Category Archives: Romans

Vengeance of a Slave excerpt.

AD 70

CHAPTER 1

The Romans arrived across the river and lined up all the men. They took every tenth one to be made an example of and then went into the woods and cut down trees.

Soldiers pushed Adelbehrt along with the rest of the population to this field to watch. The commander of the Romans told them they must see what happened to those who challenged the might of Rome, even though they were not in the Empire. Rome must exact punishment for the raid on Mogontiacum.

Adelbehrt understood little of what had happened, but he knew a man named Julius Civilis led a rebellion against Rome and the Roman Legions on the Rhenus went to put it down. He knew some men took advantage while the soldiers were away and launched their own attacks across the Rhenus and even laid siege to the town of Mogontiacum.

He understood the legions coming back from the north relieved the siege and now the Romans had come to punish them. What he did not understand was why.

Adelbehrt tried to hold back the tears pricking his eyes. His mother stood next to him, holding his hand while they nailed the men to the crosses they had made from the trees they had cut down. Women screamed when they saw what was happening to their menfolk. One woman tried to rush to her husband, but a Roman soldier hit her with the flat of his gladius. She fell to the ground crying.

The Romans held the chosen men apart from the rest of the village. A soldier took the first man and forced him onto the cross lying on the ground. The victim kicked and shouted, but the soldiers pinned him down. A man came over with nails and a hammer.

The man on the cross began to struggle again as he saw the approaching soldier. Another soldier held the man’s arm still as the man with the hammer positioned the nail, then raised the hammer. He brought it down hard onto the nail head.The sound of the nail ripping through flesh and bone assailed Adelbehrt’s ears. The man screamed—a dreadful sound to the ears of the child. The man screamed again as the soldier drove another nail through his other wrist, then he passed out.

The soldiers nailed five men to crosses and the air filled with the metallic scent of blood. Adelbehrt did not know whether to hold his breath, close his eyes or stop his ears. Screams of the men mingled with those of the women.

The sixth man’s turn arrived. Adelbehrt heard his mother give a quiet sob. This was his father. When the soldiers laid him on the cross, his father did not struggle. He knew it would be futile. The soldier with the nails approached. Adelbehrt saw his father close his eyes and take a deep breath. When the nail pierced his flesh, his body tensed and he let out a moan. He did not scream.

Adelhert felt his chest swell. My father is braver than the others. He didn’t scream in spite of the pain.

He looked up at his mother standing calmly and with dignity, knowing hysterics would not help her husband, nor her small family. Seeing the pain in her eyes, Adelbehrt’s fists clenched at his side and his breathing quickened as he looked again at the soldiers, now raising the crosses to an upright position. These men had killed his father.

His father had been innocent of the raids. He had not taken any part, but the Romans did not care. They just wanted to punish someone—to make someone a scapegoat—so others would learn not to attack the might of Rome.

The boy pushed back the tears forming in his eyes. He could hear his little sister crying as she hung onto their mother’s leg, burying her face in her skirts, but she had only four summers, so she could be excused. His baby brother slept in his mother’s arms, ignorant of what happened around him.

He’ll never know his father. The boy looked up at the baby. He closed his eyes to force the tears back. He would never see his father again after today, either.

He forced himself to look at the crosses, searching for the one on which the Romans had nailed his father. He knew it would be the last chance he had of seeing him. He caught his father’s eyes. In spite of the pain in them, his father gave a half smile and mouthed “Look after your mother and sister.”

Adelbehrt was six, and the eldest, so he had to show courage. A slight breeze ruffled his ash blonde hair and he raised his hand to push it back out of his eyes. He didn’t want to see the horrible death his father was undergoing, but something inside told him he owed it to him to watch and remember. A tear trickled down his cheek, and he brushed it away. He must stay strong. He was now the man of the family.

After the soldiers had lifted all the crosses, the people turned away to return to their homes. Some women tried to rush to their men, but the Romans beat them away. They would allow no one to try to rescue the men. They formed a circle around the crucifixes and stood with gladii drawn.

As the boy and his family walked sadly away from the field of death a legionnaire approached his mother. She stopped and shook him off as he touched her arm.

“These are your children?” he asked in their language.

His mother looked at him, and her lip curled. “Of course.”

The legionnaire reached out to Adelbehrt and touched his hair. The boy pulled back, not wanting this man, who had been complicit in his father’s death, to touch him. He shivered as the strange man smiled at him. The boy thought he looked like a wolf.

The legionnaire spoke to his mother again. “I’ve never seen such pale hair. I see your little girl also has it. They’ll make a fortune on the block.”

Their mother looked at him in confusion. “What do you mean, ‘on the block’?”

“Oh, we’re taking a few of you as slaves. We always need more and it will teach you not to attack Rome in future.”

“You’re taking us as slaves?”

The man laughed. “Oh, not you. Just these two children. You’re not valuable, but these…”

“No! You can’t take my children,” cried the boy’s mother. “Take me, but leave my children alone. You’ve taken my husband and put him to death. Isn’t that enough?” She grabbed onto Adelbehrtand his sister, nearly dropping the baby as she did so.

The legionnaire pushed her away and roughly took the children by their arms. The boy struggled, understanding this man intended to take him and his sister away from their mother. The legionnaire pushed them in front of him towards where a group of crying children and screaming mothers stood.

His mother’s composure broke, and she began to scream along with the others as she tried to wrest her two children from the officer. It was to no avail.

Seeing his mother crying broke Adelbehrt’s resolve and he broke down into sobs, struggling against the legionnaire. He was no match for the strong Roman soldier, though, and the man pushed him towards where more soldiers held the other prisoners.

No matter how much he struggled, he could not escape the firm grip of the soldier holding him. He turned and tried to bite. The man laughed and said something in Latin to him that he did not understand. His mother tried to come to him, having handed the baby to a neighbour, but a centurion knocked her to the ground.

Adelbehrt heard him speaking to her in their language “Don’t try that again or you’ll regret it. Your tribe deserves all the punishment we mete out after your attack on us. Those children will bring a fortune with their light hair. Never seen hair like that. Almost white. They’ll go mad for them in Rome.”

He kicked out at the soldier, who then picked him up. Adelbehrt turned to bite his neck, but the man wore armour so he kicked at the man’s hips. The soldier laughed and held the boy tighter.

Adelbehrt understood it would be unlikely they would escape and that, in all likelihood, he and his sister would be separated. Would some rich Roman buy them? What would happen to them when they were no longer pretty children?

The legionnaire carried the two children to where Adelbehrt saw a small group of others being guarded by more soldiers. This group consisted mainly of young boys and men over the age of ten, with a few of the prettier teenage girls. He could see no more small children in the group.
One of the girls, whom they knew quite well as she lived near to them, came and picked his sister up, soothing the sobbing child as best she could.

“Hush, hush,” she whispered to the little girl. “I’ll take care of you and your brother. I’m sure no one will hurt you.”

“They killed my father,” Adelbehrt sniffed and wiped his nose with his hand, smearing it over his face as he wiped his eyes.

“Yes, but they were punishing him for the attack on their city. You haven’t done anything, so they won’t hurt you.”

“My father hadn’t done anything either, yet they still killed him. Why are they taking us from our mother and little brother?”

“You’re both very pretty children, you know. They haven’t seen anyone with hair as light as yours, and they think you’ll bring them a lot of money.”

“Then we’re to be slaves!”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. I am, too, and these others. They’ve taken all the boys of an age that might decide to try to take revenge, as well as a few of us girls.”

His mother managed to break away and she rushed towards the little group of slaves, calling out his name. “Adelberht, Adelberht. Look after Avelina. Don’t let anyone hurt her.”

“I won’t, Mamma. I’ll take good care of her. Odila’s here. She’ll help us.”
They crossed the river to the Roman fort of Mogontiacum. The soldiers lifted the children from the boat and a legionnaire gripped their arms, raising a bruise on Adelbehrt’s biceps. He looked towards Avelina, who was sobbing and sucking her thumb. He tried to pull away to go to her, but the soldier holding him yanked him back.

Walls surrounded the fort, all built of stone. Adelbehrt looked wide-eyed at the defences. The village where he lived had been defended by a wooden palisade. The gate through which they entered Mogontiacum soared over them. Two towers stood at either side of the gate.

Adelbehrt’s eyes opened wide as they passed through the archway
How did the men who came to raid here think they could get past these walls and gates?

Barracks stood to the left as they emerged from the gloom of the gate. A large building occupied the centre of a courtyard with another smaller one behind it. On the opposite side of the large building were more buildings.

The soldiers ushered the group of captives to a walled compound beyond the barracks and locked them in.

He understood he and his sister would probably be bought by different people, and wondered how he could fulfil his promise to his mother that he would look after her. Adelbehrt’s eyes narrowed and he pressed his lips together. They had first crucified his father, a terrible death for the young boy to witness, then taken him from his family, home and friends. He thought he would also have his sister taken from him, so he subsumed his sorrow and fear by building his hatred of his captors.

Avelina, had stopped crying and clung to Odila. He was glad of that, but wondered what would happen when she was not only taken from her mother, but from him too. Where would they take them to be sold?

Would they be sold here or taken elsewhere? Maybe even to Rome itself. What was his mother doing? Was there any chance there would be a rescue party? Could he make a break, somehow rescue his sister and get back across the river? All these questions went through his head as he sat in the compound.

A legionnaire brought some food for them to eat and water to drink. He picked at the food, but drank some water. Odila tried to persuade Avelina to eat something, but the little girl still sobbed between the small mouthfuls the older girl managed to get into her mouth. Eventually she fell asleep in Odila’s arms while still eating. The day’s events had all been too much for her.

Adelberht himself began to feel tired, but before he went to sleep, he enumerated the reasons he hated the Romans.
They crucified my father: they took my family away from me: they took my home from me: they took my friends from me: they will take my sister from me.

The next day Adelberht woke wondering where he was. Then it all came flooding back. Tears again pricked at his eyelids, but he determined he would never again cry because of a Roman. One day he would have revenge for all they had done to him. One day he would be free again. He would also find his sister and free her too, if they were separated.

Wherever the Romans took her, he would find her. After that, he would try to get back to his home across the Rhenus. He did not think about how he would carry out these plans. He would just take any chance he could when it came.

They sat in the compound all that day. The sun beat down on them, and all the slaves drank thirstily when the Romans brought water. The commander of the fort came and looked them over. He took a couple of the girls out and marched them over to the large building in the centre of the fort. Adelbehrt wondered what was going to happen to them. Were they going to be sold separately from the rest?

He thought about it for a while, then forgot about them as he tried to comfort his sister, who had begun crying again. “Don’t cry, Avelina. Everything will be all right. Somehow we’ll get away and go back to Mamma.”

The little girl looked at him trustingly, and a half-smile appeared on her face. “Back to Mamma? I miss Mamma.”

“Yes, so do I. It might not be soon, but one day we’ll escape these horrid Romans.”

“I don’t like the Romans. They killed Papa.”

“No, I don’t like them either. We’ll get away sometime, I promise you.”

He did not know how or when he would be able to keep his promise to the little girl but he determined to do so, whatever the cost. He smiled to see his words had comforted Avelina somewhat, that she had dried her eyes and sat more quietly.

Towards evening, the two girls, whom the commander had taken, returned to the compound. They entered the compound in tears. Adelberht wanted to ask them what had happened, but Odila kept him away from them. He wondered why, but she managed to distract him by talking about Avelina.

The little girl had once again started to cry, seeing the tears of the two older girls, so he did not find out what caused their upset. He did notice one of the young men, who had been courting one of the girls before they were taken prisoner, became very angry and some of his friends held him back as he tried to attack one of the Roman guards.

~*~

Two days passed. Avelina cried less, but called for their mother in the night, every night. She also began sucking her thumb again. She had almost stopped that childish habit before their capture. Adelberht also missed their mother, but he stuck to his resolve not to allow the Romans to make him cry. Even when the tears came to his eyes he managed to prevent them from falling.

Each day, the commander took one or two girls and they always returned crying. Sometimes one of the legates or centurions took a girl. They took Odila on the second day. When she came back, Adelbehrt asked her what happened, but she refused to talk of it. She seemed withdrawn after that, and sat in a corner with the other girls, not talking, but staring into space.

On the third day of their captivity, a civilian man came to the compound with the commander of the castrum. He looked the slaves over and called for Adelbehrt and Avelina to be brought to him. He asked a few questions in Latin, which Adelbehrt did not understand, but assumed they were about him and his sister. The man smiled and the two men walked away, talking.

The following morning, some men came and took all the slaves to the baths and stripped them. They washed them all thoroughly and took their clothes away. What would happen now? That question soon had an answer.

The men who washed them took them to a building in the market at the opposite side of the fort.They stood in a room, bare except for a table and chair under a window at one side. Guards stood by the only door making escape impossible. A tall man entered and sat behind the table.

The man who looked them over the previous day came in. He ordered the men to take the girls out, with the exception of Avelina. Avelina cried out to Odila and tried to run to her but one of the slaves who had bathed them, grabbed hold of her as she ran past. The Romans had taken seven girls from the village, and shortly afterwards, a slave brought two of the less pretty ones back into the room. Odila was not one of them.

Adelbehrt heard them saying the others had been bought by a brothel. He did not know what a brothel was, and the others deflected his questions when he asked. He decided, when he saw the looks of relief on the faces of the remaining two girls, that it could not be a good place. Something else to hate the Romans for. He mentally added ‘Taking Odila to a brothel’ to his list of reasons to hate them.

The man in charge hung a board around the neck of each slave. Adelbehrt later learned that it gave information about the slave, including his likelihood of running away or committing suicide as well as his name and where he came from.

They took the slaves out one at a time. He could hear noises of people calling out something outside, but could not understand the words. When the slaves returned, the man who had taken them out took them to the table by the window. People came into the room, handed over money to the man sitting there, and then left with their purchase.

Eventually their turn arrived. The slave merchant had left them until the last, and as they were led outside together, Adelberht realised they were being sold as a single lot. He could breathe once more. He could keep his promise to his mother to look after his sister.

The warm air met them and as the sun shone on his naked skin, Adelbehrt blushed at being nude in front of the crowd filling the market place. He looked around and wondered at the large numbers of people still left, since all the slaves had been sold except the two of them.

The auctioneer picked Avelina up and another man did the same with Adelbehrt and held them so everyone could see the two children. The auctioneer spoke to the crowd and pointed at the children’s blonde hair. A few aahs came from the crowd, then people began to call things out. Adelbehrt decided the people were making bids for them.

They were a popular lot, if the number of bidders was anything to go by, but soon almost everyone dropped out leaving just two men in the bidding. Eventually one of them held up his hand and turned away, thus indicating he had dropped out. The man who had brought them out led them back into the room and gave them tunics to put on.

Their purchaser walked over to the table and handed over a purse of money, which the cashier counted carefully, nodded and handed a paper to their new owner who then came over to them, took each by a hand and led them out.

Adelbehrt looked at this man. He was a tall, clean-shaven man with an aquiline nose and dark hair and eyes. He did not look unkind, but still the sort of man you would not want to annoy. He spoke to the children in a light tenor voice, but they did not understand him, so he called to a man standing near the door and spoke a few words to him.

“This man says he’s your master now and wants to know how old you are,” the man interpreted.

“I have six summers and my sister four,” answered Adelbehrt, quietly, looking down at his feet.

The interpreter spoke to their new master in Latin and then interpreted the next few sentences.

“He’s on his way back to Britannia and you’re going to accompany him there. You’re to call him ‘Dominus’. That means ‘Master’, or ‘Sir’. You now have your first word of Latin. You’ll soon learn to speak it though, so don’t worry.”

“I’m called Adelbehrt, and my sister is Avelina.” Adelbehrt told him, not knowing his name had been on the scroll round his neck.

“Well. Adelberht, you’ll be all right just as long as you do as you’re told, and show proper deference to your master and mistress. Good luck.” With that, he left them.

“What’s going to happen now?” whispered Avelina.

‘We’re going to Britannia. We must call the man who has bought us ‘Dominus’ and do as he says.”

Avelina began to cry. “Where’s Britannia? You said we’d go back to Mamma. You said you’d escape and take us back.”

“I don’t know where Britannia is, but we will escape. Somehow we’ll get away, but I can’t promise you it will be soon.”

I hope you enjoyed this extract.

It‘s only four weeks to the release of

Vengeance of a Slave.

You can pre-order it from Amazon by clicking here, or on the cover in the sidebar.

Vengeance of a Slave

There are only 4 weeks left until the big moment.

Vengeance of a Slave


Will be released on Thursday December 26th

Make a note of it in your diary


or


Go to Amazon now and pre-order it.

This is my first venture into historical fiction. I really had an amazing time researching it and found out such a lot about the Romans and the way of life of the Celts who lived here when they invaded.

As a special thank you to all my readers, I am publishing an extract from the book on my blog on Thursday to mark the 4 week point.

You can order the book by clicking here, and it will take you to Amazon where you are. Or you can click on the book in the sidebar.

Roman Mosaics

I have recently returned from a holiday in Greece. While there, I visited Ancient Corinth. (Well worth a visit, especially if you are a Christian. You can see the very place where St Paul was tried for preaching Christianity.)

There is a small museum there where they show some of the things they unearthed while excavating the site. Amongst them were some mosaics from Roman villa floors. They are beautiful, and I thought I’d share them with you. I thought it pertinent at the moment because of the pre-order of Vengeance of a Slave. Adelbehrt, the slave of the title, is taken to a Roman villa where there would have been similar mosaics decorating the floors.

This was on the wall of the restaurant in the National Archeological Museum in Athens.
A mosaic in the museum at Ancient Corinth.
Detail of the above mosaic.
A more complete mosaic in Corinth
A pastoral scene from a floor mosaic in Ancient Corinth.

These pictures should give an idea of the beauty of the floors in the Roman villas.

Vengeance of a Slave is now on pre-order. You can order it from Amazon by clicking here. It is due to be released on December 26th. If you would like to have a pre-order copy so you can review it as soon as it is released, please contact me on vivienne.sang@gmail.com

I can provide pdf, mobi or epub, but not ‘real’ books as it has not been released yet.

I will be delighted to receive any comments in the comments box.

Adelbhert is only six years old when he is forced to watch his father and other men from his village being crucified in revenge for an attack on the Roman city of Mogontiacum.
Then he and his little sister are taken as slaves. They are sold to a merchant who takes them to the distant and mysterious island of Britannia. Here he is treated like a pet until he grows up and is no longer a pretty child.
His experiences make him hate the Romans and he resolves to escape one day and have revenge. but his hatred is eating away at his soul.
Will he get the chance to escape, and if so, can he remain free? And how can one young man take on the might of the Roman Army and win?

Pre-Order.

I have just got an email saying that Vengeance of a Slave is now on pre-order. The release date is 26th December.
You can ensure you get one of the first copies by clicking here.

It is available on Kindle and as a paperback. You can post reviews on the paperback site, but not on the Kindle one until the release day.

All reviews will be gratefully received. They are very important to get an author and his/her books into the public eye. In fact, some sites don’t allow promotion without a review.

This book is my first foray into historical fiction. It took a lot of research and hard work. I hope you enjoy it. Personally, I think it’s my best one to date.

Don’t forget the date DECEMBER 26th.

Forced to watch his father’s crucifixion and separated from his mother, orphaned six-year-old Adelbhert’s life forever changes when he is sold into slavery in Britannia.

Years of servitude fill his heart with malice and he resolves to escape, determined to rescue those he loves and deliver retribution to the Romans who wronged him.

But as new allies shed light on old perspectives, Adelbhert begins to question his path. Will he find true freedom, or allow his vengeance to consume him?

Vengeance of a Slave visits Mainz, Germany.

The city of Mainz, once known as Mogantiacum, was a Roman fort along the Rhine. It bordered Germania, on the other side of the river, which, in the time of Adelbehrt, the slave of the book’s title, was not part of the Roman empire, but of Germania.

When the Romans took him and Avelina, his sister, to sell as slaves, it was to Mogantiacum they went, along with several other captives.

Vengeance of a Slave is visiting Mainz today, and is in the market place.

bookinmainz

If you would like to find out more about Adelbehrt and how he got his revenge on the Romans, click here. It will take you to the book’s page at Amazon where you are.

You can find out more about my books by clicking on the ‘books’ tab, or you can go to my author page on Amazon by clicking here.

Or to find out more about me, click here to see my page on Creativia, who have published my fantasy novels.

I would love to hear from you, so please add a comment in the comments box.

Looking for reviewers

Vengeancecover
Is anyone willing to do a review of Vengeance of a Slave in return for a free copy of the book? Please let me know if you would do this. I can send you a file in any format you wish.
There will be no obligation to review the book, but if you do, please say in your review it was a free copy. Amazon gets a bit sniffy sometimes.
Let me know if you would do this and what format you would like by emailing me at vivienne.sang@gmail.com
If you are unsure about what to write in a review, I did a post about it on Nove 20th Follow this link here.
Thanks.
Here’s a bit about it.
Adelbhert is only six years old when he is forced to watch his father and other men from his village being crucified in revenge for an attack on the Roman city of Modiglianum.
Then he and his little sister are taken as slaves. They are sold to a merchant who takes them to the distant and mysterious island of Britannia. Here he is treated like a pet until he grows up and is no longer a pretty child.
His experiences make him hate the Romans and he resolves to escape one day and have revenge. but his hatred is eating away at his soul.
Will he get the chance to escape, and if so, can he remain free? And how can one ;young man take on the might of the Roman Army and win?

Vengeance of a Slave pays a visit to York.

Vengeance of a Slave is set partly in the city of York. Here it takes a visit to that city.

In Roman times, York was known as Eberacum, but this picture is in modern York, since my time machine is out of order at the moment!

Here you can see the walls of the city with the Minster in the background.

 

You can buy a copy of the book in both paperback or ebook by clicking on this link.bookinyork

A brief look at Vengeance of a Slave

Today I’m giving you a look at Chapter 1 of Vengeance of a Slave. It is the story of a young man, taken as a slave by the Romans in 70AD, how his hatred of the Romans grew and how he extracted his revenge on them.

I hope you enjoy it. If you want to purchase a copy, follow this link. or click on the picture of the book cover below.

Vengeancecover

AD 70

CHAPTER 1
The boy tried to hold back the tears pricking the back of his eyelids. His mother stood next to him, holding his hand while they nailed his father to the cross. Some Roman soldiers lifted five other crosses in the field just outside the town. He covered his ears against the screaming of the women as they tried to rush forward to their men folk, who now hung on the crosses.
He looked up at his mother who stood calmly and with dignity, knowing hysterics would not help her husband, nor her small family. He tried to ignore the screams from the men as the nails entered their flesh.
The boy understood little of what had happened, but he knew a man named Julius Civilis led a rebellion against Rome and the Roman Legions on the Rhenus went to put it down. He knew his father and other men took advantage while the soldiers were away and they launched their own attacks across the Rhenus and even laid siege to the town of Mogantiacum. He understood the legions coming back from the north had relieved the siege and now the Romans had come to punish them. What he did not understand was why.
When the Romans arrived across the river, they lined all the men up and took every tenth man to be made an example of and then set about making crosses for their crucifixion. The Romans pushed the boy along with the rest of the population to this field to watch.
The commander of the Romans told them they must see what happened to those who challenged the might of Rome, even though they were not in the Empire. Rome must exact punishment for the raid.
The boy pushed back the tears forming in his eyes. He could hear his little sister crying as she hung onto their mother’s leg, burying her face in her mother’s skirts, but she was only four, so she could be excused. His baby brother slept in his mother’s arms blissfully ignorant of what happened around him. He would never know his father, the boy thought, looking up at the baby. He almost wept then. He would never see his father again after today, either.
He forced himself to look at the crosses, searching for the one on which the Romans had nailed his father. He knew it would be the last chance he had of seeing him. He caught his father’s eyes. In spite of the pain in them, his father gave a half smile and mouthed ‘Look after your mother and sister.’
The boy was six, and the eldest, so he had to show courage. A slight breeze ruffled his ash blonde hair and he raised his hand to push it back out of his eyes. He didn’t want to see the horrible death his father was undergoing, but he felt, somehow, he owed it to him to watch and remember. A tear trickled down his cheek, and he brushed it away. He must stay strong for the rest of the family.
After the soldiers had lifted all the crosses, the people turned away to return to their homes. Some women tried to rush to the crucifixes, but the Romans beat them away. They would allow no one to try to rescue the men.
As the boy and his family walked sadly away from the field of death a legionnaire approached his mother. She stopped and shook him off as he touched her arm.
‘These are your children?’ he asked in their language.
His mother looked scornfully at him. ‘Of course!’ she snapped. ‘I wouldn’t bring anyone else’s children to a crucifixion.’
The legionnaire reached out to the boy and touched his hair. The boy pulled back, not wanting this man, who had been complicit in his father’s death, to touch him. He shivered as the strange man smiled at him. The boy thought he looked like a wolf.
The legionnaire spoke to his mother again.
‘I’ve never seen such pale hair. I see your little girl also has it. They’ll make a fortune on the block.’
Their mother looked at him in confusion.
‘What do you mean, “on the block”?’ she asked.
‘Oh, we’re taking a few of you as slaves. We always need more and it will teach you not to attack Rome in future.’
‘You’re taking us as slaves?’
The man laughed. ‘Oh, not you. Just these two children. You’re not particularly valuable, but these…’
‘No! You can’t take my children,’ cried the boy’s mother. ‘Take me, but leave my children alone. You’ve taken my husband and put him to death. Isn’t that enough?’
She grabbed onto the boy and his sister, nearly dropping the baby as she did so.
The legionnaire pushed her away and roughly took the boy and his sister by their arms. The boy struggled, understanding this man intended to take him and his sister away from their mother. The legionnaire pushed them in front of him towards where a group of crying children and screaming mothers stood.
His mother’s composure broke then, and she began to scream along with the others as she tried to wrest her two children from the officer. It was to no avail. Seeing his mother crying broke the child’s resolve and he broke down into sobs, struggling against the man. He was no match for the strong Roman soldier, though and the man pushed him towards where more soldiers held the other prisoners.
No matter how much he struggled, he could not escape the firm grip of the soldier holding him. He turned and tried to bite. The man laughed and said something in Latin to him that he did not understand. His mother tried to come to him, having handed the baby to a neighbour, but a centurion knocked her to the ground. The boy heard him speaking to her in their language,
‘Don’t try that again or you’ll regret it. Your tribe deserves all the punishment we mete out after your attack on us. Those children will bring a fortune with their light hair. Never seen hair like that. Almost white. They’ll go mad for them in Rome.’
Then he understood that they would be very unlikely to escape and that, in all likelihood, he and his sister would be separated. Would some rich Roman buy them as pets? What would happen to them when they were no longer pretty children?
The legionnaire dragged the two children to where the boy saw a small group of others being guarded by more soldiers. This group consisted mainly of young boys and men over the age of ten, with a few of the prettier teenage girls. He could see no more small children on the group.
One of the girls, whom they knew quite well as she lived near to them, came and picked his sister up, soothing the sobbing child as best she could.
‘Hush, hush,’ she whispered to the little girl. ‘I’ll take care of you and your brother. I’m sure no one will hurt you.’
‘They killed my father,’ sniffed the boy, wiping his nose with his hand and then smearing it over his face as he wiped his eyes.
‘Yes, but they were punishing him for attacking their city. You haven’t done anything, so they won’t hurt you.’
‘Then why are they taking us from our mother and little brother?’
‘You’re both very pretty children, you know. They haven’t seen anyone with hair as light as yours, I don’t suppose, and they think you’ll bring them a lot of money.’
‘Then we’re to be slaves!’
‘Yes, I’m afraid so.’ she replied. ‘So am I, and these others too. They’ve taken all the boys of an age that might decide to try to take revenge, as well as a few of us girls.’
Just then, his mother managed to break away and she rushed towards the little group of slaves, calling out his name.
‘Adelberht, Adelberht. Look after your sister. Don’t let anyone hurt her.’
‘I won’t, Mamma. I’ll take good care of her. Odila’s here. She’ll help us.’
They crossed the river to the Roman fort of Mogantiacum. Adelberht did not notice much about the place, concerned as he was about their situation. He understood he and his sister would probably be bought by different people, and wondered how he could then fulfil his promise to his mother that he would look after her.
He felt a growing hatred for the Romans. They had first crucified his father, a terrible death for the young boy to witness, then taken him from his family, home and friends. He thought he would also have his sister taken from him at some time, so he subsumed his sorrow and fear by building his hatred of his captors.
The soldiers took the prisoners to a compound in one corner of the fort and locked them in. His sister, Avelina, had stopped crying and clung to Odila. He was glad of that, but wondered what would happen when she was not only taken from her mother, but from him too. Where would they take them to be sold? Would they be sold here or taken elsewhere? Maybe even to Rome itself. What was his mother doing? Was there any chance there would be a rescue party? Could he make a break, somehow rescue his sister and get back across the river? All these questions went through his head as he sat in the compound.
Soon, a legionnaire brought some food for them to eat and water to drink. He picked at the food, but drank some water. Odila tried to persuade Avelina to eat something, but the little girl still sobbed between the small mouthfuls the older girl managed to get into her mouth.
Eventually she fell asleep in Odila’s arms while still eating. The day’s events had all been too much for her. Adelberht himself began to feel tired, but before he went to sleep, he enumerated the reasons he hated the Romans.
‘They crucified my father: they took my family away from me: they took my home from me: they took my friends from me: they will probably take my sister from me.’
The next day Adelberht woke wondering where he was. Then it all came flooding back. Tears again pricked at his eyelids, but he determined he would never again cry because of a Roman. One day he would have revenge for all they had done to him. One day he would be free again. He would also find his sister and free her too, if they were separated. Wherever the Romans took her, he would find her. Then he would try to get back to his home across the Rhenus. He did not think about how he would carry out these plans. He would just take any chance he could when it came.
They sat in the compound all that day. The commander of the fort came and looked them over. He took a couple of the girls out and marched them over to his rooms. Adelbehrt wondered what was going to happen to them. Were they going to be sold separately from the rest? He thought about it for a while, then forgot about them as he tried to comfort his sister, who had begun crying again.
‘Don’t cry, Avelina,’ he told her, ‘Everything will be all right. Somehow we’ll get away and go back to Mamma.’
The little girl looked at him trustingly, and a half-smile appeared on her face.
‘Back to Mamma?’ she asked him. ‘I miss Mamma.’
‘Yes, so do I. It may not be soon, but one day we’ll escape these horrid Romans.’
‘I don’t like the Romans. They killed papa.’
‘No, I don’t like them either. We’ll get away sometime, I promise you.’
He did not know how or when he would be able to keep his promise to the little girl but he determined to do so, whatever the cost. He smiled to see his words had comforted Avelina somewhat, and that she had dried her eyes and sat more quietly.
Towards evening, the two girls, whom the commander had taken, returned to the compound. They entered the compound in tears. Adelberht wanted to ask them what had happened, but Odila kept him away from them. He wondered why, but she managed to distract him by talking about Avelina. The little girl had once again started to cry, seeing the tears of the two older girls, so he did not find out what caused their upset. He did notice one of the young men, who had been courting one of the girls before they were taken prisoner, became very angry and some of his friends held him back as he tried to attack one of the Romans.
OoOoOoOoOo
Two days passed. Avelina cried less, but called for their mother in the night, every night. She also began sucking her thumb again. She had almost stopped that childish habit before their capture. Adelberht also missed their mother, but he stuck to his resolve not to allow the Romans to make him cry. Even when the tears pricked the backs of his eyes he managed to prevent them from falling.
Each day, the commander took one or two girls and they always returned crying. Sometimes one of the legates or centurions took a girl. They took Odila on the second day. When she came back, Adelbehrt asked her what happened, but she refused to talk of it. She seemed withdrawn after that, and sat in a corner with the other girls, not talking, but staring into space.
On the third day of their captivity, a civilian man came over to the compound with the commander of the castrum. He looked the slaves over and called for Adelbehrt and Avelina to be brought to him. He asked a few questions in Latin, which Adelbehrt did not understand, but assumed they were about him and his sister. Then the man smiled. The two men walked away, talking.
On the following morning, some men came and took all the slaves to the baths and stripped them. They washed them all thoroughly and took their clothes away. What would happen now? That question soon had an answer.
First, the men who had washed them took them to a building in the market. The man who looked them over the previous day came in. He ordered that the men take the girls out, with the exception of Avelina. Avelina cried out to Odila and tried to run to her but one of the slaves who had bathed them, grabbed hold of her as she ran past. The Romans had taken seven girls from the village, and shortly afterwards, a slave brought two of the less pretty ones back into the room. Odila was not one of them.
Adelbehrt heard them saying the others had been bought by a brothel. He did not know what a brothel was, and the others deflected his questions when he asked. He decided, when he saw the looks on the faces of the remaining two girls, that it could not be a good place. Something else to hate the Romans for. He mentally added ‘Taking Odila to a brothel’ to his list of reasons to hate them.
The man, who seemed in charge, hung a board around the neck of each slave. Adelbehrt later learned it gave some information about the slave, including his likelihood of running away or committing suicide as well as his name and where he came from.
They took the slaves out one at a time. He could hear noises of people calling out something outside, but could not understand the words. When a man brought the slaves back in he took them to a different part of the room where another man sat at a table. People came into the room, handed over money to the man at the table, and then left with their purchase.
Eventually their turn arrived. The slave merchant had left them until the last, and as they were led outside, Adelberht realised they were being sold as a single lot. He felt he could breathe once more. He could keep his promise to his mother to look after his sister.
The warm air met them and he felt the sun on his naked skin. Adelbehrt became embarrassed to be nude in front of the crowd filling the market place. He looked round and wondered at the large numbers of people still left, since all the slaves had been sold except the two of them.
The auctioneer picked Avelina up and another man did the same with Adelbehrt and held them so everyone could see the two children. The auctioneer spoke to the crowd and pointed at the children’s blonde hair.
A few aahs came from the crowd, then people began to call things out. Adelbehrt thought the people were making bids for them.
They were a popular lot, if the number of bidders was anything to go by, but soon almost everyone dropped out leaving just two men in the bidding. Eventually one of them held up his hand and turned away, thus indicating he had dropped out of the bidding. The man who had brought them out led them back into the room and gave them tunics to put on.
Their purchaser walked over to the man at the table and handed over a purse of money, which the cashier counted carefully, nodded and handed a paper to their new owner who then came over to them, took each by a hand and led them out.
Adelbehrt looked at this man. He was a tall, clean-shaven man with an aquiline nose and dark hair and eyes. He did not look unkind, but still the sort of man you would not want to annoy. He spoke to the children in a light tenor voice, but they did not understand him, so he called to a man standing near the door.
‘This man says he’s your master now and wants to know how old you are,’ the man interpreted.
‘I have seven summers and my sister four,’ answered Adelbehrt, quietly, looking down at his feet.
The interpreter spoke to their new master in Latin and then interpreted the next few sentences.
‘He says you are to be gifts for his wife and daughter. He’s on his way back to Britannia and you’re going to accompany him there. You’re to call him ‘Dominus’. That means ‘Master’, or ‘Sir’. You now have your first word of Latin. You’ll soon learn to speak it though, so don’t worry.’
‘I’m called Adelbehrt, and my sister is Avelina.’ Adelbehrt told him, not knowing his name had been on the scroll round his neck.
‘Well. Adelberht, you’ll be all right just as long as you do as you’re told, and show proper deference to your master and mistress. Good luck.’
And with that, he left them.
‘What’s going to happen now?’ whispered Avelina.
‘We’re going to Britannia. We’re presents for his wife and daughter, that man said. We must call the man who has bought us ‘Dominus’ and do as he says.’
Avelina began to cry. ’You said we’d go back to Mamma. You said you’d escape and take us back.’
‘We will still escape,’ he told her. ‘Somehow we’ll get away, but I can’t promise you it will be soon.’

To find out more about this book, and others I’ve written, go to My Books page.

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The Batavian Revolt

This revolt indirectly led to the taking of Adelbhert and his sister as slaves, and hence begun the tale told in Vengeance of a Slave.

 

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This took place between the years 69 and 70 CE. The Batavi was a small tribe living in Germania Inferior, near the Rhine delta. They sent some conscripts to Rome, who became what was known as The Germanic Bodyguard and were personal guards of the emperor. When they revolted, they were joined by other tribes in the area as well as some Gallic tribes.

Julius Civilis was a Batavian prince. He was also a Roman citizen and a prefect in the Roman army. He was stationed in Britain, but when his legion returned to Germania, he and his brother were arrested on trumped up charges of treason. His brother was executed and Civilis, being a Roman citizen was taken to Rome to be tried by the emperor himself.

The emperor Nero had been becoming more and more despotic, and so Julius Vindex, the governor of Gaul, decided to try to do something about it. He found what he thought as a worthy successor in a man called Galba. He fomented a revolution, Galba became emperor and Nero committed suicide.

Galba disbanded the Germanic Bodyguard because he mistrusted them as they had been loyal to Nero. The Batavian people took this as an insult.

After the death of Nero, Rome was plunged into civil war. There followed what is known as the Year of the Four Emperors. Galba’s deputy, Otho, overthrew him in a coup, then Vitellius prepared to take the Rhine legions to Rome to overthrow Otho. Once there, Vitellius released Civilis in order to gain his help. This Civilis did, and the Batavi joined the Rhine legions and overthrew Otho at the battle of Bedriacum.

After the battle, the Batavi were ordered to return home, but then Vespasian, commander of the forces in Syria, revolted. He was joined by the legions of the Danube.

Vitellius tried to conscript more than the agreed maximum number of conscripts from the Batavi. This, the brutality of the conscripting centurians and the sexual assaults on Batavian boys brought things to a head.

In the summer of 69, Civilis was commander of the Batavian troops in the Rhine regions. He persuaded the tribe known as Cananefates, to revolt and to attack a number of Roman forts.

This was a good time to do this since most of the troops were off fighting the civil war in Rome. The commander of the Rhine regions then sent troops to put down this rebellion, leaving the rest of the area vulnerable. Civilis and his men defeated the Romans near what is now Arnhem.

To deal with this insurrection, the commander sent two legions, V Alaudae and XV Primigenea to fight them. These legions included some Batavian cavalry, who defected to their countrymen during the battle and so the Romans lost after which the Batavians were promised independence.

Civilis wanted vengeance, however. He wanted to destroy the two legions. He besieged their camp. With the civil war in Rome, the Romans could do little about this. They did not have the troops to spare.

Then came the news of Vitellius’s defeat. This had been helped by Civilis pinning down two legions, but his aim was not to help Vespasian. He launched an attack on Krefeld, sending his eight best cavalry troops. This time, the Roman army was successful, destroying all eight troops, but at great loss to themselves.

Civilis then lifted the siege, saying that the legions could have free passage providing they left everything behind for his men to loot. The two legions left with nothing, but a few kilometers away, they were ambushed and all of them destroyed.

Vespasian, once he had established himself on the throne, sent an enormous army to deal with Civilis and his rebels. On hearing of the approach of the army, one of Civilis’s allies surrendered, but Civilis himself continued to fight.

He made a series of raids from land and from the river, once capturing a Roman flagship. The Romans then invaded Batavia and the revolt was over.

It is against this chaotic part of the Roman Empire that Vengeance of a Slave is set. Adelbehrt’s father and some of the other villagers take the opportunity of a weakened army on the Rhine to raid across the river into the Roman lands. This leads to the terrible punishment of the men at the beginning of the book.

If you are interested in reading more about Adelbehrt and his sister Avelina, and how they come to be in Britannia, click on this link.

http://mybook.to/vengeanceofaslave/

 

The 9th Legion

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The 9th legion is the legion that appears in Vengeance of a Slave. It has an interesting history.

It was known as Legio IX Hispana, or the 9th Spanish Legion. It existed from the 1st centuryBC until around 120AD. It was said to have been founded in Hispania (modern Spain) by Pompey around 65BC.

They are one of the oldest Roman legions. They were taken over by Julius Caesar when he became Govenor of Hispania. They fought all across Europe with Caesar and came to Britain with him when he made his ill-advised invasion in 55 and 54BC. At this time, the Romans did not manage to conquer Britain, although Julius Ceasar empbroidered the truth a bit in order to boost his credentials in Rome.

The 9th came again to Britain, along with three other legions, in 45AD with Claudius’s more successful invasion. It took 4 entire legions to subdue the Britons.

The brutal rebellion of Boudicca, in which 70,000 civilians were slaughtered brought more conflict for the 9th legion. They were the first legion to fight Boudicca’s army and they were routed.

They had, however, bought time for the rest of the army to come down from Angelsey where they had been subduing the druids. They met Boudicca’s hordes in the Midlands, and, along with the remnants of the 9th, they fought and won, even though they were outnumbered 10 to 1.

It was Roman discipline that won the day against the ill-disciplined hordes of Britons.

In Vengeance of a Slave, Ailbert realised this when he planned his raids against the Roman army.

When they conquered the Brigantes in the north of Britain, the 9th was stationed in York. But there were still the wild tribesmen of what the Romans called Caledonia, and we call Scotland. For the Romans to feel safe, these tribes needed to be subdued. and so the 9th was sent there.

In 64AD, under Agricola, the 9th met with the Caledonian tribesmen in open battle. The Romans won. They had slaughtered many of the Caledonians.

For a while, all was peaceful until 117Ad when the 9th again went north to supress the Caledonians. That was the last anyone ever heard of them. They never returned. Were they all killed in battle, or were they lured into the bogs and mires of that wild land? No one ever found out.