First of all I’d like to apologise, not only to the thousands of true historians who will be mortified reading this 🙂 but to my History teacher, Mr Loreno Rinaldi, who, for a little while, until I dropped him to do Biology, tried to interest me in all things ancient and wise. You see, I could have done the professional thing and read up on Ancient Rome before embarking on this short story, used real proper scholarly facts to concoct a real picture of Ancient Romans in Britain, instead of just winging it as i’ve done here. However, since only 5 people will read it, i thought, why bother. So, instead, we have D’s version of events which bear no resemblence to any factual events whatsoever, for which I humbly apologise. 🙂
Around the BC/AD bit of Earthtime the Roman Empire had finally reached the tidying up bit of taking over the whole of Britain. Having conquered the south they had reached the border with Caledonia, which would eventually become Scotland. Since it was rumoured the land was effectively empty with a few roaming savages, the Romans presumably thought there would be a few skiffles, a few rough and tumbles, a few victories and home to Rome for teatime. How wrong they would be……….. 🙂
The borderlands were populated by various tribes. Just over the border in what would become Dumfriesshire lived the Selgovae. A tribe of well organised people who lived in reasonably sophisticated small villages. A people who were not just going to give their land up to a few shiny Italians. I apologise in advance to the Selgovae, for appearing to make light of what must have been hard times but I hope they can forgive me for remembering them this way in the following stories………….Here’s to the Selgovae…… 🙂
Somewhere near the Colloseum in Rome……….
‘You want me to go to where…………….?’
Claudius Nimbus’s shoulders visibly drooped along with his eyes swiftly followed by his bottom lip.
‘I’m sure you heard me the first time Claudius Nimbus. Caledonia, we want you to go to Caledonia’.
It did not help that his Legion Commander, Titus Grabbius, was almost laughing as he said it. It also raised quite a few titters from the various Roman glitterati and soldiers who populated the peripheray of the room.
‘…..But it’s as far away from Rome as you can possibly get……’
the sniggers and laughter grew audibly louder.
‘Look, Claudius Nimbus……you may not think it, but this is the most important role ever assigned to an officer in the Roman Legion. Our scout ships have circumnavigated this land of Caledonia and, it is the last westernly unconquered piece of land before the world is ended. You will go there, conquer it within weeks and return to Rome a hero by two winters forward.
Our scouts tell us the land is populated by only a few uneducated, unnarmed savages, whereas, you will have the might of the Roman Army behind you. You might even find if you arrive on a Wednesday, it’s all done and dusted by the following Saturday’
‘Oh, I suppose, when you put it lke that. It’s just we normally send our most incompetent Commanders to places like this……..*loud coughs*………., that it’s really cold and the last scouts we sent across the border from England, have not returned’
‘Don’t be silly Claudius Nimbus. We rate you very highly, especially after you and your legion almost won the battle against the Huns late last year’
‘Look. I got confused and sent my men the wrong way. It was foggy that day. I mean, the fact we got lost, missed most of the battle and at one point attacked our own Legions, is a simple mistake anyone could have made in such dreadful weather. Surely you can forgive one itsy bitsy mistake?’
‘As i said to you at the time, we all make mistakes, but that is not why I’m sending you to the coldest, wildest, rainiest, yet to be conquered rocky outcrop at the farthest edge of the Great Roman Empire……no…….no….no.no…it’s not……….Milus Vooticus……make sure you give him the map on his way out……..’
As Claudius left the room to now raucous laughter, Tacitus Gentillus was waiting for him outside.
‘Don’t even ask Tacitus, don’t even ask……….’
Meanwhile, just over a thousand miles away, Pell of the Selgovae, was pestering his
‘Dad, Dad, Corra says one of the gold people is in the forest, can i go with them to see him, please Dad’
Tarlo was getting more irritated by the minute. ‘Look, the gold people as u call them are dangerous. People say they have taken much land to the South and the people now eat stringy yellow stuff instead of oats, they march in lines, speak funny and wave their hands about a lot’
‘…….but Dad you know i am the best in the village with a bow and i have an idea on how to hide from the gold people’
Tarlo frowned. Pell was only 14 years old, but, it was as if he had been on Earth for thousands. He was always coming up with strange ideas which, inevitably got him into trouble.
‘Pell, I told you, the reason you’re grounded is exactly because of your archery skills. Tying your six year old brother to a tree, placing an apple on his head, and splitting it in half, from god knows how many miles, wasn’t the brightest thing you’ve ever done, and, if the priest ever catches wind of your sorcerical ideas, you will end up getting a ducking in the pond!’
‘…..but Dad, instead of painting ourselves bright blue which means we can be seen from miles away, why dont we use green and stick leaves and branches on to our clothes?’
‘look, Pell, we paint ourselves blue to make us look fierce and scare our enemies……..’
‘…….to make yourselves look silly and easily seen more like………daft bumblers….’
‘what did you say……..!’
Just then there was a noise from the door……
‘what was that Pell?’
Pell ran to the door ‘it’s a WodeChat from Arla’
‘what’s a WodeChat when it’s at home’
‘Oh Dad you’re so BC………it’s a msg written on wood which if you don’t read it quickly, within a short time it disappears, Arla and i use it all the time’
‘what does msg mean………?’
But, it was too late Pell was gone. Tarlo picked up the piece of wood Pell had dropped at his behind,but there was nothing on it. Just then, it dawned on Tarla Pell was still grounded. He ran outside into the misty rain, but, as usual, he had vanished into thin air. Tarla grumbled to himself. Pell was a bit special, almost scarily clever, there was no doubt he could look after himself. no matter what scrapes he got into, he was always back by dinnertime. He would deal with him then.
Pell had tied his pony, the appropriately named Pella, up a mile back. Arla’s wodechat msg had said to meet here, near GreyMares stream. He moved silently, listening for any sound, ready to spring into action, but all he could hear were birds and the slight pitter patter of smurry rain. He reached the fallen tree, which acted as a bridge across the stream and stopped. Arla’s msg suggested one of the Gold men had been spotted in the area. Unbeknowns to his father, Pell and Arla had prepared for this day for months. They had hideaways all over the forest, where they could easily hide if they got themselves in trouble. They also had the advantage of knowing every tree, twig, path and stone.
Pell took a breath and listened. Where could she be? Arla was slight, fast and clever. She also had beautiful brown eyes, golden hair and……wham, suddenly the ground underneath his feet moved and down Pell went. As he plunged into darkness , he automatically went for his knife……..
‘You forgot about this place, didn’t you……?’
Arla’s voice was as distinctive as it was beautiful.
‘You’re mad do you know that…….scared the living bits out of me…….when did you build this?’
‘Ah, there are many things you have still to learn about me oh Pell the Great!’
As Pell’s eyes adjusted to the dark, he realised Arla had brought some sprokle, a fungus which glowed in the dark. he could now see his friend and the room in which they now sat.
‘This is huge Arla. how did you do this, and when, without me knowing……..?’
‘Well, just like we keep the sprokle a secret from the others, i decided to keep a secret from you. The rock above basically hid a sort of cave underneath. Over the last few months I’ve tweaked it here and there, brought dried food, dug a few bits out, we could hide here for weeks if we needed to’
‘Arla, you are just the most amazing girl I have ever met……..’
He hugged her, and, for a second, there was almost a spark of electricity, but, Pell and Arla, didn’t yet know about such things yet, and the moment quickly passed.
‘Eh….right then, so what do we do now’ said a blushing Pell, thankful that the sprokle wasn’t bright enough to show the colour of his face.
‘well, i’ve rigged up twine all round this hideout, so if anything comes near it will trigger the bell. Then we have choices to move quickly in any direction we want. If, in the slim chance they find this place, we’ll be long gone. One of the Gold People was seen entering the forest this morning by Yahol. If they have continued in a straight line they could be nearby. Just think Pell, this could be our chance to see one of them for the first time’
‘I know, we’ve waited a whole year for this but at least that’s given a chance for us to get ready’
Arla smiled. Pell was by far the smartest person, she’d ever met and that included all the adults in the village.
‘Let’s go to Hightop and wait for a while’
Hightop was a wooden hide, as the name suggests, that Pell had built high up in the biggest tree in the forest. It was a complex series of wooden platforms, almost invisible from the ground, that allowed Pell to see most of the central area and beyond. Ropes allowed quick movement from platform to platform. Pell had also invented a harness which hooked on to provide a safety mechanism should someone slip.
Romulus sighed. Why had he been given the job of trailing through empty lands hunting for something that wasn’t obviously there. For weeks he’d been scouting further and further north and, apart from deer, foxes and the odd wild boar, he’d seen nothing. It was nothing like Rome, cold, wet, no ripe tomatoes or beautiful lemons. Beautiful, but cold, damp and hilly. At least when he met up with Titus at the other edge of this wood, they would be returning south to a warm (ish) fort, a fire and some wine.
Just then, something hit the top of his helmet. He looked up just in time to meet something dark and rather smelly, right in the face. Instinctively, he raised his hands, lost his balance and fell to the ground. In Caesars name, what was that smell. Even worse was to come, as his, up to this point, loving faithful horse, had now dumped him into a crowd of stinging nettles. Unable to see and with hundreds of white stinging bumps devloping on all his bare bits, Romulus dragged himself on to his feet. As he wiped his eyes, he turned in the last known direction his, now less than faithful horse, had been heading, only to see a tree trunk swinging towards him. It hit him directly in the midriff, spiralling him backwards. He found himself clutching said trunk like a long lost friend, but unfortuntely for Romulus, this new found friendship did not last long, and he found himself hurtling through the air, finally landing in a muddy bog behind the evil nettle patch. He groaned loudly as he slithered in the mud.
What on earth was happening. One minute he’d pictured a roaring fire, warm furs and some Roman wine. The next, he was in more pain than the day he’d inadvertently taken the wrong door into the lions den at the Colosseum. Plus he smelt like a peasant on a bad day.
He eventually dragged himself to his feet and looked up. The rain was heavier now, which at least allowed him to wash some of the stinking mud and whatever else had dropped on him from the heavens, out of his eyes. Holding his sore tummy, he scrambled up the slope through the nettle patch again and looked for his horse.
Suddenly loud wailing noises started, the trees and bushes in the distance appeared to come alive. The noise got louder and louder. Everything seemed to be closing in on him. Suddenly two wild boar appeared from nowhere and started running towards him. Romulus had had enough. This was a place of evil spirits and madness. He turned and fled, overcoming his pain, to run, if not like the wind, certainly like a soft breeze on an Autumn day.
Although wild boar were not particularly likely to kill him, he thought these two might be evil spirit boars from the boar world of evil spirits. At this point, although he was sweaty, smelly, stinging and sore, he was definitely out of here. Suddenly, out of the now impending doom, his faifhful horse became faithful again, appearing out of the gloom like a roaring fire, furs and a glass of Roman wine. He could hear the boars breath become increasingly louder as he jumped, almost leaping completely over his horse, as fear and adrenaline kicked in. Within seconds he was flying out of the forest as fast as his faithful horse would take him
In the meantime, Pell and Arla were jumping up and down with glee. They had defeated the Gold Ones with some pig manure, a tree trunk, some bushes and some large sea shells.
‘I hope he is ok. He looked terrified, especially when Grunter and Cuddles were chasing him. I don’t think he’ll be back in a hurry’
‘I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them Arla, I really don’t, but today was a good day”
With the excitement over, Pell and Arla made their way back to the village grinning from ear to ear with a story to hide………
Next time – Claudius Nimbus starts his journey to Caledonia…………….
The Wodechat App is copyright of Dodo Productions and will be available when the film comes out. 🙂
‘Pell and the Selgovae’ was brought to you by @qosfc1919 on Twitter and by Dodo Productions 2014