As the "Legion Line" approached, the former gladiator did not wait for them to engage. He jumped upon the pile of three men, and using the horse head once again, hooked the top of one man's shield. The men did not break their ranks; however, the gladiator leaned back from his place and began pulling that soldier's shield down.
That soldier struggled against the pulling weight of the gladiator. Eventually, the gladiator's weight became too much for him to hold, and he went crashing into the pile of men. This also caused the gladiator to lose his balance as he tumbled backward off the fallen soldiers. He tumbled backward, unhooked his staff, and rolled to his feet in one smooth motion. In contrast, the soldier simple fell onto the pile of men.
The fallen man left a gap in the defensive line, which the gladiator used to hook one of the soldiers sword wielding arms. Putting all of his weight forward onto the staff, the hooked soldier could not keep his sword in its thrusting position. With another tug, the soldier stabbed one his fallen comrades in the leg and the blood began to flow from that wound. Immediately upon stabbing a fallen comrade, the soldier dropped his sword.
Another soldier seeing the abandoned sword broke ranks and reached for the weapon. With this, the former gladiator smacked him on the back of the head with his staff, which only managed to knock the helmet off the soldier.
The freed gladiator still had an excellent defensive position, as the line could not maintain discipline, and the magistrate called for a retreat. The pile of three soldiers was now four with a helmet and sword added in front. Furthermore, the pool of blood made the area in front of the pile of men slippery.
The stabbed soldier was writhing in pain and shifting his weight back and forth. Thus, he was making it difficult for the men under him from freeing themselves. However, the magistrate managed to re-form his lines and they began advancing. However, this time, they formed more of a wedge to be able to get closer to the gladiator in the corner. He also quietly gave orders to his men.
Once again, the freeman jumped upon the pile of men, and hooked the center soldier's shield. Expecting the same tactic, the flanking soldiers reinforced the grip of the center soldier. However, instead of pulling the shield, the gladiator pushed the staff into the face of the center soldier and smashed him in nose.
The shock and surprise of this action caused the entire line to lose balance. Most of the soldiers struggled to keep their feet. As they struggle to maintain balance, the gladiator picked out the soldier whose helmet he managed to remove. With the bronzed tip of his staff, he brought down a hard blow to the man's head. With a terrible crack, the man fell into a heap in front of the pile of men. Blood was spilling out his ear, and the blow rendered him unconscious.
Once again, the magistrate called to regroup his men. His tactic was not effective. The freed gladiator was taking advantage of his defensive position. He now had a pile of five men between himself and the seven remaining soldiers. He had the corners of the inn and a slippery floor also to his advantage.
"Magistrate," inquired the gladiator.
"What is it?" required the irritated magistrate.
"A couple of these men should see a healer immediately or they will certainly die."
"That is no concern of yours!"
"I suppose not, but you still have an opportunity to save the rest of your men."
"Your boasting will not aid you in battle, slave!"
"Boasting is for rich men, I speak from experience."
"He has downed five of our men," whispered a soldier.
"Quiet!" the magistrate reprimanded before continuing his conversation with the gladiator, "We are simply testing for your weakness."
"How is that going?" he asked with a wry smile.
"Your impertinence will cost you dearly!"
"Your stubbornness has already cost you a great deal. You can still call this off and save these men."
"The gods have struck down men with greater skill than you because of their hubris."
"The gods know the true heart of men. They know that I have been trying not to kill your men. However, my patience is wearing thin."
"Your patience? I am seeking justice and you speak of impatience!"
"Justice is also for the wealthy, you seek vengeance."
"What benefit are these word games of yours slave?"
"I am simply attempting to save these men's lives."
"Now!" shouted the magistrate.
Upon the signal, two men rushed along the left side of the gladiator. With their swords at the ready, they were able to avoid the strike of the staff. With their surprise attack, they managed to get behind the pile of men on the floor. The remaining soldiers cleared a path for him to exit the inn.
Clearly, the magistrate wanted to flush him from his defensive position. The innkeeper gave the gladiator a pleading glance, and thus the gladiator left the inn, and the magistrate and six of his soldiers followed. The seventh man checked on the men and retrieved his sword. He requested the innkeeper send for a healer.
The crowd followed the last soldier out to view how the fight would progress. The thirty men were now down to eight. The gladiator was confidently waving his staff around. The soldiers were sizing him up to determine an attack strategy.
In the open, the gladiator no longer had two walls protecting his flanks. The soldiers would be able to attack from any side. The magistrate was orchestrating his men to surround the freed slave. Once the soldiers surrounded the gladiator, they could attack from any angle and several at a time. This was going to be a tougher challenge for the experienced fighter.Posted by deg at July 9, 2006 8:10 PM