The Adventures of Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius

The Vengeful Friends Incident - Part I

By Douglas E. Gogerty

In his previous encounter, Gaius realized one of the flaws of his cover identity. He was supposedly a freed blacksmith; yet, he knows nothing about smithing. He had watched his guild members work, but he knew little of what they were doing. He was surprised it had never come up before that encounter. Nonetheless, he was not sure what he could do about it if it came up again.

He and his horse had plenty of rest in Formia, and they were ready to travel. It started off uneventful, and they reached the first stop well before midday. However, Gaius would not be so lucky on the second leg of the journey.

"We have been expecting you," stated a man as Gaius rode up.

"I am sorry to keep you waiting," replied Gaius. "There was some trouble in Formia."

"It would seem that the stories we have heard about you are true," stated the same man as five more came onto the road.

Two of the men held long spears which they braced upon the road. They were the type to bring down horses or their riders. It was clear that they were there to prevent Gaius from riding past. The remaining three had military-grade roman short swords. Furthermore, they were all dressed in legion brass armor and they had the accompanying Roman tower shields. It was obvious to Gaius that these men had been in many fights. He thought that they may be hired mercenaries. At the very least, they were former Roman legionnaires.

"Stories?" asked Gaius. "Who would be telling stories about me?"

"A man you faced recently has been spinning quite a yarn all along the Appian Way."

"I recall a man who ran away while I brought down his comrades. He did not even stop to help. Was he a friend of yours?"

"What? No! "

"That is good because you can tell the type of people you are dealing with by the company they keep."

"This coward tells of bodies which are strewn along the path as you pass through."

With the two spears anchored in the road, the remaining men flanked the spearmen. They formed a small line behind the man who was speaking to Gaius. All three drew their swords and brandished their shields.

"Is that so? Were you looking to join that group?"

"That is quite bold talk!"

"It was just a question."

"Perhaps the name Lucius Servius Cresces would mean something to you?"

"No. Why do you ask?"

"Do you always kill someone without noting their name?"

"Not always -- just most of the time."

"He was our comrade."

"That does not help me determine who he was."

"It does not matter at this point."

"Well, you brought it up."

"You are going to join that group of corpses for which you are responsible. That line of corpses along this road ends with yours."

"Is that right?" asked Gaius as he dismounted and patted the mare on the behind to have her move off.

The leader drew his sword and Gaius followed suit by drawing his scimitar.

"Are you ready to die?" asked the leader of the small band.

"I guess I will find out soon enough," replied Gaius.

The two men with spears held their ground, but the three others and the leader formed a line. The four men moved towards Gaius in a standard Roman legion formation. That is, they were four men behind shields with their short swords sticking out of the gaps as they approached Gaius.

It was clear to Gaius that these were well disciplined fighters. His scimitar would be no match against their shields or their short swords. Further, in order to save his horse, he had to give up his mounted advantage. This was not going to be a simple fight.

Gaius feinted to the left, and made a dash to the right of the four-man formation. They men turned slowly to not ruin the formation. Hence, Gaius managed to outflank the group. However, instead of attacking any of the members of the formation, he attacked one of the spearmen who remained in reserve. The man with the spear was completely surprised by this move and found his neck quickly opened by Gaius's scimitar.

Gaius dropped his scimitar and grabbed the bleeding man's spear. With it, he swung it around and caught the other spearman in the back of his helmeted head with the shaft of the spear. This knocked the man forward who tumbled to the ground with his helmet spilling off forward. With a quick thrust of the spear into the back of the neck, Gaius was down to only the four men. They had managed to turn their formation to face Gaius. The leader whispered some commands to prevent the type of flanking maneuver to be successful again.

With the spear, Gaius menaced the men in formation. However, they were too savvy to break from their positions. There was defensive strength in the way they lined up. Gaius would have difficulty penetrating the defense as long as that group worked together. On the other hand, they could not approach Gaius enough to inflict damage as long as he had the spear. They were at somewhat of a stand-off.

"What is wrong barbarian -- afraid?" yelled the leader.

"It is four against one," replied Gaius. "Although -- it was six against one."

"We will avenge their deaths as well."

"You are doing fine so far."

One of the men was tired of the taunting, and broke formation. He rushed Gaius swinging his short sword. He was too close for Gaius to stab with the spear, so he had to side step the rushing man. Gaius hit him in the back with the shaft of the spear as he went past. The soldier lost his balance and fell on his face. Before the man could get up, Gaius placed the spear point into a vulnerable spot in the thigh. Blood began to spill in great quantities.

The remaining men attempted to flank and save their comrade, but Gaius kept them at bay with the spear. The lone soldier was not dead, but was bleeding quite rapidly. He would lose consciousness at any moment. He tried to get up, but in the brief time, he had already lost too much blood. He collapsed back down, and Gaius went back to the remaining three men.

"I stand corrected," taunted Gaius. "It is three against one."

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on August 9, 2009 4:02 PM.

Saturn was the previous entry in this blog.

"The God Wars" - Chapter Seventeen: Aftermath is the next entry in this blog.

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