The feature for today is Enya- one of the main characters of my current writing in Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour series. What follows is unedited and may, or may not, end up in the final story.
At this point in the story Enya has decided to leave the fragile security of Ceann Druimin where her family has retreated to after the battle at Beinn na Ciche (end of Book 3 of the series). Her choice has been made because she is determined to find out the fate of her brother and cousin after the bloody and disastrous battle with the armies of General Agricola. No signs have been found of the young warriors' deaths on the battlefield so Enya has gone in search of them. A battle survivor, the young Taexali warrior Feargus of Monymusk has volunteered to lead her to the east coast where they have been told captives have been shipped south by the Romans. At this point Enya, Nith of Tarras (in Book 3) and Feargus are being helped by a young local lad.
I hope you enjoy it!
The lad alongside Enya panicked. “I do not see them. Where are they?”
Enya wished she knew because she had no sight of them either. “Stay calm, Donnachadh. We will spy Nith and Feargus when they make a move.”
“I fear some mishap, Enya. Should we go closer to check?”
She was up with spear at the ready before Donnachadh had finished talking. Three black forms were now visible, one of them heading towards Nith and Feargus who had just begun to crest the dune. Praying to the goddess Scathach that she was in range she hurled her spear at the third figure, the moon glinting off the soldier’s helmet.
“Run!” Grabbing Donnachadh by the elbow she propelled him into motion and scampered away from the Roman camp, knowing that the other two would follow them. She did not stop for breath till she had covered two handfuls of dune crests. Flinging herself into a natural sandy hollow she flopped back onto the soft bed, her chest heaving. Donnachadh was likewise crumpled alongside. There was still enough room for Nith and Feargus when they plopped in alongside them, their longer legs having covered the distance faster than she had.
Nith’s raspy words were full of praise, though whispered low since sounds travel further in the night dark. “That was a throw very well done, Enya. You have my heartfelt gratitude.”
“A perfect hurl, indeed, but it is a pity she lost her one and only spear,” Feargus sniggered in sheer relief at having escaped detection by the Roman patrols.
Enya’s breath was still erratic after their hasty retreat. Though it was too dark for them to see her grin, her laughter was evident when she replied. “Aye, Feargus, but you can spare me one of yours since now you both know I can defend your backs, even in the dark of night.” There was a short lull while all recovered, then Enya spoke again. “If it was so perfect a throw, then you had an easy task in dispatching that guard?”
Nith reached over to pat her hand since he was lying next to her. “No need for our knives. Your spear went straight into his neck. No time for him to shout an alarm before he keeled over. It was the noise of his armour clattering against his pilum that roused our attention. Till then we had not realised that he was so close by.”
Another gentle tapping to her hand she found was more soothing, yet much more disturbing since her senses were already on full alert.
Nith continued, “Why he was outside the perimeter of the ditch has to have been unusual but whatever the reason it will not be long before he is missed. Before then, we need to a put a good distance between us and that camp.”
Enya calmed her strange feelings and gathered her breath for the next scamper.
“Donnachadh? Where do you suggest we go for shelter till the morn?” asked Nith.
Enya was pleased that Nith intended to use the local lad’s knowledge because her Selgovae friend could be stubbornly dismissive of help.
The boy was definite. “The Romans will trot the sands quickly if the sky remains clear of clouds and the moon full and shining bright as it is just now. They could reach the Usge Ythan in no time at all. Those Romans pace well.”
“We know that from experience, Donnachadh, but the coastal plains and the dunes will surely slow them down?” Enya said, propping up onto her elbows and then knees to peer over their hollow. Seeing no one approach she let them know.
“Aye,” he answered, “They will tramp less quickly over the dunes but by daylight their best trackers will note our flattened grasses and know our route. Due north of here is the Foveran burn. They will track us to it but if we pick our way up its waters it will slow down their progress, and hopefully stop them following us further. Some of my kin are in hiding near Hill of Fiddes and that is not so far from Foveran.”
“Is it a high hill?” Nith wanted to know.
“Nay,” Donnachadh’s high-pitched chuckle was full of regret. “There are no high hills hereabouts but come morn’s light, and if the day is still clear, we might be able to see if any ships leaving their base sail northwards.”
“Should we wait till dawn to head to this spot?” Enya was exhausted but being tired was preferable to being caught.
“Nay.” The lad was firm. “We should move now. If any of the Romans head inland in the dark, they are likely to be caught in the tussocky grasses and the bogs that I know how to avoid.”
“That seems a very good plan, lad.” Enya heard the praise in Nith’s answer as he pushed to a sitting position. “Lead us then, though I do not believe they will send out any patrols till day dawns. It is their way to remain sheltered behind their turf walls till they can see what they are doing and where they are going.”
Donnachadh’s youthful voice squeaked as he, too, sat up. “Did you get close enough to count the vessels and get any other information?”
Feargus answered from his still prone position, sounding reluctant to move anywhere. “I counted nine of them, two larger but most of the rest of a uniform size.”
“Aye, that matches my tally.” Before saying any more Nith popped up his head to view down the length of the beach. “I see no one coming this way. We should ready ourselves.”
Stretching her length and wriggling hard to get rid of the kinks in her muscles, Enya yawned. She purposely shook her head quickly, her eyes tight shut. Sleep was too inclined to sneak upon her when she rested. “What about troop numbers? Was the moonlight sufficient to make an estimate?”
“I counted enough tents to shelter three centuries?” Nith looked to Feargus for agreement with his assessment.
“It was hard to tell with the amount of horses tethered there. I would say a few less auxiliary infantry but my guess would be there is also a whole ala of mounted auxiliaries as well.”
“Aye, maybe so. That makes sense since they are patrolling a large stretch of sands.” Nith agreed.
Enya noted the respect in Nith’s voice at Feargus’ estimation. She grinned knowing how difficult Nith sometimes found it to be less than accurate about something.
Donnachadh piped up. “Every day since the battle at Beinn na Ciche we have seen mounted patrols ride in both directions along the sands, some going further north to monitor beyond the Usge Ythan. Our wide, flat sands are perfect for fast covering of the distances.”
Nith was up on his feet, fisting his spears as he turned to Donnachadh. “Lead us now to your safety.”
When Enya was standing she accepted the spear Feargus passed over to her.
“I hope that you can use this weapon as well as your own ones.” His grin showed his confidence that she could do exactly that.
Enya grunted in acknowledgement. “But before daylight. One throw was enough in the dark.”
And now it's time for me to do some more new writing.
And now it's time for me to do some more new writing.