Here’s a continuation of my story from last week – The Border. Let me know what you think of it!
As quietly as possible, Tribune Taulos Obiscus crawled up the ridge crest. He had doffed his helmet a while back, the leaves and branches scraping at his close cropped hair. He felt slightly naked without the steel helm, truth be told, although secrecy was a better armor for this mission. A pair of lanceri, light legionnaires from his own command, waited for him.
Upon reaching the crest, Obiscus was afforded an excellent view of the valley. It was roughly horseshoe shaped, two ridges rising out of the ground to the east and west of the valley respectfully, eventually merging into one the further south into the valley one got. The village was situated about halfway down the valley, surrounded by farms and occasional copses of trees. By all accounts, it had been moderately prosperous.
Had been, now it looks like graveyard.
The raiders were scattered all about the village. Obviously settling down for some serious looting.
“Probably just finished off the villagers a short time ago, sir.” One of the lanceri said, predicting the thoughts of his commanding officer.
Better here than in our territory. Odiscus thought darkly as he stared at the carnage.
The ruins of a watchtower burned fitfully in the rain, dark bundles lying around it speaking to a frantic, hopeless decision by the few defenders. Closer to the village, a handful of bodies lay about. The Quadi had rounded up the livestock, and the women and children as well. All would serve the needs of the tribe.
Not if we have anything to say about it.
He looked to his left, imagining his men taking positions along the ridge. They waited for the signal, the trumpeting of horns as Praefecti Perula and his cavalry would seal off the entrance to the valley, then advance south. When the barbarians formed up to meet his horsemen, Odiscus would launch his assault, swinging east then north, trapping them against the horse riders. Perula’s archers would block the east ridge, cutting down the barbarians where they stood. If those archers can hold, then we have a chance. We must make their chieftain believe they are surrounded.
“How many enemy do you see, soldier?”
“Several hundred, Tribune, sir. Maybe a handful more.”
So this was not the main force. About a third our number, or about a fourth of the raiding party. If we can destroy them without too many casualties, it would definitely even the odds.
Odiscus felt his annoyance at Perula for getting him deployed this early in the springtime slip away. Westerners or not, this was still Roman territory, and Odiscus would be damned by god before he willingly allowed Roman territory to be taken without a fight. Of course, if the westerner’s could get their act together, then maybe they wouldn’t need our help.
“Stay here, and let me know if they change anything. When the horn sounds, rejoin your unit.”
Odiscus crept backwards, careful not to rise to his full height before he was several feet back down the ridge. The forest around him was still lightly sprinkled with snow, but some of the trees were showing their spring growth. He walked towards his own command, waiting just a handful of paces downhill. His officers gathered to hear his instructions.
“Move our units to just below the crest. No noise, no shouting. When we hear the trumpets, advance, but make no noise. When the westerner’s have drawn their attention, we’ll march downhill and sweep them up. Keep the men tight, and watch out for flankers. Give me three files from each of your units, they’ll form our reserve. Any questions?”
There were none.
“May God watch over you. And may he lead us to rightfully slay the heathens in him name.” Several of the officers made the sign of the cross, while others made no sound, not following the true word of God. It is no matter, so long as they slay the raiders, and follow my orders.
His officers dispersed, and the limitanei advanced, then crouched down to wait.
They didn’t have to wait long.
Like what you’ve read? Read more of my novellas!
Roma Aeronautica – Learn about Rufius Alexandros’s history, and how he came to lead the Scioparto.
Antioch Burns – Waiting to read Iron Tribune? Meet some of the characters and see how the empire’s second largest city fell in only a few short weeks.