Blood pumped in his veins but his breathing was steady. He was fit, having often taken part in skirmishes with raiders or hunts in the woods. It was those hunts that made him so familiar with the fairy tale fortress of sparkling clearings and majestic trees, and he dashed along the paths and animal trails like a wolf seeking out its kill.

     Nimbly he leapt a body that lay in the path, the most fleeting of glimpses allowing him to spot that it wasn’t Selurie. Without another thought he followed the calls of his Celtic brothers, dashing onwards towards his prey.

     Oddly enough there was a strange silence to the woods, but he supposed the animals were timidly watching from the hiding places now rather than seeking out their food or calling out into nature’s den.  This was one of the fox trails that led to the outskirts of the wood and Brennus realised it was heading toward the river.

     A spear stabbed out from the undergrowth, flicking forwards like a serpents tongue, and it was only dextrous hands and quick reflexes that allowed Brennus to bring his weapon up and block it. The two spears hit each other with a resounding crack. He almost expected one or both to break, it jarred him so much, but as he turned to face his attacker his weapon stayed in one piece. Having declined the shield when he had leapt down from the chariot, so as not to slow his chase, he now regretted the choice as his enemy stepped out from the ferns and bushes.

     The man had blond hair, very much unlike anything that could be found in these parts, and his height was shorter too. His tattoos were those of a tribe that Brennus had only seen on rare occasions but he recognised them all the same; Dobunni.

      Watching his opponent carefully, Brennus took an attacking stance, carefully gauging when to assault. With a shield covering his left side and his own spear in his right hand, the assailant had few weaknesses and it was indeed he that made the first move.

    The spear tip thrust forwards and Brennus feinted to the right, bringing his weapon around in turn. With an upward swing of his shield, the large oval guard deflected Brennus’ blow and allowed the Dobunni to counter with his own upwards stab. Twisting to the left, the viscous jab narrowly missed Brennus’ side and they both paused to study each other once more.

    The shield was a formidable piece of armour, making it difficult for Brennus to break through, and he struggled to find a weakness. Grinning a yellow toothed smile, his opponent realised Brennus’ predicament and slowly stepped forwards, shield raised.

The End

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