Sunday, 7 March 2010

scrap metal (part two)

"honestly turtledovix, be decent to those chaps", jut caught hold of himself quickly."it's not as though they claim to have come through a wardrobe..." jut had considerable difficulty not to poke the battle mage with his elbow. to castor paulinus he said promptly:" protocall demands that you camp either in the garrison or within sight of it's sentries. turtledovix here will alert the imperial palace regarding your presence. i must return home. my name is jut. i'm an armorer. should you need any further assistance summon for me". he extended a hand to castor paulinus. the commander shook it, more for the benefit of morale than anything else. jut turned to go. a guardsman arrived, in his black cuirass and bear-shaped helmet, indicative of his rank: a sargeant. "i am sargeant hewitt. would you and your men prefer to use the lodges or to make your own camp in the field?" c.paulinus turned to his lieutennant, scipio livius. the burly ligurian responded to the unspoken question"the field". paulinus turned to hewitt:" am i thus able to understand all men, having drunk that potion?" he asked. "yes" came the reply. " for a year since the drinking, and your men also, since you are their guardian, in a manner of speaking". much relieved, the romans turned to dig a camp in a nearby empty patch of ground. midday approached. the camp-digging done, livius ordered rest and time to eat some rations for the men. the silence in which their activities were carried out spoke volumes for their confusion and restraint. as early evening drew near, a council was gathered. the unit-commanders gathered in paulinus's tent. officiality was cast aside: " gentlemen" he began: "from what little i understand, this is a civilised if odd place, and people at least try to show some understanding. tomorrow we will see someone in a higher position. tell the men to rest and remember they are roman-" not a second elapsed since these words were spoken and the men began to tumble over each other as the earth started shaking violently. it was as though titans hammered at it, bellowing furiously, the roman sentry's buccinae brayed for dear life. paulinus and his seconds in command charged out of the tent. outside, sargeant hewitt and his men tried to calm the roman soldiers who were busy making entreaties to gods and demons alike in all the tongues of their empire. "nothing to be concerned about" rpeated hewitt. "hades what is t h a t"? asked paulinus. at the edge of the camp, charged a group of about 20 huge animals that looked like a python with the legs and belly of an elephant. " it's our battle-mounts, sir. the brontosaurus. harmless beasts. unless provoked. we always excercise them come evening". said hewitt, as to frightened children. "you mean to say you ride these monsters as you would a horse?" hewitt was offended. "sir, please! horses indeed!monsters, indeed! these beasts are very dear to our military heritage!". the serpent-necked herd charged away, towards some distant orchard. later on, they would return like cats after a nightly prawl. the romans, clearly shaken, fell to rebuilding their camp with vigor. the night was spent in thought and prayer, reading from classical texts and fitful sleep. paulinus dreamed of huge lizards with mouths like caverns and a large-breasted woman trying to raise the dead...

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