Saturday, February 19, 2011

"The Signifer"

Golden Sponge Stick 2010
Short Story Competition Results
Lucie from Sancton Wood School won second prize in the over 14 category
with a superb story in the tradition of Rosemary Sutcliffe's Eagle of the Ninth

An excerpt from "The Signifer"

Rain fell like tears from a blackened sky, as the troops marched out onto the field, awaiting the centurions' commands. The Signifer strode out in front of his expectant men, leading the line, with his standard flying high in the wind.

"It would be an honour," his mother had said when the recruiting cohorts came, "an honour to fight in the legions, for the Eagle and the Emperor." The young boy had studied her face as she made the comment, looking for the lie. Some how he didn't notice the tears in her eyes, or the silent pleas that she'd made to the legionary, as she handed over her14 year-old son, her beloved boy. He was given no choice, they had to go. The families of the new recruits waved them off, proud shouts and cheers ringed the air, giving both the families and the boys' false hope of returning, of coming home to their village one day.

The Signifer's hands stiffened as he heard the Cavalry line up on the west wing, the horses' chinking bridles invisible in the pelting rain and early morning mist. The horses grew restless within minutes, stamping their hooves and snorting. The unforgiving weather grew in velocity, hammering down on the Eagle's army. The unease was reflected in the faces of the men, the brave Legio II Augusta, Signifer's legion. The Signifer could just make out the features of the Legate, sat on his immaculate horse to the left of the large standard, dancing in the grey sky; tall, muscular and battle hardened, the Legate's face was set in a grimace as he peered through the unremitting rain. The Legate of Legio II Augusta was called Titus Flavius Vespasianus, known to the legion as Vespasian, one of the cruelest men, Signifer had encountered.

Lucie Meggitt (15)

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