The River

     The Celtic blood within him charged through his body and Brennus felt the rush of adrenalin that all his kind released in battle. With a wide swing of his spear’s shaft he knocked the foe’s weapon upwards, a sudden blow that caught his opponent offgaurd.

     It would not worry his enemy as a parry and block with the shield would halt Brennus’ attack. But that was not the plan. Instead, running forward, he rammed the full weight of his body into the large shield, his shoulder crashing into the metal. The pain slammed into him, like he had ran into a wall, and the world flipped around as the Dobunni warrior sprawled backwards taking Brennus with him. For a second they grappled, the enemy trying to release his shield and Brennus pinning down the celt’s weapon arm. And then Brennus jerked his head forward.

     His forehead smashed into the warrior’s nose, the sound of breaking cartilage clear and crisp. Prone and dazed, the man tried to focus as Brennus pulled the blade of a spear from where it lay and drew it across the warrior’s throat.

      Without even a second thought of the body that danced in the throes of death, the chief’s son leapt to his feet and raced on through the wood; on along the winding paths; on to a place he knew well.

    Bursting out of the foliage, Brennus skidded down a sharp drop; a sandy bank that dove to the pebbled beach running down the side of a river. Ahead he could see three yawls; small boats that would be used to take the prisoners away. The oars were pulling two in steady, rhythmic strokes, carrying the Dobunni further away from the banks. Near the shore, the third was being overpowered, Silure warriors grappling at the oars and thrusting spears at the raiders within.

     Brennus was blind to the fight as his heart sank.

     There, on the first yawl, was his sister.

     Her black rich curls and smooth skin could capture the heart of any man and he would protect her as long as he lived but he was helpless. The Dobunni within jeered and hurled mocking insults, harshly tugging their captives forward to show off the prizes they had won. His sister’s hands were bound behind her back, a gag around her mouth, and a large Dobunnni with crystal blue eyes roughly dragged her to the edge of the boat to show her off. As the boat sailed out deeper and further, Brennus dashed across the stony beach.

     The third boat was overturned, but he pounded forward, water splashing up as his powerful legs fought the river. The water swirled around him, its ripples mocking him, as he waded deeper. The aquatic barrier around him hindered his progress and as the boat started to round the corner the large Dobunni looked back at him and smiled. Those piercing blue eyes with a teasing sparkle.

     He had failed.

The End

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