Book 1 Chapter 3

Varus was tired of this dark forest. Days upon days of marching in perpetual twilight, mist swirling and decreasing visibility. This track they were on was supposed to lead them straight into the heart of the barbarians’ territory and allow them to strike unmercifully at their stronghold, but the constant strain of being alert and hearing the crashing of weapons and the screams of men, hearing of yet another patrol lost, had begun to fray his nerves.

Swiveling in his saddle, Varus looked back along the column. His men were stretched out as far as his vision spied, their packs slung over their shoulders and their sandals smashing the leaves and grass to muck. This muck then weighted down their feet until they were able to shake it off, only to have to do it again within a hundred paces. This cursed forest.

“Legatus,” was the cry Varus heard from the head of the column. He swung back around to see the tall German ancillary commander, Arminius, trotting his mount towards him. Arminius looked tired, but his eyes shone with what seemed to be triumph.

“What news do you bring, Centurion?”

The German smiled, “We are very close, Legatus. My scouts report that we are less than half a day’s march from the clearing where the settlement is. I believe we would be best served to leave the road, save for the siege equipment, and take to the forest. If we creep to the edge of the clearing, we can spring the trap.”

Varus snapped an order to one of his aides to tell the men to halt. Then he addressed Arminius, “I will have the rest of the men brought up, yes, but we will stay on the track, save for a perimeter guard. If we spread out we could be attacked piecemeal, like what has happened for the last several days.”

“But, Legatus, we could be found out if we do not hide the men. Let me take my scouts and deal with these harassers and then we can settle the men and make ready the attack. It would be a shame to come all this way only to lose the element of surprise at this juncture.”

Varus snorted, “I’m fairly certain that the men who have been harassing our patrols have already warned the settlement. I doubt our coming is a secret. No, Centurion, we will camp on the road and make our move before dawn.”

“As you wish, Legatus. I will see to my men.”

Arminius turned and rode back to the head of the column, unable to conceal his grin. It was all coming along perfectly.

 

*         *           *          *         *        *        *        *          *         *        *

Ulaf received word from one of Arminius’ men. In the wolf light they would destroy the invaders

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