Esh screamed with delight……
‘TEN……I did TEN!!’
Pell smiled and picked up another skimming stone. He took up position. The sun glistened across the calm loch, ducks and geese quietly gliding across the surface. Pell skimmed his stone.
‘One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine…….NINE, NINE. I WIN!!’
Esh ran round in circles, arms waving in the air.
Pell, laughed. His little brother was becoming a little star. Completely oblivious to the threat the Golden ones posed to the entire tribe, and the news some evil sounding evil person called The Black Hawk, was hunting Pell down. Esh was a breath of fresh air in a world which was getting darker by the day.
Esh scattered some birds as he splashed barefoot along the waters edge.
Pell was wise enough to realise days like this were to be cherished to make up for the days that might be ahead. He followed his little brother splashing like a little child and waving his arms above his head as if he had not a care in the world. Tomorrow though, the search would begin….
Claudius Nimbus strode back and forth across the room.
‘Where are these incompetents? They should have returned 2 days ago!!’
‘Perhaps the rumours are true’ stuttered Nicas Noucassis
‘Monsters, ghouls and ghosts. Perhaps All eight of them have perished’
‘Don’t be silly. The peasants of the northern lands versus the might of the Roman Army. The most organised military force in the world versus a scraggy mess of neanderthals who live in huts and eat bugs. Send twenty men tomorrow morning to find the morons and bring them back. We will then assemble 100 men and go north to complete our mission’
‘Let’s hope there’s no fog’ **
‘What was that??’
** From episode 1 the reason Claudius Nimbus was sent to the farest parts of the Roman Empire was due to his Legion attacking his own troops during a foggy afternoon in what would become Munich’s main railway station’
The following morning Pell and ten young warriors set off in search of a fabled place. The Golden Ones were coming. Eventually they would come in numbers which would overwhelm his tribe. If he could find a safe place for his family and tribe, they could perhaps stay safe and avoid the inevitable.
‘Today, we go in search of The Valley. I hope you have not told your parents. They will worry, but, if you’d told them. they would stop us. If the stories are right, there is a Valley with narrow entrances, hard to find, where our families can live undetected. Our parents do not realise the danger we are in. Although we scared off the first group, I know they will send more soldiers next time they will be harder to repel. Stick close together and remember, no noise’
‘Pell and some of the young ones have disappeared. They’ve taken horses. There are also reports of strangers on the edge of the Forest of Ae. We’re going to split up and send warriors to find the children and some to investigate the visitors’
Within 30 minutes Pell’s father was riding out through the gates of the fort to find his son, swiftly followed by twenty warriors who would ride to Ae to find out who was on their land.
Sam sighed. It was hot, very hot. Midges hovered round him, taking turns to dive-bomb the gaps in his armour. He had never wanted to join the Roman army. He’d actually wanted to stay on his parents farm, fish, tend the farm animals and generally enjoy life. However, he’d travelled to Neapolis one weekend, got very very drunk. When he woke, he was on a boat with one hundred other idiots heading to an army barracks near Roma. Since then, he’d travelled the Roman Empire from East to West. He didn’t like it at all. Marching, he hated marching. Helmets, he hated helmets. Crap shoes…he hated crap shoes. To cap it all, he hated Caledonia. Full of aggressive, smart warriors who appeared like ghosts and disappeared as if they’d never existed. If only he’d known Italians would end up being much better at football than the Scots. For now, they were much better at scaring than he was. He hoped it would all be over soon. He tugged the reins and plodded on.
Pell knew his father would come after them. They had a twelve hour start on them but they would need rest soon. The first part of his plan had been triggered. The ten young warriors had separated into five pairs and headed off in different directions. This would hopefully confuse his father and the chasing group, forcing them to split up or, hopefully, choose to chase one or more of the pairs leading them to make the wrong choice. At least one pair had been given the instruction to light a fire when they stopped. The smoke would be seen or smelt. The chasing group were bound to take the bait, despite it being an obvious trick. He and Arla were the fastest riders in the tribe with the best horses. They HAD to find The Valley before the Golden Ones attacked the Selgovae fort.
Two Selgovae stood in the middle of the track.
‘Stop. This is Selgovae land….turn back and be gone’
The eight Romans were startled.
‘What did they say?’ stuttered Sam
‘I don’t know. It’s no language I’ve ever heard’ replied Romulus
He continued in a gruff loud voice………
‘We are legionnaires of the Roman Army. Move out of the way or we will kill you’
Paedric turned to Solvaig
‘What did they say?’
‘I don’t know. They speak a tongue I have never heard before. Maybe if I use signs’
Paedric waved his hand and pointed in the Romans direction. He then did the first ever shooing motion seen in Caledonia.
Tirious Fearsus turned to Romulus.
‘I’m tired of this already. Let’s just kill them and move on’
Sam moved nervously on his horse.
‘Don’t we try and negotiate with them first. After all we are the most advanced civilisation on Earth’
‘Civilised nation…….maybe the world will be civilised in two thousand years, but, for now we conquer, which means a bit of killing and plundering’
Sam sighed. He wasn’t made out for killing and plundering. He wanted to get to know these people. share some Roman wine with them. Learn their language. Borrow some of their warm looking clothes and ditch his uncomfortable armour. Then return to Neapolis to tell tales of his travels.
‘Raise your bows’ snapped Tirious
As they pulled their bows from their backs and reached for their arrows Sam noticed one of the strangers had raised his arm and looked to his left. Sam turned to see what he was looking at.
Tirious drew his bow…….
‘I wouldn’t if I was you…..look’
Tirious turned to find a large group of tribesmen all around them. Suddenly arrows flew just above their heads…….minutes later, weapons having been removed, the embarrassed Romans found themselves tied together being marched through the forest.
Paedric turned to Ferros
‘We can’t take them back to the village. If they escape they will bring others.’
‘I say we kill all of them bar one. Then send him back with the bodies tied to their horses’ muttered Breen
Ferros stopped his horse.
‘Okay. If we kill them they will send others. If we kill some of them and let one return, they will also send others. I’ve got another idea……..bring the mead’
Sam woke up. It was freezing and he had the worst headache he’d ever ever had. He blinked. Then blinked again. Tirious was lying next to him fast asleep. This would have been okay but for the fact Tirious was naked. He rubbed his eyes. Nope. He was definitely naked. He wondered if he was in one of those dreams you think are real and you can’t get out of. He sat up and looked around. As his head thumped like a banging drum he could see the others and it wasn’t good news. They were also lying on the ground, naked. He looked down. But for the lack of clothing he was in perfect shape. He admired his flat stomach for a second before realising the cold was real, the naked bodies around him were real and the squirrel staring at him from five feet away was also real.
As it bounded off he heard a groan. Tirius was waking up. He would not be happy……
As they entered the Fort the humiliation was complete. The entire Legion had turned out to watch the eight ‘warriors’ walk muddied, but more importantly, and slightly more noticeable, naked, walk through the gates. Laughing would to be too simple a description of the sounds that rang round the central courtyard. Sam nearly started laughing too until he saw the not laughing figure of Claudius Nimbus. This was not going to be a good day.
Sixty miles away Pell and Arla raced across the lowlands of Caledonia closing in on a place which would save their families from certain death……
‘Pell of the Selgovae Episode V – The Valley Part 1 – was brought to you by Dodo Productions ©️2020 and by @qosfc1919 on Twitter.