Sunday, 9 October 2016

Sunday snippet with #Agricola's enemies

It's Sunday and time for a little snippet share. 

Yesterday I wrote that I'm doing a lot of chopping and changing to my WIP. This scene has been changed to suit a plot  alteration so it's different from what is currently still in the novel. This is near the beginning of the novel and occurs around 12 days after the disastrous battle at Beinn Na Ciche. General Agricola's Roman legions are still in the area and prowling around. 
The Celtic survivors of the battle have fled to Caledon territory, the Garrigill brothers and their families being sheltered at the roundhouse village of Lulach of Ceann Druimin (the Kildrummy area for those who want to place it on the current O.S. map) 

Grab yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy!

Lorcan of Garrigill, sitting in pride of place next to Lulach, also waited his turn before speaking. As a former leader of the Garrigill Brigantes, and then of his own  Selgovae kin at Tarras, Nith understood how frustrating it was for his friend Lorcan to bide his time. Lorcan’s reputation of being a redoubtable negotiator included patience being part of that former success.
After a slight pause with no further words of censure from the Ceann Druimin chief, Lorcan entered the conversation. “How many strong was this detachment?”
The messenger from Tap O’Noth considered before he answered. “About forty warriors.”
A tiny trembling nudged at Nith’s elbow. When he looked down Enya’s gaze silently questioned. The three young auxiliaries they had killed earlier had come a very long way from their detachment, if they had been part of the one now described.
Lorcan nodded. “A half century, then. Did you gain any inkling of why they were scouting in the area?”
A head shake indicated the man’s uncertainty. “They perhaps sought more knowledge of how many of us shelter at the hillfort of Tap O’Noth. Agricola has sent out groups every single day after the battle to search the land.”
Nith knew that to be true.
Lorcan prodded. “You have seen large groups like this already at Tap O’Noth?”
“Aye!” The messenger’s gaze swept the room. “When the days have been fair, from the heights of the high fort we have seen them sent snaking in all directions.”
“Could the recent ones have been venators on the hunt?”
The messenger drew a frown at Lorcan’s words, though his reply held no confusion. “Nay! If by that you mean were they hunting food on purpose to fill their bellies. None broke ranks to kill any animals. They kept strict formations till we ambushed them at one of the glen openings. My fellow warriors from Tap O’Noth were assisted by those from Dunnideer.” The man broke off to point to two of the new faces in the room. “And visiting Caledons. We had sufficient warning to position ourselves. We were ready to waylay them when the Roman patrol got closer to the opening to the glen.”
Lulach’s impatience boiled over. “Did you kill them all?”
The messenger shook his head. “We initially thought so but when the slain were searched and counted it was clear that some had escaped.”
“How many?” Lulach’s unease was mirrored by most in the now almost steaming room, the heat of the fire and the close knit bodies warming up the wet clothing as well as the odours of sweating flesh.
The messenger nodded to one of the other visitors to answer. His response was vague. “Perhaps five, or maybe six, of the auxiliaries but that is an estimate, as was the amount to start with.”
Nith jolted to attention when Lulach barked at him.
“Warrior of Tarras! How many attacked my son Colm?”
“We saw only three and they are no longer a trouble to anyone.”


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