THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch16 – part 7

SPEARS AND SHIELDS – GadaraCG-book-cover-w

Then Cornelius heard his name called from below. It was Jacob clambering up the path to their ledge supported by Cestus who saw him ride in. The old man was frantic when he got to the top of the ledge.

“It is Trax! He is not anywhere in the fort. According to a guard, he saw him marching out with the twelfth auxiliary unit.”

“Sir, the twelfth auxiliary is on the south slope,” said Cestus.

Cornelius quickly scanned the south slope and saw that the defensive units are holding their positions. But the Nubians are gaining ground. Then he saw fresh forces scaling the south slope and he feared that they will eventually be swamped. He quickly went over to Arturos and asked permission to get the reserves up. Arturos knowing the situation told to him to go.

“Cestus, bring up the eighteenth and the twenty first unit to join me at the south slope. Move!”

Telling Jacob to stay on the ledge, he quickly went down to the valley floor and raced to the other side. Trumpets were blaring. Cornelius was quickly joined by Cestus followed by about a hundred or so men up a winding trail that went up to the top of the south ridge. When they got to the ridge they were above the defensive positions. Sure enough the defensive line was breached. The archers had retreat to regroup higher up. The auxiliary units were being pushed back leaving small clusters of soldiers surrounded by enraged black warriors. A group of twenty was bravely making a stand forming a shell fighting off about sixty Nubians.

Cornelius sounded the advance. The re-grouped auxiliary units that fell back joined his advancing line of steel sweeping down toward the original line. The Nubians that broke through were the first to be overwhelmed. Cornelius saw that the surrounded cluster of men was now down to fifteen. They were now desperately beating off the Nubians as they stood with their backs against a rock wall. That was when he saw Trax in the midst of that cluster.

Cornelius took Cestus and twenty others and started to push and fight their way to the beleaguered group. When they were ten yards away, the attacking Nubians started to back away. To his surprise, Trax lead the remainder group and lunged forward to press a counter attack on the retreating Nubians. Hearing encouraging shouts from Cestus and a number of the men who knew the lad, Trax tackled two big Nubians who went to face him. Ducking under a clumsy swing, he drove his javelin into the abdomen of one of them. Then, with his shield deflecting the other warrior’s thrust, he jabbed forward with his short sword and cut a wound on the warrior’s shield arm. The Nubian was wary, thinking that Trax was an easy kill because of his small frame. He did not expect Trax’s determination. As they swung and parried, Trax manage to push him to the edge of a steep drop. The warrior made a desperate lunge which Trax quickly parried. Then he jabbed the bottom edge of his shield and caught the Nubian on the forehead. With a despairing cry, he fell backward unto the jagged rocks below.

Cestus and the other men cheered for the lad while Cornelius looked upon him with pride. The lad stood there bruised and with a slight bandaged cut around his arm breathing heavy. And as the adrenaline drained away, the boy started to shake. Then he bowled over, wrenched and threw up. But it did not matter for the men as they laughed their approval. The lad straightened up with a shameful smile of embarrassment. Then he saw Cornelius and approached like a puppy who knew he did wrong.

“Are you angry with me? Sir?”

Cornelius could not help but laugh out loud and placed his hand on the lad’s shoulder. “Yes lad? I am angry. But I am also proud of you, son! Extremely proud.”

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The story continues on in my next post.

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