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Scenes from a Roman Taverna: Watching

Calgacus looked up the hill at the house of Miletus and wondered if Vita was in there, and how to get her out in one piece if she was.
His job was to watch the house but he had not seen her go in or out since he had taken up the position here on the street of metal workers.
It had seemed a good position to him initially as it was extremely busy. From the shouts and snatches of conversation from the people around him, Calgacus gathered that the Iceni had been spotted, and they had begun to attack and burn the outlying areas of the town outside the city wall.
The palls of black smoke and the distant noise of screams and the clash of weapons confirmed this in the most ominous way possible.
Soldiers came and went past him as he watched, some to have their weapons sharpened. One or two were already carrying injuries. The smiths were working like slaves of Vulcan to keep the supply of pilae flowing, the soldiers sweating as they ran from the forges with armfuls of the light javelins.
Calgacus looked back towards the house.
Suddenly he noticed a man dressed in a white tunic accompanied by two soldiers walking up towards the house.
This trio were leading a smaller figure by the hand, and although her face was hidden by a cloak Calgacus knew it must be Vita. He looked around. The nearest shop had a number of swords lying on the counter, ready, presumably for a customer to buy for their own defence.
Calgacus had other uses in mind then defending the city when he picked up the nearest of the weapons, and took a deep breath. There were only three of them after all, and he had surprise on his side.
‘Good man,’ said a voice, as armoured fist took Calgacus’ shoulder in a crushing grip,’ we need every man armed and at the West Gate now, or they will break through!’
Calgacus mentally cursed the gods and reluctantly turned to face the huge Centurion who had grabbed him and who now pointed him down the hill away from the house. In the distance, Calgacus could just see the top of the town gate that faced the road to Londinium.
‘But I need to be here,’ Calgacus thought quickly, ‘to help with the forges! I was just taking a break.’
‘Don’t lie to me lad,’ the Centurion barked,’ you’re not remotely sweaty or dirty enough to be a forge worker, and,’ the Centurion looked at Calgacus with a practised glare made out of granite,’ I haven’t got to my position without being able to tell when my men are lying. Now get on to that gate like I told you.’
The builder hesitated again, gripping the sword and looking past the increasingly agitated armoured man in front of him. He could see that Vita and her escort being met by a slave at the entrance to the House. A moment later they had vanished into the building. He was too late. He felt his head droop in despair.
The Centurion gestured meaningfully with his sword in front of Calgacus’ nose. The sword was already blood stained.
No translation was needed. Go and fight or I’ll kill you here where you stand.
Calgacus swore and turned ran through the town towards the gate. If he was going to help Vita now, maybe keeping the Iceni out had to come first and then later he could try again. That was if either of them could stay alive that long.


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