Tonight would be the last night of the siege. Gaius Marius Quartius, the Centurion in charge of the fort, had said that for the last three nights, but Titus knew that they couldn't hold out any longer. The Gauls, cursed Gauls, had been at the walls for two weeks, and the simple wooden palisade was scorched and tattered. No, tonight would be the end of it.
Titus and the Centurion were perched in the simple wooden watchtower at the north end of the fort, looking out over the sea of Gaul tents. They rarely spoke, the bleakness of their situation. Back when the siege had started, they would make jokes about the Gauls, cursed Gauls. Claim they worshiped black, abominable gods. Tell stories of cannibalism and human sacrifice, anything to dehumanize the enemy, but that had all stopped four nights before.
At midnight, or as near as they could tell, when the moon was at its apex, the Gaul chief had ridden forth, screaming a horrible, bone-chilling scream. The guards on duty had fired arrows at him, but they bounced off his flesh. When he got to the palisades, he had climbed them like a ladder, leaving a trail of smoldering wood wherever his feet touched them, and he went into the Roman tents and he killed a dozen men. Exactly a dozen, and he took their heads, and he left, not harming a soul except the dozen headless men and anyone who tried to stop him. The screaming didn't stop till he was back over the wall, back into the camp of the Gauls. Cursed Gauls.
Gaius hadn't known what to do that first night, but he tried to keep his men calm, claimed it was a fluke and trying to keep the camp from panicking, but to Titus, he showed a different face. Gaius was afraid. He tried to explain, using words that didn't quite work together and the vaguest of terms. “There were things in this world that are greater than man, and they want us dead, and somebody might be able to stop that from happening, but it isn't us. Tonight will be the last night of this siege.” he said.
So the chief came back again, screaming that terrible scream. Nobody got in his way this time as he effortlessly got over the fence, taking another dozen heads and leaving another twelve dead men. And it happened again, and once more. Titus looked out over the sleeping army of the Gauls, cursed Gauls, and he looked up at the moon, which was just about full, and he knew the blackest and most terrible fear.
The worst thing about it wasn't the screaming, or the fire, or the blood red rage that soaked his eyes. It was his sword. You see, it wasn't the chief screaming at all. His mouth was stitched shut with brambles. No, it was his sword screaming. A blade made of flesh and bone, with a dozen horrible mouths that screamed to one awful, dissonant chorus. The cuts it made wouldn't heal, and bled unnaturally for days. So much as a scratch…
That scream went up, and Titus ducked down, trying not to be seen, trying not to cry, but it was different this time. There were more horses than just the one. Fearing the worst, Titus stood, and saw them. A dozen men, Romans, riding black horses were racing towards the chieftain. Each man wore a white tunic with the head of the Gorgon Medusa in dark red, and they carried swords and spears. Two at the back carried an ornate wooden box between their two horses, inscribed with golden text.
The Roman horsemen were upon the chieftain now. Where their swords touched flesh lightning arced, and their spears were sheathed in fire. He fought hard, long after an ordinary man would be dead a dozen times over, but they took him apart. First his legs, and then his arms, and then head.
Titus was overjoyed, and stood to shout to the rest of the legion, but he caught sight of one of the Roman horsemen's face, and he stopped. The man, moving the severed leg of the chieftain to the ornate golden box. He looked Titus straight in the eyes for a fraction of a second, then looked away in shame.
Minutes after they arrived, the Roman horsemen took the boxed remains of the Gaul chief and rode away, and Titus was aware of another scream. Not the terrible scream of that horrible blade, but the scream of ten thousand angry men. “They weren't here for us. Steel yourself, child.” Gaius Marius Quartius said, readying his bow. The Gauls, cursed Gauls, rose up like a giant wave and crashed against the walls of the fort. Tonight would be the last night of the siege.