Note: This is posted “as is”, no editing or proof reading involved, as part of the 30 Shorts In 30 Days project. During April I will be attempting to write and post a new short story everyday.
The two observers looked over the moor at the advancing army.
“So what’s that then?” Fred asked.
“It’s a tortoise.”
“No it’s not Bob, I’ve seen a tortoise. It’s a small animal with a crunchy shell.”
“The manoeuvre is called a tortoise.”
Bob sighed, while Fred was one of his drinking buddies, he did sometimes wonder why.
“You see Fred,” Bob explained. “By putting their shields up like that, overlapping them a bit around each side and on top, it’s a lot harder for an attacker to actually attack them.”
“Surely you’d just need to roll a few boulders at them? They’d go down like skittles.”
“Ah, but they can see out Fred, as soon as they see a boulder coming towards them, they break formation, let the rock go harmlessly past, and then reform. Mostly though, it’s for close ranks fighting anyway, not long distance. And no matter how mad the leader, no-one’s going to catapult a boulder into their own troops.”
“So why’re they using that formation now?” Fred asked from their viewpoint overlooking the moor.
“Because they’re worried that we might spring out of the ground and attack them as they cross the moor,” Bob explained.
“No chance of that, I’ve only just got the mud out of my nails from the last encounter. Damn rude of them I say, attacking a chap as he’s taking a bath.”
“To be fair though, you had been in the bath for six hours,” Bob pointed out.
“I like to take my time and relax.”
The two observers lay in silence for a while, watching the Roman army approach.
“Do you think they’re close enough yet Bob?”
“Almost Fred, almost. How are your lungs feeling? Up to the task?”
“Definitely, that hot bath last week helped clear them out a treat,” Fred answered.
“Right then, just to familiarise ourselves with the situation so we’re clear. We have a large group of soldiers who’ve encased themselves in metal tins, and as soon as they see us they’re going to dig their shields in and prepare for a rolling attack,” Bob explained.
“That’s what it looks like to me.”
“At which point, it will get rather hot inside their shield walls.”
“I reckon so Bob, you know what they’re like.”
“I do indeed. Okay then Fred, let them have it.”
Both dragons took a deep breath and stood up, and as the army dug their shields in and formed rows of tortoise formations across the field Bob and Fred let loose their flame.
After a minute of blazing heat the dragons were out of breath and sucking in really huge lungfuls of air.
“There, I think that’s taken care of that,” Bob wheezed. “Fancy roast tortoise for dinner?”