By William Napier
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Extra resources for Attila
The horsemen’s thunderous charge drummed up a fine dust from the sun-baked late-summer plains, and Stilicho and his tribune strained to see. Then something darkened the air between them. At first they could barely comprehend. ’ Stilicho was dumbfounded. It was indeed what it seemed. The very air was dark with them. An unimaginable storm of arrows. He had heard that these people were good on horseback; and he had heard good things of their unprepossessing little bows. But nothing had prepared him for this.
The boy didn’t breathe. He pressed further back into the darkness and made himself invisible. One of the elders of his tribe, a solitary and often silent elder called Cadicha, had taught him how. Cadicha had travelled for many long years in the endless wildernesses of Central Asia, and seen many strange things, and knew how, so it was said in the tribe, to make himself appear like a gust of sand in the wind, or a single solitary tree. Cadicha taught the boy what to do. He pressed as far back as he could into the shadows of the niche.
The boy laughed and was gone. Bucco looked after him and grinned. The little barbarian. The rest of the palace might regard him with haughty disdain, but among the slaves, at least, he had friends. Only one Roman couple in court circles treated him with anything like kindness. Some mornings he went over to the water butt in the courtyard to splash his face, and some mornings he didn’t. This morning he didn’t. Which was why, when later that morning Serena saw him by daylight, she was aghast. ’ she cried.
Attila by William Napier