60 AD Ch. 03byVlinder_Fawn©
During the next year the women inflicted defeat after defeat on the Romans and Jonas was summoned to see the Governor. "I won't tolerate it, the Emperor won't tolerate, and you shouldn't tolerate it!" Maximus said firmly as soon as he and Jonas had exchanged the normal courtesy. "You are allowing a group of women to make a mockery of the Roman Army. I want this Utta in chains by the end of the year and I want her band wiped out. I then want to hear no more of her or anyone like her."
"Putting her in chains would be simple." Jonas replied "Finding her, that's the difficult part. Those hills are honeycombed with caves and hiding places, some we would never find."
"This is not the Senate or a debating chamber" said Maximus "Take as many men as you need, and do anything, ANYTHING" he emphasised "to bring this to an end." Jonas saluted and left the governor's quarters.
Despite extensive searches and a continued stream of new soldiers arriving and blockading the valley there was no success in capturing Utta or her band of women. Small victories were chalked up when a woman warrior fell in battle but it seemed that whenever one fell two more would start again.
Jonas was at his wits end when he launched a raid on Durovernum Cantiacorum (modern day Canterbury). Capturing many women and children he was about to arrange for their shipment back to Rome when a commander, Nigellus, who had fought under Titus in Gaufrida, came forward with an idea. "Hold the women and children hostage and threaten to execute some daily until Utta surrenders herself to you. News will reach the women and she will feel compelled to surrender. Once we have their leader in chains the rest of the women will disband".
Jonas frowned "I'm a Roman Soldier. I don't murder children."
Nigellus smiled at Jonas "The Governor's orders are for you to capture Utta alive and bring her to him. You only need to threaten to kill or execute. Trust me; you won't have to carry out the threat. The Governor wants to train her to fight in the arena. Your reward will be instant promotion and a place in the Imperial Guard." As the two men exchanged salutes Nigellus smiled at Jonas "And there is one other reward you can take immediately you capture her. Rumour has it she is a beauty and still a virgin."
"Not for much longer then!" Jonas joked. "Tell the Governor he will have her in chains before the winter." He hesitated "But he might have to wait before he can place her in the arena. Pregnant women don't make good gladiators."
Three days later Nigellus emerged from his tent and threw a woman down before Jonas' feet. Her dress had been almost torn from her, her dark hair covered in dust and dried blood round her mouth where she had been beaten. "She's one of Utta's women. She was captured yesterday and she knows the way to where she hides. Poor girl, I don't think she had ever seen a cock before." Both men laughed. "I suggest you set her free. Don't follow her; just let her go with this written message to Utta of what we are going to do to our captives. Within hours your enemy will be in your hands. Enjoy her."
The woman, Zelda, was one of the lookouts who had disappeared a few days before. This was not an uncommon event as it was a dangerous role and many of the lookout women had been killed by Roman archers. On her release Zelda made her way into the hills until she was spotted by another lookout, Raven. Ensuring they were not being followed Raven led the tired abused woman to an outer cave where she handed her over to an escort who took her to the warrior camp just as Utta was finishing addressing the women about another raid she had planned.
Utta looked at Zelda and her heart went out to her in sympathy. She had obviously been subjected to a degrading attack from the Romans.
Hearing what was going to happen to the people of Durovernum Cantiacorum unless she surrendered herself to the Romans Utta called the women together. "Those pigs are about to commit genocide, they are going to murder the innocents of Durovernum Cantiacorum unless I surrender myself. "Do you recall Vala's words to me when I joined your band of warriors?" Those women who had survived the past years nodded. Utta continued "You will recall she said, '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'. I think the time may have come for me to die."
Turning to look around her she said "I intend to surrender myself tonight. Here's the plan. I go there tonight, alone and hand myself over. The following night the rest of you under the command of Denua mount an attack at sunset. Denua's duty is to rescue as many of the hostages as possible and hide them. By then I will be dead but Denua will be your new leader. Do not allow yourselves to be captured." Utta then commanded the women to sleep in preparation for the evening.
On waking Utta washed and changed into her battle leathers of short skirt and a top that moulded round her body supporting her breasts. "I intend to meet my death clothed appropriately" she joked "at least they will know it's me", Having given instructions for the other women to care for Zelda Utta placed a large dagger in her belt and made her way down towards the Roman encampment.