Salve! Part 3 of The Border is now live! Will Perula’s forces throw back the Quadi? Will his plan work, or will Rome lose another border province? Read to find out! As always, let me know what you think of it below. Not sure what’s happening? Read Part 1 and Part 2!
The blow of the trumpet resounded throughout the valley.
Here’s to hoping the easterners hold up their end of the bargain. Perula thought as he raised his spear high into the air. to his left and right, hundreds of horsemen followed, awaiting his orders. Responding the the horn, the Quadi milled about, caught between fleeing, charging, and forming a shieldwall.
Good. Let’s hope we can add to that confusion.
He cantered forward. 600 equites followed. The drizzle had stopped now, but the soggy farmland was turning to mud under the horse hooves.
His bucinator raised the trumpet to his lips. He blew out the long, mournful notes again.
Saddles creaked as his men shifted. Perula searched the hills to the southwest, looking for signs of movement among the trees.
Finally! The mailed forms of men broke from the treeline, quickly forming lines. The praefecti let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. He turned to examine his men. He could feel their relief at seeing their allies arrive.
“Sir! Tribune Lumari’s pedes are firing upon the Quadi.” His banner-bearer, draconarius Hariso Martius, was normally taciturn, rarely losing his calm regardless of the situation. But the desperation of the plan must have gotten to him. “Now we’ve got them right where we want them, right, sir?”
Perula eyed the situation. His equites had neatly bottled the Quadi in the valley. The steep and rugged hillsides limited their movements. His archers would massacre the barbarians if they tried to move east. The lightly armored raiders would be easy pickings as they climbed the hillside. To the west, the more heavily armored limitanei should be able to hold them off long enough for the equites to take them in the rear.
Of course, all that depends on what the Quadi do.
The now-constant rain of arrows upon the barbarians had finally convinced them to move. They surged forward, moving towards the two units of equites blocking the valley.
“Looks like they’ll come to us this time.” Logical move. Outrace our infantry support and flee the arrows. Although putting your backs to the arrow storm will make them vulnerable.
“We’ll take them head on.” He ordered. “For Rome!”
“For Rome!” His men shouted, banging their spears against their shields. Perula spurred his mount forward slightly, bringing his men forward. Flat fields lay before him, occasionally interspersed by a barn or grain storehouse, and crisscrossed by stone walls. We must wait, we cannot afford for our charge to be broken up by buildings.
“Sir, Odiscus’ men have reached the valley floor. They’re moving in pursuit towards us.” Martius said quietly. “I lost them once they got behind the village.” Perula nodded. As soon as the Quadi cross that last wall, I’ll start the charge.
It was an agonizingly slow wait, as the barbarians swept forward, rolling over walls and through fields like a wave rolling up a beach. Perula narrowed his eyes as the first figures clambered over the last fieldstone barrier.
“At the ready!” The was a slight rustle as his men hastened to adjust armor or weaponry, then silence. Only the ragged puffs of warm air from man and mount gave proof they still lived. Perula took a breath, mouthed a silent prayer, and gave the signal.
“Forward! For Rome and the Emperor!”
Like this? Check out my published novellas for more Roman adventure!
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.