Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 19

Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 19

“Kleitos,” Roxane said. “Just you.”

A man in bronze breastplate, with a steel sword at his side, made a gesture. The servants and most of the guards moved out of easy earshot. Attalus looked at the man. He was one of Alexander’s veterans, going a bit gray now, and like most of them scarred from years of fighting. He was stocky, but well-muscled, with curly brown hair. There was a curl to his lips that Attalus didn’t much care for, like he expected to be lied to and wasn’t going to believe you no matter what you said. But there was nothing for it. Roxane needed to be told. “They report that Peithon and Arrhidaeus will be forced to resign.”

There was a snort of laughter, then Kleitos said. “Excellent. Prove your validity as a seer by reporting what has already happened.”

“From five hundred miles away,” Attalus said. “They couldn’t have known when they sent word.”

“They couldn’t have,” Kleitos said, and Attalus started to stand in anger. Kleitos’ hand dropped to his sword.

“Stop it!” Roxane hissed.

Attalus got himself under control. He took a breath, then another. “I am not a liar, Kleitos.”

“And I’m not a babe, to be taken with fables and stories of magic ships from the future.”

“Neither am I, but there are too many reports from too many sources.”

“No. They all come through the signal fires and all it would take would be some prankster with more silver than sense bribing some signal man.” Kleitos sneered.

Suddenly Attalus relaxed, leaning back in his chair. “No. You’re wrong. You know that there are codes used to send the messages. The army has one, the merchants others, the civil government different codes. This latest report came through a commercial agent. A grain merchant. That means that it was encoded by his partner in Alexandria, before it was sent on signal fires. The prankster wouldn’t know those codes.”

“Unless it’s Ptolemy, playing some deep game on us all.”

Now it was Attalus’ turn to laugh. “Believe or don’t, Captain, it makes no difference to me.” Attalus turned back to Roxane. “Your Majesty, I believe that the ship is real, and I believe that the messages I have received about it are true. Your husband’s name lived on more than two thousand years into the future, and even details of the events following his death are recorded.” Attalus went on to repeat the news he had gotten from Cleisthenes, then said, “I believe its true. All of it, not just the parts confirmed.”

“It’s too ridiculous,” Kleitos insisted, then held up a hand. “It’s not you I doubt, Attalus. It’s…the world, I guess. But I think we need more before we act, if we can act at all. If we can change what is already written in the stars, we ought to be very sure before we do so.”

“Are you joining us, my captor?” Roxane asked, running a finger over the scroll work on the arm of the couch.

“For now, Majesty. At least until I get a better offer.”

“Then what do you recommend?” Attalus asked. And he couldn’t help but smile a little. Kleitos was, in his way, the quintessential soldier of Alexander the Great’s army, at least in these days after Alexander betrayed them all by dying. They didn’t believe in anything but their pay and their comrades — and sometimes not their comrades.

“You said Antipater would be captured. Wait until that happens. Wait until he arrives and gets captured. That’s not something I would guess at happening. If it happens on schedule, then we might act.”

“Act in what way?” Roxane asked. “Certainly, we can plan what to do if things fall out as the ship people say.”

“That’s a very good question,” Kleitos said. “Would you rather be in Antipater’s hands or Eurydice’s?”

“I know you don’t trust Eurydice, but will you trust me?” Attalus asked. “If I guarantee your safety, will you side with Eurydice against Antipater and Antigonus?”

“I’ll have to think about it,” Roxane said.

Triparadisus

September 24

“More news,” Cleisthenes told Attalus, standing in the afternoon sun and looking out at the orchards. “Word of the resignations reached Alexandria. Ptolemy released the signal mirrors to Atum based on that word. It proved that the ship folk really were from the future. So he let Atum send me word to protect the queens and the kings.”

“Ptolemy did that?” Attalus asked. “He wasn’t so loyal when he arranged the murder of my brother-in-law and my wife!”

Cleisthenes was silent and Attalus took a few deep breaths of the fruit-scented air to get himself under control. He knew what the merchant wasn’t saying. Ptolemy was being invaded when he had done those things.

But it left Attalus wondering what Ptolemy was up to. He was loyal to Alexander until he died, then Ptolemy was loyal to Ptolemy and no one else. He had been so close to trying for the crown after Alexander died that Attalus had been surprised when he didn’t. When he had stolen Alexander’s body on its way home to Macedonia, Attalus had been sure that Ptolemy was making his move. That was why Perdiccas had invaded Egypt.

Then, when Ptolemy beat Perdiccas on the Nile and had him and Atalante killed, he had again passed on the regency. But, again, it was because there was enough anger in the army about him and the Macedonian troops he had killed in the fighting to make it chancy. Ptolemy wasn’t a coward, but he was a careful man. Perhaps too careful. Attalus was convinced that it was that caution, not any concern for Alexander’s family, that had persuaded Ptolemy to allow the message.

Suddenly Attalus thought he understood. Ptolemy wanted the fight. He wanted the rest of the empire under the control of a teenaged girl, a deranged king, a weak widow, and an infant king. What better way to make it fail?

Attalus started to smile. Ptolemy had finally made a mistake. He had misread the women. Roxane was cautious, possibly too cautious, but not weak-willed. And Eurydice, young though she was, could move armies with her words.

Attalus hated Ptolemy almost as much as he hated Peithon, Arrhidaeus, and Seleucus. He would love to see the bastard humbled by a couple of women.

“Go on,” he said to Cleisthenes. “Tell me everything.”

Triparadisus

September 25

The sun was just setting as Antipater reached the north side of the river. He leaned back in his saddle and rubbed his back. At the urgent request of those incompetents, Peithon and Arrhidaeus, he had ridden ahead of the bulk of his army with only an ile of cavalry accompanying him. Two hundred fifteen horsemen, including him, Plistarch, and Cassander, his oldest surviving son. His eldest son Iollas had died at the Nile, serving that incompetent bastard, Perdiccas.

Antipater waved Cassander forward. “Camp the ile up near those trees, and have them prepare for the rest of the army.” He held up a hand, lest Cassander interrupt. “I know they’re tired. I don’t give a damn.”

“Yes, Father,” Cassander said, starting to turn his horse.

“And send me Plistarch,” Antipater said, then added loud enough for Cassander to hear: “At least he’s killed his boar.” Cassander tensed but rode back to the troops without commenting. Antipater snorted a laugh. Then he looked across the little wooden bridge. The river that ran through Triparadisus wasn’t much of one. Maybe ten feet across and four deep. But it would slow his horsemen, and when the rest of his army got here, it would slow them even more.

Not that that would matter. He reach up and scratched his beard. Not for Antipater the fad of imitating Alexander’s clean shaven face. The boy had only done it because his beard had started out a scraggly thing and he’d been embarrassed. Then it had become part of the legend, and by the time he could have grown a proper beard, Alexander couldn’t back down. Now half his generals were imitating the shaved state. No, these traitorous dogs will come to heel as soon as they are shown a firm hand. That was why he wanted Plistarch with him, even though the boy wasn’t half as clever as Cassander. He had killed his boar and the soldiers would respect that.

 

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12 Responses to Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 19

  1. Tweeky says:

    It has just occurred to me that something the cruise-ship could introduce that would have a profound effect on warfare are horse-saddles equipped with stirrups.

    • Geoffrey Nichols says:

      Yes, stirrups and horse collars will both have a profound effect by increasing the efficiency of the horse. But I thought this was already mentioned in a previous post. These improvements have been used by a number of authors, two that come to mind are stirrups in Drake’s Belisarius series and house collars in Pournelle’s “King David’s Spaceship”.

  2. Lyttenburgh says:

    “A man in bronze breastplate, with a steel sword at his side, made a gesture. “

    It’s highly unlikely that it a person of his station would wear bronze breastplate. Just kind of breastplate is it? Hemithorax? Well, it was not “full-metal”. Just a few metal plates sewn into a cloth in fact. “Anatomically correct” breastplates were extreamly heavy, clumsy and inpractical.

    Judging by the fingings in Vergina’s tomb it looked like this:

    http://hetairoi.de/sites/default/files/2017-02/vergina2.jpg

    As someone who served in the Army and who had to wear our modern – much lighter – armor for a long periods of time, I’m fairly sure that such veteran as Kleitos, who has to do both bodygard and assassin duty (in case Roxana losts her mind and tries to run) he’d opt for a lighter version, than to the ceremonial full-metal breastplate.

    But the authors, it looks to me, are unavare what it takes to wear such kind of armor for a lengthy period of time. Ergo their screw up.

    “Believe or don’t, Captain, it makes no difference to me.”

    Why “Captain”? Why not make the stale brains of the intended readersip work a bit by introducing a proper Macedonian rank? Which is?..

    • Johnny says:

      Muscle cuirasses weighed between 6 and 12 lbs and no other armor other than greaves and a helmet were worn.

      Modern body armor weighs more. The current IOTV weighs 30 lbs while the interceptor, the last generation, weighed 16 lb and about 8.5 lb without the inserts.

      In fact, the Roman kit was about 60 lb whereas our extended patrol units carry about twice that.

      Of course their armor (and general kit) weighed less, they had to reach the enemy as well as swing a sword or spear or what have you in it. Significantly different than laying covering fire.

      Research fail, Lytt

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “Muscle cuirasses weighed between 6 and 12 lbs and no other armor other than greaves and a helmet were worn. “

        Oh, rly? How about up to 60 lbs! Or will you provide your own source for this ludicrous number?

        Besides, as I said, no one wore these monstrosities:

        https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2395/2213895873_0127fffb89_m.jpg

        besides ceremonial functions.

        “Modern body armor weighs more.”

        Nope. If speaking about the body armor only – in the range of 7 – 11 lbs, depending on model (or if some lazy grunt decides to remove a plate or two…)

        “In fact, the Roman kit was about 60 lb whereas our extended patrol units carry about twice that. “

        Which is absolutely irrelevant ’cause we are not talking about Romans (btw – Romans of which period?).

        Snark fail, Johnny. Try again.

        • Geoffrey Nichols says:

          I did a web search on “muscle cuirass weight” and am getting results in the 6 to 12 pound range. Doing a quick approximation with a 30-inch diameter by 24 inch high cylinder gives a thickness of over ¼ inch for 60-pound weight while 6 pound would be less than 28 thousands thick.
          If you are guarding a queen you should be wearing your “dress uniform” and comfort be damned.

          • Johnny says:

            Seems about right. 28 thousandths for a 6lb cuirass would mean that plates would vary between 24 and 18 gauge thickness.

            As comparison, this full plate armor:

            https://www.pinterest.com/pin/96264510755259623/

            weighed…. 14 lbs.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            Newsflash! Quick google-search does not replace formal knowledge or lengthy research periods! Also in news – Pope is (still) a Cathilic, bear shits in woods. News at 11!

            Okay, oh arcane and mysterious place called “Internet”! Divulge your secrets! I want to know how much did a bronze “muscular” armor weight in Alexander the Great’s time.

            [Note – the Authors say noting about “muscle cuirass”. They only mention “bronze armor”]

            “The cuirasses were cast in two pieces, the front and the back, then hammered. They were a development from the early Archaic bell-shaped cuirass, weighing about 25 pounds

            Source #1

            “By the third century B.C.E, the bell cuirass had given way in Greece to the linen cuirass. Constructed of strips of linen glued and sewn together in lamellar fashion, it was cheaper, more flexible, and lighter than the bronze cuirass ”

            The Great Armies of Antiquity

            “Remember that, during the Classical times, Greek smith were able to produce spearheads of iron, which replaced bronze spearheads, and may have contributed to the decline of bronze armour, as they made piercing a solid plate of bronze much easier; however, the Greeks were apparently unable to work larger pieces of iron to make breastplates. Note that they were able to make cast bronze, but cast iron was not used in Europe until after the 13th century CE, and only become commonplace after the Renaissance. However, I think there is little reason to believe that the decline of the bronze bell was due to insufficient protective properties. In the Anabasis, Xenophon mentions his bronze bell as a “cavalryman’s cuirass”, implying that the lighter linen armour was more suited to infantry, but that cavalry preferred still the bronze cuirass, presumably because they viewed it as more protective (although I’d have to agree it’s prettier as well).

            Oh, and one last thing; Xenophon says that, once dismounted, the weight of his cavalry armour made him unable to keep pace with a squad of infantry running up a hill.”

            Source #2

            Ref: Plutarch’s “Demetrius” mentions a bronze armor weighting 2 talents (1 talent – 37 lbs) – two times more than ordinary armor.

            Ref: Much better made and lighter Medieval muscular cuirasses of mid XVI c. weighted c. 52 lbs.

            Also – learn a thing or two about bronze and what this amount of it (used to make one cuirass) might weigh.

            Once again – I will gladly see your sources! Why you are not posting them though?

        • Johnny says:

          http://www.larp.com/hoplite/greekarmor.html
          Muscle cuirass weight

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interceptor_body_armor
          Interceptor body armor weight

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Improved_Outer_Tactical_Vest
          IOTV weight

          So his cuirass weighs between 6 and 12 pounds while modern body armor weighs between 30 and 35 lbs.

          Again, research fail, Lytt. As usual, you seek to nitpick every part of the novel without caring if it is accurate or not.

          Really, if you knew anything about this period, you’d talk about how it would most likely be a linothorax – a linen breastplate, as those were more popular with Macedonians and provided about the same protection as bronze breast plates.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            Okay, linky-links! We have something to work with!

            ” Original cuirasses were surprisingly light, as little as six pounds, as the metal could be less than a milimeter thick. The maximum weight was probably around 12 pounds. Note that many modern authorities grossly overestimate these weights! “

            They are not overestimating the weight. We reference the available sources and the knowledge about the level of metallurgy development in tha era. What you, LARPers got here, is not a genuine thing – just a modern replica made by using modern technologies.
            Try again.

            “They are also too ready to dismiss these cuirasses as “ceremonial”, but recent tests have shown that 1mm bronze sheet is highly resistant to the weapons of the time–this was fully functional and very protective armor.”

            I’d like to see these tests. I really do. Because to see how a bronze armor of laughable thickness deflects a blow from iron tipped pear – well, that would be a sight to behold!

            “There is NO evidence that the muscled cuirass was ever made of leather! “

            Because [NEWSFLASH!] leather is worse to survive literally millenia of history? Not to mention lots of years of use.

            So your source is some re-enactor. Not a historian. Huh.

            [Sracasm: On]
            Looks legit!
            [Sarcasm: Off].

            “Really, if you knew anything about this period, you’d talk about how it would most likely be a linothorax – a linen breastplate, as those were more popular with Macedonians and provided about the same protection as bronze breast plates.”

            In fact, in my very first message I said:

            “Just a few metal plates sewn into a cloth in fact. “Anatomically correct” breastplates were extreamly heavy, clumsy and inpractical. “

            And then mentioned Vergina’s armor. And, no, there is no chance that the Queen would be guarded by non-cavalry veteran.

            Once again, Johnny – are you insisting that Kleitos is wearing a bronze “muscular” armor in this scene?

            • Johnny says:

              For one, “Just a few metal plates sewn into a cloth in fact. ” is not a linothorax. It’s a brigandine, which didn’t appear for about another 1000 years. Nice try.

              Second, your link about bell cuirasses refers to armor that stopped being used 160 years before the date of the novel. “Early archaic” is certainly not post Alexander.

              Third, thanks for the link to a video game message board. I’m sure that it’s far more reliable than a re-enactor’s site. I also appreciate the post which expressly states that a bell cuirass weighs 6 kilos. I’ll go ahead and let you do the conversion on that. I’m sure that random people who

              For four, multiple sources indicate that iron spear tips are a reason for the declining use of bronze cuirasses.

              For five, no. I’m insisting that every point you’ve brought up that he can’t possibly be wearing a bronze breastplate is flat wrong. You are not as smart as you think you are.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            Here are the bare facts:

            – Cavalry armor was heavier than the one used by the infantry. When infantry has only their own backs and legs to move them cavalry has horses to share their weight – and the weight of their armor. Just how heavy cavalry armor was you might read in Xenophont – here, when dismounted but in full armor he could barely move let alone run.

            – Officers had better (read – heavier) armor than rank-n-file. Penalties to lose one’s armor of distinct type found in the sources of the ear are two times greater for the officers.

            – Who could be allowed to become a bodyguard of the Queen and Alexander’s son and heir? A veteran, no doubt – but not just any veteran. He must be of proper background, i.e. a member of the military elite – cavalryman.

            – Now this cavalryman turned bodyguard have to spend a lot of time dismounted in the line of his duty. He can’t wear day in day out his old heavy armor – that’d hinder him executing his duties (like, maybe killing the Queen when ordered to). So a bronze ceremonial breastplate no matter how fancy is a no. What to where? I already said what – see my topmost comment about the type of armor found in Vergina’s tomb (which dates to that particular era), aka proto-brigantine. That’s nothing really new or “revolutionary” in that – that’s not a rocket science to strap some metal pieces on the linen armor and people were known to do just that long before European Middle Ages.

            And thus I reiterate that, no, whatever dem authors write, for Kleitos to wear “bronze armor” is just extremely unlikely.

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