written by Cladius Maximus
The fire began to die down and the officers began to shiver. Their frozen breath flew across the map as their fingers, pointing at small figures of troops set up along the outskirts of a town, shook. Could someone stroke this darn fire? The general asked. With that, Tribune Andrius moved from his spot at the generals side and proceeded to stroke the fire, adding glowing warmth to the large tent and a grin of relief on everyones faces. The men began to shuffle around as the general blurted out, We know the Cineran forces are surrounding Blackvine, we dont have the equipment for such a struggle. You Senators are too busy counting your damn coins to know what the heck is going on out here!
The Senator looked surprised at his chosen general and a frown came across his face. General, the Senator began, You sir are too busy playing with your toys on this map. You must remember whom you are talking to you pathetic excuse for a soldier. Without me, you would not be standing here at all!
You sir is a pompous little brat who is too busy polishing his armor! I earned my title through battle, you earned yours through money! The general let forth a sweep of his hand, sending all the figures on the map hurtling through the air and into the stirring fire. He rushed outside followed by his aids, leaving the Senator, Andrius, and a few men standing within the tent. Andrius motioned to walk out, but the Senator blocked his path. Where are you going boy? You are a Tribune now arent you? He looked over Andrius with a glance of disgust. Yes, youre the little hero who fought his way to our beloved citizens. You wouldnt even have that rank if it wasnt for that damn Consul. You boy are not fit to even be standing here with us. You
You sir, are an idiot who doesnt know your ass from your face. I suggest you stop playing Ereal and make a decision before we all die from the dirks of those monsters standing right on the other side of the town! I will not stand to be insulted by such a pompous fool! Andrius, followed by a group of men, marched out of the tent, as the furious Senator remained alone to set up his battle plans.
The entrenched men stood in wait behind their stockade facing the Cineran troops, who stood tauntingly atop a hill over looking the town. Men shouted out, Come on now you damn cowards! Get down here so I can rip you limb from limb!
Lets go you fools, I need some tobacco for my pipe!
Come on, I hope we dont have to sit here and freeze while you all stand up their like the barbaric idiots you are!
Andrius rode up and down the lines, stamping through puddles and giving out a few minor orders along the way. He looked out above the stockade to see a group of heavy soldiers perched atop their hill, not moving or shouting the least. Their icy breath was the only sign that these men were truly alive and ready for a fight. The troops looked tired and wet, bogged down in a sea of mud and filth that lay about the makeshift defenses. As Andrius and his men watched, the line of soldiers atop the hill opened like the mouth of some monstrous serpent ready to devour its prey with one bite. A group of archers marched forth, all clad in leather armor and leather helmets, and halted. Drawing their bowstrings, a few men ran about lighting each arrow on fire. They stood for a moment, waiting, and waiting. Some of the troops near Andrius began to back up; other dropped to one knee and raised their shields over their heads. A shout rang out, Back from the barricade! Back! Get your shields up! The voice was drowned into silence as a thousand flaming comets were flung threw the air. They seemed to hang at the height of their arch, almost like a hawk searching for prey. They swooped down in fury, with death trailing within their smoky trail.
The arrows struck with intensity, and clashes and thuds were emitted when they struck the shields of the men. Men screamed as they were hit and caught on fire. A man ran passed Andrius while beating the flames that were ablaze on his arm. Andrius jumped down from his horse as men ran all around him. He shouted, Get back in line men! Get back! Men pushed him aside and ran into the town, shouting and dropping their armor and weapons with hopes they may escape faster. The discipline of the army was shattered as men ran about in different directions and officers cursed them and swore they would meet thier gladius'! The veterans tried desperately to keep the new recruits in line, but the sight was too much.
Suddenly, the hail of arrows ceased and shouts of pain arose from burning and bleeding men. Healers rushed about with water and burn salve, tying desperately to assist the wounded. Some soldiers threw water onto the wooden barricade, which was now nothing but a fire pit warming the frozen men. The chaos was just what the Cinerans wanted and they let forth a shout that pierced every mans heart. They rushed down the hill and flung themselves at the weak barricade. Men ran to meet the Cinerans, only to be hacked away by the determined Cineran troops. Andrius looked over the scene with a pale face as his comrades were mercilessly stomped on like ants. Shouts rang out for retreat and were obeyed by most of the soldiers. The men began to run and sprint through the town, only to be cut off by a group of Cineran scouts who had worked their way around the town, which was now burning in flames. Andrius knew that it was time to go and he mounted his horse and began to charge into the scouts on the outskirts of Blackvine.
He let out a loud battle cry that startled the lightly armored Cineran scouts. He charged in, plowing over a few as they screamed at being trampled under his white stallions hooves. Drawing his gladius, he began to slash and chop at the scouts, sending body parts flying and blood squirting into the air. He became a demon, snarling as he choped away and tramped over the corpses of the terrified scouts. Moved by his braveness, the Iridine men around him charged forth and pierced through the line of scouts and ran off through their old camp and onto a road. Andrius placed his blood covered gladius in his scabbard and rode off towards the stream of retreating men.
The fighting could still be heard as the troops and refugees fled from the scene. Men missing limbs and armor were dragging their hopeless bodies along the road, some perishing along the way only to be forgotten by the still startled troops. Andrius slowed his horse to a trot now and began to look over the carnage along the road. Spears and swords strewn about, men dead in the gutters and supplies splintered among the cobblestones. As he rode along he noticed two men carrying the body of the Senator, an arrow within in his burnt forehead.