XXNN - The Great Battle - The Thick Of It

XXNN - The Great Battle - The Thick Of It

A Chapter by BL

XXNIII - The Great Battle - The Thick Of It

Alfos looked at the raging battle and quickly realised that he couldn’t waste time fighting man to man personally; he had to give commands to others to do so in his place. Commands that would save more lives than he was taking by his hand to hand fighting. He looked at his leg wound, it had partially healed over, the blood had congealed into a flaky rouge smear. In the distance the trebuchet were relentlessly smashing their back lines where they stood and occasionally hitting some of the outer defences, but they were well defended and could not so easily be reached. There were craters behind where the huge rocks had fallen. At this time the Heavy Horse were making headway through the Italia right flank and the groups of chariots holding their own against the infantry and cavalry. With the help of surrounding civilian foot soldiers they were pushing the enemy back. Italia fell back, but in a co-ordinated way, not in panic or disarray. They did not run as they all had their places, in a particular position. There was a structure which protected them held together by strictness and ultimate discipline. Alfos saw that even their retreat was planned moves.

Alfos wanted to sound the retreat to re-group, but it was too late now, his army was fully engaged and twisted out of shape. Their losses were equal to the enemies, but this was all they had, if they were defeated they would have no defence for the city of Arun itself, and those that were left there would have less chance to flee as the situation dynamically changed from one moment to the next. Now he desperately hoped, that however few, that his father would bring extra men, so there were reserves to play with. ‘We can defend from the city against this army, but we must fall back now,’ he said to Caratacus and the closest of the royal guards. ‘We will draw them on to the outer defences,’ He gesticulated angrily and Caratacus and the royal guard sped off in different directions to spread the word around the men

[]

Under the shadows of tall trees, Amros sat in his tent watching the small wooden and glass sand clock as it measured out time. The grains of sand seemed to go at their own rate, dropping slowly and then quickly through the narrow gap between the two glass chambers, almost working against time itself. Amros became more and more infuriated by it as the top chamber gradually emptied and the lower chamber eventually filled. Thamus sat watching his leader with amusement, spinning the tip of his sword in the dry earth.

‘Come on, come on. How much longer? Amros shouted hoarsely between gulps of wine.

‘Two more turns, Sir,’ Thamus said trying to hide his smile.

‘That’s too long.’ Amros looked up at the sun that had already begun its descent. ‘There’s something wrong with that thing,’

Thamus looked at the sand clock and sideways at the sun a couple of times. ‘I know which I trust,’

‘When the next turn is done get the men ready,’ Amros said as he started to paced about.

‘They are ready, Sir,’ Thamus said looking at the backs of the lines of men standing silently just out of the line of trees.

‘Good,’ Amros snapped. He walked up and down the length of the small tent feeling ill at ease and out of place, hoping that Severus’s army had had maximum impact and they would only have clearing up to do. He looked out at the men, some helmeted heads seemed familiar and others not. Among the ranks, behind the eight blocks of infantry units, that had the finest men from the highest legions, in the reserves, the sixteenth legion stood. There were nine hundred and fifty of them out of the thousand left that had survived the long march all the way from Italia. Among those nine hundred and fifty was Unit nineteen, Section three. They stood waiting for the battle to begin, like everyone else and they also waited for their unit leader, Thamus. Ducius, Ascoli, Lundos, John Smith and Adam Jones stood with the new recruits wondering what would happen next. It was only a matter of time before they met their deaths like the others they mused. There seemed to be no way out of the freezing hell hole they had been assigned to. Vinci, Igor and a space where the not replaced Pico would’ve stood waited also, Marc was so sick he had been sent home. They clenched their spears, checked their swords and shifted from one foot to another. Toni and Louie, the eleventh and twelfth members of the section stood at the end of the line, oblivious and unconcerned with everything around them. Ducius started talking along the line.

‘Course, you know what’s going to ‘appen, don’t you,’ he said. It was a rhetorical question, but he still waited for a reply that would not come. Only Lenard, in his naivety would give him any kind of recognition; a nervous smile and a nod, the others stared blankly and solemnly forward at the backs of the heads of the men of Unit two. ‘When one of that lot, up there cop it, we’re going to have to fill the ranks. We, lads, our section, that has already had its own casualties, will be the replacements for dead men. That’s after the body draggers have taken the mess away,’ Lenard started to feel sick, he looked around worriedly and contemplated running for it. But how far would he get in this cold and strange land full of savages with even stranger beliefs. His eyes flutter to the tops of trees and the endless low sloping hills ahead. Which way would he go? How long could he last? Could he run and find a port and somehow make it back to Italia? No. He was better off dying here with his mates. His sickness eased and he spat out the build up of saliva in his mouth.

‘It’s not gonna come to that. The Southern army have taken care of most of them,’ Vinci whispered, aware that others were listening. ‘I’ve heard this through the grape vine,’

‘Oh, right, well if that’s the case then we’ll be all right,’ Ducius bellowed with thick sarcasm. ‘Anyway Let’s hope so. I didn’t come all this way to get killed by a bunch of savages. I don’t know why they just don’t surrender. It’d make it a lot easier for everyone,’ he continued staring dreamily into the middle distance.

Thamus came marching up and took his place in the number one position. They all looked towards him expectantly, but his lips were tight, knowing he wasn’t supposed to reveal any direct orders given. The men looked away, waiting, knowing he wouldn’t be able to resist saying something. ‘We’re going to be moving any time now,’ he said at low volume.

‘About bloody time, it’s freezing out here,’ Ducius said, letting his mouth run away with him. ‘Standing around pissing ourselves. When we were in Germania, it was in and out, that was it, there was no hanging around,’

‘Shut up, Duc,’ Thamus shouted across.

Up ahead a flag waved back and forth, indicating for them to proceed. Moving as one, in one synchronised movement they all marched out of the line of trees. They marched down a sweeping valley and up a low sloping hill. All ten thousand men, minus casualties, including trebuchet, archers and cavalry marched. They were in exactly the same formation as the southern army. Eight blocks of infantry two hundred square with eight units behind. Heavy equipment at each end at the back with the cavalry inside which in turn protected the reserves, archers, flag bearers, officers, generals and Amros himself. They marched over another hill until in front of them they faced the outer defences of the city of Arun.

‘Not much of a place is it? It’s a bit of a dump to be honest. I think we’re doing them a favour, putting them out of their misery,’ Ducius said flatly, in his usual monotone voice. All eyes looked to their left and there in the distance was what was left of the southern army. A red flag waved from it, the signal that they had withdrawn and it was clear for the eastern army to proceed.

‘They’ve taken quite a hit,’ Ascoli whispered. Littered on the field in front of them were the injured and dead. Their own men and Britons.

‘Forty per cent I reckon. They’ve grouped back up well,’ Ducius put in.

‘Forward,’ Thamus shouted, echoing the other section leaders commands. The land was flat and open and they proceeded towards the outer defences at a steady pace. Arrows flew in at them ‘Shields up,’ Some held their shields up, some put them above their heads and some didn’t bother as the front ranks reached a sharp dip.

As the southern army before the eastern army now faced the Britons, but they didn’t face an attacking mob of men in their thousands like before. They faced a diminished force that was taking shelter behind the partial protection of the outer defences and the stone walls of the city itself. The stone walls were not very high, only forty feet, no more and so could be scaled with long ladders and ropes. Severus didn’t want Amros to have that type of battle, he wanted the troops to be kept in line and more importantly the whole army in formation. He wanted to fight a model battle to show the enemy the way they were. In this way the army could be used to it fullest extent. They were ordered to a halt two hundred yards from the outer defences and as they stopped the giant trebuchet began their treacherous work. The infantry men all standing neatly and formidably in rows became sitting targets. They watched the great explosions cut up the earth and batter Arun’s castle walls. Stone work crumbled and fell on the men standing below. Their screams echoed across the valley.

‘Poor b******s,’ Ducius said under his breath as several arrows flew at him and section three. Arrows harmlessly thudded into the soil, some found men’s legs while others ricocheted off the tops of shields.

‘Keep - Your - Shield - Up - Ducius,’ Thamus barked.

‘Sir,’ he said with enough patience not to sound bored or offended.

‘Aagghhh the gods,’ Zundos screamed. He crouched down holding his right ankle. An arrow had gone through his leg and blood was spurting out. He dropped his shield and spear as he cradled his leg. Aargh aaahhh,’

‘Zundos, if you can walk, retire,’ Thamus said softly. He looked at Zundos pitifully. Zundod limped off with the arrow stuck out of his leg, ‘Refill,’ Thamus shouted with hands around his mouth like a loud hailer. After a few minutes a tall, young man came along and shuffled into Zundos’s place. He was a scruffy urchin who looked like he hadn’t washed. He got into position and crouched down with the rest of the unit, his shield overhead. Ducius watched as chariots came forward in a marauding pack. One chariot led the pack, but stayed just inside the front. It had an archer on its back plate whose arrows flew with great speed and accuracy. The archer seemed to pick his target at will and never miss. When his arrow tip was pointed at a particular group of men they responded by tightening their lock of shields and focussing their crouching.

‘If we stand here much longer, there’ll be none of us left,’ Ducius grumbled. A small knot of arrows flew in at Section 2 in front of them.

‘Won’t be long now,’ Thamus said brightly.

‘No, it won’t be long,’ Vinci whispered, smiling grimly. ‘Gotta let the catapults do their bit. They all looked at the gaping holes in the walls of the city of Arun. There were piles of rubble and clouds of dust. Mangled bodies lay where they had fallen in and around the craters and islands of British soldiers stood trapped by the outer defences that had not yet been hit. But the Britons kept their counter attack going and the heavily armed swordsmen were jumping down from the pack of chariots and were busily hacking holes in the front lines of the army of Italia. They cut and levered the men apart in the well-meshed and locked together ranks and as they did others rushed in behind them.

‘Here we go. This should get things moving,’ Ducius said carelessly judging the battle, comparing it to others he had seen unfold. He saw the trebuchet had stopped firing to alter position to a more central target along the wall, closer to the main gate. ‘Yes, they’re opening it up for us. This should be a walk over. Can’t wait to get this over with,’ Whizz whoosh shew shew shew. A thick cluster of arrows flew at them as dark as a cloud and Igor fell where he stood, an arrow through his chest and another, at an angle in his neck. ‘Man down here Sir,’ Ducius shouted, watching as Igor took his last breaths.

‘REFILL,’ Thamus shouted over the growing din.

‘We need to move,’ an anonymous voice in the ranks said.

‘Can’t move without orders, soldier,’ Thamus replied, keeping his gaze straight ahead. The trebuchet had re-started and were smashing the city walls hard. Large pieces of masonry tumbled to the ground with ear-splitting crashes. ‘Won’t be long lads, won’t be long,’

A roar went up among the ranks as Leviathon stepped out and was gracefully defeating one British warrior after another. The front rank from which he had emerged had neatly opened and closed, leaving him to systematically wreak havoc. He fought one man to his right, one to his left and a third behind, he was forever shifting position to his advantage. As he moved away from danger and into attack his feet came up behind the backs of his legs in the war dance he wove. A wide circle of space opened up around him, so he searched for more victims. He reached our spinning a knife in one hand and a sword on the other. A group of legionaries formed a protective ring around him, covering his back. From afar a shower of javelins were launched at him. He batted them away like they were harmless things and even picked one up and threw it back with such force it flew deep into the scatterings of Britons. Leviathon surged forward and got closer to the chariots, to Boudica’s chariot and Ao.

Ao watched him in amazement he had never seen such an accomplished warrior. He watched in fascination as his sword worked in a blur of blood and silver. Man after man came at him, fought and fell. Ao saw the horror of it and he knew what he had to do. Steadily he took aim at the great man who had made himself a target to him. Leviathon moved in and out of his aim, getting closer as he did.

‘Come to me so we can change this battle,’ Ao whispered to himself. His arrow flew in a low arc, rising over the heads of Britons and falling over the helmeted heads of the men of Italia. It found its mark and was dead centre to Leviathon’s chest, but Leviathon saw it and batted it away with his sword. Stepping off the backplate of the chariot to get a more steady aim, Ao quickly reloaded. Leviathon watched and battled his way towards him.

‘What kind of coward is a man who shoots little sticks of wood from a bow. He is not a warrior at all,’ Leviathon bellowed and he roared with laughter, loud enough to be heard above the din of clashing swords. At that moment a tight cluster of spears flew in at Boudica’s chariot. One struck in her horse, another thudded into the ground, while a third hit the chariot wheel, breaking some of the spokes. Lastly a fourth one embedded itself in the chariot cabin itself.

‘Come on A,’ Boudica called as she stepped down to care for horse, which had dropped to its knees. Blood oozed from its flank, it breathed heavily and it’s eyes were weak and panicked. ‘Take him out, A she said patting the horses head, giving it some comfort before it died. ‘Now, we need to get out of here’. Ao took aim and his second arrow found a British shield that Leviathon had picked up from a warrior that he had killed. Leviathon marched forward, totally breaking the formation of the neat front ranks he was supposed to be in and with the legionaries that had come out to protect him, it had thinned the ranks.

‘Come back,’ the voice of a Unit leader called from the rear of the ranks. Leviathon slowly turned around to join his men, but not before he had with some accuracy thrown a javelin at Ao.




© 2020 BL


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This is very good. I liked how you set-up each scene. I liked the pace of the story also. Boudica gave Rome the equal treatment. Kill every Roman in her path. Thank you my friend for sharing the entertaining chapter.
Coyote

Posted 7 Months Ago


And the Oscar goes to... Leigh! :) Great job!

Posted 1 Year Ago


Good story love the detail love the imagery and the battle scene most of all ... what was lacking a was a prologue to tell me what the story was about or something to tell me about the main charterers in the main story or the plot. other than that it was a great beginning. I would read more but I have been burned enough times trying to get people to read my own work other than a few chapters. when reading their entire work. so I wait and see before move on to the next chapter.

Posted 1 Year Ago


This is good, however I would suggest just a bit more description on the characters and surroundings, it helps build an image in the readers mind of whats going on instead of leaving most details up to imagination.
Goode write.

Posted 1 Year Ago


i can see a movie coming from these chapters that i have read,creative mind

Posted 1 Year Ago



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Added on April 23, 2019
Last Updated on October 15, 2020
Tags: romance, kingdom, war, memory, dust, peace, army, empire, adventure, fantasy, fiction, hope, mystery, spy, battle, luck, fear, power, Death, destruction, end, fight, invasion


Author

BL
BL

United Kingdom



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