Baggage Train from Hades.

Baggage Train from Hades.

It came to me in a dream, or so it purported to be. But it could have been the remnants of a past life. Or a vision of the eternal Fields of Elysium.

My Century was snaking along the river behind me, our column of Legionnaires hidden by a line of trees.

The trap had been set.

Three legions – a total of 20,000 crack troops – were stationed behind the crest of a hill in the Teutoburg Forest about a mile upstream from us, with a few dozen slaves serving as bait for the German hordes that infested the woods, supposedly waiting with the baggage train.

Once the barbarians attacked, the Legions would spring upon them and cement Germania into the collection of baubles that Augustus had taken to add to his glory.

As seasoned veterans, we were charged with preventing a German breakout as they fled. The word was, the way to vanquish these subhuman brutes, despite their towering height, was to stab up their exposed throats.

This was a place of honor. Our armor glittered in the sunlight in agreement.

Such cavalry as we had strode proudly forward towards the clamor as the battle ensued in the distance, and we quickened our pace.

 The appointed hour had arrived.

The cries of wounded animals, the screams of warriors and slaves. We stopped and I ordered my men to form up, to block any attempt at escape.

But when a black butterfly fluttered by, we knew then what our fate was to be. Looking each other darkly in the eye, we gritted our teeth and made our swords ready.

A discordant cacophonous din began to issue through the river valley. Suddenly across the water came our baggage train rolling wildly past, manned by hundreds of our comrades-in-arms, the wheels clattering, the wood groaning, the oxen rushing down river ahead of the melee.
We breathed a sigh of relief and cheered our fellows on. Until they came closer.

Every man of them was dead and on his way to the River Styx, beckoning us thither. As the swarm of our enemies approached, we advanced grimly, knowing we would soon be joining them.

 When the fog lifted after a few minutes I heard the anguished cry of the Emperor himself echoing across the millennia: ‘Germania – give me back my Legions!!!’

 Then my mind cleared and I arose as if from the grave to brew a cup of espresso.