Roman Slave - Gladiator - Freeman - Hero
The Fight against the Magistrate (Part One)
By Douglas E Gogerty
As I was saying, the former magistrate and soldier with his thirty men surprised the unaware freeman as he returned to the inn from the bath. Upon seeing the enormous man, several men ran away with fear by the sheer size of the man. As I hear it, the man was at least seven feet tall.
The former magistrate began telling his story of woe. He explained his loss of wealth and station when Ptolemy XIII murdered him in Egypt. He exclaimed that if the freed gladiator had come to his aid, the outcome would be very different.
The freeman explained that he had enough of fighting. When he had killed the six men on the road at there first meeting, it was in self-defense. As a gladiator and now as a freeman, he had killed many men, and he grew weary of fighting. He wished to spill no more blood.
With the story of single handedly killing six men, even more of the former magistrate's men deserted him. It was clear to many of them that the fight was a fool's errand.
Nevertheless, the man was facing twelve or more men, and he was unarmed. Some of the men balked at killing an unarmed man; thus, the former magistrate threw him a short sword. "Prepare to die freedman!" the magistrate yelled.
Calmly the freeman replied, "You know my weapon was the trident and not the sword."
The freeman tossed the weapon away. Being a traveler, he had a beautiful walking staff. It had the head of a horse intricately carved at the top. The other end had a bronze tip worn down a bit from much walking. The former gladiator was going to use the staff to defend himself against the Roman swords. The twelve men attempted to surround him, but he backed himself towards a corner of the inn's great room.
"This is your last warning magistrate," the freeman said softly. "You can go peacefully on your way, or you can feed the ravens."
"You are no match for..." started the angry magistrate.
Before he could finish his sentence, with the horse head end of the staff, the gladiator hooked the arm of one of the men who had his hand on the hilt of his sword. With a quick pull, the soldier was off balance. A startled accomplice lurched backward in an attempt to avoid the falling man. He caught the brass tipped end of walking staff in the side of the face.
The two stumbling men had crossed directly in front of the freemen providing him with a brief guard against any further attack. With a quick twirl of the staff, he took hooked the ankle of the stumbling man and gave a yank. This made the former soldier crash to the floor.
By pulling on the ankle, his staff was high in the air, and he brought it crashing down on the head of the second man. He fell with a groan onto the first man.
As each of the men within reach attempted to draw their swords, they received a sharp blow from the staff. The freemen hit knee, hand, and elbow of the closest men, which prevented them from readying their swords. Some men farther away from the freemen were able to draw their swords. With their drawn swords, they were attempting to work their way to make their blows.
One of the men with his sword above his head made a rush at the traveler. Again using the horse head as a hook, the former gladiator hooked the wrist of the charging soldier and pulled the man forward. This distracted the charging soldier enough to cause him to trip over the two bodies between him and the gladiator. Being steered to a degree by the gladiator, he went face first into the wall. His helmet pushed down onto the bridge of his nose and blood began to flow from his nose.
Still hooked to the wrist of the now bloody soldier, the gladiator lifted his staff twisting the arm of the soldier with the now bloodied nose, causing him to drop his sword. Simultaneously, he caught the former magistrate in the mouth with the end of the staff.
The first soldier was trying to push the unconscious second soldier off him to get off the floor. However, before he was able to do so, another pull on the staff from the gladiator and the bloodied nose soldier was on the pile with the other two men. With a backhanded swing of his staff, the gladiator hit the bloodied nose again and rendered the soldier unconscious.
In a brief exchange, the freeman created a very good defensive situation. He had two walls of the inn to protect his back, and there were three men lying on the floor providing some protection from the front.
"Men! Men!" shouted the magistrate from his bloodied mouth. "We need a coordinated attack! Stop acting individually!"
The magistrate and his men backed away from the freeman. They got out of range of his staff, and got together to form a plan. At this point, all the men drew their swords.
"None of your men are seriously hurt," the former gladiator said calmly. "It is not too late to go in peace."
"Quiet slave!" shouted the magistrate.
He quietly gave orders to his men as they prepared to fight the gladiator who did not want to give up his defensive position. The soldiers grabbed their tower shields. With their swords at the ready, they began getting into a defensive line. They lined up shoulder to shoulder with the shields on their left and their swords on the right and at the ready for thrusting.
The men on the floor began to regain consciousness. The first man was still attempting to push the men off him with little success. However, the two men on him were beginning to stir.
The line of men with the magistrate behind began to close in on the traveler armed only with his staff. This was a very small version of a legion encounter. It had been a successful strategy for several centuries, and the freed gladiator would have to find a way to defeat it.