27 July 2015

Verdant Empire Chronicles: Herbiwarriors

In the of weeding flower beds, there arrives a point at which any praetorian worth his salt knows that "Kill them all, and may the gods sort them out" becomes his battle cry and modus operandi. Thus it has been in our campaign against the rebels in the Western Beds and Northern Reach. Summer has been hot, our bodies watering the soil with the sweat of our brows. The weeds trembled before our might.

The dawn broke, the day began with our scouts testing the positions of the barbarians. They sat placidly, perhaps unaware that by days' end they were destined to be corpses on the shores of Lake Avernus, to be cast upon the waters amidst the mephitic fumes seeping from the ground. Perhaps they had not taken to heart the fate of their compatriots during our campaign along the Eastern Beds, earlier in the year where we visited our imperial fury upon the intruders to till them into the earth. To return them to the black dirt from which they sprang.

The day was hot. The very air felt as if we were immersed in the caldariums of the capitol, the memories of which brought a brief smile to our troubled mien. There would be no bathing here, no bracing splashes of chilled water to refresh and revive us after our martial labors in the name of Mars. No, there would be sweat and death.

Our gaze turned to the sky. It was full of clouds the color of worn denarii, but as yet there had been no rain. The earth steamed before us. We gave the signal, a hundred trumpets lifting their brazen voices to the sky. Our army fell upon the weeds and unwelcome grasses amidst shouts and groans. The first rank of soldiers fell hard upon the prickly boxwood and juniper. Blood was drawn but we held fast, tearing the enemy out by their pale roots. A surprise attack by a thorny little bramble, secreted amid the bushes, caught us off guard. Our heroic effort beat it back. It roots twitched and curled in the wan sunlight as we tossed it upon the burgeoning pile of the dead.

Sweat and heat threatened to put us off our objectives. Terrible thirst and a near swoon, and we had to retreat momentarily before advancing headlong into the valley of the Northern Reach. It was there that the shriveled stalks of the tiger lilies that had bloomed weeks before fell to us easily. It had the air of a trap about out, perhaps they conspired with the low-lying creeping Charlies that entwined themselves amongst the roots of the taller plants. But we could see them. Their amateurish attempts at camouflage were given away by the brazen display of their blooms, which we easily spotted and used to great advantage in finding the roots to rip them out.

The piles grew. The air filled with the noxious reek of their dying lifeblood oozing out onto the mossy sward. Bindweed surged forth and mounted a feeble counterattack towards the middle of the day. The sun, what little we could see of it, limned the foe in pale white light. They shrank back, discipline gave way as our forces clearly gained the advantage. The green shaggy invaders we crushed beneath our imperial sneakers, holding fistfuls of the vanquished above our heads as we growled in triumph. Soon, the Western Beds and Northern Reach fell quiet save for the labored rasp of our breath.

The barbarians, what pathetic examples of them that remained, made no sound as we gathered them up and into the sacks we drew from our supply train. We stood stiffly in the zephyrs wafting through the valley. The campaign was complete. We had won.

The night still steams. The sounds of camp life drift softly up the hill to our tent, where these words spill themselves out into our journal. Through the gap in the tent flaps, I see the lights of the camp stretch out before me to the north and east. This day is won, the weeds and trash trees on their way to Hell. The campaign will continue, this we know. The provinces of the Eastern Faciem Saxo are reported to be under attack. Reports lay on the camp desk, of bindweed, rampant hostas and unsettling rumors of a weed heretofore unseen.

A goblet of mountain snow sets near to hand. It is flavored with certain berries and herbs that promote calmness of mind. Tonight we rest. Soon, we conquer. The weeds know this, and tremble.

Written by our hand on this day, 26 July 2015,
Kevinus Aurelius