I'm absolutely delighted with all of my covers for my Celtic Fervour series- especially since I now have the matching one for The Beltane Choice!
I'd like to give you a choice of which book to choose an excerpt from, to post with them today, but I'll just make it easier and choose for you.
Since After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks is now around 12 days till its launch here's an excerpt from Chapter 12-
Silence walked alongside them for a while till Kaideigh picked up the thread of the conversation again. “My best friend, ever, was Seaonaigh.”
“I know she was, but you will meet others who may be her match.”
“I wish that Seaonaigh had come with us on our adventures.”
When Kaideigh quietened Nith filled the gap.
“What did you understand of Earn’s claim that the Votadini have known for a long while that the exploratory forces of Agricola have been in the lands of the Venicones?”
Brennus’ answer was wry. “I prefer to believe what Earn has just told me than the Votadini High Chief. I suspect there is much more that the Votadini have kept to themselves.”
Esk intervened. “I am inclined to believe the same, Brennus. Yet, if that is so, the exploratores units have covered more ground than we have expected and must be well ahead of us right now, perhaps even in the lands of the Taexali. They are so adept at marching long distances by day and then bedding down for the darkest hours behind those ditches. It takes them no time at all to dig the sods of earth and bank them high before they rest behind their turf walls.”
Nith had asked many questions about the Roman movements in Brigantia when Brennus had lived there but it seemed there was always another question to be answered. “Did your fellow Brigantes ever challenge any of these small exploratory patrols before the battles at Whorl?”
“Aye, indeed they did and some Romans were successfully routed or killed. At other times it was impossible to come upon them in surprise since the stakes they plant prevent an easy climb over the ditch.”
Kaideigh had been only half-listening to the talk. “What stakes?”
He patted her head to encourage her to keep moving since she was flagging, her breathing uneven. “The Roman auxiliary soldier walks with many things packed and dangling around his back. His shield lies close to his bones but to the front of that is a crossbar with many things dangling from it. Are you seeing this, Kaideigh?”
“I am!” She had been told many times what a typical auxiliary might look like, in order to flee from the sight.
“One of those items is a pick to break up reluctant soil. Another is a shovel to dig out the earth.”
Her little voice grew in strength since she knew of this part. “They use the shovel to remove the turf?” When he nodded back she continued, “And then they scoop the soil and form a wall.”
“Aye, daughter they do. And when they are done with the ditch digging they place the turf back on top of the mounded soil and that is when they remove the stake from their pack and ram it into the top of the wall making a palisade.”
“The stakes are all neatly spaced?” Kaideigh was quick to learn things.
“Aye! Very even. The soldiers have perfected this.”
Esk added the next bit. “And come the morn what do they do, Kaideigh?”
She looked puzzled but only for a moment. “The man has his stake tied to his sack every day?”
He nodded. “Aye, he does.”
“Then each man must pull up his stake and tie it back on?”
Brennus patted her head and gave her a shoulder hug. He was so proud of his little daughter’s ability to reason so well.
“But they do not flatten the earth and put it to rights before they leave?”
“Nay!” The laughter of the adults rang around. “They spend no time on that. They pack up and move on to the next place. The ditches and ramparts tell us where they have been.”
“How do they know where to go?” Kaideigh so loved to know things.
“Some of them are mounted and they scout well ahead of those who march. They are also incredibly good at reading the landscape.”
In the way of a small child her next question was a good one. “What are they looking for?”
“Aye! And some of the Romans know how to describe the landscape to others. They make plans and write on wax tablets and on paper rolls. I have explained about these to you before.”
Her little smile showed she remembered what he had told her of his life as a trader to the forts. “Are the Romans making their camps on the way to the hillfort of the Venicones High Chief?”
“We hope not, Kaideigh, but the main forces who were down at the Black River, those all around Dunpendyr, have been building where we were less than a se’night ago. That is why we needed to leave Dunpendyr quickly. You heard the messenger tell us that in Earn’s roundhouse. They are not far behind us.” Nith was so patient with her but his next question was for Brennus.
“If exploratory Roman scouts have been hereabouts many seasons ago why did Cerialis, or Frontinus, not conquer the tribes north of the Brigantes?”
“I have no answer, Nith. It may have been a question of needing the legions’ soldiers elsewhere in Britannia. The shorelines of the Selgovae neighbours are extensive. The Roman fleet could easily have landed many ships and disgorged thousands of troops.”
“Could that be what they have done in Venicones lands?”
“Perhaps. You also heard Earn say that the Venicones have a long coastline which could be breached by Classis vessels in many places.”
Nith’s question set him to pondering the rumour of Roman troops in Venicones territory having not all tramped up there by a land route. He dreaded learning that the answer was yes to Nith’s question, yet feared it must be so.
Not long to wait till you can read the whole book...but you can pre-order the paperback version now! The image isn't showing up yet on the site but this is the one!