Marcos Adrelos felt the crash of the impact through his shield, causing him to stumble back several steps over the frozen ground. The barbarian before him howled above the din of battle, spittle flecking his tawny beard. Marcos, a decurion of the Legion, stepped forward, resuming his place in the wavering battle line. His steely gray eyes met the maddened blue eyes of the barbarian as the wild man swung his sword around.

Before the blow landed, Marcos surged forward, slamming his shield into the barbarian’s painted chest. While his enemy was off-balance, Marcos plunged his short sword into the man’s side below the armpit. When he pulled the blade free, a thick spurt of bright red blood followed it. The enormous man fell to his knees, then on his face.

The nearby barbarians hesitated, and Marcos knew that the man had been a champion of some sort. He looked at his ragged line of exhausted soldiers and knew there would be no second chance. He raised his gore-drenched sword. “Forward, men! For the Legion!”

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