This is the proposed title of my first complete novel. I will be placing short sections of the novel here in the coming years.
The warriors had fought hard, the roman legion out numbered them twenty times over, retreating in a organised manner Jude’s warriors had held up the main body of the approaching army long enough for most of their families to reach the hill fort at Elmet. The queen and her daughter had remained with the warriors, for they alway fought alongside their kin, and it was the queens kin’s men who had volunteered to slow the soldiers of Dewelus Caesar .
Jude’s body told him that he had reached the end of his strength, and one brief glance at his companions was enough to show that most of them were the same. Jude pulled the warriors in closer together and turned for the ruined remains of Ikeholm. It’s ancient embankments and broken pitched walls would offer them some respite, at least temporarily.
The day was half gone by the time they arrived at the ruins, Jude set out the defensive screen of warriors using the youngest warriors, the rest he told to rest, the queen went from warrior to warrior, with water and a greeting or word of encouragement, as the pursuing hordes surrounded the ruin’s.
The roman general sent probing groups of his force to test the defensive strength of the defenders. But his own soldiers were half hearted in their attack, preferring to await for a fresh day to push home their attack. Jude had counted on this. He ordered fires lit and heather to be burnt. As dusk fell he found Aron his best scout and the fastest runner in the kingdom, Aron if you can, get out, find my father and tell him that we will fall back to Cravholme, where we will await his orders. Aron used bracken ash to blacken his skin, then as the light faded, then just drifted away. No one saw him leave.
Jude set to, working out the best way to move his warriors out of the ruins without the Romans knowing. Camp fires lit, as Petos and Adoa set to quietly clearing a path out of the ruins, easing anything which might make a sound or impede a pathway under the rough gorse and scrub that surrounded a slight drift which Jude had banked on being the escape route for most of his warriors. One by one he ordered them to black up, then move out and away to Cravholme. The camp fires were allowed to slowly die down. Then the queen and her daughter left, quiet as door mice. As the night drifted towards dawn Jude found himself left with just a handful of his fleetest warriors. Each had been well rested since early on there arrival at the ruins.
Timing and speed was the only hope now, each warrior knew well the path from the ruins to Cravholme, each would have to run over ten miles, and out pace their pursuers, only when they reached the heights of Cravholme would they perhaps have a moment to draw breath. As the camp fires died out the twelve remaining warriors waited, then Jude’s slipped his short sword into it’s sheath turned and set out for Cravholme; running single file the warriors like a pack of wolfs sped from the ruins, every few hundred strides a different warrior would take the lead. The pace never faltered, as first one warrior then another took the lead. So carefully had the camp been emptied that only at the last minute did their pursuers realise the camp was being abandoned, yet within minutes they were being followed. But Jude’s strategy had given them a head start. As they ran each saw the careful work of earlier warriors who had past this way, loose stones and twigs had been removed; anything to aid the swift passage of the last dozen warriors, so sure and quick was their passage over the ground that before dawn had truly broken they were clambering though the pass into Cravholme, on the heels of the last warrior who had left camp half an hour before them.
The Queen on her arrival at Cravholme had supervised the task of readying a barricade of stones across the entrance to Cravholme, these where now slipped into place as the last of the twelve warriors entered. Helen her daughter passed fresh water to Jude and each of the twelve who had raced with him. With only minutes to spare the entrance to the heights was closed, just as the roman army arrived.
Frustrated by the flight of the warriors of Elmet the romans launched a probing attack on the ancient walls of Cravholme, advancing up the steep approach to Cravholme the roman legion was met with a hail of stones. The next attack by the legion was better planned, using a defensive shield of timber wattles. Determined attempts were made to breach the warriors defending Cravholme, but the Elmet warriors knew how to manage their attackers and repulsed the roman advances. As Jude saw to the wounded and reformed his defensive wall. Further attacks from the Romans were ferrouly rebuffed. But repulsing the heaving mass of attacking men was taking its toil on the defenders. Over a third of whom now suffered wounds. As another attack was made by the roman legion on Cravholme, a furious rour erupted to the left of the roman headquarters; as a large body of Elmet warriors attacked from the marshes lead by Reba-.
In his irritation to destroy the original warriors the Roman general had neglected to build a defensive stronghold. So under a combined attack from two determined groups of Elmets best warriors they formed a defensive square and started to move back to Ilkholme. Reba sent word to Jude that his father had a third force which would soon join them. However scouts from Elmet reported a second Roman legion marching fast for Ilkholme. The ability of the small kingdom of Elmet to stand alone against the might of Roman was doubtful. So Jude’s father would need to look for a honourable way to avoid a prolonged war.
As the three arms of the Elmet warriors came together they enforced a retreat on the roman legion. Then the Elmet forces stopped attacking and sort a treaty, rather than continue their bloody onslaught upon the legion. Dewelus Caesar walked from within his legion and agreed a honourable cessation of battle. The legion was allowed to march back to its stronghold at Chester…..
Jude and Reba then meet with their father and Aurora for they knew that the future of the small kingdom of Elmet was no longer secure from long term Roman advances, for even the full force of a thousand Elmet warriors could not forever stop the tide of the Roman advances. When it was clear that Dewelus Caesar would honour the terms of the cessation of war for this autumn, Jude led his warriors back to Elmet, after placing scouts to warn of any advance by Roman forces he called a concave of the guiding families of Elmet to discuss the future of the kingdom.
The security of the nation was a must if the people of Elmet were to continue their trading links with the northern lands and the lands across the sea. Jude felt Elmet could not rely on external forces to back up their own warriors in any prolonged war with the Romans. As he reflected on the events of the last few days, and his initial plan to run around the boundaries of his fathers kingdom with a young force of warriors on a keep fit session, which had led to the unexpected joining of his warriors with queen party.
The queen with her retinue had been visiting her sister at Londin, when word had reached her of a roman legion marching north under the leadership of Dewelus Caesar. She had at once sent her fleetest warrior to warn her kingdom and warnings had been passed Jude who had at once moved to slow the advancing Roman legion. In so doing he had met with the queens party and they had joined forces. Elmet believe in the role of the warrior woman defending her rights.
Jude and the Queen had deliberately met with the roman legion in the valley below Cravholme, and slowed its progress until general Juilius had decided to drive home his advantage in numbers, then Jude and queen had been driven north. They had found Juiluis army to be a battle hardened legion from Germainia and a force to be respected. However now those romans who had fought the warriors of Elmet would be aware of the true nature of these warriors. All of whom regularly trained in the art of self protection. Elmet was an ancient nation which celebrated it’s past but always looked forward, fighting skills along with education went hand in hand with trade for the kingdom of Elmet.
Jude’s father would now look to the land of the [Irish] nations, with whom his small kingdom had forged good links over the years in the field of learned endeavour and fair trade. Jude wondered if indeed he might lead the majority of his people oversea’s, to remove them from the threat of domination by the Romans.
He could perhaps leave a small number of volunteers to maintain ownership of the kingdom and it’s landscape. It seemed to Jude that this was the only way to hold on to the family land, yet maintain the freedom of self determination for the people of Elmet.
That evening Jude’s father called the [clan chiefs] together at his homestead, and it was as Jude had foreseen. Envoy’s were to be sent oversea’s to search for a area of land where the clans might settle till the rule of Rome was over. Jude was asked to undertake this role by his father and the [clan chiefs] He would need all the negotiation skills his father had taught him. It would be no easy matter to gain the level of trust needed to allow such a well trained force of people to migrate through the landscape. Let alone negotiate for a sizeable body of cohesive warrior like people to settle within Ireland.
Jude’s journey will take him to Ireland and the northern islands of Scotland. Later his son will travel from Elmet to Iceland and across the sea to a land mass now known as Canada.