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Posted: Oct 23 2016, 01:19 PM
The Departure from Sarmatia
From Broken Bonds (http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7329061/1/Bonds_Broken) By DancinThroughLife…
The Roman soldiers rode their horses into the small Sarmatian village in search of their last two recruits. They had been on the road rounding up all the boys whose fathers had struck that fateful deal with Rome so many years before. Going to the furthest reaches of the Roman Empire, the soldiers had experienced their fair share of detrimental weather and villages who refused to give up their sons. This being the last stop on their trip, many of the men just wanted to collect the children and be on their way.
As they approached the remote village, the leader ordered two of his men to stay behind with the gaggle of boys they had already collected throughout the lands. His dismounted his horse when he saw a curly haired boy approaching him with his pack and horse in toe. The soldier pulled out his wrinkled parchment from his belt and looked over the sheet again. There were supposed to be two former knights living in this village, which meant two young men were enlisted into service. He strode up to the boy and grabbed his shoulder forcefully to make the young Sarmatian look up at him.
"Where is the other?" the Roman inquired, knowing full well what would happen if he returned without his quota. He noticed an older man trailing slightly behind the younger, who looked to have been his father.
"He is sick, sir. There is no way that he will survive the journey you have ahead of you. He will be of no use to your commanders," the older man said, his voice gravely with age. His face was tired and worn, most likely due to his own years of service to Rome.
"There must be another to take his place. You give us two recruits for continued peace with Rome," the commander spat back, not releasing his grip on the boy. "If you break this agreement, you forfeit your right to live on these lands."
Without balking at the Roman's threat, the older man stepped forward and pulled his son away. "The only other is my daughter, but what use would she be…" he explained, desperately hoping that the soldier would see reason and leave peacefully, only taking away his oldest son.
The Roman leader looked back at the group of young boys on horses up the hill. Their faces were tired and worn from the journey, but as he looked he counted them once again. If they returned one short, there would be hell to pay for all involved. He and his men would face repercussions and the young men would be forced to pull extra weight. He looked back and forth between his group and the Sarmatian father and son, weighing his options.
"Go and get her ready. She shall take your other son's place and in return you may live here under the protection of Rome" the soldier said coldly, practically spitting out the word 'protection.' At this point, he didn't care who he brought with him. As long as he had the right number, all would be well.
He heard a faint scream from one of the women in the village who had figured out what agreement had been met between the two men. "No-sir, she is but a child! She is not ready to make such a journey…." She pleaded, tears slipping down her cheeks.
"Silence! I have been sent to retrieve two boys from this village and this family…you will not stand in my way!" he shouted, getting frustrated with this village and this family. Of course, the last stop on their journey would prove to be the most troublesome. In a brief moment of compassion, he approached the woman, "I will do my best to keep her with her brother, but two need to be taken today."
Somehow, her father had known that the Romans would not just accept that her brother was ill and near death and just go on their way. The former knight had already packed her things in a small rucksack and tacked her new horse for her. As he returned with the second set of supplies, he saw his distraught wife holding tight to his youngest child. He knelt down in front of the small girl, letting her brother hold the reigns of both horses.
"Am I to leave with Lancelot now?" the little one asked as she hiccupped quietly. Seeing her mother crying got her started and she knew that something big was going on. Lancelot was already leaving, but now it looked like she was going as well.
"Yes, my sweet, you must go with your brother now," he explained, picking up the small child as he stood to approach the Roman officer. He held her light body close to his own, feeling her tiny arms stretch around his neck and hold tight.
"Evaine," her father whispered as they walked. Her small face lifted off of his shoulder as he effortlessly lifted her into the horse's saddle as Lancelot got into his own. "Stay with Lancelot, do not leave his side. You shall be fine my little flower."
"Father," she said as her hand wrapped around one of his larger fingers. A single tear rolled down her cheek, leaving a damp trail that glistened slightly in the late afternoon sunlight. He took her hand and led the horse over to Lancelot and the Roman officer who had gotten back up on his horse. As they started to ride off towards the larger group of young Sarmatians, she let go of her father's hand, looking back at the small village and her family.
Her attention was brought back in front of her when she heard Lancelot speak to the officer.
"How long shall we be gone?" he asked, trying to sound confident in his speech of the common tongue.
"Fifteen years-not counting the months it will take to get to your posts," one of the nicer Romans answered, giving the brother and sister a gentle nod to start moving. Quietly, they both fell into the line of horses, keeping together towards the middle of the large group.
"Lancelot-Evaine!" they heard their father shout, "RUS!" as the rest of the village joined him. All the boys and girl shouted back, repeating the war cry. Their young hearts were pulled back into the life they once knew for that brief moment before they were shaken back to reality by an obnoxious shout of the Roman leader. With one last glance back at the town, Evaine and Lancelot set off on their long journey.
The trek was tiring, dotted with days of snow and then nights where the wind ripped through their camps like a stampede of horses. Lancelot was able to make quick friends with many of the future knights, and allowed Eve to stay slightly behind her brother at all times. She could always be found near him and rarely ever spoke. There were a few occasions where the young Galahad or Tristan would talk to her as they road, but many of their attempts to get the girl to open up, failed. She didn't trust many of them, not helped by the fact that most of the boys avoided her.
As she was lying on her bed roll one night, gazing up at the stars in the vast, clear sky, she whispered, "Lancelot?"
"Yes Eve?" he responded, his gaze also pointed upwards. The camp was quiet as a slight glow was cast upon the weary group by the full moon.
"Where do you think we are going?" she asked, her curiosity getting the best of her.
"I have heard we are being sent to an island called Britain, but no one is sure yet…" he explained, relaying the information he had heard a few of the Romans talking about earlier in the day. More often than not, Tristan kept him informed. That boy could sneak up on anyone in the group at any time and spy for hours.
"What do you think Britain will be like?" she whispered.
"I don't know," he told her, trying to be as honest as possible but keep her hopes up. "I just hope that it's bearable."
"Fifteen years is a long time, isn't it…" she stated innocently, trying to gauge how long it would truly be before she saw her mother and father again.
"Yes, a very long time-I'll probably be over thirty by the time we finally go home."
"How old will I be, Lancelot?"
He thought for a moment, "You'll be older than 23."
"That's so old," she mused looking up at the moon.
"Yeah, it is," he laughed quietly, "Get some sleep Eve, the soldiers say we will be sailing tomorrow."
"I have never been on a boat before Lancelot, or seen the sea..." she said excitedly, rolling over on her bedroll trying to get comfortable.
Lancelot laughed quietly at her young excitement. He, too, had never seen the sea or been on a ship, but part of him was dreading this part. There was something about being suspended on the water, unable to feel the solid ground beneath his feet that he was uneasy about. The only sea that he enjoyed at the moment was the vast sea of grass that marked his homeland. "Good night Evaine," he whispered, signaling that it was time for sleep and that they could talk more in the morning.
Five weeks had passed since Lancelot and Evaine's conversation under the stars. It turned out that Tristan was right in thinking that they were bound for Britain, but Lancelot was wrong about it being 'bearable.' The tales they had heard from the Roman Officers traveling with them were nothing but foreboding. They often spoke of the harsh weather, constant cloud cover and blinding rain. When they weren't talking about the humidity, they were retelling their friends' stories about the Blue Demons that inhabited the island above the wall.
Posted: Oct 23 2016, 01:41 PM
A Night in Britannia
"Keep your eyes open, boys," one of the well-mannered soldiers warned, before he heard a low grumble behind him, knowing exactly who it came from, "…and girl. The Blue Demons keep a watchful eye over their island. Occasionally they venture south of the wall…you don't want to be caught unawares."
This well mannered soldier was named Marcus, and truth be told, he had a soft spot for the little Sarmatian girl. She was quiet and never caused any trouble, unlike her brother. Lancelot was mucking about with the other boys more often than not, but when Eve was around he was noticeably calmer. Evaine always tried to stay by her brother, Galahad, or Tristan, and only spoke up when she was directly spoken to or forgotten, like she had just been.
As they stopped to camp for the night, two days ride from the wall, Evaine acknowledged the fact that it was raining again. According to Lancelot this wasn't rain, it was as if the sky had been replaced by a river and they were at the bottom of a waterfall. This was some of the heaviest rain they'd experienced since being on this blasted island, though the near constant rain had allowed them to be innovative with their things.
They'd learned after their first two nights of sleeping under the rain that they could share Lancelot's bedroll and use Evaine's as a covering. This way, they could stay dry and warm enough to actually get some sleep during the cold rainy nights. They settled back in their usual positions, between Tristan and Galahad in the line of recruits and let sleep take them for one of their last nights free from the wall.
However, a loud commotion woke them both a few hours after they fell asleep. Both got out of their tent at double speed and gathered near the rest of their group at the center of camp. Lancelot could see shadows of people coming out of the woods to the north, but for the most part they just looked like trees swaying in the wind. As they got closer, it was easy to see that their bodies were painted various shades of a blue color so that they would blend in with the background. Their camouflage worked well, making them damn near impossible to see in the dark and rain.
The Roman soldiers instructed the kids to stay at the center of camp near the horses and moved to take on the blue people on their own. The Sarmatians watched with baited breath as the Romans fought. Some even chose to draw their daggers or bows from home, ready to fight or defend each other if the Romans were to fall.
As they watched the battle unfolding before them, many of the Romans fell at the hands of the demons. Over the grunts and cries, the children heard Marcus' voice yelling, "Ride boys…ride to the fort!"
Lancelot looked towards the voice and saw the young Roman dodge a blow meant for his head and slice deep into the stomach of the demon with his sword. Blood sprayed over the soldier, dripping down his face in a gruesome sight with the rain.
The soon-to-be knights did not need to be told twice to ride in search of help. Each found their horse and jumped up into the saddles, riding off in the direction they had been riding before stopping for the night. They rode hard away from the sounds of war, frightened by the viscous nature of the natives and the lightning that had started to light up the sky. The wind and rain licked at their tired faces and just as the first signs of dawn crept upon the horizon, the group of fleeing Sarmatians slowed.
They turned their horses around to check and see if they were being followed by any blue people. What Lancelot saw was worse than any screaming demon would have been. His eyes found Marcus first, injured in his saddle but still riding hard, holding reigns behind him. It was when he followed those reigns to the agitated horse attached that his heart stopped. Marcus was toeing Evaine's horse behind his own, without the young girl sitting on top.
He quickly glanced around at the rest of his comrades trying to find Evaine riding double with any of his brothers. Tristan and Galahad did the same, but none were able to locate the young girl. As they searched for her, the others took count to see if anyone else was missing, for Marcus had two empty horses with him.
"Eve! Eve!" Lancelot shouted, turning his horse in various directions trying to catch a glimpse of his sister hiding behind someone's horse or off in the tree line. Tears pricked at the corners of his eyes, threatening to fall free if he couldn't locate the young girl soon. Though, through his panicked state, he heard another young voice calling out.
"Kay? Kay where are you?" the boy named Gawain shouted in the same frightened manner as Lancelot had. His younger brother seemed to be missing as well, leading Lancelot to thinking that the other empty horse belonged to Kay. Two of his people were missing in this horrible weather on this horrible island. A sinking feeling started to grow in his gut.
"Eve! Come out right now, this isn't funny anymore! Eve! EVE!" he yelled, crying openly now in his desperation.
"Quiet yourself Lancelot, she is not here." Marcus said calmly as he came upon the group of boys, holding tightly to a wound on his right side. "She and the boy Kay are gone. I saw them; they were taken right as you all rode off. They were caught off-guard," he explained, tying Eve's horse to the horn of Lancelot's. The poor horse was beside himself trying to locate his rider, much like her brother and her friends were.
"The Woads dragged them off into the woods, but they rarely take prisoners-when they do, they aren't kept alive for long… I'm sorry boys," Marcus continued, truly feeling horrible that he couldn't have protected the two young Sarmatians. He then took Lancelot's reigns from him and lashed them to his own as they started to make their way towards the fort once more.
Lancelot couldn't focus on anything; he was only vaguely aware that his horse was moving, but he could feel the tears streaming down his face. He didn't notice when Marcus lashed their horses together or when Tristan and Galahad showed up next to him to help guide him on his way.
They all rode in silence for the next day and a half until they saw the great fort in the distance. At the end of the first part of their journey, the soon to be Sarmatian Knights already lost two of their friends. If this was a sign of anything to come, the 15 years of service weren't going to pass without their fair share of loss and sacrifice. They were set to endure all of this pain and heartache for something that none of them had agreed to or wanted to take part in.
As they got closer to civilization, Lancelot looked over his shoulder down a small hill and saw a boy around his own age staring back at him with a grown man's hands on his shoulders. The other boy was watching the Sarmatians with an interested eye, like he was fascinated by their mere presence. Lancelot slowly turned back around and looked at Galahad and Tristan, downcast looks painted both of their tired faces. While their bodies were weary, Lancelot's mind was running away on its own.
All he could think was that he had failed her, failed Evaine... failed his younger sister. His father had said that he was to bring her home after their service - bring her back to Sarmatia. Now, not even a year into their mission, he had already lost her, never to see her again. Evaine had been what was going to make the fifteen year service bearable and he lost his little sister before they had even started. She was gone and there was nothing he could do to change it.
He turned his face back to his two friends and then looked out at the fort that was to be their home for the next fifteen years. Only one thought was crossing through their minds in that moment. It was going to be a long service to Rome.