Tell A Tale in 500 Words
The End of the Republic By Iain Lewis
“Stand fast men” called Marcus Brutus, “We have the numbers! Victory shall find us this day.” Despite the raging tumult of the battle on the ground, a small area of calm had emerged around the aging Roman general, who sat high above a horse to better understand, and control, the battle. Trumpets bayed, their specific note combinations passing orders faster even than a soldier on horseback across the battlefield. The flanks extended slightly, the lines of legionaries growing longer but shallower in an attempt to encircle the enemy. In response, the movement was echoed by the opposing army, despite their fewer numbers, and soldiers died in scores on either side as the front lines separated and then clashed together once more. Brutus shivered, despite his bravado and record, having only fought on the losing side of a battle only once, this fight was too equal to gauge a victor this early. However, he knew that the battle had better be short than long, as any civil war saw the death of an entire generation of soldiers, and the legionaries of Rome were well practiced in the arts of war, each maniple at the front tearing into their opponents with an almost savage glee. Brutus sighed, feeling an ache in his bones which he had not felt as a young man, and shifted his failing eyes to focus on the flags announcing the location of the enemy general, Octavian. He was still not sure how it had come to this, waging war against the nephew of the man he had once loved like a brother, followed into hell, then betrayed and stabbed himself on the tiered seating of the Senate House. Caesar had been a complicated man, and Octavian was living up to his legacy. Lost in thoughts, Brutus was slow to respond when his left auxiliaries began to rout, and could not turn back the incessant tide of panicked men. His brain moved dumbly as his watched his men, those whom he had thought would never break, especially not in front of his own eyes, throw down their swords and turn their backs. The battle, which had echoed noisily off the surrounding hills, with the roars of men, and the clash of steel, turned into a thousand voices screaming “Throw down your arms!” as Octavian’s men urged the sudden surrender. Grimly, the last legion dropped sword and shield with a clatter, and then backed up from the snarling enemy, whose centurions fought hard to reign them in. Brutus scratched his horse’s ear slowly, barely believing it had ended as it had, as Octavian marched forward towards him, basking in the adulation of his men. “It is done old man” he called as he closed to within spear range of Brutus, “Surrender or your men will die”. Brutus bowed his head as tears threatened to overcome him, not for his life, but for the threat to the republic for which he had sacrificed so much. “Well Julius, you were right” he muttered to himself, “The actions of your family will echo through eternity.” As he clambered off his horse, he could feel the change flowing over him like the breeze, and knew that the future would hold turbulence enough for generations to come.
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