Chapter 779: Working together like brothers
Seeing the situation, Potitus reminded them, “Camillus is now the dictator of Rome!”
Yes, now that Rome had a dictator, all resolutions and laws during this period had to be approved by Camillus before they could implement, but the dictator happened to be away on a campaign. But once he returns with the Roman army, Rome’s crisis will naturally be lifted… As a result, new ideas began to sprout in the senators’ minds.
Among the many fierce conflicts of the Roman nobles with the plebeians in the past, they had gotten through most of the crisis by delaying, after which everything went as usual without much change… So this time, they still decided to go with this method since all kinds of coincidences had led them to believe that the gods had blessed Rome.
So they quickly adopted the following proposal: Removing the debt’s interests owed by the Roman populace, allowing all citizens to apply for leasing lands but limiting the area of land leased per person, allowing plebeians to hold important positions in the city-state, even considering to giving one of the two consuls appointed every year to be a person of plebeian origin, and the slaves who take part in defending the city will be immediately given their freedom…
The senators passed the proposal but didn’t immediately announce it to the people. Instead, they ordered their trusted slaves to return to their homes, gather their people, and quietly blend with the protesters.
After arranging everything properly, they opened the gates of the Senate Hall and announced the proposal they had passed to the crowds.
The crowd was overjoyed, with some exclaiming excitedly, “All hail the Senate! All hail Rome!”
But during their excitement, the senators took the opportunity to announce, “Since Camillus is now the dictator, he must sign the proposal we passed before we could implement it under the Roman law, so you still have to wait two to three days.”
It’s as if the people were doused with cold water from hearing that, resulting in their enthusiasm dropping. Suddenly, the nobles’ underlings mixed in with the crowd shouted, “Don’t worry, Camillus has always acted for us plebeians and has often spoken in our favour in the Senate!”
“Right, look at how many plebeian officers he promoted in the army. He will definitely sign this proposal!”
“As long as we manage to hold on for another three days, we can enjoy equal rights like the nobles once Camillus return!”
“That’s right! We must defend Rome!…”
Although a few wise men in the crowd felt something amiss, the nobles’ underlings had already stirred up the crowd’s emotions. Thus many chose to believe the senators’ words, with some even volunteering to become soldiers to defend Rome.
Seeing the situation, the senators breathed a sigh of relief at having defused the crisis about to erupt. As for whether Camillus would sign the bill on his return, they weren’t worried that Camillus would dare to sign it under the pressure of all the senators. As for whether the plebeians would protest or even revolt, they would worry about that later, as they had to deal with the greatest crisis first.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Currently, the Theonian army had occupied five hundred metres to the east, west, south and north of Rome. After eating their simple lunch and taking a break, the Theonian legionaries, under the leadership of their officers, started building their camp.
Apart from the two cavalry legions, tasked with observing the enemy while recovering their strength, and the palace guards, who have to protect the king, the other six legions, with their auxiliary units and the labourers responsible for transporting provisions, and even the crew of the Third Fleet totalling to about seventy thousand men were busy turning the area around Rome into a massive construction site. As a result, even the city of Rome was shrouded in dust.
In the area under the Second Legion, Adoris and his comrades chatted while wielding pickaxes and shovels as they dug a trench.
Suddenly, someone shouted, “Is Adoris here? Someone is looking for him!”
“Who is it?” When Adoris raised his head from the trench, he heard a joyful shout, “Brother!”
“Croto?!” Adoris had just seen his visitor when Crotokatax ran to his side.
“Why are you here?!”
“Father asked me to come and see you.”
“I am fine. On the contrary, my team dealt with many enemies in yesterday’s battle without any of us getting hurt,” Adoris said while patting his bare chest, “Tell Father he doesn’t need to worry. You can go back now since I am busy and don’t have the time to talk to you!”
“Father is also busy discussing tomorrow’s battle plans with Tolmides, Phryntor and the rest of the Army Staff, so I have nothing to do back there. Why don’t I help with your work?” Crotokatax begged.
“Alright.” Adoris agreed straightforwardly.
Crotokatax then removed his upper clothes and jumped into the dirty, black pit.
“Let me introduce you all to my brother Crotokatax,” said Adoris to his comrades who were busy in the pit.
As most of the soldiers from the Second Legion were citizens of Thurii, and some came from Amendolara, Besidice, and Roscianum, all located in the Thurian region, the young citizens of this area were undoubtedly familiar with Theonia’s royal family, and some may have even met Crotokatax during their time at Thurii’s school. Therefore, they enthusiastically greeted Crotokatax, as they naturally knew who he was.
Crotokatax greeted the soldiers with an attitude of meeting his seniors, which won the soldiers’ favour. Some even said jokingly, “With the two princes here, even the First Legion isn’t as magnificent as our team!”
“Captain, give me another shovel!” shouted Adoris.
But platoon leader Timanthes didn’t immediately hand the shovel. Instead, he whispered cautiously, “Can your brother handle it?”
“Captain, you are unfair. Why didn’t you ask me if I could handle it when you hit me with a stick?” said Adoris half-jokingly.
“Your brother isn’t a soldier under my command,” replied Timanthes frankly.
“Don’t worry, my brother had also received military training since he was a child like me, so he isn’t that delicate,” said Adoris, taking the shovel and handing it to Crotokatax.
Croto immediately grabbed the shovel and started to work.
Timanthes observed for a while and saw the young prince accomplishing the task well. After feeling relieved, he shouted, “Brothers, with the help of Crotokatax, we need to work harder and try to finish the task earlier to leave the other platoons behind and get the centurion’s reward of having our platoon responsible for storming the city tomorrow!”
The platoon leader’s words boosted the soldiers’ enthusiasm, with some even singing the battle song of the Theonian legion. Soon, everyone sang while working, making the construction site bustle with excitement.
Seeing such a sight, Crotokatax became a bit envious.
While lost in his thoughts, Adoris’ voice sounded in his ear, “Is it that interesting to be a legion soldier?”
Crotokatax nodded slightly.
“In fact, it’s even more interesting during battle. Even if you argue with a comrade, they will still try their best to protect you on the battlefield, and you will also try your best to protect them. At that time, everyone become even closer than real brothers, which is quite…a special feeling!” Adoris said emotionally while patting his brother, “You don’t need to rush since you only just turned eighteen. When we were your age, we were still part of the reserve legion, while you are now already on the battlefield, participating in such an exciting battle. When you’re older, our father will certainly arrange for you to serve in the legion.”
Crotokatax nodded. But remembering what his father usually said to him, he wasn’t sure whether he could even become a soldier in the army.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Yesterday’s battle resulted in the Roman army’s defeat, and under the Theonian cavalry’s pursuit, Paulus, Maegius and Pantheus fled into Antium with the remnants of their army.
During their escape, Pantheus accidentally fell and broke his right leg after being trampled by panicked soldiers. If not for his guards desperately rescuing him, he might have already become a captive of the Theonians.
Only after they entered the city did Paulus and Maegius calm down. But when the result of their casualties came out, another blow struck them: From the twenty-five thousand soldiers who went on the expedition, only over a thousand soldiers managed to return.
Fortunately, the scattered soldiers began to return one after another. Then they heard from the mouths of the scattered soldiers that on the way from Lavinium to Antium, they saw many soldiers had their feet and hands severed and could only wail as they couldn’t walk.
The two became anxious, and after discussion, they decided to send troops to rescue the wounded soldiers while the Theonians returned to their camp to rest as darkness fell.
Since this was a considerable risk, some soldiers refused to leave the city. Fortunately, the Theonian pursuers had already returned to Lavinium to rest, allowing Paulus and Maegius to lead the army repeatedly and gradually rescue the wounded soldiers.
After being busy until the early morning of the next day, the number of soldiers in the city soon reached over twelve thousand. However, as many as five thousand soldiers lost their ability to fight due to their wounds. And even after they gathered the physicians of Antium to treat them, it was still a drop in the bucket as the soldiers continued to die in agony and lamentation…
Paulus and Maegius couldn’t do anything about it, not to mention that they and the soldiers were exhausted to the extreme and almost fell asleep.
It was almost noon when Paulus woke up and soon received the first terrible news: Nearly four hundred wounded soldiers died in the second half of the night.
Paulus’ already terrible mood worsened, and he felt the bread he was chewing was tasteless. Suddenly, Maegius came over and said, “The scouts we sent out discovered that the Theonians occupying Lavinium had disappeared.”