60 AD Ch. 01byVlinder_Fawn©
(This story is spread over several chapters.
It will contain explicit sex scenes and it will have vampires. But neither will appear for the first few chapters)
Utta turned to see the last of the tents collapse under the attack from the Roman catapult. Already most of the village was in flames with screams of the dying filling the air. News had already spread of Boadicea's revolt and this had forced the invaders to crush any further rebellion.
Running as fast as she could Utta saw a Roman soldier ending the life of an old man who had lived in Regulbium all his life and been part of her life since the day she was born. The sword severed his carotid artery in one swift movement causing a fountain of blood to spurt into the air accompanied by the sound of the old man's scream and gurgling.
Utta's life with her family at Regulbium (modern day Reculver) was about to come to a swift and tragic end. The youngest of two daughters born to her father Wenham and mother Edwina, Utta was brought up with her sister Hildred and five brothers.
While Hildred was every inch a young lady Utta was always a tomboy urchin who played with boys and often beat them at their own games. One day, when she was twelve, her father asked her when she was going to be more like her sister and take an interest in her appearance and begin to think about marrying and raising a family of her own.
Utta cut all discussion short by saying quickly "Dad, you know that's not me. I wasn't born for that." Before her father could respond she had gone outside, picked up a wooden sword and began play fighting with her brothers and other boys disarming one eighteen year old and forcing him to yield. Wenham knew he would have to bend to pressure and accept his youngest daughter would never be one to submit to a man as husband especially as she preferred carpentry to cookery and fencing to dancing.
The Romans were part of life and although they had established a castle and settlement in Regulbium the indigenous population had little cause for fear. There were always rumours that when the legions marched on route to the north they would take some of the fittest men as slaves and the attractive women for the brothels but this never happened in Regulbium where things remained stable apart from the undercurrent of resentment common to all occupied communities.
When the revolt of Boadicea took place all that changed. Suddenly the invaders appeared vulnerable. To stop the situation getting out of control while the governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was leading a campaign on the island of Anglesey the Romans imposed their will on other communities including Regulbium. Food supplies were cut, fighting men dragged away to either be slaves or gladiators, and women were raped before being taken to the citadel in Rutupiæ (modern day Richborough) where they would entertain the troops with their bodies.
Wenham tried to get his boys into hiding but was thwarted by the swiftness of the Roman advance. Utta watched in horror as her father was overpowered and she saw her sister taken away onto the back of a centurion's horse. Grabbing a stone she placed it in her sling and in one strike killed the soldier instantly with a direct hit onto the back of his head. But it was already too late, another soldier grabbed Hildred onto his mount and Utta never saw her sister again. Drawing a sword she came to her father's rescue by courageously taking on and killing two soldiers who were trying to tie him up. In the frenzy she heard a scream and saw her mother emerge from the tent bloodied and dying from a stab wound in the back. Her father looked on in horror just before receiving a fatal stab wound to the chest.
Utta didn't have time to grieve She had to try to rescue her siblings, yet fighting with all her might and bravery she was to be the only member of her family who remained free after the terrible carnage. Making her way towards the sea Utta passed many corpses of her own people and a few Romans. Not quite fifteen years old she was not used to the stench of death but she knew she would have to get used to it.
Remembering her father had always warned her that if she ever fell foul of the Romans she would be captured and raped before either being forced to be a bed slave, or more likely as a fighter she would be forced to entertain her captors in the arena. Recalling his advice that if she was ever on the run, separated from her home, she would have to try to sleep during the day and move and hunt by night. She tried to put this advice into practice making her way round the coast to Dubris hiding in the hills and cliffs, finding what refuge she could in caves and holes.
By the time Utta was seventeen years old news of Boadicea's suicide had demoralised the Britons and encouraged the Romans to push on in breaking up the remaining British settlements. Already hardened by her ordeal Utta was used to living a solitary life knowing she would never have anywhere she could call home. She had to keep away from the Romans at all costs.
Looking out from the cliff top Utta watched as yet another Roman fleet arrived bringing more soldiers to the port. Heavy rain was falling and many roads were impassable. The heavy sky lit up and a bolt of lightning crashed to earth, sending a small avalanche of rocks cascading down the hill into the path of a small band of Romans. Instinctively, Utta jumped behind a boulder to avoid being seen but as she did so the rain increased and the lightening crashed, again and again, while she felt a definite tingle in her flesh caused by the electricity in the air.
Sensing someone near her Utta felt her muscles tense for either fight or flight. Maybe the Romans had sent a scouting party into the hills or perhaps there was another Briton seeking refuge in the hills that centuries later would be known as the "White Cliffs of Dover". As another thunder bolt crashed she saw the small Roman party run into a nearby cave. For once, they, like their conquered people, were subject to a higher authority. Even the mighty Romans could not fight nature.
Utta heard another noise behind her and immediately reached down for a stone. Placing it in her sling, she prepared to defend herself. Then, she heard a voice, a woman's voice, speaking in her own language, "No, don't. Please." She froze on the spot and looked round.
Utta answered "The Romans are hiding." she said quietly, "Come to me." She heard a rustle and then saw a young woman approaching, her long dark hair clinging to her small, tanned face, held there by the rain. About 5ft tall, slim and clothed in just a short, torn and faded yellow dress held closed by a belt which held a dagger. Appearing to be about twenty years old, she was about three years older than Utta.
"It's ok, we are both Britons. We are stronger together." Looking at the girl through the blinding rain, she asked her name.
"Denua, I'm Denua. I've escaped from my village on the Dubris Road. The Romans came burning, killing, raping and showing no mercy. Some of us made it into the hills but the legions pursued us and took out the men before capturing the women. I found a cave and hid there for two nights. Only hunger and the storm brought me out." As she spoke another clap of thunder fell and the scene lit up in the light of the flare.
Utta shook her dark red hair as she looked in sympathy at her new fellow survivor. Long thick strands drenched in the rain clung to her face and through her green eyes she showed sympathy. Utta was over six feet tall and it was obvious to her that she would tower over Denua when they both stood up. Utta was clothed a leather top and skirt which clung to her waist through a belt which held her dagger, sling, and a larger sword.
The rain had soaked her top so much it was clinging to her flesh and her nipples had moulded the material around their peaks. "My name is Utta." she replied, "the Romans destroyed my home too, murdered my parents, took our home and set it on fire." She looked at Denua and asked her softly "Have you eaten?"
Denua shook her head as Utta reached into a bag and produced some flat, sodden bread. "It's not much and it is probably turning green but it will have some good bits left." She was amazed as the girl almost snatched it out of her hand and ate it as fast as she could, green bits as well as the good parts. "Wow, you must have been hungry!"
"I'm sorry." Denua replied, "...my parents ..." She hesitated, remembering they were almost certainly dead. "My parents would have been ashamed of me." The thought of what had probably happened to all the people she knew and loved overwhelmed her and she began to sob.
Instinctively, Utta drew her new friend to her and tried to bring her comfort. She too knew the pain of overwhelming sense of loss and impending doom. "There is some food in that cave. The only problem is that it's full of Romans. Any ideas?"
"How many are there?" Denua asked. "If there are many we don't have a chance." She looked towards Utta for answers but only got a shrug of the shoulder. "Is there anywhere else we can get food?"
Utta looked deeply into her new friend's eyes trying to gather her thoughts together for an answer. "I don't know, and, how many? Hmmm...Three, maybe six." Seeing Denua's face fall she said softly, "Bad idea ... sorry."
Just then, another clap of thunder sounded and the earth shook as rain cascaded down the hillside bringing mud and stones with it. Looking down they saw one of the Romans looking up from the cave. "He's seen us!" said Denua in panic. "He knows we are here!"
"But, he isn't likely to come after us in this storm, is he?" Utta sought to reassure her friend. "We still have time to plan something." The lightening fell again and the immediate clap of thunder shook the hills as it echoed to and fro "Let's make it up the hill, away from here." Utta suggested. "We can think better when we know there is a bigger distance between us and them."
The girls slowly made their way up the hill their progress hindered by their rain-soaked clothes and as they were slipping and sliding in the clinging mud they struggled to help each other. Reaching the top, they found a cave that looked as though it had not been used for some time.
Utta signalled to Denua to wait while she carefully made her way in. A new flash of lightning lit up the interior and she thought she saw someone in there. Drawing her dagger from her belt, she tried to pierce the darkness. Suddenly, there was someone at her back trying to pull her to the ground. Next, she felt herself being grabbed by someone else from the front and a third person held a blade to her throat. As this happened, she heard Denua screaming at the entrance and knew they were both under attack. Twisting herself around, Utta managed to loosen the hold of the attacker on her back and threw them forward to hit and dislodge the one at her front.
The hand at her throat tried to stab her but she managed to block with her own dagger before turning the tables and holding the knife at her attacker's throat. As she held firm she saw a lighted torch come from the back of the cave held aloft by a woman of about thirty years old, tall with dark thick hair and deep brown eyes that sparkled in the light of the flame from the torch.
"What's happening?" The woman asked in a deep British voice "Who are you?" She asked, looking at Utta. "And who is that outside with you?" The scuffles were still going on outside but it was clear Denua was winning the battle even if she was outnumbered. "CEASE!" the stranger woman ordered and the noise outside stopped. Looking at Utta she said "So, are you going to kill my sister or are we going to talk? We thought you were Romans."
Denua entered the cave and saw Utta still holding the blade in the light of the torch. "We aren't Romans any more than you are. All we were looking for was somewhere to hide until the storm passed by. There are Romans at the bottom of the hill but not many of them." Turning to Utta she said "I think we are safe. You can let her go."
Looking down Utta saw she was holding a young girl about her own age who looked terrified. Holding her tighter, she said "They attacked us, remember? She's our bargaining tool. I let her go and we have nothing."
"Of course they attacked us. For all they knew we were Romans trying to capture them. Let her go." Denua pleaded with her friend.
"How do we know they aren't working for the Romans? Come to think of it how do I know you are not a Roman collaborator trying to capture me? I've only just met you! You could have been sent by that small party hiding below." Utta answered as yet another bolt of lightning illuminated all around them.
The woman with the torch bent low so her face was alongside Utta's. "I'm Vala, leader of these women. If you don't believe me, look at my forehead." She moved her hair to show a brand mark that had been placed there made up of the letters 'FUG'. "I am the daughter of Gaufrid, leader of the village of Somer just outside Castra. The Romans came three years ago and wiped us out killing our men and raping the women. I was captured and given to a Roman Legionnaire to be his bed slave. I was so much trouble he branded me with this sign. It means 'Fugitivus', a trouble maker. I was to be taken to the market and sold along with many other women but the resistance attacked the caravan and freed us. We have been in the hills ever since".
Utta looked at the mark which had deeply scarred an otherwise beautiful woman for life and relaxed her grip on the one she was holding. Vala continued, "Since then we have been joined by other women and together we have been a thorn in the flesh of the Romans. Something tells me you and your friend would be a welcome addition to our ranks".
Denua urged Utta, "Please, let her go, you can see she is no threat to us. Maybe this is our future now. I know I want to join, I have nothing else to live for and neither do you!"
Vala stood up and smiled at Denua before turning to Utta "What are we going to do? Do the Roman's dirty work for them? Go ahead; kill our sister if you want to." The young girl screamed with fright. Vala continued, paying no heed to the frightened cry, "Make it easier for our enemy. Or release her and fight alongside us. The choice is yours."
Utta hesitated for a moment and then released her grip on the young woman and threw her dagger down on the ground.
"SEIZE THEM!" Vala shouted and instantly several women jumped on Denua and Utta and bound their hands behind their backs.
Startled, Utta said quietly and accusingly "What treachery is this? I ... we trusted you ..."
Her words were cut short by Vala "SILENCE! You'll speak when you are spoken to. Search them" she commanded as Utta and Denua were pushed to the ground.
"Only a couple of weapons and some crumbs left over from some bread." A young voice said. "If they are Roman spies they are showing little sign of it."
Utta had had enough. "Roman Spies? Is that what you think we are? I'd rather die than help those pigs!"
"Oh, that can be arranged quite simply." Vala responded. "One more word out of either of you unless you are spoken to and I'll do it myself." Turning to another woman in the shadows she barked, "Theode, take them into the cave, chain them and feed them. We must show our guests some hospitality while we check out those Romans they said they saw in the valley."
The storm raged on through the night and at times it seemed to Denua and Utta that they had been abandoned to starve to death. But just as dawn seemed to be breaking they heard a commotion at the entrance. Vala came in followed by the other women dragging a container behind them. Looking at Utta she said "You were right, there were Romans in the cave down there. But, there aren't any more... Not LIVE ones anyway. And, you were right in saying that they were few in number so it didn't take long to dispatch them."
Laughter echoed around the cave. Opening the container, she showed it contained swords, spears, shields and plenty of food included salted meat and fresh bread. "This should keep us going for the next few weeks." Turning to one of the women who obviously came from Africa she said, "Release them." Looking at Utta and Denua, she continued, "We had to be sure you weren't sent to spy on us. But you wouldn't have been linked with that small group. Come, eat with me."
Utta and Denua stood up and joined Vala. "It's up to you." Vala said as she handed them each a portion of bread. "You can join us if you wish or you can try and escape and make it on your own. If you stay you must accept that this will only end one way. We will attack and defy Rome for as long as we can but one day we will fall. We all think it's better to die an honourable death fighting for our liberty than becoming slaves to some Roman pig. It's up to you; you're both welcome to join us if you wish."
Utta looked to Denua and said, "I can't speak for her, but I have nowhere to go, count me in." Denua stood up and nodded agreement.
"Then we must be on our way" said Vala. "That little patrol we've killed off will be reported missing any moment now. Now the storm has ended the Romans will come looking for them. We must be long gone by then."
Within minutes the women had gathered their belongings and packed them away. Moving out, they climbed the remainder of the hill and made their way along the summit until they came to a ridge. There, Vala cupped her hands and made a whistling noise that was replied to further down. Responding again, she led the women to an entrance to another cave that was well obscured behind some rocks and bushes. "I'll take the first watch while you all settle in." She said quietly. "Later we will rotate."
So, it was that thirty two women, escapees from Roman malice hid in caves in the region of Cantus (modern day Southern England) that provided both shelter and natural water while they waited for the next opportunity to attack their conquerors.