The Sword of Jupiter - Cover

The Sword of Jupiter

Copyright© 2021 by Lumpy

Chapter 35

Instead of staying in the palace, Ky relocated to the Seventh Legion’s camp, since they were the closest to where the Picts were being set up. Before settling down for the night, he made a ride through the Pict camps, to check on the conditions. Despite protests from both his lictores and Velius, Ky only took his three guards currently on duty.

While he had put them between two legions to keep an eye on the Picts, just in case, he didn’t want them to feel like prisoners either since one of the keys to bringing them to Devnum to train was to build a working relationship between them and the Romans. He and his men and been in and out of the Picts as they traveled south, which Ky hoped would breed enough familiarity that they wouldn’t take it as some kind of prison guard looking over them.

Velius’s men did a good job and most of the camp was set up and ready to go, following the regulations Ky had given them for sanitation, with latrines separated from the rest of the camp and any water sources and tents in organized rows. Ky could see several wagons of grain and other foodstuffs moving into the camp, as well. The Picts themselves were well behaved, with mostly women lining up to get their allotment.

The one thing Ky hadn’t expected to see was Roman merchants setting up just outside the camps as they had with the other legions, considering the prejudices that most Romans would have for the Picts. There were fewer of them than with the Roman legions, but there were some and Ky imagined once the Pict civilians started working and bringing in additional earnings that they could spend, there would be more.

Seeing them gave Ky hope and an idea. Although the Romans had a real grievance with the Picts, because of border clashes and raids, those were mostly farmers and traders near the border. The people of Devnum had never experienced that and most would have had no contact with a Pict before now. The biggest driver of their prejudice was just unfamiliarity, seeing them not as people but as just something foreign.

While the Picts would probably see the money as the biggest benefit they could get from their dependents getting wage work, Ky had a feeling their creating regular contact between Picts and Romans would be of bigger value long term. Familiarity would help get rid of a lot of the prejudice that the Romans had. There’d be hardcore holdouts, but the ones who had daily contact would quickly grow used to them. Ky sent a messenger back to town to request Hortensius met him at the Seventh Legion’s camp when he was finished here.

Ky finished his tour, occasionally having a word with a warrior here or there that he had met on the journey, before stopping at the tent Llassar had set up in. It was the same as the rest of the Picts, which said something about the man. Roman commanders tended to travel in style and always set up in such a way as to remind all of their men that they were still in charge. It would be unthinkable for a Roman legate commanding an equal number of men to live among them in the same condition.

The only real tell that a commander was living here were the messengers gathered outside, waiting to be sent on this or that errand.

Ky slid off his horse as Llassar came outside.

“Are your people settling in well?”

“Yes,” Llassar said, in his usual laconic fashion.

“Is there anything your men need?”

“They want to know when they will be allowed to go into the forests and hunt.”

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea. It isn’t that I don’t trust your people, but the warriors will need to begin training with their Roman counterparts so we can work effectively together. We can have more food brought in, if there’s not enough.”

“There is enough, but most of the men do not want to live off of Roman charity.”

“I see,” Ky said.

It made sense. Picts were used to a harder lifestyle and in the north, owing someone else was much more serious than it was in Rome.

“The food being brought in now is only for the first few days, as we get organized. Your men will be paid the same as the Romans and we will try and get those payments started soon so they can buy their own food off the merchants setting up outside your camps. Beyond that, I am working on getting wage work set up in town for any of their dependents that want to help bring in money for their families. Within a week or two we should be able to cut off the supply drops and the men should be able to pay their own way.”

“On the back of Roman coin.”

“Yes, but we’ll be here until the ground thaws and the death worshipers start moving. With this many people, around a city of even more people, I’m not sure how practical living off the land will be. We are paying your men the exact same as we pay a Roman soldier and asking them to live under the same conditions. Except for these first few days while things get settled, we are not offering anything for your men except equality with their Roman counterparts.”

Llassar was quiet for a moment and then nodded in reply.

“I think it would be helpful if you could convince as many of the civilians as possible to take the work we’re finding in town. Besides the money, which I’m sure your people will find useful, I think their intermingling with Roman civilians will make these experiences easier on both them and your people.”

“I will speak with them. Are the Roman soldiers allowed to go into the town or do they only deal with the merchants that will come to them?”

Ky had hoped to keep the Pict warriors at least separated for a while, since he could think of several nightmare scenarios of men going into the city, drinking, or getting into arguments, and the consequences that would come from either scenario. Familiarity might be the best way to lessen tensions between the Picts and Romans, but if that familiarity involved people getting hurt or killed, it would backfire on them. On the other hand, he had just finished saying he was offering equality with their Roman equals.

“Yes, a handful are given passes to go to town for the day, although they’re required to return to camp that evening. I think we should wait a few days before offering the same thing to your men. You understand that they will be required to follow Roman rules and customs while you’re in Roman lands, and will be subject to Roman laws and punishment.”


While he appreciated Llassar always going right to the point, he sometimes wished the man would use a few more words when discussing a topic.

“You also understand that it is unlikely many Romans will speak the Pict language? If men who don’t speak Latin go into town, then they might find communicating difficult.”


“Fine. On average a Roman legion gives out fifty passes a day. Once your men start receiving pay, you can do the same and allow fifty of your men to go into town for whatever they need, as long as it doesn’t interfere with training. This wouldn’t include women or dependents or finding work, of course.”

“Alright,” Llassar said.

“I’ll be staying with the Seventh Legion for now. If you need anything, please send a messenger to me and we’ll get it sorted.”

“Fine. Goodbye,” Llassar said, going back into his tent with that terse farewell.

Ky repressed a sigh and remounted, heading back to the Seventh Legion. He was going to have to let the city guard know about the Picts and make sure everyone was on their best behavior and, if a Pict did get out of line, that they worked to keep the situation from escalating out of control. The whole situation was a powder-keg waiting to explode, but as with everything else recently, he had little choice.

“Consul,” Hortensius said when Ky walked into his tent.

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