Salve! Part 5 of the Border is here for your reading enjoyment. With the Quadi close to escaping, Perula leads his men on a series of desperate charges. But can they stall the barbarians long enough for their allies to reach them? Not sure where to start? Read Part 1 and Part 2 now to get the low-down.
Be sure to read to the end of this part, as I’ve some extra information on Iron Tribune You’ll be interested in hearing!
Praefecti Perula’s spear felt thrice as heavy as it should. His men were barely a hundred paces from the Quadi. The barbarians were forming a shield wall, anticipating the straightforward impact of the horsemen. It formed like an impenetrable barricade, deadly to a head-on charge.
Raising his spear, Perula gave the order. His bucenator blew out a quick series of notes.
Target Left! The straightforward charge turned, striking the shield wall at an angle. The equites slammed through the small gaps in the shield wall, where different tribes of the Quadi had neglected to protect their neighbors. Some of his horses balked, rearing up before the wall. His men fought their mounts, urging them forward. Perula stabbed downwards, killing one, two, three barbarians. Blood fountained away from every strike. His men formed a wedge behind him, slicing through the lines. He lost his grip on a spear, and it tumbled away, lost behind him. Before he could draw his sword, he was through the shield wall, and his horse galloped onwards, now behind the lines of the Quadi.
“Reform! Form up on me!”
His men followed, as he galloped east now, gathering his men as he went. At least 500, very good! He had seen the easterners coming up to the south, and he knew that he must draw the Quadi’s attention away from them, so he could hit them in the back. Of course, if we had been able to pull the legios out of winter quarters rather than just my cavalry, we could have crushed this raiding party without their help.
“Sir!” Martius interrupted his thoughts. “The archers are advancing.” Sure enough, clumps of archers were making their way along the hillside.
“Send a rider to them. They are to hold their fire until we’ve drawn the Quadi’s attention north again.”
A messenger galloped off. Now for the hard part of getting the Quadi’s attention focused north again.
They had traveled a few hundred paces east, and were still facing the shield wall line.
“Sound Prepare to Charge.” The musical notes floated into the air, his men forming up around him. He accepted a replacement spear from one of his equites. The hardwood felt good in his hand, and he grasped it tightly. “For Rome! For the Emperor!”
“For Rome!” His men echoed, spurring their mounts forward.
The thundering of hooves tore into the earth, churning the once-green fields into brown muck. The grey skies clustered low, bringing more drizzle to the valley.
Damn the weather. Damn the barbarians. Fuck that pathetic excuse for a Dux.
He raised his hand, and his bucinator sounded the order for Wedge Formation. Armor clinking, the horsemen moved into a thick triangle, the point focused on Perula and his draconis bearer. The wave of armored men and beasts bore down on a tiny point of the Quadi shieldwall. Perula spurred his mount again, focusing on a slight gap, where an injured Quadi, head bleeding, stood without support on one side.
Perula lowered his body, aimed his spear, and struck. The wedge pushed through the line, losing more men to the hedgehog like quality of the shield wall. A spear scrinnnggged off the metal boss of his shield, wrenching his shoulder back. He stabbed down with his own weapon, once, twice. The steel tip came back covered in blood. Quadi screamed as they were trod beneath the heavy warhorses. The Romans screamed back their own defiance and anger, driving the Quadi before them.
Perula speared another man in the back, when his horse gave its own scream, toppling him to the ground. Fortunately, he flew off the horse, barreling into two barbarians. Shaking his head, he punched one with his shield, feeling the satisfying crack as the man’s nose broke and blood streamed down his face. His spear was nowhere to be found, and Perula drew his spatha, the long cavalry sword sweeping out and into the second man’s leg, then gut as the barbarian struggled to navigate the treacherous field.
His men moved around him, forcing the Quadi lines apart. But they would soon leave him behind.
He had to get clear.
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.
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