A Carthaginian's Story: Part 1


All of Nature seems to think it is a normal day. Birds soar high in the sky, the light of the sun illuminates the seemingly endless rolling hills of grass. The sun's heat would be oppressive, were it not for the cool breeze coming in waves over the soft, yellow grass. The air is cool on the film of sweat that covers your skin. A normal day. Yet a faint scent is carried invisibly, over the earth, an unmistakable smell that confirms all the rumors: Carthage is burning.
Today is no normal day. Today your small village will be destroyed: your home, your family, your ancestors' tombs, your shrines... all of it will face the wrath of the people who defeated Carthage. They call themselves the Romani, and they come from the land of Italia.
As long as you can remember it has been war with the Romani, but it has always been an idea, some abstract concept, far away from your everyday life. You little village has never been of any consequence in this war. Every once in a while you would hear rumors of a battle, a loss, a victory, but you would shake your head and return to tilling your soil. You prayed to the Gods for Carthage to succeed, everyone did so in times of war, but you never really felt like a loss was a threat, or that it could even possibly affect you. All of that has changed now. Carthage is destroyed, and the Romani roam her territories, taking her people. It is a war you never fought in, you never saw, you never wanted, and now it is coming to your village.
You stand among a crowd of the village's strongest men. You know them all well, their families, their homes. You are even related to some, a cousin here, a brother-in-law here. There are about thirty of you. Thirty able-bodied men, standing at the edge of the village, peering off in the direction of Carthage, a faint black spot on the otherwise beautiful blue sky. It used to seem like a lot of people, these thirty men, when their was a wedding or a festival or a funeral. Yet, with the Lagions of the Romani approaching, these thirty men---thirty farmers, strong farmers, but farmers nonetheless---are nothing. You stand ready to fight, but there will be no fight, only a massacre.
Your village convened a council, hearing word from village after village that the Romani had come, taken the people and valuables, and left behind desolation. The council decided they would gather their strongest, and defend their village. The men rallied readily in defense of their homes and families. You were no different, bellowing the same rallying cry as your friends and family. Anything seemed possible in the din. Now, as Shapash shines her rays down on your skin, it is all too clear what you and your comrades await: annihilation.
Everyone is silent. You wonder if the same thoughts that are running through your head are running through theirs: We will be killed, our families taken, our homes destroyed. Why should we fight a battle we cannot win? We fight to protect our families, but we cannot protect them by fighting. You wonder: could you and your family outrun the Romani? All the vast, empty lands to the south, surely they would not pursue you to the ends of the earth? You could run. Take your family, some resources, and run. Build a new home. Start a new life, far from the reach of the Romani.You look around you, each man stares forward, toward Carthage. You cannot read the looks on their faces: a mix of too many emotions---anger, resolve, fear, uncertainty. No, you are not the only one thinking of flight.
"This is foolishness," a voice cries from behind you. Everyone turns in unison. "This is simply foolishness," there are some nods of approval. The man speaking is your brother-in-law and childhood friend. A good man, a strong man, a sensible man. His voice is slightly shaky, but he speaks with a calm, sad certainty, "We cannot win this battle." Things returned to silence for some time. Every man was looking down or off to the side, anywhere to dodge their comrades glances. Everyone felt shame at the thought they all shared: He is right.
"We go to our deaths," came another voice, "Our deaths and the capture of our families, the destruction of our crops and our homes." Nods and some faint grunts of agreement punctuated the remark. "Well what else can we do?" another cried out in frustration. Perhaps you should run? The thought is tempting. The Romani are not even close enough to be seen yet, you might have days before they arrive. Looking around at the men, you can see that their resolve has lessened, fear, more than anything, paints their faces a grim color. Or perhaps you should fight? There is no greater honor than to die in defense of your family. And who is to say you will lose? You know these lands, you are formidable men, strong from years of work. What if you only face off against a small band of Romani? You could win. Anything is possible.
Taking a deep breath, you fill the uncomfortable silence with a voice of certainty...
(Select which speech you will give)
Convince the men to flee.
Convince the men to fight.