Arrows were loosed; a flaming rain that cut through gaps in plated armour and pierced skin and bone. Horses, savagely kicked into the writhing fray, whinnied their displeasure. Bodies clashed, bloodied iron shooting sparks on those occasions when swords met first. Swears, prayers, senseless cries all mixed together to form the cacophonous melody of yet another skirmish they weren’t prepared to fend off.
The sun beat down on them relentlessly, making heavy armour heavier and tired hands slippery; some fell, not all stood again. The close quarters made overwhelming the stench of hot blood on thin grass like glimmers of gold, on stone jutting from the plain; of anxious, terrified sweat from bodies - filthy in all kinds of ways - of living and dying alike. In midst of it all, struggling to see through the glare of the light in his eyes and the disorientation of the mass of bodies moving like a sole thrashing organism, he scrambled to avoid the sharp edges of murderous blades. There was blood on his knuckles. It wasn’t his.
A riderless white horse reared up behind him, all terrified noises and darting eyes. Not all of the soldiers had the chance to get out of the way fast enough, rather collapsing from the sheer blows that supposed the contact between their craniums and wrought-iron shoes. A man fell on top of him, hissing in pain while holding his head. Blood flowed freely, just as it did all around them as survival and honour waged a terrible battle. There was so much blood everywhere. One couldn’t help but wonder if it was all necessary.
Someone called his name and he fumbled to push the felled Sarmatian off of him. However, the man’s hands hooked on his belt; tugged at the gladius while snarling out something in his own harsh tongue, spitting out blood that landed as crimson flecks of stars on the midnight skin of his cheek. He fought, swearing, kicking, staring around urgently, gripped by the fear of being caught by a stray or well-placed blow and Gods he didn’t want to die--
From the mass of twisting bodies sprang another man that rather appeared to be what the Greeks called gigans, but he sported Roman uniform and fought with a Roman blade. This weapon wedged itself in the Sarmartian’s head within one swift thrust, rendering his grip on Joshua’s belt limp. The boy lost his balance, stumbled forwards with the sudden burst of momentum; the other soldier held him upright, yelled something at him that he could barely hear over the sound of his blood rushing to his head in relief. The giant did wear Roman dress but it was unlike his own: his was a different cohort. A newly arrived one that - all around them - was evening out the numbers and turning the tides in their favour.
Thank the Gods.
“Can you stand?” the man roared yet again, parrying a new opponent and downing him in a pair of powerful jerks of his sword arm. Hearing him at last, Joshua pulled away, nodding with adrenaline-triggered vigour. Grinning, he answered in the affirmative, thanking the Herculean soldier as they stepped apart. The man - scarred at the corner of his mouth - smiled in turn; clapped him goodbye on the shoulder. For someone quite so large he vanished rather fast.
“Hoshe’a!” He was called again and thus sharply turned and ran from the carnage he’d gotten caught up in, finding his superior. The camp doctor grabbed his arm, urging him to be as swift as he could as they made their way to where one of the numerous injured soldiers bled out, pro Roma populoque romano.