There were no more attacks that day. Oclatinius, watching from the guard tower, fancied that the Parthians had moved their camp further away from the town walls. He thought he could hear raised voices. Disagreements, arguments, even some fights breaking out within the Parthian ranks.
He kept a careful, solitary watch, and was relieved that they stayed their distance, while at the same time feeling a growing sense of frustration. Hiding in this foreign town, trapped like rats in a cage, made him want to break free, go running at the enemy with his sword over his head.
But young as he was, his rational side had a firmer upper hand over his irrational, animal instincts. He watched the sunset and the Parthian camp fires appear in the darkness until he was relieved. As had become his habit, his first stop after seeing to his bodily needs was to go to see Bricius.
His friend looked in a bad way. His head was drooped on his chest, and his face was one big scab, that had broken apart in multiple places, liquid oozing from the crevasses, pale yellow in some places, creamy and thick in others. Oclatinius touched a gentle hand to his shoulder, and Bricius jerked awake. He squinted up at Oclatinius, and the creasing of his eyes forced more liquid out.
Bricius covered Oclatinius’ hand with his own, and Oclatinius forced himself not to flinch at the crusty, sticky touch.
“Do you still have the fascinus?” Bricius’ voice was a hoarse whisper.
Oclatinius patted his chest where it dangled from the leather strap around his neck. He had taken his own childhood charm off when he had become a man, anxious to leave behind boyhood. What a fool he thought himself now. Those days growing up on his father’s farm, that he had been so anxious to escape from, now seemed like a sojourn in the Elysian fields.
“I think this may be the day,” said Oclatinius.
Bricius nodded, only a slight head movement.
“You know what I think, don’t you?” asked Bricius.
“Yes,” said Oclatinius. “We’re doomed.”
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