The message was clear to the Turks: surrender was out of the question. The Saracen general reared his horse and raised his hand. The Spearmen began bashing their spears and shields together and started chanting in unison. The chanting entered a sharp crescendo as the soldiers grew more excited. The attack was imminent. Theodosius called for the archers to line the ramparts, and be ready to fire at will. The Turk general roared the command to charge and extended his hand forward in the direction of the walls. The Saracen Spearmen raced towards the gates in a berserk charge, screaming and banging their shields and spears as they did. The archers on the walls fired their arrows into the huddled mass of men, bringing down most of those leading the charge. This did nothing to dash the spirits of the fanatic Arabs, as they closed in on the gates. Another wave of arrows rained down on them, cutting their numbers by another fifty. Again, the Arabs were not showing any signs of breaking their charge.
The third wave of arrows had a more demoralising impact on the charging Saracens as Theodosius believed it was time for the archers to set their arrows alight. The simultaneous burst of fiery arrows killed about seventy men and wounded forty others. The Turks slowed their advance, giving the archers a chance to fire again. More Turks fell, causing a serious blow to their moral. They slowed their advance to a slow walk as they tried to form several spear walls to protect themselves from the arrows. The Turks had lost several hundred soldiers by the time they reached the walls of the town. They threw themselves against the gates to try and break through. The Spearmen in front raised their shields above their heads as cover.
Theodosius called for some spear militia to stand at the gates and be ready to charge on his command. One last wave of arrows was sent down and the gates opened for the militia to charge the wavering, yet adrenaline-pumped Saracens. The clashes of spear against shield and armour, and the cries of agony as soldiers fell in the fray instilled a sense of worried ness in Theodosius: for a moment, he thought he had made a grave mistake in sending the men outside the walls. But his panic subsided as he observed several Turkish soldiers breaking from the fight. Then more, and more, until after several seconds, all remaining Turks had been routed and now made for the camp on the hill. The Byzantine militia cheered and roared in delight at the sight of the fleeing enemy.
Theodosius called down to the militia,"Great work boys, but we're not out of this yet!"The men settled and obediently returned to their positions in high spirits. A small victory made all the difference to these soldiers, Theodosius thought to himself. Or perhaps it was too soon to judge their behaviour, based on the fact that the Sultan had sent his weakest and most expendable soldiers. Some men went about picking up the dead at the gateway: Turks were laid to rest outside the wall to be collected, while the rest of the dead and wounded were brought inside and placed in the central plaza to be claimed or attended to by physicians. Theodosius wandered about the mass lines of bodies that stretched as long as the town hall itself. Some had died in worse ways than others: some had horrible gashes on their bodies and organs had dangled out where the cuts were, while the rest had been cleaner kills. The smell was due to get worse as the day lurched on.
A trumpet sounded at the wall, and Theodosius turned and bolted down the alleyway to reach the gate as quickly as he could. The sound of soldiers shouting orders and civilians running in the opposite direction to safety rang along the battlements: another attack was imminent. The next wave of Turks was marching across the fields slowly, and they had taken some artillery with them: ballistas. Now the walls were about to be put to the test against basic siege weapons. The metre-long bolts were loaded onto the ballista, ready to impale anything in their way. Some Saracen Spearmen set up positions nearby, ready to charge once the gates had been breached. The first bolt fired into one of the gateway towers, taking a medium chunk off the side, and sending it down to the ground behind the wall. A second one penetrated the wall below where Theodosius was standing above and could clearly see it jutting out, wedged between two great planks of wood.
The third missed the wall, but ended up through the window of a two- building and a fourth bolt, set alight, soared straight over Theodosius' head, missing him by inches. It plunged into a mound of hay, creating a small blaze and a pillar of smoke began rising from it. Ballistas were certainly not the most accurate machines, but they can cause a fair amount of panic: people poured out of the houses near the fire, and began yelling and running in every direction. Soldiers ran to them, ordering them to return indoors, where it was safe, or safer."It would be silly to think anywhere here was 'safe'." Theodosius thought to himself.
Two more ballista bolts were fired into the right gate tower, partially destroying it. A great cheer erupted from the Turks below as they grew more confident, knowing the defences were weakened.
"Captain!" someone called from turned to see a soldier running towards him carrying a letter.
"Captain," he said again, "Our reinforcements, led by the Emperor, have been delayed: they were ambushed by Turkish skirmishers. They fought the attackers off, but it has cost them an hour or two."
"Then we must hold the walls until then, soldier!" Theodosius had to raise his voice as a large boulder was hurled into the left gateway tower, completely destroying it. The Turks had brought in catapults to finish what the ballistas had started. Now the gatehouse had no towers and was partially vulnerable to battering rams and siege towers. Theodosius ordered more soldiers onto the walls to back up the archers in case of an assault on the walls by ladders or towers. More boulders were hurled at the gate in an attempt to break it without the use of a battering ram. Theodosius knew the gate would not last long. He called up some Spearmen to cover the gate in case it was breached. More boulders were sent hurtling towards the gatehouse, and others were aimed at the wall on the left, possibly to create another breach for the Turks to pour through. Three tore through, causing the structure the weaken and creak. Theodosius couldn't afford to lose any men at this stage, so he called the men on the crumbling wall to withdraw.
Another three boulders smashed into the wall, causing an eruption of smoke and splinters. Some soldiers were sent flying, while others were impaled by large splinters and planks of wood. As the smoke cleared, Theodosius stared in horror at he scene: the wall section was completely decimated, showing a clear opening for the Turks to enter. A cry of celebrations rang out from among the Saracen ranks, and they charged.