The Parthians attacked soon after dawn. This time they showed more intent. Maybe they were too impatient for a long siege, maybe they had some idea of the Romans’ weakness. Oclatinius suspected that some of the townsfolk had sneaked over the palisade at night to escape the Romans, or the pox, or both. At least some of those would have gone to the Parthians, voluntarily or otherwise, and provided intelligence on the state of the defenders. And they were in a real state.
The Parthians had fashioned themselves a makeshift battering ram, which was impressive given the scarcity of wood in the region. From the look of it, it had previously been a support from some building, maybe the meeting hall of a local village. It wasn’t as hefty as a properly constructed Roman siege weapon, but it didn’t have to be to break down the flimsy town gates.
Dismounted Parthians rushed in, half a dozen carrying the ram, another half a dozen bearing shields to fend off the arrows that Quintillius frantically ordered let loose. The number of missiles was pathetically small, and all hit shields or went wide. The gates shuddered and there was a cracking sound as the ram impacted for the first time. The Parthians retreated twenty yards, then rushed in again.
Oclatinius attempted to line up his shots with his bow, but the quick moving, shielded targets were difficult, and he missed time and again. He leaned out from the tower, looking for an opening. Suddenly he saw a gap, and let loose. The arrow flew true, hitting an exposed Parthian leg, just as the ram impacted the gates again. The jolt through the woodwork unbalanced Oclatinius, already leaning out too far. He tilted, feet coming off the floor of the tower, balanced momentarily on his abdomen with the distant ground and the Parthian soldiers wobbling beneath him.