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Elis Griffyn's Blog Entry



 
 

Blog Entry
 
Monday, Sep 25, 2017
3. Legio IX Hispana - 121 AD

    Many moved via chariot and horse back. More still crowded on carts pulled by tiring ponies. And the rest shuffled behind on foot, their heavy armour pulling them down, causing every step to feel like tar.

     

    They journeyed in order of rank; the generals to the front, the new recruits to the back. A mix of roman-born, of Spanish and of the newly converted British, they all moved toward one shared goal - to reach the heavily tribal lands now known as Wales.

     

    For years the Roman forces had pressed upon the tribes and in turn, many had put their hatreds aside to unite against their common, foreign enemy. And here they were, the Ninth, once more trekking toward a battle whose reasoning had been growing thin. 

     

    Elis had slipped down from his horse some three or four miles back to allow another to take his place - much to the anger of many. Each man was tired, yet each man trudged on. Their dedication not to the battle but to their brothers and the empire kept them going, despite the heat. Why was this one meagre soldier allowed respite while the remainder went without?

     

    Elis ignored the whispers and allowed his pace to slow a little until he was walking alongside the younger new recruits of the legion. They were nothing but children compared to the weathered men further along the line, and he swallowed down the pang of sadness at their obvious fate. So few of them would survive this, regardless of their strict training. The tribal masses, though lacking in military leadership and experience, were tough and brutal. They lacked form, something that his men held in spades, and this confusion would inevitably be the end of many.

     

    And Elis, as always, would remain unscathed. 

     

    Oh, how he’d tried to die in those years since his world had been taken from him. Even now, some six hundred years later, he couldn’t allow himself to think back on that night, nor the time that had followed. Driven down to the ground, unable to free himself, forced to watch the decay of his loved ones and his own body refused to die. No man, not even a monster such as himself, should ever be forced to witness such things. And to often he would find himself unable to close his eyes for fear of the image that remained burnt across his eyelids. 

     

    Twice now he’d been so close to certain death than he could feel the cold, dark fingers curl about him, calling him home. And twice he’d been pulled away through confusion by the two unknown figures and their string of tales. 

     

    He found it impossible to believe them. Even now, with the return of the man to his villa outside of Londinium, and all they had shared, the idea seemed so ridiculous to him. The questions he had asked of the man, and the loose answers he’d been given in return, still offered no stable belief. How was Elis so important that such a journey, if it was indeed possible, was worthwhile? Elis was nothing. And if he was to be remembered for anything, it would be as the terror, as the monster, and the one who brought this hell upon the world.

     

    Elis slipped a hand into the folded pocket of his tunic and produced a handful of dried fruit, offering a piece to the young boy that walked beside him with a simple ‘shhh’. The boy hesitated before taking it, sure for the act to be a test of his endurance, and ever grateful when no punishment seemed to come his way. Elis in turn popped a piece into his own mouth and was about to take another when a call came from the front of the legion. A warning that made its way back through the crowd. A warning of threat ahead, of an enemy crowded across their path within the shade of a hill, lost to the setting sun in the west. 

     

    Elis felt the fruit tumble from his grip as he ran, keeping his footing over loose stones and clumps of grass as he forced himself on to the front of the riled, nervous body of men. 

     

    ‘…and our scout came back…’ were the words that met him as he reached the general, and it took a moment for him to understand the meaning of the bloodied mess of flesh and hair that he held up before them. The scout had indeed come back, albeit in pieces, and as Elis looked on to the mass of dark figures in the distance, he felt his heart sink.

     

    “We turn and we run.”

     

    The words came from his lips before he had chance to consider their meaning. But now, as the replayed the statement in his mind, he agreed with it completely. As they stood in the light of the early evening sun, they were safe. But with every second that passed, their ability to move far from this enemy lessened. For when darkness fell, no life would be safe.

     

    And of course, his warning went ignored.

     

    ‘We’re The Ninth!’ came the reply, as the head was passed over to another. ‘This land belongs to the Empire. And we will fight for our rights to it. We fight for the Eagle and the glory of Rome.’

     

    And by the setting of the sun, the bodies of the Spanish Ninth Legion lay bloodied across the landscape, the clear moonlight washing over their crimson-stained skin. 

     

    Elis stood at the edge, his skin dripping with blood, his body trembling uncontrollably. To his side stood Vlad, equally as bloodied and pumped with adrenaline. 

     

    ‘I missed you, old friend’, he said, turning his head to watch the shivering Elis. ‘I do hope you understand why I did what I did back in the village. You gave me no choice. You made me seem weak. You understand.’

     

    Still, Elis remained silent, looking down to watch his hands as they wrung each other, desperate to lose their covering of drying, sticky blood.

     

    ‘And I know you wanted to save them all tonight. I saw it in your eyes…’

     

    “But there was just so much blood…”

     

    ‘Yes. So much. No one can blame you. Oh, but look…’ Vlad raised a hand and pointed toward a mound of bodies some twenty feet from where they stood. Arms waisted with arms, legs over bodies, heads under torsos. And from within the pile, movement as a hand began to push as limbs, slowly freeing itself from the grave of flesh. The body attached to the hand made its way to the surface, his skin covered head to toe in blood, dirt and torn uniform. And as he pulled himself up to stand, other bodies began to shift an move around them. Elis swallowed hard, still very aware of the metallic taste upon his lips and tongue, and felt himself gag at the thought. ‘…you helped to make me some new recruits.’

     

    Vlad moved off toward the ground, moving between bodies, helping to offer support to the soldiers as they pulled themselves to their feet, dazed and confused. And the vampire, tall and pale skinned, took their hands in his own like some sick messiah, promising each the start of a new life as he moved from one to the other to the other. 

     

    Elis remained still, cemented to the spot by disgust, fear and uncertainty. He wondered in that moment if he could kill him. If he could remove Vlad from all of this and try to bring order back to those who followed him. He wondered if he could end the lives of every newly-turned vampire, to put them out of their misery before they came to realise what they had become. And he wondered what would happen to him the moment he truly let himself realise his actions over the last hour, and how he’d allowed himself to slip so monstrously into the darkness he forever fought to overcome. 

     

    And in that moment, as his head buzzed with a thousands ifs and buts, he felt a hand wrap around his bicep, and a familiar voice whisper urgently into his ear from a figure pressed tight to his back. 

     

    ‘Run.’

     

    And so he did.


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