XN - Night Attack

XN - Night Attack

A Chapter by BL

The recollection of that time is as fresh as yesterday as memory has no meter


The Jaws of Death had been navigable after all. With a little luck, not too much fog and a lot of manoeuvring they had got the Sea Serpent through. When all was said and done it was a stretch of water eighteen miles across from the most northerly tip of Africa to the most southerly part of Spain. Once in the much calmer open waters of the Middle Sea they headed straight for Rome, but as they got closer to it they became ever more noticed. The shipping traffic got heavier, fishing boats more frequent and the patrolling warships edged closer and became harder to avoid. Rome wasn't a coastal city, it was five miles inland, the place they were actually heading to was its main industrial port directly west of it, a coastal town called Ostio. Before they could reach Ostio they rested in a sheltered cove, just off the North Western coast of Sardinia.

'Tomorrow might be our last day.' Enda said mournfully.

'Don't think like that.' Bezon said taking sips from his broth.

'We could turn back now and no one would know.'

'I know, but were not going to do that. We have to keep going see this through.'

They were moored in a dark and deserted bay, hiding from the network of patrol ships. The land above them sloped down steeply, it was uninhabited and mainly of trees, vague blurry shapes of dark green and black shapes dotted the coastal hills that faced them. The men used their last night to drink and be merry before they met their fate in Italia, but they did it quietly so as not to attract attention. In the main area of the hull below deck the crew sat around a long makeshift table drinking tankards of ale and with it low singing began. On deck four men kept watch, one on the bow, one on the stern, one on the port side and one on the starboard side. For once Bezon allowed himself a night off and sat there drinking with his men, Enda was there too. This raised morale, the men loved to be led in their recreation, to be encouraged to drink and see their leader get silly and drunk with them.

To the men on watch it was very difficult to see anything, the water was pitch black as there was no moon, the nearby land mass overshadowed the bay, blotting out what little light there was and the sky was dark and brooding, full of grey cloud. The bow of the boat faced out towards the strait and it bobbed gently in the calm rippling tide. The watchman at the bow was tired after rowing all day and from time to time put his head down. He didn't notice the glint of light that momentarily sparkled in the distance. It was the reflection of an approaching ship, that silently raced closer, it had been tracking them for most of the day.

As the watchman scanned the horizon he saw the shape of the approaching ship, it was so close now he could make out every feature. 'SOUND THE ALARM.' he shouted. 'WE ARE UNDER ATTACK.' He ran to the mast and rang the bell continuously and as he did an arrow hit him squarely in the chest. As he fell the other the other men on watch took to arms and faced the advancing battleship, that was now only yards away. As it got close it lighted itself with braziers making itself bright and severe in the night and at its bow was a shield wall of men. Below in the Serpent the crew scrambled to find their arms and armour then clambered up the steep wooden steps. Bezon cursed as he knew he was drunk and had been caught off guard, he had his sword close by, but was not fully ready. He had many times imagined a situation like the one he was now faced with and had a sudden feeling of impending doom. He felt like he was walking through a pre-written premonition. It was too late to cast off, too late to make an escape, they had to stand and fight. Bezon was one of the first to reach the deck and before he had got all the way up he started barking orders.

"Form up and make a line, no one is to stand on their own.' but as he got up top his shield was struck with a host of arrows and he was pushed back. Of the men on deck half were already down and the Italians had boarded on the port side. Bezon looked about frantically and bleakly and saw with horror that behind the attacking ship two more were silently sliding up; their defeat was now inevitable and absolute. One ship was making for their starboard side and the other was circling behind, both became lighted as they approached, showing their armed men. The three watchmen ahead were engaged in hand to hand fighting and Bezon went forward to join them. As he formed up by them he saw that Enda was by his side and with others joining them, for a while they managed to make a fight of it. Bezon's sword stabbed at the gaps of the strange rectangular shields that now faced them and lunged at undefended parts of bodies. There were plenty to choose from as he was now at the centre of it all. Sometimes his sword struck home and there was a bloodcurdling scream, sometimes it hit steel and he was pushed back and other times it hit thin air and he stumbled forward. Enda stood to his left was having the same experience as the arrows continued to fly at them. The Italians pushed forward taking over half the boat, their shield wall at the front closed and solid, their archers in their midst, protected and well organised. From behind a knot of commanding officers were shouting clear orders, their distinctive brush decorated helmets making them more noticeable and also more of a target.

'Put down your arms you are surrounded and outnumbered' one of the Italia officers shouted over his mens heads in perfect Arun, then Gaul and then in Silur and as he did the ship's men managed to form their own shield wall of fifteen men, four rows deep. They all knew what their fate would be if they were taken hostage, as there was no being taken hostage. It would only be captivity then death and so they steadily surged forward. Shield pressed against shield, man pressed into man and sword slashed and spear poked. In the press eyes looked through slits of silver helmets on both sides and for a few minutes there was a stale mate. A couple of men from each side were killed, being in weak parts of their walls and as he watched them fall Bezon realised all his worse nightmares had come true. How had it come to this? To this end? he thought. The man facing him pushed hard and Bezon bent back under the weight of him. He was being forced to the ground, but then all was released and the men stepped back, responding to an order from behind. Bezon and the others got ready to move forward, but there was no need as the Italia soldiers took three neat steps backwards and then opened their shield wall in the middle. Out from the middle and from behind rushed unshielded men who carried a sword in each hand or a sword and a shield. They jumped and hacked at the men of Arun, madly attacking, leaping on top of them. These men weren't the same as the regular soldiers or navy men of the army of Italia they were bought, expendable mercenaries.

The one that Bezon was faced with had two swords and he swung wildly, his arms like a windmill. Bezon blocked one sword with his shield and clashed with the other with his own and the sound of metal rang high in the air. This action was repeated a few times and as it was he saw that the Arunian shield wall was in disarray. And all the while the army of Italia stood back and watched as though it was an organised event. Bezon saw his men getting struck down and their numbers dropping and realised soon he would be set upon by more than one. As the wild man increased his reign of blows in a frenetic attack his countermoves got quicker and more fierce. The man came hard in again, slashing and cutting and as he did Bezon feinted a fall and dropped to one knee. As he did he lowered his head, loosening his sword grip, taking his eye completely off his opponent. At this the man stood back half a step taking more time to take aim with his next strike. He held his larger sword over his head for a split second and got ready to power down. As he did Bezon lunged up from underneath, putting all his force into a penetrating up stab. His sword slid into the mans chest and he wrenched back in shock, but was still trying to swing at Bezon with the last of his life.

But Bezon stood up and battered the mans weak swords away with his half cracked shield. As he regained himself and gathered his bloodied sword he went to Enda's side. Enda was fighting a huge, thick set man. The man had white thick furs about his shoulders and a large two sided axe and looked like he was from Germania. He swung the axe in a wide broad sweep and it rang in the air as it met metal and thudded heavily as it thudded into wood. It swung at the target of the two men in its view and they dodged and edged around it in a lethal dance. The two men circled and looking around realised they were two of the last left alive, only a handful of others were fighting on. Nearly all the crew had been killed and bodies lay strewn on the deck. On the huge man's back swing Bezon chanced a lunge and managed to get a low strike at his legs. This unbalanced him and he staggered backwards and both Enda and him stabbed at his open chest and then retreated to the remaining men. They watched him as he crouched down injured and then was dragged away by his comrades. The Arunians formed a knot with shields, spears and swords pointing outwards.

'Lock shields' Bezon shouted and they formed the 'Hedgehog'. From the cracks within they saw the second battleship pull up alongside and a row of archers disembark, all pointing their arrows at them. They were surrounded and vastly outnumbered. The lead Italia commander barked out an order and their shield wall reformed, but left a gap in the middle for him to walk through. He strode proudly into the middle ground, with his sword still sheathed and without a shield.

'Disarm yourselves, there will be no more fighting' he shouted. The remainder of the crew stood firm, waiting for an order from their leader. Enda looked at Bezon.

'We cant do anymore Sir' he whispered reluctantly 'Its time to hand in the towel' Bezon pondered for a few seconds more, leaving it as long as he dared. He threw down his sword and it clattered on the deck.

'Disarm' he commanded

© 2018 BL

My Review

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'Night Attack'
This was so interesting! It was believable and fast paced. It is interesting to imagine a past time even ancient in which battles were done one on one as your narrative describes. A harsher life for sure.

Posted 2 Years Ago


2 Years Ago

Thanks Kathy
enjoyed the read...interesting characters...and definite knowledge of fighting style ...well done...

Posted 6 Years Ago


5 Years Ago

Thank you very much
A powerful chapter. Held my attention to the last words. I like the characters and the storyline. Thank you for sharing the excellent chapter.

Posted 6 Years Ago


6 Years Ago

Thank You Coyote
Coyote Poetry

6 Years Ago

You are welcome.
a great story b,i enjoyed the read

Posted 6 Years Ago


6 Years Ago

Thanks very much
Very well done. Umm...there is one thing on my mind. But i'm not sure. I like to read stories with lots of detail, but i write my own with few. There are people who find long descriptions boring... I still think you did an amazing job with this:) 100#

Posted 6 Years Ago


6 Years Ago

Thank you for your review and being so honest. I will try and adjust but it maybe too late now
Dani The Unreviewed

6 Years Ago

You're welcome. If i were you, i wouldn't change a thing. Its your style.

6 Years Ago

Damn right
You write well and this story definitely shows a lot of promise from what I have read here.

You might want to put it through a grammar checker and that will show you where you need comma's.

You are extremely descriptive (opposite to me) and I am not sure if that detracts from the storyline or not.

For me, I believe the paragraphs are a wee bit long and can be broken down into two or three instead of the one. From the reader's perspective (or perhaps just me) seeing such large blocks of words one after the other is a bit overwhelming - give you readers a chance to not only breathe but also to let your words sink in.

Overall you have painted a good picture. Well done X

Posted 6 Years Ago


6 Years Ago

Thank you very much for your lengthy review.

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6 Reviews
Added on May 17, 2015
Last Updated on December 16, 2018
Tags: romance, kingdom, war, memory, dust, mystery, spy, battle, luck, power, peace, army, empire, adventure, fantasy, fiction, hope, fear



United Kingdom

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