Empire. The first in a series, Imperator is a fictional memoir by Julius Caesar, in which Caesar tells the story of his youth in the first person as it goes from the halcyon days of his childhood to the bloody days of his teens. It is an engrossing, fast-paced adventure story and political thriller as the impoverished but charismatic young Roman nobleman becomes the protg of his uncle the great general and statesman Gaius Marius. Together they weather the turbulent politics and civil wars of the period. To Purchase Imperator go to www.ImperatorBook.com for links.Chapter 1 Romes Vampire Problem Roman Forum 107 BCThe great bronze doors of the Senate House, known to Romans as the Curia Hostilia1, creaked and groaned as they were being opened by pages to allow the Prefect of the Guard in command of Romes constables, the Lictors2, to exit from the ancient chamber. The Senate rarely met behind closed doors, but today was an exception. The the Forum3 frequenters, those citizens having an interest in Romes political dramas, were crowded as close as possible to the Curia to catch a glimpse or overhear some words that might shed light on the goings-on inside. There was a dark specter on the faces and in the eyes of the people. There could be no doubt that the formerly confident and resolute Roman countenance was now stricken with fear. Along with the Senates leadership they had conquered the Mediterranean world and brought civilization and Romes democracy to the far corners of the world, formerly ruled by tribal chiefs, petty potentates and despots, in the interest of stability, and above all, prosperity.1Curia Hostilia: Senate House, located at the Forum Romanum, constructed in the mid 7th Century BC was named for its builder king Tullus Hostilius.2Lictors: Lictors were ceremonial body guards and constables that attended magistrates in public and private. Different numbers of Lictors attended the different magistrates. They also carried the Fasces on their left shoulder. They preceded the magistrate when walking in public and stood at his side when the magistrate addressed the people. They were dressed in crimson tunics with wide black belts and their headquarters was on the Arx of the Capitol near the Carcer.3Forum Romanum: In the time of the Vampire Wars it was an open space in the center of Rome where the people could gather and it was the center of Romes political and economic activities. Upon Romes incorporation in 753 BC the council members from the different communities that made up the City met at a specially designated area that is located at the base of the Palatine Hill and the sacred Capitoline Hill. This meeting place came to be known as the Forum Romanum or Roman Forum or simply the Forum. A special drain was installed to dry out the normally marshy field for the purpose of these meetings. In the Late Republic (1st century BC) the Forum Romanum remained an open space in the heart of the City.There were all manner of self-made men in the crowd, men that could pass onto their children more than they had been bequeathed by their fathers. Descendants of the oldest of the plebeian4 families stood shoulder to shoulder with the descendants of slaves freed by their Roman masters and adopted into the masters family, or men who served in the legions thereby earning, for themselves and their descendants, the coveted Roman citizenship. These industrious, hard-working family men, and generations before them, had made Rome ascendant over all people and they worked tirelessly to keep it that way. Their faces brightened and their eyes regained their former luster as Aelius Sejanus stepped out in the late morning sun and stood on the portico of the Curia. He was tall and fair with grey eyes. He stood before the people in a polished silver cuirass5 (breastplate armor) and a crimson cloak. His chest heaved as he filled his lungs with the fresh air. He exhaled and began to smell the air as he surveyed the busy forum from his vantage point above the crowd. Hail Sejanus! came from the crowd and then Forum came alive. The people believed the savior of Rome, the savior of all that their ancestors had built and handed down to them for safe keeping, was before them. Hail SejanusHail Sejanus Completely unmoved by the peoples display, he matched each smell with its source and continued to scan the crowd for his prey. They were there, watching Sejanus was sure of it. Mere steps from the Senate House, was the base of the Capitoline Hill. Built into the hill are Romes execution chamber, the Tullianum6, and the detention chamber called the Carcer7. Rome did not imprison people for criminal offenses, so the Carcer was used4Plebeians (Plebs): Romes common folk. In the early Republic the Plebs were excluded from holding public office, priesthoods of to intermarry with Patricians. By Caesars time all of these restrictions were lifted and so called Noble Plebeian families were on an equal footing with the Patricians.5Cuirass: Solid plate armor worn, by officers in the Roman military, over the torso.6Tullianum: a dungeon like chamber carved from the native rock that was used as Romes execution chamber inwhich the condemned were strangled to death.7Carcer: Located near the Curia Hostilia on the Capitoline Hill, was what could be called Romes only prison although it was rarely used to hold prisoners as the Romans did not use incarceration as punishment, instead those convicted of crimes were normally subject to fines, public beatings, exile and execution. It was the headquarters of the Lictors and the lower level isonly short term and rarely at that. Instead, criminal offenders could be fined, flogged at the Forum and/or exiled. In extreme cases, such as treason or some other grave offence against the people, a citizen could be cast from the Tarpeian rock to his death. Sejanus made his way past the Carcer to the Lictors headquarters. Its front wall was part of the original fortifications that held back the barbarian Gauls when they sacked the city three centuries before. It was made of large brown, volcanic, Tuffa stone blocks. He passed through the doorway into the cavernous stone space lit by torches and humming with the sound of restrained conversation between Sejanus officer corps. The dozens of men went silent instantly when the Prefect entered the room. He was there to inform them of their new charter from the Senate and People of Rome: Remove the undead from Rome. Romes vampires, the demonic Stryx as they were known, were shape-shifters that fed on the blood of living victims, mainly human. They preyed on children and young men for their vitality. The vampires had the ability to shape-shift into birdlike predators by night and could live among humans, primarily as attractive young people by day. When in human form they had an irresistible charisma. The beasts feathers were said to emit a strong aphrodisiac, disorienting their pray and sending them into a state of orgasmic ecstasy as their blood was drained from their willing bodies. Sejanus was extremely aggressive and his lust for power knew no bounds. Alas, in Rome men of humble birth could go only so far. True, any free man can make himself as rich as Croesus, but most Romans could never stand for public office or hold Imperium8 and thereby command armies against a foreign enemy or hold priesthoods. Of course there were exceptions, the consul Marius who was in command of Romes war against king Jugurtha of Numidia9, was one. But there were other types of power, and Sejanus had his hand in all of them. Extortion was his forte and a pursuit Sejanusknown as the Tullianum, a dungeon like chamber carved from the native rock that was used as Romes execution chamber in-which the condemned were strangled to death.8Imperium: Imperium was the power invested in Consuls and Praetors, to command armies and govern provinces. Imperium was represented by a red ribbon tied around the Imperium holders cuirass (Solid plate armor worn over the torso). Imperium exists only outside the Pomerium or sacred border of the city. Imperium was conferred by the Comitia Curiata, the oldest of the four Popular Assemblies.9King Jugurtha of Numidia: Jugurtha assassinated his half brother to usurp sole control of the North African country of Numidia, modern-day Libya. Rome fought a long war against Jugurtha after the murder of his co-ruler, as confirmed by the Senate and people of Rome. As a young man Jugurtha commanded a Numidian cavalry unit in the Roman army at the siege of Numantia in Spain at the same time Gaius Marius served.was uniquely qualified to practice. Good qualities aside, he was adept at maintaining order in what had been a most disorderly capital city. In Rome when a man did his job exceptionally well, his flaws were tolerated by the Senate10. And so it was with Aelius Sejanus. Truth be told, the Senate loved working with Sejanus as he could always be sacrificed before the mob should criminal blame need to be affixed to some hapless civil servant, like the commander of the Lictors. And since a jackal knows the ways of its own kind, Sejanus worked relentlessly to make sure that would never happen. Sejanus finished briefing his command. Until further notice, Titus Coelius will be in command for the duration of my operations against the vampires and their blood cults. Am I understood? Yes, Prefect, his officers said in well-rehearsed unison. Leaving the headquarters, Sejanus made his way between the Capitoline and Palatine Hills along the Velabrum11 near the Ruminalis Fig tree, which is the place where the infant Romulus and Remus, the founders of the city, were suckled by the she-wolf. The crowd parted before Sejanus allowing him unfettered passage like it did for no other. His keen senses were always scanning the landscape, listening and tasting the air. He strode into the district known as the Forum Boarium, Romes meat marketThere it wassomething alerted the senses, a quick movement, a dark shadow, a flash between market stalls, then goneHe picked up the pace. Suddenly Sejanus slammed into a walking bag of bones clad in rags sending the grey skinned soul sprawling to the ground. Sejanus went to the aid of his fellow man.10Senate: The Senate membership was originally 100, at the time of the Vampire Wars was 300 and in 80bc became 600. It was populated by magistrates and former magistrates who were members for life, unless expelled by the censors for misconduct or failing to maintain the prescribed property requirement. Senators could not engage in common business and could only make money from rents. The Senate was an advisory body with no legislative powers, yet senators were responsible for foreign policy, acting as judges and jurors, overseeing public works and festivals and prosecuting wars. Provincial governors were appointed from the ranks of former praetors and consuls and given the titles of propraetor and proconsul respectively. Normally the Senate met in the Curia Hostilia (Senate house) or the Temple of Bellona when war was being discussed or if they had to meet outside the Pomerium (sacred boundary of the city).11Velabrum: A strip of low lying land within the Pomerium, between the Forum the Tibur River, from east to west and the Capitoline and Palatine Hills north to south. The Ruminalis Fig Tree that grew in the place where the she wolf suckled the infant Romulus, founder of the city and his brother Remus, was located thereI knew I could find you here my old friend, Ive been waiting for you. Sejanus struggled to match the gaunt face with the voice he knew so well. The voice belonged to that of a friend from long ago, tent-mates and brothers in arms from their early days in the legions. The voice of Coeleus, centurion in Gaius Marius Spanish Legion was coming from this animated corpse. Theyve taken everything, my family, my vigor, my love of the fight, replaced these gifts with the bonds of slavery. They are everywhere, they call us at nightwere helpless, Coelius voice trailed off from exhaustion. Sejanus felt the remaining mass of this once feared warrior and best friend relax as Coeleus answered deaths call. Sejanus held his friend to his breast, Rest now dear friend, I will carry on the fight, and in victory your name will be remembered. He picked up and carried his friend as he continued his journey. He wondered if he could make good on his pledge to Coelius, who Sejanus himself had at one time looked to for guidance and strength. There were more of them every day, pale and gaunt, the walking dead, the feed lot for a gruesome horde. The back alleys and side streets were littered with them, living corpses waiting for their masters call. Crossing the Tibur River, the Janiculum fortress loomed ominously above the slums just outside of the city. The Janiculum was his destination. It was outside the Pomerium, which is the sacred border of the city of Rome, and therefore he was relieved of certain prohibitions. Weapons were not allowed inside the Pomerium nor were dead bodies. For Sejanus, dead bodies were a matter of housekeeping as he and his men in their official capacity were responsible for a portion of Romes daily dead. As for weapons, they were a must in Sejanus line of work but even the Prefect had to get a special dispensation to bring weapons into the city. Romes good luck meant everything and that meant respecting tradition and observing Romes time-honored rites. The great oak and bronze gates of the ancient fortress creaked and groaned in protest as sentries struggled to open them for Sejanus as he walked up the stone-paved ramp with his friend in his arms. Sejanus laid his friend out on a tribunes desk, This man is Coeleus Bestia. He is a hero of the Republic and is to be treated as such. Sejanus made his way into the bowels of the Janiculum Fortress. At the bottom of a long dark stairway there was a remote chamber that radiated with an amber glow. There was the aroma of sage burning, raw garlic and the smell of the beast, mingling, in the breeze emanating from bellow Sejanus as he descended the steps. He entered thechamber, passing through drapes made from strings garlic, where he encountered a young Vestal Virgin, thirteen perhaps, standing before an altar in the middle of the room where a hearth-flame, taken from the eternal flame at the Temple of Vesta12, burned. The Vestal Virgins were one of Romes most senior colleges of priests and their wellbeing and the maintenance of the hearth flame were essential to ensure Romes good luck. She recited an incantation that predates the founding of Rome and burned Sage. The chamber walls, cut from the rock of the Janiculum hill, were covered with garlic. Heavily armed soldiers, outfitted in silver armor and armed with silver weapons, stood at attention side by side along the walls. The Vestal Virgin stood as a sentry against whatever lay down the dark arched passage. She was a junior member of her sisterhood of six, each serving a term of 30 years. Sejanus made his way down the dark passage. He constantly smelled the air and listened intently as he approached the end. He carefully opened a thick bronze and oak door and passed into a vast cavernous dungeon lit by torches and one central caged opening in the high vaulted ceiling. The dark damp dungeon was populated by a forest of crosses. Affixed to the crosses with silver nails were vampires in their undisguised, demonic form as there was no escape from the cross. As ancient as the demon vampires themselves, the cross had the power to keep them prisoner when affixed with silver spikes. A silence hung in the air with the exception of the crucified vampires labored breathing. They watched as Sejanus walked down the middle of the dungeon.The vampires had drab green skin with blotches and streaks of brown and black and the bodies of a primordial bird of prey with very few feathers. They had long hooked talons and a sharp hook at the end of each wing. The vampires had the head of a demon, and instead of a beak the creatures had mouths filled with razor sharp teeth with two long fangs. The eyes were large and forward looking and they had small pointed ears. Generally, about the size of an adolescent boy, size and appearance differences between individuals were easily discernible.12Vesta: The ancient Roman goddess of the hearth flame. One of Romes earliest deities before the founding of the city families sacrificed at home around an altar with a flame dedicated to the goddess. There is a small round temple dedicated to Vesta containing an altar with Romes hearth flame, located at the Forum Romanum. The flame was tended by the Vestal Virgins. The Vestals were a sisterhood of six virgins serving a term of thirty years and were paid from the public treasury. The second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius, is attributed with the founding of the college of Vestal Virgins and with building the temple.There were different types of vampires and these were the Stryx, a more common type. They were more vulgar and demonic in nature than their more human brethren, those from the Queens Court, the Immortals. Scores of Stryx vampires had been captured by Sejanus and his elite force of vampire hunters. They were called the Lupus Cohort, or simply the Wolf Pack. The captives were brought here to the Janiculum Fortress and imprisoned on the cross. The men of the Wolf Pack were picked from Romes legions throughout the empire by a Prophetess named Martha, the advisor to the consul13, and great general Gaius Marius. Marius and Martha had summoned these men, from the farthest reaches of the Roman world, to Rome to drive out the vampires that had infested the city. For superstitious people like the Romans it was imperative that the city be purified, once again pleasing the gods, thereby allowing Romes good luck to return. Rome was under siege by an unseen enemy and she needed all the help she could get. Disaster had stalked Rome for some time and her ultimate threat was somewhere in the Gallic frontier to the north of the Italian peninsula. Somewhere out there was a massive migration of German tribes. They were the same German tribes that had handed Rome a string of battlefield disasters unmatched in history. In recent years Romes domestic politics perpetually bordered on civil war and there was trouble in the east from the young king Mithredates of Pontus14. The first vampires had come to Romes port of Ostia as passengers on the many merchant ships that fed Romes thriving markets. Pirate ships were hired to transport the Stryx with the pilfered money of their departed victims. They came from ports on the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean after the Romans destruction of Carthage and conquest of Macedonia. The vampires came to Rome and they thrived in the swirling mass of humanity and relatively mild climate. They now threatened to overwhelm their host and leave her open to attack by other human enemies. Rome had to be purified before the return of the massive armies of the invading German tribes and it was up to Sejanus and his Wolf Pack to do it.13Consul: An elected magistrate whose term of office was one year. The consulship was the top rung of the cursus honorum or traditional ascent of power in the Senate. The minimum age was 42. Two consuls were curule magistrates meaning they sat on a curule chair a symbol of their office and they could also hold Imperium. They were the chief magistrates of the Roman Senate, elected by the comitia centuriata or centuriate assembly. Consuls convened and presided over the senate and assemblies excluding the plebeian assembly. There was a senior consul based on the popular vote. The consul could promulgate legislation, and command Romes armies.14Pontus: A country on the Southern Shore of the Black Sea in modern day Turkey. At the time of the Vampire Wars it was ruled as an independent Hellenistic monarchy.Over two centuries before, the Macedonian King, Alexander the Great, prosecuted a campaign of conquest that extended east to India. Before Alexander, there was virtually no contact between the Mediterranean world and the Indian subcontinent. It was in India that Alexanders army was infected with the malevolent ageless, vampires. It is believed that the Immortal Vampires, the leaders of the vampire race, may have infiltrated Alexanders royal court, and the Stryx vampires made themselves wives of the officers and ranker soldiers. In this way, the vampires were able to make the crossing over the vast Himalayan Mountain Range to make their way west with Alexander and his Greek and Macedonian veterans. There are many versions of the story about Alexanders untimely death at 32 years old. The crucified vampires seemed to be in a dormant state. With the exception of their eyes, their scrawny demonic bodies never moved. They did not eat and they did not die, they just stayed up there nailed to the cross, watching. Walking through the great space of the dungeon, Sejanus passed the scores of crucified vampires, until he came to a doorway to a second chamber. This chamber was smaller but no less forbidding. It was lit by torches and narrow slits in the massive walls of the fortresss foundation. There were a number of officers and guards all in polished silver armor and crimson cloaks. These were men of the wolf pack, along with an older man in Greek dress. The Greek was a descendant of Aristotle, Alexanders tutor, and he had studied vampires extensively before coming to Rome at the Consul Marius request. There were a number of vampires on crosses in this smaller room. Many were dismembered or hacked apart and some were impaled in most disturbing ways. Yet they were all alive. Have you managed to kill one yet Apollodorus? Sejanus asked the old Greek. The old man was obviously exasperated. Not yet, we have tried all of the spells and incantations we know and we failed with all of the ceremonial weapons. We have hacked them apart, burned them, tried to drown them and we even tried feeding them to starving lions. Apparently the lions would rather starve than eat these foul beasts, the old man trailed off seeing Sejanus displeasure at the bad news. Sejanus was looking at one of the vampires and before his eyes it shape-shifted into a beautiful young girl, taunting Sejanus. Dont you want me Sejanus? Come over here and take me Whats wrong Sejanus, not to your taste? Perhaps this suits you better? The vampire said as it assumed the form of a young boy. Sejanus head tilted slightly as he listened to the vampire. A barely audible grumble came from Sejanus throat, as his lip curled slightly. He turned to a heavy oak table.There were all manner of daggers swords, axes, spears and bludgeoning tools. All of it had vampire slime on it. Sejanus hand tightened on the grip of his silver sword. In one lightning fast motion, turning his body and leaping at the vampire, Sejanus pulled his sword and plunged it through the center of the vampires chest deep into the wood of the cross. The beasts eyes glowed as it assumed its natural form. It let out an ear-piercing screech as its body began to glow around Sejanus sword. The glow burst to the surface and spread outward with an intense red blaze consuming the vampire completely. Sejanus and the other men backed away from the blinding light and blistering heat. The vampire continued to burn for a few moments till it was completely incinerated, leaving only a charred black husk and a blackened, smoking cross. The vampires empty eye sockets continued to stare at Sejanus as its remains smoldered. Sejanus stepped toward the blackened form and tested the handle of his sword. The sword was cool and unblemished. He gripped it and pulled it from the vampires chest as the vampire crumbled and fell to the floor. The other vampires were screaming and struggling to get free from their crosses and escape the fate they knew awaited them. Sejanus listened to the chorus of vampires shrieking in vain. He resisted the urge to start killing them with all due haste. He slowly turned around to face his dumbfounded associates. I think that one is dead. Normally Sejanus, I would agree with you, but just to be safe, I would prefer to observe the remains for at least one day, just to be sure. Apollodorus said. Agreed,