A.D. 84 Northern Roman Britain
Nith of Tarras helps Enya of Garrigill in the search for her kin, missing after the disastrous battle at Beinn na Ciche fought between the Caledonian warriors and the mighty Ancient Roman legions. Enya soon has a heartrending choice to make. Should she tread Vacomagi territory that’s swarming with Roman auxiliaries to find her brother? Or, should she head south in search of her cousin who has probably been enslaved by the Romans?
The Commander of the Britannic Legions and Governor of Britannia – General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola – is determined to claim more barbarian territory for the Roman Empire, indeed plans to invade the whole island, but finds not all decisions are his to make. It increasingly seems that the goddess, Fortuna, does not favour him.
The adventures of the Garrigill clan continue…
A.D. 84 Northern Caledonia, Taexali Territory, General Agricola’s Well of Ythan Temporary Camp
Ancient Roman General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola has continued to surge northwards after the Battle at Beinn na Ciche against the Caledon allies, the survivors of the battle having fled into the Caledon Mountains. Though, that doesn’t mean the local tribesmen have given up entirely. Agricola is feeling that total success is eluding him and, deeply devout, what’s even worse is that his gods and goddesses aren’t listening to his pleas…
“Lentulus!” Agricola tossed the board to the scribe when the man emerged around the tent flap. “Well caught! Put it on my desk.”
Noticing that Junior Tribune Flavus was shivering, he gestured him towards the carbonarius. “None of that patrol returned, Flavus? Not even a messenger?”
“Then perhaps they have gone deeper into the mountains, even though what the goddess sends us has not been in their favour.” He swiped his mouth and nose free of the stinging droplets of sleet before holding his hands out to the flames.
The circumstances sent by the goddess Tempestas were so unpredictable here in northern Britannia.
“They did not plan to do that, sir.” Flavus sounded quite sure.
Agricola did not even try to prevent deep sarcasm from creeping in to his reply. “Sometimes plans change, Flavus. The men are well-trained to adapt to whatever the gods send their way!”
The hurt squirming of Flavus’ lips set him to stride about again. Agricola observed the tribune over his curled fingers, while his short sharp-breaths warmed the tips. Changing and adapting plans was a daily occurrence. He had too many concerns to occupy his thoughts, and no time to be bothered with one small detachment being late. Though, of course, the confirmed loss of one of his best mining specialist…and maybe at the whim of Mercurius more than two handfuls of mounts…was something he ought to be informed about. Barbarian’s balls! He would cut them off when he caught the culprits.
His foray into Taexali territory had been conducted in a light manner, to cover the ground quickly, but hopes of acquiring new equine stock had been well and truly dashed. By Annonaria’s bountiful breasts and Fortuna’s stinking virtues! What had he done to incur the disfavour of the dual-role goddess? Perhaps ordering the two cohorts of the Legio IX out of his current Well of Ythan camp the previous day had been hasty, given the way the days had turned out? His shiver of anxiety brought forth the regulatory response from Flavus.
The boy worried about a patrol of eleven men. He had ordered out a thousand.
He shook off his pessimistic thoughts on realising that the sleet had again abated, and that the grey above him was a shade lighter. Perhaps cursing Fortuna was the answer?
“Think positively, Flavus.”
Titus Sicinia Flavus was probably incapable of any useful thought, the response given being no more than a learned reaction.
News of the Legio IX cohorts’ success would come soon. Their task was simple: aid the mariner auxiliaries who had berthed along the coastline to quell any native Vacomagi unrest. Early information had indicted that treaties would be signed without much bloodshed, though better still none at all.
The approach of a capsarius, a medical assistant he knew was assigned to the senior medicus of the Legio IX, interrupted his long drawn-out conversation with Flavus.
“This top one gives the latest names and the numbers of those now able to move on from our last camp at Durno, sir.” The medical orderly handed over a single board.
“And those?” Agricola indicated the bundle of wooden boards still in the soldier’s hands.
“These are the details of the dead, and the others who cannot move on yet.”
“In the name of Aesculapius! What still ails them?”
Nancy Jardine writes historical fiction; time-travel historical adventure; contemporary mystery thrillers; and romantic comedy. She lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where life is never quiet or boring since she regularly child minds her young grandchildren who happen to be her next-door neighbours. Her garden is often creatively managed by them, though she does all the work! Her husband is a fantastic purveyor of coffee and tea…excellent food and wine! (Restorative, of course)
A member of the Historical Novel Society; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland; Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Independent Alliance of Authors, her work has achieved finalist status in UK competitions.
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