Author: UltraElectroMagnetic PM
One 1000 word story for every day of the year. Genres will vary greatly, but I tend to favor adventure, fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, war, and tragedy.Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 49 - Words: 49,166 - Reviews: 21 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 02-22-13 - Published: 01-01-13 - id: 3088012
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Advent of the Dawn
Lucius looked over his cold, tired legionnaires. The autumn was the coldest they'd felt in a long time. The plants lost their colour, and the trees lost their leaves. Legate Lucius' Legion was fighting for days on end in the Dacian region now known as Transylvania. But Lucius did not know if he could really call them days…
The land was cursed. The full moon had been up for a week, and for the past three day-cycles, the sun had failed to rise. Whatever foul magic had produced this cloud of night, sealing the region in darkness, was also causing the dead to rise, and monsters of the night to emerge from their slumber.
For three days, the legion had fought near endlessly. For hours they would slaughter the raised dead, the blood-suckers, and the wolf-men by the thousands. In the brief moments of pause before the next wave, they would burn the bodies, including their dead, to prevent any from rising again. Many of the legionnaires started wearing any silver they could find; superstition dictated that the undead were vulnerable to silver.
The endless fighting had taken its toll on the Legion. They had lost over half of its troops, and all the ones that were still alive were exhausted, sick, or wounded. The night had shown no signs of breaking. All the soldiers were thinking of was the beautiful sight of the sun rising and taking them to salvation.
The Legion had constructed a wooden fort during the breaks in the fighting. A wooden palisade reinforced by a dirt wall, on which soldiers could climb and fire arrows and javelins at the monsters down below, surrounded the Legion's tents. Around the exterior of the palisade fort was a trench filled with wooden stakes to prevent any of the risen dead from climbing the wall. Only the gates could be used to pass through to the inside, and these were the most heavily defended areas; blocks of roman legionnaires formed effective shield walls at these narrow openings.
Further out to the perimeter of the fort, smaller, defensible mounds and lines of sharpened wooden stakes were built, forming an effective maze of killing zones for which the legionnaires used to kill the monsters en masse.
"Legate!" a centurion called and saluted. Lucius was sitting with some of his officers and soldiers by the fire as the Centurion reported in from the outer defences.
"Report, Centurion," Lucius ordered.
"Legate, the perimeter guards reported intensifying rumbling and roaring over the hills. They are going to attack again, and this time there's more of them than any they'd sent before."
"Where do they get all these dead bodies," Lucius whispered to himself before turning to the centurion and saying, "Noted, centurion; get your men ready for battle."
The centurion saluted Lucius, and ran back out the fort.
"Tribune Aelius, Prefect Gallus, let's go. I'll need to rouse the men with a speech."
Lucius climbed up the wall of the fort to address his gathering men. With Aelius at his right and Gallus at his left, he began,
"Brave Legionnaires…For three days, we have been fighting our greatest foe…it isn't the cold, nor the wolf-men, nor the flying blood-suckers, nor the risen dead. Our enemy is the night. The cursed, cold, dark, endless night of this wretched place is the force driving this army of horrors! For the past few days I asked that you pray to Mars for victory in this dark time…and he has answered us with countless victories, and thousands of dead foes, but they would not stop coming. Tonight, I ask you to pray to Apollo, to pray for the sun! Pray for the coming of the dawn! But until then, we will fight! We will tear apart the horrors of the night until all of them, or all of us, are spent! For Rome!"
"For Rome!" shouted the soldiers.
Minutes later, all the legionnaires were at their stations, praying to Apollo and ready for battle. The monsters of the night came upon them like and endless wave.
Lucius himself commanded the soldiers around the north gate, while Aelius and Gallus commanded the south gate.
"Archers, release arrows!"
The Roman archers released volleys of flaming arrows at the horde, one arrow capable of spreading its fire to many monsters.
Hundreds of Wolf-men charged into the Legion's defences, some being knocked down by the shield walls and stabbed to death, and others charged into the wooden stakes, impaling themselves. Some broke through the outer defences, killing several soldiers as they rampaged through the first line, and ended up being killed by the next line of defence
The risen dead came in the thousands next, swarming the legionnaires at the outermost defences. The Legion was pushed back closer to the fort, where the Roman troops compressed into block formations, killing thousands of undead, each formation of legionnaires a meat grinder that chewed up the monsters with the stabbing of their short swords and the bashing of their shields.
At the call, the archers raised their bows to the sky and began firing at the moonlit blood-suckers. One larger vampire, clad in armour, landed in front of Lucius, killing his guards with a blood-red greatsword.
Lucius charged at the vampire, and they duelled as the dead monsters piled high enough for them to climb up the fort walls. By now, the Legion was reduced to a few centuries, and Gallus and Aelius had been slain. Lucius managed to kill the alpha vampire with a skilful thrust from his short sword.
The vampires and werewolves began fleeing, but thousands of risen dead remained, advancing on the seemingly doomed legion.
"I am honoured to have fought with you all these years, Legionnaires," Lucius said as he removed his helmet and looked down.
"The sun! The dawn has come!" shouted one of the legionnaires.
The survivors began cheering and praising the gods as the undead horde was roasted in the sunlight.