Their chanting could be heard from nearly a mile out, a hundred of them, maybe more. They lined the beach head, their faces obscured by heavy darkened robes and small flickering torches grasped tightly between both hands.
“Mae hi’n codi athithi.” They sang over and over, but none of us knew the language. It still unnerved us all the same, the centurions tried to reassure us as our landing vessels slowly rowed towards the strange line of foreign singers, but we could all tell they were just as nervous as the rest of us.
As we neared the shore the rowing stopped as no one wanted to be the first to touch land, cries went up that “The land was cursed” and “The chants were great magic.”
After a few uneasy moments the Legate rowed forward with his personal guard by his side, “Cowards! Aren’t you soldiers of the Empire?” He screamed, “Either die to them or die to me.”
A deep feeling of shame fell over the rank and file and we went about our duty. Swords in hand we stormed the beach and began cutting down the men one by one.
They didn’t put up a fight, they didn’t even move, it was a slaughter. As the chanting bodies fell so did their torches and with that we realised our mistake. In the heat of battle we hadn’t noticed but the lines of singer’s had been standing upon small mounds of branches and leaves. The torches fell and the mounds caught a blaze.
Soldiers died with their victims, roasted alive in their chain mail armour. Even among the screams of burning men and the crackling of the flames the chanting continued. I managed to get off the make shift pyre with only minor burns to one of my legs, but at least two cohorts of men died in the flames.
One thousand men burnt alive, one thousand Roman soldiers sacrificed in whatever ritual these savages were performing.
Seeing this from the water the Legate turned tail and ran along with the rest of the legion. Now I sit alone in a foreign land, cursed by the lands God’s and surrounded by its savages. I can hear more of them out beyond the treeline, they’re chanting and… Moving closer. I haven’t much time.
By Taylor Thompson.
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Written on mobile while on my lunch break at work. Working on some longer form stories so I haven’t had much to post recently, but hopefully that’ll chsnge soon.