For seeing to what a height that self-moving tower reached and where they had planted it after taking off the wheels, they fixed opposite the tower four very long beams which stood up like a scaffold from a square base. Then they introduced some flooring between these upright beams and thus made an erection which exceeded the wooden tower outside by one cubit. And the structure was left open all round for it did not require any protection except at the top where it was roofed over. Next Alexius’ soldiers carried up the liquid fire to the top story of the open structure with intent to shoot it against the wooden tower opposite.
Inflammable material and poured streams
But this idea and its execution did not seem sufficient for the complete destruction of the machine. For the fire when directed against it would only catch the extreme top of the tower. So what did they devise? they filled the space between the wooden tower and the city-tower with all kinds of inflammable material and poured streams of oil upon it. To this they applied fire, namely torches and fire-brands, which smouldered for a short time, then flared up a little and finally burst into tall flames.
As the fiery streaks of the liquid fire also contributed their share, that whole terrific construction all made of wood cauglit fire, and made an immense noise and was a terrible sight for the eyes. And that enormous fire was seen for thirteen stades round. The tumult and the confusion of the barbarians inside was tremendous and hopeless, for some were caught by the fire and burnt to ashes, and others threw themselves to the ground from the top. And there was also much shouting and wild confusion among the barbarians outside who re-echoed their cries.
IV This is enough about the gigantic tower and the siege of the barbarians ; and the story must now revert to the Emperor.
When spring set in the Empress returned from Thessalonica to the capital and the Emperor continued his onward journey and by way of Pelagonia he reached Diabolis which lies at the foot of those impracticable passes of which we have spoken before. As he had thought out a new plan of campaign against the barbarians, he judged it absolutely necessary to avoid a general battle.
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