Chapter Twenty Eight

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But there was nothing they could do. The Britons rallied to the call of their High King and with it, their advantage and certainty of victory over the Roman's.

~

The Silures had just made a tragic mistake. Pulling away from their fortifications and its funnelling effect on the Roman soldiers, they were now out in the open. The Histarii veterans feigned the act of pulling back and making it look like they were panicking, when in actual fact they were giving themselves room to manoeuvre, drawing their enemy out and towards their newly formed shield wall.

Caratacus didn't even catch on to the Roman tactics. He was too blinded by his own pursuit of vengeance. For all intents and purposes, they had walked right into what would be a bloodbath.

Verenus looked on from the vantage point of his horse, towards the back ranks of the Histarii. He should make his way to Aquilla's side, like the Commander had ordered him to.

He should, but he hadn't.

Instead, he watched the devastation the Roman shield wall could inflict on their enemies. The tribe didn't stand a chance. Each wave of the warriors were cut down, no one was shown mercy. The leader of the Silures gave an enraged howl and, impossible to believe, broke through the Roman line to make his way towards Aquilla.

Verenus couldn't believe what he was seeing. The man was like a thing possessed, no man could stand in his way and he was heading straight towards his Commander. Aquilla looked on with an unreadable expression, waiting to meet the Silure leader head on.

The Roman in Verenus snapped back to attention and he kicked his heels into the flank of the horse to spur it on to the Commander's side.

But he wasn't needed.

Aquilla slid from his horse with his bloody Gladius in hand, commanding his guard to step aside, to not interfere with what would happen, and met the tribesman with a powerdul thrust of his blade.

The skirmish didn't last long. The Silure had been fighting all day while Aquilla was relatively fresh faced. The Briton was spurred on by his rage but it also made him clumsy. He put too much energy into his swings at Aquilla's head. Aquilla met him stroke for stroke, using his momentum to unbalance the man and send him crashing to his knees in the dirt. Verenus reached him in time to see Aquilla land a killing blow to the kneeling man's neck.

The Silure crashed face first to the ground and the Romans roared their approval. The Commander still stood undefeated and winning the battle.

~

The Britons were now in utter disarray, the shock of seeing their High King cut down by the enemy's Commander making their resolve falter and for some to turn and flee the carnage.

Kailen's rage at Caratacus for his blatant refusal to listen to reason turned to grief as he watched his friend's body trampled and swallowed up in the ensuing struggle. This could not be happening. Everything they had done Everything they had done, everything that could have been done, was turning to ashes in his mouth.

"Hold the line!" Bran was bellowing. "If any of you so much as looks behind you i will cut you down myself!"

There wasn't much of a line left to hold after the carnage of Caratacus's desperate plight. If they had any hope of winning this battle, it wouldn't be through holding the line.

If there was any real hope to begin with.

Kailen met Bran's eyes and a calm fell over them, a calm that came with the acceptance of going with the only option left to them.

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