The first attack came late in the day. The Parthians were clearly in no hurry. They had the Roman century penned in like sheep, and there were no reinforcements for many days ride in any direction. But after letting them sweat, quite literally, on alert all day in the sweltering heat, they came, just as as the sun was descending towards the horizon.
It started with a hail of arrows directed at the sentry towers of the main gate, and the towers in the corner of that front wall. It had little direct effect, but it made the guards keep their heads down. They were too few in number to return a suppressing fire of their own, so all they could do was crouch behind the flimsy defences, flinching as the missiles whistled overhead or smashed into the walls, splintering wood and sending splinters flying.
And while the legionaries took cover, another volley of arrows sailed in. But these weren’t aimed at living bodies. They were aimed at the gates, and the arrows were flaming.
Oclatinius shouted down from his guard tower to Quintillius. The centurion was summoning all the men who were on a rest shift, getting them ready to repel an attack if the gates were rammed, while leaving a reserve in case the Parthians tried to scale the walls with ladders at other points.
“Fire arrows!” shouted Oclatinius. “The gates are starting to catch.”
Quintillius cursed, but he had been round long enough that he wasn’t caught by surprise. He quickly had the reserve forming a chain to pass pre-filled buckets up to the guard towers. Oclatinius received the first one, trying not to spill any, though his hands were shaking with nerves and exertion. He peeked over the top of the wall, ducked down as he saw a bowman line up and let loose at his head, then quickly tossed the contents of the bucket down the front of the gate.