“Here, Captain, take the gold. Go to their camp. Buy my life,” I sank to my knees in the sand.
The officer saluted - then walked away. His face betrayed contempt. I cast the pouch of gold coins to the ground. On the horizon, I could see the chariots with the red pennants of Galbu. Behind me were the remnants of the Third Legion Victorious.
Some of the men were silent and unmoving. Others were on their feet. Each man carried any water he might still have in a water skin. Most were without water - or hope. Shields had been discarded, because of the weight.
The sun was rising, and I rose to my feet. Our horses had been left behind, because we had no water for them. I took a drink from my water skin, and decided to set out once more.
I was followed by my troop of royal guardsmen. They still carried water skins. We had given the last of our stores to them.
Some of the legionnaires followed. Most of the men remained on the sand, waiting for death.
The foe would attack soon. Our numbers were so few we could do little. The sun had done their work for them.
I decided to wait till night, and raid the enemy camp. We might be able to steal some horses, and flee in the night. Most likely, we would all be killed.
We walked thru the dunes as the day wore on. We halted as the sun set behind the hills to the west. I gave my orders to my captains, and waited. We sent out scouts to seek out the camps of the foe. We rested for a few hours. The scouts returned, with word of a camp a few hours away.
We gathered the men still able to fight. We shared out the last of our water, and divided up into companies. We formed an arc, and moved out.
We were able to reach the camp without being discovered by the patrols of the enemy.
We climbed a large dune. From the dune, we could see the fires of the large camp. We sent two of our companies to attack the camp from the rear. We would make the main attack when they made their move.
We waited until the men were in position. The silence of the night was broken by shouts and cries. This was the time.
“Now!” I cried. We rushed down the slope of the dune, and into the enemy below. The foe was awake and forming up into fighting squares.
“There! Horses!” cried our one of the men. We made for the horses, pushing past a few foemen we encountered. I grasped the halter of one of the mounts. We needed water, and began to search the camp for water skins.
We found some skins in a chariot park. We divided up the supply hurriedly.
The foe was moving up. One of our companies made a stand when they were trapped at another chariot park. This gave us time to flee into the desert.
I mounted the back of the horse, and slapped the rear quarters of the animal. I was followed by three men - they were also lucky and had found horses.
We would scatter into the wasteland. Some of us might even make it thru the desert.
I rode on into the dark night of defeat.