There was wide spread panic among the men at the gates of Arkim. The news about Bazocs arrest left the men confused. General Umaga, Bazocs second in command was stricken by what the men called the disease of the gods. He could barely stand or walk on his own and was always carried around by his men on the orders of Bazoc. While the confusion escalated, there was aloud cry from the watch tower
‘RIDERS FROM THE WOOD!!!’. The horns of war sounded almost immediately after the cry and every man took arms rallying to their positions. The archers stood ready, arms clinched to the ends of their arrows pulling gradually against the strings of their bows and aiming their prospective target. Even with the knowledge of their leaders demise, their level of coordination was almost as if he (Bazoc) was there giving the orders. Now, with the absence of a leader, the archers were expected to fire at will and the spare men were to prepare for a melee attack if the walls were going to be breached. The faith of the men wavered, because this was the first time they were going to fight a combat without their leader.
To the amazement of the men, a company of not more than twenty horsemen rode out of the woods and halted far from the firing range of the archers. On seeing this number, it was clear that this was not another attempt by the rebellious chiefs to besiege the walls. So some of the men ran and fetched the bed reddened commander umaga who was assisted by his men to wall where the archers stood ready. The men supported him while he stood. Merely looking at him one would see a fragile and incompetent man whose every decision was questionable by reason of his health condition. But commander umaga was a master strategist during the barbarian civil war. Bazoc never fought a war without his counsel. Among the riders were the chiefs of the other three clans. Viscous looking old men, covered with beards.
‘in the name of gods, we have come to offer you redemption!’ Azoc, chief and ruler of Nori, spoke. Commander Umaga whispered into the ears of one of the men supporting him.
‘state your business!!!’ the man spoke aloud. Azoc dismounted from his horse and threw his weapons to the ground.
‘we stand before you today, not to spill blood, but to give you a chance to redeem yourselves’ Azoc said ‘you were all deceived by Bazoc with a promise of a good life with the Romans if we settled in peace. But its been ten years now, the Romans have made us live like slaves in our land.’ Azoc paused for a while and took a little time to glance at the walls. ‘the Romans have made you draw swords against your brothers but they do not stand with you in battle’. Umaga whispered again to the men.
‘by orders of our Lord Protector, we will stand and fight!!!’the men in solidarity gave a large uproar raising their weapons up.
‘your Lord Protector!!!’ Azoc interrupted ‘will be dead before dawn and order will be restored.’ There was silence everywhere. Azoc was pleased to see how anxious the men became after this statement. He threw a confident smile and continued ‘the Romans you fight for have betrayed you and your commander. Join us against the Romans and together we will wipe this godless savages out of our land’. there was no reply from the men at the walls. Commander umaga was speechless. Azoc mounted his horse, while the rest of the horse men gently made their way back to the woods.
‘our camp will be open for the next few days to any of you who have acknowledged the error of their ways and wants redemption. There will be enough food, wine and medicine. (We are building a grand army…..). We need strong, brave and valiant men like you in our rank, Azoc said as he rode off with the rest of the horse men. (Azocs mouthwatering) offer threw the camp into more confusion than it already is. With no support from the Romans and the sudden disappearance of their commander, this offer was just going to another lifeline for them.
Meanwhile, Bazoc was being escorted out of Arkim. A proposal by Vinictus to convey bazoc via a carriage to Rome was refuted by general Mallius Maximus. Mallius was sent from Rome to oversee the efforts being made in quelling the rebellion. The senate had lost their faith in Vinictus with a complete vote of no confidence in his ability to quell this vast rising rebellion. The senate appointed mallius not just to oversee but also to relief Vinictus of his duties. Bazoc was accompanied by General Mallius and his personal guard-son horses was tied to one of the riders and was forced to walk while he was being dragged by one of the rider.
‘so you must the famous bazoc’ Mallius said while he rode beside Bazoc. ‘I believe we may not have met but I have heard a lot about you. I was expecting more than I saw.’ Bazoc was silent with his head straight up and never bothered looking at malleus.
‘so it’s true’ Mallius said, seeing his unwavering countenance ‘you are indeed a man of few words, but perhaps I anticipated more resistance from you. Maybe you are the coward they say you are.’. Mallius rode further ahead and the very observant Vinictus immediately reduced his pace so Bazoc could catch up with him.
“whatever you think” vinictus said with a low tone’ I just want you to know that I feel betrayed as much you do. Ten years we have worked together and kept this lands safe and today Rome relieves me of duty by the hands of a minor.’
‘really’ bazoc said with a scurf. ‘at least you not in chains’
‘well you will have to forgive our entourage. A man with an allegation such as yours can’t be treated any better than this according to roman law.’ Vinictus said in a low but intense tone.
‘you still speak of roman law’ Bazoc said with a sigh ‘you have been deceived to think you have laws. But what you have are just men after their own interest’
‘I find this offensive’ Vinictus said ‘you have known me for ten years and you think you know Romans. Let me remind you, over a thousand roman citizens were murdered in this lands. The senate would have my head in a plate if someone other than myself wasn’t held responsible. I tried to…’
‘what I know is this’ Bazoc interrupted Vinictus ‘if there was a law, then man shall be ruled by law and not by the will of other men’
Vinictus was speechless and for a while he rode in silence. Strong words,coming from Bazoc hunted his conscience. Reminiscing on certain facts, Vinictus knew that no matter how this ends he was going to lose everything. The senate had no intention of retiring Vinictus as consul. Furthermore with authority vested on Mallius, he knew his life was at stake. But he was willing to go down without a fight. Its been a while since Vinictus pulled his sword to fight for any reason because Bazoc made the occupation of the barbarian land easy with no blood shed. As for his loyal and longtime friend, Bazoc, whom he had sold out just to protect his head, there wasn’t going to be a trial but an execution. Vinictus knew roman politics so well to be convinced that the senate had ordered their execution. To every turn there wasn’t going to be a happy ending. But if he was to save something, what would that be? A friend or his life.
‘The centurion guards’ Vnictus said. It seemed like he was talking to himself. ‘Rome’s finest and expensive warriors.’ he turned to Bazoc ‘have you ever had the chance to kill one?’
Bazoc looked at him with a smile and said‘there is only on way to find out ’. they both smiled at each other and immediately Vinictus pulled out his sword and swiftly cut the reins used by the rear guard to pull Bazoc. The neighing of the guard’s horse grew intense and as swift as Vinictus could be, he slashed the rear guard,slitting his throat.
‘TAKE HIS SWORD!!!’ Vinictus ordered Bazoc while he doubled back to Bazocs position
‘I never thought you had it in you’ Bazoc said as he drew the sword of the fallen guard.
‘old habits die hard.’ Vinictus replied.
‘general Vinictus’ Mallius called out ‘lay down your sword and you will not be charged for treason and will be given a swift and painless death’. Bazoc and Vinictus stared at each other
‘you think you can take on these men without a horse?’ Vinictus indirectly suggested that Bazoc used a horse.
‘it’s easier to pull a man down from below.’ Bazoc replied
‘CHARGE!!!’ Mallius screamed at the men.
With his sword covered in blood, Bazoc stroke his last adversary to the ground and mercilessly drove his sword right through the soldier’s chest pining him to the ground. Vinictus fell to Mallius blade and with multiple stab wounds, he knew he wasn’t going to make it. So he laid helplessly in own pool of blood. His last words to Bazoc was ‘save the eternal city’.