XXIX – Valparta Soldiery And Another Roman Surprise

We stayed at the Valparta camp for another ten days while Bert’s scouts searched the area for that elusive red, spikey army. They never found them. All I could figure was that the unknown raiders had hightailed it out of the region when Bert’s army showed up.

I sure would’ve!

In any case, we all got a good rest which also gave me time to catch up on where Acteus’ bunch had been and what they did. Turns out they’d had a rougher time of it than we did.

There were several small skirmishs with Nephilim and their Elohim handlers. The Titans, being who they were (the finest infantry Rome had ever known), managed to shove the enemy’s teeth down their throats each time. But my boys took casualties. Four had died and there had been numerous wounded. Acteus’ group was a little worse for wear when Bert bumped into them.

Actually, Acteus had commented that, if Bert and his army hadn’t found them when they did, there would have been quite a few more dead from the running battle the Titans had been waging. As it was, Bert’s forces collided with the pursuing enemy in what turned into a one-sided slaughter.

The Nephilim and Elohim never stood a chance. Outnumbered a hundred to one, the creatures died where they stood. It was a short time after that that Bert had gotten wind of the red, spikey raiders and had gone out looking for them. He found us instead. All in all, everything had turned out all right for us Titans. So far.

On the tenth day, Bert came around to our camp to let us know we were marching very early the next day. With that news we started packing. We’d leave out our bedrolls for the night, but tents and other gear were properly stowed and readied for the next morning. Six hours later, we were wakened by Valparta shaking us and waving the ‘come along’ signal.

We packed up our bedrolls, grabbed our gear and weapons, and headed off in the direction indicated. Minutes later when we arrived at the rendezvous point, we stopped dead in our tracks at the sight which greeted us. The forward elements of the Valparta army had already assembled, and what a sight it was!

There was one column ten wide, already stretching back to the main camp over a mile to the rear. Raised at regular intervals over that formidable forest of spears were carried standards that nearly brought tears to my eyes. They were of Roman design.

Coincidence? Maybe. I was learning that just about anything was possible in this buried, twilight world. But, to get back to cases. Each one of the standards was made up of a pole with a cross piece near the top. The poles and crossbars looked to me like they were encased in gold and a cloth banner hung from each. There were multiple colors and shades of color with seemed to denote unit affiliation and status, and some standards (like those of Bert’s thousand kinsmen) were just plain decadent in their lavish style. Strange symbols decorated each banner symbolizing, I guess, the names or designations of each unit bearing that standard.

It was when I looked at the top of those numerous standards that my eyes bugged out of their sockets. I didn’t realise it at the time, but all of my Titans were having the same reaction. At the very summit of each standard there was a figure (apparently also made of gold) that I KNEW couldn’t, and shouldn’t, exist in this strange place.

At the summit of each standard resided a figure of a gold Wrinkly! Jewels in the Wrinkly’s eye sockets shone with a pale fire not unlike the crimson lamps of a mutt I’d left behind so long ago. Those Wrinklies were virtual mirror images of Tiny!! Another impossiblity I couldn’t explain.

It was while I was goggle eyed over the revelations shown me that an armored Valparta from Bert’s unit shook my arm (he had to stand tiptoe to do it), pulling my rapt attention back to reality. Turning my attention to my visitor, I saw that, in one hand, he was carrying a standard like, yet unlike, those others. He handed it to me and stood back, apparently waiting for something to happen.

I looked over that standard and immediately noticed the differences. This one was classic Roman. In place of the Wrinkly was a gold Roman eagle. Looking at the crimson standard I saw the gold image of Tiny’s face which was mirrored on every one of our shields. Fire glittered from jewels inset in place of the mutt’s eyes. It was indeed my Tiny. Gulping, I thanked the Valparta who nodded impatiently and waved for us to follow him.

“You get in line now! Bert waiting for you!”

Oh! By the way! I need to correct an omission that I’ve been unintentionally making during my description of the Valparta weapons. Every Furry present had a shield of some sort. The rank and file of the short Furries (citizen soldiers) carried hide shields of great strengh and light weight. Bert’s bunch carried metal, kite shaped shields of unusual design (horn shaped at the top trailing edge), painted clan colors with a Wrinkly face embossed on each shield.

Anyway, when we got to our position in the front of the line, I got another surprise. Stationed ahead of Bert’s column and behind a company of one hundred armored Valparta was a rather good sized group of Furries carrying drums and clarions. The Furries had a blasted band!

Bert came up to us and indicated a large open space in the front center of the column. It was flanked by two columns of armored Valparta on each side. While my men formed up in their designated spot, I had a few crisp words with Bert.

“Okay. What gives? We’re surrounded by you guys again. By now I’d think you’d trust us.”

Bert smiled that razor grin of his.

“Not case of trust. Actually, trust you very much. There are dangers ahead you know nothing about. Could get killed through ignorance. You die, Bert in big trouble. Boss at Avanwy not like you get killed. Take it out on Bert. So you stay where you are. You live to reach Avanwy. Bert happy.”

I couldn’t argue with his logic. So, we formed up with me taking a place by Bert’s side, and off we went. Jumped once when, as the army started to move forward, there was the thunderous roll of drums and Clarions sang forth their challenge.

We were on our way.

Chapter XXX

Published in: on December 21, 2010 at 3:47 PM  Leave a Comment  

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