Emotions welled up within him; sorrow, anger and frustration. But the emotion that consumed him most of all was the overwhelming sense of guilt. He had not protected his sister.
Eyes remaining fixed on the river bend, even though the Dobunni were long gone, his legs felt weak as the water flowed onwards; its passage never ending. The world around him seemed like a dream, as if he had been struck a blow into his very being. There was an odd silence, despite the battle he knew was still going on. Stunned and dazed he stood in shock as a muffled noise sounded by his ear.
Dreamily turned his head.
Strong jaw and thick brow it was one of the warriors; a name he couldn’t put his finger on.
And he was yelling something.
Trying to focus, Brennus finally managed to draw sense.
As reality rushed back to Brennus’ mind, he realised his arms had been hanging limply at his side and his spear had dropped to the floor, lying on the sheet of smooth stones. Crouching, he picked it up, the fellow warrior waiting anxiously.
“Your father is injured!” The man had obviously told Brennus several times but only now the message rang home. Jogging alongside each other, they headed toward the end scene where the third boat now lay, pulled aground on the shore.
Several bodies floated in the water, red ink spilling from them to form clouds that drifted downstream. One of the oars gently bumped against a corpse as their trip down river brought them together. On the pebbles, several fallen Celt lay, mainly the Dobunni. Sprawled like rag dolls, their punishment for the raid had been severe. One Silure was propped up against the side of the boat, his teeth clenched as he clasped his bleeding shoulder, fingers digging in tight to defeat the pain.
But they ignored all these as they reached several warriors crowded together, unsure of what to do, looking more like lost lambs than fearsome killers. Grim faces looked up as Brennus drew near, pushing his way through to see his father.
Straight away it was clear that he was dying. A spear was stuck in his chest, the shaft having been snapped off, probably to move the chief. The iron head had plunged in deeply and it was a wonder the old man wasn’t dead already. His skin was drenched in blood, red rivulets running down the sides of his torso likely sticky tendrils, his face a mask of agony. Dropping down beside him, Brennus grasped the hand his father offered, fists locking together in a closeness that could never be broken.
“Brennus. Your sister?”
Fighting back tears, adamant not to show any more weakness in front of his men, Brennus looked deep into his father’s eyes, “It’s all sorted.” He lied, refusing to let Dafydd’s lost moments be lost in misery, “We drove them away.”
Closing his eyes, the noble Celt’s chest rose in a gentle sigh, settling into silence.