PRELUDE TO BATTLE

Titus Valerius looked out over the grey water of the Adriatic Sea. The view was as bleak as his prospects. It had been a year since he had seen Rome and his beloved Domitilla.

When he had joined the army he had dreamed of travelling the world, amassing victories and returning home triumphant. With the Roman Gods on his side he could have retired a well-rewarded legionnaire. With money rewarded he could afford to overlook Domitilla’s poor background and lack of a dowry.

Then Caesar had invaded Rome. Valerius’ misfortune was to have been stationed in the capital at that moment. Pompey fled to Greece, taking with him all the legions he could muster and leaving Rome to the invaders.

Months passed in Greece while the politicians argued and postured. Then Caesar crossed the sea to confront Pompey. The Roman Civil War had begun. Continue reading “PRELUDE TO BATTLE”

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THE LOST LEGION

‘What now?’ screamed Aetius.

Another hail of arrows split open the sky, hurtling down on them. On command the surviving legionnaires raised their shields and fended off the onslaught. The screams and cries signalled more men lost. The wild gale battered them, the rain hammered them relentlessly.

General Manius stared through the bleak grey storm at the huddled remains of the Ninth legion, strewn along the unforgiving rocky hillside.

They were hopelessly lost in this barren land. There was no escape. Retreat was blocked behind them, and they had no idea which way would lead them to safety. The aquila had been lost.

On all sides they were surrounded by the hellish inhabitants. Why had they been sent to conquer this desolate place? There was nothing here worth Rome having.

‘General, what now?’ Aetius yelled again.

Through the storm Manius heard an evil animal howl. Emerging from the thick fog, fearsome warriors charged towards them.

‘We fight and we die,’ Manius commanded as he hauled himself to his feet. His men followed his example. They rushed to meet their death. Manius fell to one blow from a giant axe.

The Ninth legion was lost to history. The land called Caledonia remained wild and unbowed.


 

203 06 June 18th 2017
Copyright A Mixed Bag

Written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction. Write a story of around 200 words based on the photo prompt given (above). Hosted by Al Forbes. For more details visit HERE.

To read more stories based on this week’s prompt, visit HERE.

LADY MADONNA

I sat under the umbrella of the cafe, shaded from the strong Roman sun. Sipping from the cool ice drink I watched the people go by.

Excited, loud groups of school children ran across the ancient cobbles mixing with bus tours of the ponderous elderly. Teenagers by the fountains took selfies with their phones. Couples sat in each others arms, heads resting on shoulders, stealing the occasional kiss.

The midday bell rang from the tower. I looked to the door. It opened as it did everyday at the same time.

She strode out across the square. The crowds of people seemed to part in front of her. I marvelled at how effortlessly she glided on the uneven ground in her heels. The eyes were hidden behind chic sunglasses, her auburn hair fell from beneath the stylish wide-brimmed hat. Her hips swayed in the tight dress that stopped just below the knee exposing the tanned and toned calves.

I watched her walk from one end of the piazza to the other until she disappeared from view. The sights and sound of the world resumed. I left my money for the drink and ambled away.

Same time tomorrow.


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Copyright Sally-Ann Hodgekiss

Written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction. Write a story of around 200 words based on the photo prompt given (above). Hosted by Al Forbes. For more details visit HERE.

To read more stories based on this week’s prompt, visit HERE.

THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Mr. Gilbertson wasn’t going to give up.

He looked at the bored faces of his class. Every year he brought his pupils to Rome. Every year he was convinced they would return home enthralled and inspired. Whether or not this was reflected in their grades wasn’t a concern to him. He wanted to make a real difference to their understanding of the world.

In the courtyard of the Capitoline Museum, they stood by the remaining pieces of the Colossus of Constantine. The massive head and hand sat on separate plinths. Mr. Gilbertson smiled at his class. If this didn’t get them hooked, nothing would.

‘Look at the size of these pieces. Imagine the size of the full statue,’ he spoke in awe. ‘Does anyone know what Constantine the Great was famous for?’

Blank looks answered his question.

‘He was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity and decreed that Christianity should be tolerated in the Roman Empire. Imagine what the world would look like if he had not done that two thousand years ago.’

Billy Sims piped up. ‘Yes, Mr. Gilbertson, but apart from that, what have the Romans ever done for us?’ There was giggling and stifled smiles from the group.

Mr. Gilbertson sighed. Maybe next year he would just come on his own to admire The Eternal City.


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Written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction. Write a story of around 200 words based on the photo prompt given (above). For more details visit HERE.

A debt of gratitude to Monty Python’s The Life of Brian film for my effort this week.

To read more stories based on this week’s prompt, visit HERE.