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me that you will never harm him, or allow him to come to harm. Promise me that you will show him the loyalty and devotion that you have always shown me, my old friend,’ Flavius said, despite the words obviously causing him great pain. 129 THE REPUBLIC – CONFLICT Ardo did not respond. Flavius gazed intently at Ardo, never once blinking. ‘Ardo, I have very little time. Promise me this thing.’ An oath was not a thing Ardo could take lightly. It wa ghd sale s part of his code of honour to act upon his words. If he did not then how could anything he said have any meaning at all? Flavius did not once turn away or blink his eyes. Ardo bowed his head. ‘Promise me, Ardo,’ repeated the dying General. Ardo moved his head, almost imperceptibly. ‘Swear it,’ insisted Flavius. Ardo sighed heavily and then nodded, placing his hand on Flavius’ forehead. ‘I swear on my honour, I will never allow Marcus to come to harm.’ Flavius did not yet break off his intense stare. ‘He needs your loyalty, Ardo, also. He has more enemies than you would expect.’ Ardo knew of the young man’s enemies, and he could understand exactly why they existed. ‘I swear I shall do as you ask, General,’ Ardo said heavily. It was as if at that moment, Flavius was satisfied that he had completed everything that needed doing in his life, and allowed himself to die. Ardo could see his last breath leave his body, and then he was gone, his eyes still staring at Ardo with that same imploring look. Ardo reach across and closed them, then stood and left the tent. When he emerged from the tent, he saw Mendes talking to Marcus. They both looked over as he emerged, Marcus with a contemptuous look on his face. It occurred to Ardo that he would feel this way also, if his father had sent him from the room to spend his last moments with another. ‘General Flavius Sabinus…’ he began, pausing involuntarily at this point. There was an air of ex ghd straighteners pectation between the two men watching him, although they both knew what it was he must say next. ‘General Flavius Sabinus is dead.’ 130 THE REPUBLIC – CONFLICT It was a solemn moment, and Marcus seemed quite affected by it. He bowed his head respectfully, whilst Mendes simply nodded, with a sad look in his eyes. After a moment of silence, Ardo took Marcus by the arm and led him away from the Chief Medic. ‘Marcus, despite this tragedy there is still a battle going on, and ghd stockists despite what we told your father it is not yet won. We must return to the battle now and ensure our victory,’ Marcus scowled. ‘Have you no respect, Ardo? My father has just died,’ he said angrily but it seemed forced. Ardo gripped his arm still further. ‘No-one loved your father more than I, Marcus. You know that. It is for him that I insist we return. I told him the battle was won and I intend to see that it is. Our army is now without a General,’ Ardo said, and without waiting for Marcus’ response he set off across the camp towards the main gate where Domino was being hel ghd sale d for him. As he passed the Demirati cavalrymen who were still tied up in the middle of the camp he ran ghd sale online his eyes coldly across their shivering forms. ‘You have killed a great man today. You should feel honoured,’ he said, forgetting his earlier compassion and letting them remain as they were, naked and freezing on the muddy ground. ‘Ardo?’ called out Marcus from somewhere behind him. Ardo did not turn and look at the boy. The boy he had sworn loyalty to against his better judgement. ‘What is it my father said to you?’ Marcus cried out. ‘That is between me and the dead,’ Ardo replied, not caring what Marcus thought. Wave after wave of cavalry charges made the fighting far easier. In order to defend themselves against the brutal flank attack, the Demirati were giving ground at a rapid rate to avoid being killed. Caldess could not tell how many men he killed. It seemed like hundreds. Possibly an hour had passed but he couldn’t ghd mk4 straighteners say for sure. He felt as if he had been hacking and slashing through the living forest of bodies for days. They had forced their way at least fifty 131 THE REPUBLIC – CONFLICT metres forward when suddenly the trumpet sounded and Caldess knew at once that the infantry reinforcements had finally arrived. It was a blissful moment, and one that now made the Demirati falter. Caldess could see the eyes of the enemy in front of him, all looking in the direction of the sound. The Azalian troops were rushing up the side, between the main force and the tree line, and crying out. They were fresh troops, and the Demirati knew that against such men they had no chance whatsoever. They had been fighting for hours on end and some seemed ready to fall to the ground now with exhaustion. It was an inspiring sight for Caldess. These men had always been portrayed as soulless fighting machines but seeing them now it was clear that this was not so. They were men like any others and they needed the same things that all men did. They had the same weaknesses as any others and, like all men, they could be killed. When the reinforcements arrived, they attacked quickly, hoping to take advantage of surpr ghd products ise. Stretching their line all the way to the rear of the Demirati force, they began to ferociously attack the redarmoured men. It was too much. The Demirati continued to fight with the same ferocity they had from the outset of battle but they could not hope to hold up against fresh troops. They began to drop like flies, the task made easier by the fact that the troops in the rear were the reserves who were not as well-trained as the Azalian forces. The Azalian auxiliaries attacked first, with some success. Caldess pushed forward also, sliding his sword between the chinks of armour, hacking at the shielded limbs that attempted to block his blows. It appeared as if the Demirati would almost certainly be wiped out with very little resistance. Unfortunately, it was not to be quite so simple. The troops in the centre of the Demirati forces had managed to make a circular formation facing outwards, and were still quite a formidable obstacle despite the drastic difference in numbers. Caldess watched with a sort of morbid exhilaration as he saw thos ghd limited edition e Demirati troops who had been unable to get into the new formation, crushed against it by the weight of the Azalian onslaught. The terrified soldiers who found themselves on the outside of the stronghold scrambled around helplessly as the Azalian troops closed in on them, until they were finally run through, or worse still, forced up against the shield wall 132 THE REPUBLIC – CONFLICT created by the Demirati and killed by their own men so as not to allow them to corrupt the integrity of the formation. Caldess had somehow found himself back from the front line when the two forces first met. During the encirclement, the divisions of the Azalian army seemed to have been completely and utterly forgotten. Caldess looked at the troops who were on either side of him, but recognised not a single one of them. The circular formation was proving a good defence. By now, the entire Azal ghd straighteners uk ian army had surrounded the formation on all sides and the Demirati clearly understood that they were defeated. There was nowhere for them to go, and no option for them to surrender, so they were determined to sell their lives at a very high price. The efficiency with which they held off the attacks was, from a purely technical point of view, very impressive, but all i ghd hair styler t did was enrage Caldess and the rest of the men even further. Caldess reached the front, mainly due to the fact that the majority of the men in front of him had been killed. He leapt over the corpses of the newly dead and thrust his sword between two of the shields, trying to divert the thrust that was returned by the faceless soldier on the inside of the shield wall. He was successful, but a little slow and the sword bounced off his cheekbone, cutting him deeply across the face. Caldess roared with pain at the injury, and grabbed the top of the shield, tearing it away to face his attacker. It was quite an old man, his face bearded and snarling. Caldess looked him once in the eyes before cutting him down with a slash across his legs. His torso was too well protected, but the gash in his legs felled him without killing him. Caldess’ success in breaching the shield wall led to a chain reaction as those around him fell upon the weak point, tearing down the shields of those on either side, until the entire wall was gone, and nothing remained but a mishmash of soldiers all desperately trying to defend themselves. Some even now tried to surrender, but it was too late for that. Caldess thrust his sword into the neck of a man who had dropped his weapon and had raised his arms to surrender. He was again in that place where no ghd sale shop thing existed except for the enemy who stood before him, and no course of action was valid except for the death of that enemy. Caldess did not even notice that these men were trying to surrender as he waded into their mass, amputating limbs and 133 THE REPUBLIC – CONFLICT tearing open their torsos as if he were one of Azal’s mythical Gods returned for vengeance. It took very little time for the Demirati to be defeated now. Even with all their skills and all their training, they could not fight off so many men at once. Every last soldier was killed. The realisation sunk in as the last soldier fell, and the Azalian troops found themselves facing their opposite line. Caldess reached for his face, which was troubling him greatly as the blood flowed freely from it. He felt dizzy, but could not help but join in the cheer of victory t ghd hair styler hat rang out across the plain. They had done what they set

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