Chapter Twenty Six

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Chapter Twenty Six

Verenus hadn't been apart of the Roman party that had rode out to meet the leaders of the Silure tribe, but he did witness it. He had been amongst the first ranks on the front line drilling the men when he caught sight of the riders breaking away, Aquilla in the lead.

He watched as they met the British leaders, undoubtedly in regards to conditions of surrender. He felt a sharp pang of longing to know what was being said. At such a distance, sound was drowned out and the details of the people themselves was lost.

But Verenus could hardly mistake one of the tribesmen for being Kailen, the man who had let him go on condition that he sent word to Aquilla of Aurelia's capture. Had he known all along that Aquilla had no intention of getting his Intended back, but would see it as a direct challenge to himself as s respected man?

Verenus supposed in the end it didn't really matter, it produced the desired results one way or another. Accept it mattered in Aurelia's case.

Was she even alive now? And if so, what injustices had been done to her, what manner of grievances have been wrought in her name as a Roman woman?

When all was said and done, how were any of them supposed to go on with their lives like they did before they set foot on this cursed island? The zealous pride he had for being a centurion in the army, to be a part of the greatest Empire the world had ever known was long gone. He was tired, disenchanted with his life. No longer did he believe they were here to make the world Rome, to bring civilization to these people by accepting them into the fold. They were all here, in this place, because Aquilla couldn't tolerate his ego being bruised. How many were going to die for one man's lust?

It was sickening.

The meeting came to an abrupt halt, far shorter than it should have taken to deliver terms, as they wheeled their horses around and each made their way back to their respective sides.

The Roman army grew quiet as Aquilla rode his horse up and down the first line. "It appears the British would prefer to die on this field than accept surrender!" Aquilla bellowed to his men. "I say we give them what they want!"

The Roman army cheered and stomped their feet, making the field ring with their noise. Verenus stayed silent, watchful.

Aquilla's eyes were wide and fervent. He was like one of the pack dog's who had just caught the scent of the blood of his quarry. Nothing would stop him now, nothing but succeeding.

"Together, you and i will show the Britons and all the rest of their mongrel race what it means to incur the wrath of Rome upon their heads!"

The answering roar of the soldiers was deafening.

"There will be no mercy." Aquilla shouted. "Not to any of them. We're going to wipe their bloodline from the face of the earth."

Verenus's heart plunged at his words. No mercy. No Aurelia.

It had all been for nothing.

~

During the night, when the British could say enemy campfires dotted in the thousands, they heard a grinding rumbling noise in the distance that set the warriors on edge. Their conversation wilted to a murmur, eyes straining in the darkness for a hint that would allude to the reason for the noise.

Aurelia stood next to kailen, Caratacus and Bran, eyes wide to pick out any details in the gloom. The men were still as statues and the serious tension that fell like a blanket over them boded ill.

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