Monday, 6 January 2014

Dealing with the Roman invaders!

After Whorl: Bran Reborn
(Update 7th January- Please keep checking the After Whorl: Bran Reborn Research Tab above for updates to my research notes. I'm gradually adding things to it to keep my information in one place...and on my blog. )

Our lovely Christmas tree is now bare of decorations, as is the house, and the tree is now outside to dry off before being burned at my firepit. I'd shred and compost, but I've found that conifers tend to be too acidic.
That means, for me, that the New Year really has started and the work starts in earnest.
In my personal/domestic life I'm embarking on some new purposes which will be revealed in due time but till then I'm happy to make some compromises regarding my activities and make preparations. That made me think of my characters and what they have to do in their lives. It's not only contemporary people who adjust to circumstances and make compromises...
I'm still at the planning stage for book 4 of my Celtic Fervour series but the general plot ideas are gathering apace and the writing proper is started. Since I'm in mental Celtic Britain mode I'm sharing a bit of After Whorl: Bran Reborn with you. In this excerpt Bran of Witton ( formerly Brennus of Garrigill) can not return to the life he led before the Brigantes are defeated at the Battle of Whorl against the armies of the Roman Empire. He needs to make a lot of compromises and find a new way of leading a useful life.
A new purpose for Brennus Chapter Eight

His thoughts whirled and he lost all track of the conversation in the roundhouse. The new man that he now was needed to find a new home as well as a new purpose in life. He would never be any tribe’s champion ever again or train the youthful warriors. What was he going to do? Meaghan’s words flashed through his mind; she even appeared to be standing right in front of him berating him for being cowardly.

             Anger as great as he had ever felt rippled through him as he lifted his chin. He wanted to cry out to the assembled crowd that he was maimed, but he was no coward! Forcing the temper away he considered the implications. His god, Taranis, had ceased to favour him; yet, he vowed he would make Meaghan proud. She had said he needed to live – not only to be of help to his own tribe but to all Celts. Her fervour had made him believe it would happen, but how?

            He looked at the old druid. The purpose of his new life must be in finding a way to defeat the Roman grip on Britannia.

            Merron directing the conversation to a new topic stirred him to listen again. “Tell us now of the Roman troops who infiltrate the west. What happens there?”

            The druid gave updates of the situation regarding the Celts of the west but Brennus still only half listened, preoccupied with his own situation. He could go north to escape the watchful Roman eye but avoid Garrigill and any other place that knew him well? That sounded like a feasible plan.

            “The Roman hand comes down hard on the Ordovices. Night after night, more Roman soldiers encamp near the coast by Mona’s Isle, subduing all who dwell nearby. My brother druids remain a constant target.”

            Gasps of outrage burst around him drawing his attention back.

            Tuathal’s voice was very weary now. “Druids are now so scarce many tribespeople will no longer have a druid to perform their obeisance to our gods and goddesses, few left to properly perform death and marriage rites, and few to give you reliable information.”

            Few to give reliable information.

            The words rang around Brennus’ head – over and over, as the old druid continued to share more knowledge with the assembled crowd.

            “The pacts made with Governor Cerialis mean wealth for some Brigantes who will trade with them.”

            “Trade with the scum!” The outcry was general and all contemptuous.

            “Brigantes, I do not talk of the cereal stocks they take from us, or the man toil they requisition. I speak of regular trading of goods. Cerialis has put in their Roman writing that they will pay in Roman coin for carcasses from the hunt and for goods we can give to them.” Tuathal now sounded very weary.

            “Why would they want our kill? They send their own soldiers to hunt in our forests.” An old woman seated at the front spat her loathing into the sparking fire.

            Tuathal tutted. “They have many things to do to establish a settled presence in these parts. The patrols sent to hunt are few. The weather turns cool already and they will need plenty of kill to feed their troops come the snows.”

            “Who would trade with the usurpers?” Scorn flew around in many comments.
“There are plenty of Celts, even fellow Brigantes in the south, who have been trading for a long time already. They will not cease.” Tuathal had chosen a fine way to remind the mid-Brigantes who sat around the fireside.

            Brennus watched Merron mull over the information, the stroking of the man’s beard a reflective gesture before the chief joined in. “What advantage would we gain by trading with them?” His subsequent scowl around the company quelled some gloomy comments.

            Tuathal nodded. Just once, but decisively. “There is value to be had in this trading. I do not speak of Roman coin in gold, silver and bronze. I speak of added security for your people at Witton.”

            A ripple started again, the murmurs a low growl.

            Tuathal raised his hand in the air. “Cerialis build two types of forts. There are the huge legionary ones – like the one planned for at a short ride from Witton. That means some five thousand legionary soldiers and possibly extra support soldiers. Cerialis also plans to build many more of their smaller forts; set apart at a distance of a day’s walking; and these all across our mid-Brigante territory. I speak of the type like the one that is already close to Witton.”

            At that point, Brennus decided on a task he could undertake. Blood coursed through his veins in a rush of excitement, of anticipation and of impatience. It took all his efforts to master the smile that wanted to break free and to quell the urge to divulge all to the assembled gathering. It was nothing like his old life but surely he could do this? Even one-eyed and hobbling? He would find a way! 
 If you've already read After Whorl: Bran Reborn I'd love you to tell me what you think of it. A review, or comments below are all welcome. There are already a few reviews , all 5 stars, that you might like to read at these links.

Have a lovely day. 

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