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Salve,

Here is Part 6 of The Border for your enjoyment – the battle lines clash and our allies find themselves in a tough spot! If you like what you’ve read, please look into supporting my Kickstarter for Iron Tribune’s illustrations! You’ll be helping make my 3rd novel even better than it already is! Here’s the link for those looking to support me. $10 gets you the novel and our 1st stretch goal, which is a free copy of Antioch Burns!

Part 6

Screaming his rage and frustration, Odiscus battered his sword down onto the Quadi shieldwall. Once, twice, and the shield cracked, falling apart in his opponent’s hand. Speartips flashed past him, the murderous metal wet with blood and rain. Odiscus slammed his sword down one final time, burying it in his enemy’s shoulder. The man cried out, spinning away from him. Bastard! He thought as his sword tumbled away from him, still embedded in the barbarian’s shoulder.

He drew his pugio. Around him, his men swarmed forward, hacking and slashing, stabbing and beating their way through the Quadi lines. Where in God’s Heaven is Perula and the cavalry? He thought angrily as he ducked the swing of a barbarian axe. His draconis barreled into him, knocking him to the ground. Cursing, Odiscus tried to push the man off him, failing in his exhaustion. A spear jutted from his back. Blinking the rain from his eyes for a moment, Odiscus coldly realized his luck. Squirming backwards, he inched away from his savior. Boots stamped around him, sinking into the bloody mud. He stumbled to his feet, yanking the spear out of his man’s back. Around him, his men were surging forward, pressing against the Quadi. The sound of thunder reached his ears.

A thunderstorm?

No! It was the cavalry. Finally! The westerner’s horsemen slammed into the rear of the struggling Quadi. Odiscus felt the pressure on his infantry relieved almost instantly.

“Follow me! Form on me!” He cried as he threw his spear at screaming enemy. The man tumbled backwards. Weaponless again, Odiscus scooped the draco off the ground, waving the mud-covered to rally his men. With a cheer, they redoubled their efforts. Draco in one hand, another liberated sword in the other, Odiscus yelled encouragement to his men.

“Sir! Sir!” One of his men ran up, bleeding and helmetless. “We’ve found the westerner leader, what-his-name… the praefecti! He’s been seriously injured, my lord.” Odiscus cursed.

“Where?”

“To the east, Tribune Corsis’ is with him now.” Odiscus pushed the draco into the messenger’s hand.

“Show me. Now!” They immediately moved east, navigating behind his own lines. ducking combats where possible. One more than a few occasions they had to deal with a particularly stubborn Quadi. The barbarians were desperate now, hemmed in by the cavalry and pushed back by the infantry. Ahead, Odiscus spotted Corsis’ banner.

“The praefecti should be around here, sir.” They scrambled over the muddy farmland, to where Corsis waited. Next to him, his men knelt by the injured Perula, tending to the wounded man. As Odiscus reached him, the echoing call of trumpets blaring retreat floated out over the battlefield.

“That isn’t our call, sir.”

“I know, soldier. That’s a western call.”

Damn Perula. Damn those cowardly westerners.

Corsis gave half wave of acknowledgement as Odiscus arrived.

“Permission to return to my men, sir?” He asked, obviously annoyed at having to hold back while his men moved ahead.

“At once, Subtribune. Push the Quadi as far as you can, but do not let our men break formation.”

“Yes, sir.” Corsis took off at once, his bodyguards following right behind. Where are my guards? Odiscus thought for a moment, before realizing they were all dead. The medicus was bandaging Perula’s arm into a sling.

“Get me a horse.” Perula’s voice was dry, and he coughed. Blood speckled the medicus’ sleeve.

“You’re injured, my lord, you cannot retur–”

“Let him up.” Odiscus ordered, offering his right arm to the man. Perula grasped it with his uninjured left arm. The easterner hauled his ally to his feet. The medicus threw up his arms in annoyance and moved foward to tend to other, less ornery, men.

“Get me a horse, I can rally my men. And strangle that bastard who sounded retreat.”

“We’ll get you a horse. You’re not leaving me to die in the west alone.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, Tribune.”

Odiscus turned to his new draconis.

“Find the man a horse. I’ll hold the standard.”

“Sir!” The man ran towards the village. Perula coughed again, covering his mouth with his bandaged arm. It came back spotted in blood.

“Your man better hurry. I might not be around by the time he comes back.”

“Never fear, Praefecti. You’ll rally your men, even I have to do it with your corpse.”