For a change Rufio Veranus was not bitter, angry or otherwise displeased. His Century was doing sentry on the portions of the parapet walk way that were finished and patrolling on foot where it was not. Better still his Contubernium was on a break from the task and they took this time to eat a relaxed meal, throw dice or catch some sleep. Titus Longinus was laying with his head on his helmet wrapped in his cloak attempting to do the latter. There was much commotion and excitement going on in the lines of the Equites Legionis. A small patrol had been sent out during the day and had not returned. A patrol twice its size was sent to find it and they had not returned either. Night had fallen when the excitement began and it had not subsided even though it had been dark for some time. “The cavalry are quite beside themselves tonight.” Stated Rufio. Titus opened an eye, “Of course, I hear they are shy fifteen men and horses, that isn’t nothing.” Rufio pondered it, “Do you think they might have deserted?” Titus snorted “Deserted to where?” “Fuck all up here and nowhere to go, fifteen of the Equestrian class don’t just fuck off for no reason lad.” “Mark my words, they are as dead as dirt.” The young Legionary looked at his prone friend, “What do you suppose we will do about it?” The veteran sat up slightly and leaned back on his arms, “Whatever they fucking tell us to do lad, and right now they haven’t said shit, but they will!” “So until then we do what makes sense which is eat or sleep and shut our fucking gobs about it.” Rufio looked in the direction of the stables where the cavalry were engaged in furious activity. Titus’s answer for everything was if you aren’t doing anything else you should be eating or sleeping. This change in events had the young man curious though, he was sure it would involve him somehow, he hoped it would be exciting.
With a shout and a wave of his gladius he ordered the attack and the mounted soldiers charged the slope. The grade was very sharp and very steep so the horses had to nearly stop to get their footing before lunging up the incline. It was hard work for the horses to keep their footing while ascending the nearly vertical slope. The archers were close enough that their projectiles lost no power before striking and could deliver a lethal strike through the Roman armour and helmets. The attackers were concentrating harder on remaining mounted as their horses bucked their way up the grade than inflicting injury or death to the Germanian bowmen. The Centurion swore and struck his horse on the rump with the flat of his gladius, the animal struggled in vain to satisfy his angry owner. The animal lunged upward just as an arrow left its string, the projectile sliced easily through the horse’s neck severing the carotid artery. It slid to its front knees then toppled backward on top of the Centurion. The cavalry commander took the weighty blow of the dying animal as the saddle crushed his pelvis, chest and spine. The horse rolled to the side screaming its death call while his master lay still, very much alive but unable to move anything but his head. The mounted charge on the hillside archers was a dismal failure with four other horses and seven more riders being killed. The Optio was now in command.
Hanoot was covered in blood, his hair and beard matted with it, his leather armour and tunic slick and stained with it, his mouth filled with the iron taste of it. Little of it was his though save that from his nose and some from his mouth. A man fucker drove his shield in to Hanoot’s face breaking his nose and causing it to bleed as well as causing Hanoot to lose his temper. Hanoot punched the offending enemy in the throat with his shield then pushed the tip of his sword through the man’s eye swearing and cursing all the while and enjoying himself immensely.
The ground was blood soaked and stained, moans and screams punctuated the air which carried the smell of iron. Jarl Teiwazson waited impatiently to see what the enemy would do, the foreigners had at least two thousand fresh troops ready to advance, the six cart mounted bows and eight hundred tired troops that had just been relieved. In comparison his forces had been whittled down to a little better than one thousand men in the shield line and just over one hundred mounted warriors, all of which were exhausted including the horses. The bowmen were still on the ridge as far as he knew, he couldn’t see them from inside the trees but calculated that their losses would be light. Although his warriors fought more effectively than the foreigners, it looked as though they were to lose the battle.