Monday, December 28, 2015

The Library was Burning




The torrent of hands and teeth, raked and grasped, bit and tore. Corrupting those they pulled down into their damnation. Turning them into the foulest things in turn. An they coming for those they once loved.

They had destroyed the city of Alexandria. We were here to take it back.


Shields locked, the first ranks pushed forward, pushing back the pestilence. Pushing back the foulness. The corrupted flesh. This Persian plague.

The elongated pila used against the Scythians did their bloody work over the shields of the front ranks. Piercing skulls, stabbing deep. The front ranks themselves only held the line, held their shields, with all of their might. The things, the foulness fell. One after another.

The gauntlets and bracers, boots and trousers from fighting the damned Dacians worked well here. Teeth, even unholy teeth could not pierce them.

There was no rest, no respite, not until we pushed the dead against the inner face of the city walls and exterminated them. The toll was terrible. Yet we bore it. We must. If this Persian foulness were to spread, there would be no hope.


Down the streets, auxiliaries clearing houses as the Legion passed, securing our rear.


Stepping through the sea of rot, breathe of death itself.


The screams and coughing hacking phlegm filled groans of the things before us rose.


This was the last of them in the city. The last of them we faced. The final horde.


And it was done. The final gurgling thing pierced by many pila, stabbed through the eyes, through the skull, through its rotten gaping maw.

A cheer up. Victory.

Then there was a cry. From the city wall. From above. Horrified, I ran with my guard to the top. Were we facing a secret den? One that would spill down on the legionnaires from above?! That would be a disaster.

Hector, a centurion of years and experienced, stood weeping and I saw. A new, greater host streaming up the Nile. Coming, coming, coming for us. But we would not be had.

We would not fall to their curse. And we would not let it spread.

We marched and formed and prepared for undeath, but taking as many as we could. Ending this plague.

Raising my sword, I cried, "ROMA VICTIRIX!"

My men echoed. Strong and determined. No man ran. No man wet himself. No man cried. Not now. Rome would be proud. We were to be faithful to the last.

The horde bore down, smelling our sweat, our health. Our iron willed flesh.

The shambling pass came on. We stood ready.

But in my heart, I knew we were doomed. There was no escape. We could destroy as much as could though in hopes of reducing the plague, the foulness...and then...

A hand placed itself on my shoulder. Surprised, I turned. And...a man? stood before me. Roman, but ethereal. Dressed in the attire of four centuries ago.

"You have done enough, Legate. We shall stand to line and finish this."

I opened my mouth to say something, to respond, to ask, to...but it was too late. He was gone.

Thinking I was going mad, I turned to the front and saw...and my men saw too. Flickering into place, one after another, ranks, centuries, cohorts and legions. Of ghosts. Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, arrayed and ranked and ready between the unending horde and remenants of my men. Over a millennia of Roman legionnaires stood between the gnawing them and us.

A cry went up, "CAESAR! CAESAR! CAESAR!"

And the reply. "PUSH!"

We, XIII Legion, witnessed Spirit of Rome, even as sickly and down beaten her physical form, crush the Persian Plague one, last time.

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