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Scenes from a Roman Taverna: Assault

When Calgacus finally got to the area of the West gate it was obvious that even with no military training, he could see that they were losing.
The attackers had broken through the gate and were now being held back by a few disciplined but increasingly outnumbered legionnaires and a rabble of townspeople carrying a miscellany of weapons. Roman tactics, so effective out in the open were not proving effective in the brutal dirty fighting of the town streets.
Calgacus looked for somewhere he could make a difference.
Scanning, he caught the eye of a middle aged Roman in what was once a smart tunic but was now splattered with gore. From the effective way he was laying into the enemy with his sword the blood was mostly from his vanquished opponents. However, this champion had begun to be separated from the rest of the Roman force as a number of Iceni had found a weak point in the defensive rabble.
Calgacus made for the man and his remaining defenders and reached them just as one of the two remaining bodyguards went down, his throat slashed by a scythe. A spear came in towards the man in a tunic and Calgacus batted it aside with his stolen weapon and, with the ferocity born of desperation, he ran the attacker through before he could react.
The Roman looked at him and smiled grimly and briefly.
‘Thank you for that,’ he said simply, before addressing both the Briton and the remaining soldier,’ now by the authority of Emperor, I command you two to get me a horse.’
‘This way, sir, quickly,’ said the soldier, who Calgacus could see was little more than a boy. He was a Hispanic like many of the Ninth, maybe only seventeen or eighteen, and had probably seen as much actual combat as he, Calgacus guessed.
The three of them disengaged from the combat and turned to run through the streets to where the cavalry were stabled. When they got there they found that most of the stalls were empty.
‘I need a horse,’ the tall Roman demanded of a terrified groom who he had grabbed by the arm,’ a good one.’
‘The best horse left would be the Commander’s sir, but –‘
‘That will do. This is my seal,’ the Roman pulled out the mark of office from a pouch and waved it at the confused boy,’ I am Marcus Flavius Aquila of the Imperial service and I am requisitioning this animal.’
The groom handed him the reigns. That was enough for him. He was more frightened of the attackers outside and this man whose grip held him firm inside, than any possible later repercussions.
‘He’s a bit sprightly, sir,’ the groom warned.
‘Good.’
Aquila turned to the stunned Calgacus who had just realised whose life he had just saved.
‘Thank you again. I must ride to make contact with the Governor and his forces. Maybe I can persuade him to change his mind and relieve the town. Until then,’ he clasped the shoulders of Calgacus and the remaining soldier,’ you two will remain especially in my debt. May Fortuna be with us all.’
Aquila leapt onto the horse and taking it in hand galloped out into the street and promptly disappeared around a corner.
A moment later, a horde of Iceni came hurtling back around the same road junction and started to batter down the now barred stable doors.
The few horses left began to rear in panic.
Calgacus looked at the young soldier, who seemed confused as to what to do now that he was separated from his fellows.
‘Come on, man. Let’s get out the back, while we can,’ Calgacus said.
The two men ran for the rear and the possibility of escape, with the splintering noise that accompanied the demise of the main door behind them provided significant impetus to their flight.

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