Servilius Geminus was dead, hacked to pieces by several Iberian swords at once. Minucius Rufus was dying, run through with a spear. The legates’ bodyguards were just being cut down along with them. Centho was dead, defending the consul, who was in a state of shock and utter disbelief. Lentulus had drifted into view and out again, shouting at him, but the words had made no sense.
Aemilius Paullus had left the dying right flank, only to die in the centre.
The Spanish and Celtic swordsmen, who by every sensible account had already lost the battle, had renewed their attacks with the senseless vigour of blood rage, and the legions, who mere minutes before had thought themselves the sure winners, were reduced to a panicked, stumbling, bleeding mass that was cut down without any focused resistance. Escape was impossible. Even towards the centre of the bleeding mass, where not a single enemy stood, there wasn't even the faintest hope of banding together, force a breakthrough on the smallest scale. Men were simply being pushed against each other by forces that defied any comprehension, stumbling and falling, trampling their own comrades as they tried to get up. There were attempts to push in one direction to break free from the cramped quarters, in a more coordinated way, where centurions still managed to make themselves heard; one would always stumble, dragging down others. Some would try to bend down to drag up fallen comrades, brothers or friends; to bend down was to lose footing and be dragged down with the ones they were trying to help.
It was a scene from a nightmare, from something that might fit into the horrors of Tartarus, something that the mind could not comprehend. Sooner or later, the Carthaginians came to end it. At some point, the will to fight was simply quenched, and the will to live followed not long after. Numbly, Paullus saw men lying with their chests crushed or broken limbs, half-buried, some still alive under the dead and dying, begging to be killed by their own comrades, some complying, some too dazed. He was bleeding from a dozen wounds, but they felt insignificant compared to what his eyes were seeing.
Text and image are from my graphic novel in progress, "Darkness over Cannae". (Note: It's actually a novel with graphics, not a graphic novel.)
The battle of Cannae, from just before dawn to a few hours after dusk, told from the perspectives of three Carthaginians and two Romans.
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