'The Charge to Crescent Cove'

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'A Tundra Wolf Story'

Part Six

After the initial surprise of the barricade erupting into flames Legatus Lucius diverted his attention back to the horses charging down the hill. He paid no heed to the frantic screams of the men underneath the bundles of wood blocking the entrance to the cove. He had not even ordered men to tear the barrier down so more soldiers could come into the cove if needed. The young General's only concern was giving these native barbarians a solid defeat by killing as many as possible. In his mind this would be an easy victory as the Roman Army did not lose.

The Centurions formed their Legionaries into cavalry repelling formations all along the six foot sea wall at the bottom of the hill. The men stood shoulder to shoulder and looked up trying to see the line of horses they could hear descending upon them through the trees. Lucius knew the horses would have to slow when they came to the short cliff. He ordered the front line of Legionaries to stand close to the sea wall behind their tall shields. The butts of their heavy spears were shoved in the sand and held at an angle pointing to the hill. He had the next four lines placed close behind the first with shields raised flat over their heads to protect from rolling rocks and throwing weapons. They held their long javelins ready to cast at the barbarian cavalry as they picked their way down. The several rows of soldiers after that stood in tight fighting lines behind their shields with spear and gladius, ready to advance or step in to replace fallen comrades. He could not tell how large a force of enemy cavalry they faced, and even if he knew it would not matter. There was no way the enemy could negotiate the cliff with six Centuries of Legionaries defending it. His men would slaughter them before any could make it to the beach. The fighting skills of the Romans were far superior to anything this rabble could put up.

Lucius watched as men he sent up the hill earlier came rolling back down. At first he thought the cowards fell in their haste to run from the enemy cavalry. When his Tribunes pointed out that many were pierced with arrows and gaping slash wounds the young General was unconcerned. He had no remorse for the dead Legionaries and counted the Century or two of soldiers he sent up the hill as acceptable losses. Through his leadership he would return those losses on these savages tenfold. Legatus Lucius looked back up to see the advancing line of the charging cavalry moving fast through the forest as they approached the bottom of the hill. Masked by dust and still under the deep shade of the trees he could see no detail of the enemy warriors or their mounts, they were just dark forms of horse and rider.

As the young General looked on his only thoughts were of the victory he would achieve here today. He looked across the sands at the formations of the Centuries with their standards spaced across the front lines. The square red banners hung down fluttering in the breeze with 'LEGIO V ' emblazoned over the image of a fighting elephant. He did not care for the mascot of the Fifth Legion and would have to have that changed in the near future, a snarling she-wolf was more to his liking.

Lucius looked around the grassy knoll and found the soldier bearing the Legion's Golden Eagle Standard known as the Aquila. The man holding it was called an Aquifer and his task to keep the Aquila safe was extremely important. The young General knew the tale of three Legions who lost their Aquilas after suffering a humiliating defeat in the forests of Germania north of the Rhine. Even though the Legates, Tribunes, Centurions and their Legionaries were overcome by a vicious betrayal of Germanic allies Lucius firmly believed the survivors deserved the stripping down they received as they were turned out in disgrace and left with nothing in the wild lands of Germania. In the young leader's mind there was no excuse for the weakness those men showed, they should have died alongside their fallen comrades. The last he heard Rome had amassed a large force of many Legions and attacked the Germanic barbarians in retaliation of their treachery. Brutal battles were being fought against the northern Germanic tribes, as much for the return of the lost Golden Eagles as they were to conquer the rebellious people.

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