'Crescent Cove, The Romans'

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'A Tundra-Wolf Story'      

Part Three      'Crescent Cove'      'The Romans'

     The General heard a loud thunderclap that shook the canyon walls as he rode back through the lines. Men all around him looked to the sky, but there was not a cloud to be seen. He looked back over his shoulder towards Crescent Cove and saw the trail of red smoke going high in the air and ending in an angry blood-red ball. He turned his horse suddenly, scattering soldiers all about him and rode fast for the cove's entrance. His guards and Tribunes screamed at soldiers around them to move as they tried to follow. The General suddenly felt ill as he maneuvered his horse around marching Legionaries on his way back to the front. He knew the wrong man was leading the First Legion against whatever threat this red cloud represented.

*****

     Legatus Lucius watched the red streak climb up and up. He nor his horse were prepared when the arrow exploded shaking everything on the ground underneath it. His horse reared in terror along with all of the others on the little sandy island as men cursed and fought to regain control of their mounts. All of the soldiers in the cove stopped their march to watch the red streak climb into the air. Everyone became very still as they looked around for whatever was to come next.

     Lucius started screaming at his men to resume their march, yelling at the Centurions to get the Legionaries moving. He could see only five centuries had entered the cove so far, just five hundred men. He wanted many more than that around him to be ready to face whatever threat this might be. He was not smart enough to worry about the threat, his only concern was being victorious over any barbarian attack, no matter how many men it cost him. In minutes, under the bright red cloud of smoke, and much against the advice of his scouts and Tribunes, men were once again moving out of the narrow canyon and into the sandy cove. Before long almost eight hundred men were in the cove with the lead elements approaching the other side. When over a thousand men stepped onto the sands of the cove another arrow left from behind the tall shrubs at the far end. It trailed a red streak of smoke even more impressive than the first.

     Even under this second red angry cloud of smoke the young Legatus ordered more men into the cove as he ignored the pleas from his Tribunes to hold and form defensive fighting squares. Soon his little island became surrounded as the Legionaries marched their way to the opposite end. It looked like a sea of red around the little island because of the red cloaks the men wore, they matched the crimson cloud above. Almost twelve hundred men were now in the cove when the sky started to fall at the entrance to the little canyon. Tribunes around Lucius did not wait for his orders as they started commanding the Centurions around them to set up defensive positions that should have been done when the Legion first entered the cove. The men were well trained but with so many in a small space they were bumping into one another. The sky kept falling in the small canyon cutting off any chance for retreat, or help.

*****

     The General just managed to pull the reins on his big Spanish courser as a bundle of tree branches and brush the size of a horse hit the ground in front of him. Dust and dirt followed the bundle down and billowed up from the ground when it hit. He could still see the entrance to the cove but it was at least a hundred paces away as bundles of brush, branches and wood fell on the men before him. He yelled for the Legionaries to retreat as the wood fell but many became trapped by the bundles. It became harder to see through the air as it filled with dust and he had no idea what what was happening in the cove ahead or on the cliff tops above. As he watched the falling bundles come down a terrible thought came to him. He began screaming orders urging the men around him into action. They needed to get the men out from under the wood and away from the choke point of the canyon before they suffered a horrible death.

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