Thursday, 23 January 2020

Agricola's Bane by Nancy Jardine - Extract and Giveaway

A.D. 84 Northern Roman Britain Nith of Tarras helps Enya of Garrigill in the search for her kin, missing after the disastrous battle at Beinn na Ciche fought between the Caledonian warriors and the mighty Ancient Roman legions. Enya soon has a heartrending choice to make. Should she tread Vacomagi territory that’s swarming with Roman auxiliaries to find her brother? Or, should she head south in search of her cousin who has probably been enslaved by the Romans? 
The Commander of the Britannic Legions and Governor of Britannia – General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola – is determined to claim more barbarian territory for the Roman Empire, indeed plans to invade the whole island, but finds not all decisions are his to make. It increasingly seems that the goddess, Fortuna, does not favour him.
The adventures of the Garrigill clan continue..


A.D. 84 Northern Caledonia – Abhainn Caelis, Taexali and Vacomagi Border

Enya, Nith and Feargus have set out to find Enya’s missing brother and cousin, neither having been seen after the disastrous Battle at Beinn na Ciche between the Caledon Allies and the Roman Legions of General Agricola. Feargus has almost drowned crossing the River Caelis but as if that’s not bad enough something even more deadly is approaching…

A cry of alarm rang out across the water. They had been spotted. The pounding of feet increased, the pace of the Romans now at full-pelt.
Nith’s hand dragging her along, the three of them sprinted towards the cover of the nearest copse of trees, leaking water all the way. The thudding of spears behind her heels made her run all the harder.
The sudden jerk next to her broke her stride when Feargus slumped into her, his cry of agony muffling against her cloak. When she glanced at him, his limping was testimony to an injury.
“Pay it no heed,” he gasped trying to right himself.
Grabbing Feargus’ elbow, she drew him towards her and clamped him to her side. From that point on it was Nith who dragged their whole line forward, out of range of the Roman attack and into the shelter of the grove. Once he was well in, she felt Nith drop her hand. The relentless lugging at both shoulders stopped.
Feargus slumped to the ground precariously balancing on his left knee.
“I hate those Ceigean RĂ²manach! His voice grew weaker with each word as he keeled over onto his shoulder, his injured leg askew. “Kill some of them in my name.”
“Feargus!” Dropping to her knees, she cradled his head free of the rough ground. “Do not give them the satisfaction of slaying yet another of our numbers. You must be strong.”
Looking back to be sure the Romans hadn’t yet crossed the river, Nith crouched down beside her and inspected the damage done by the Roman pilum. The metal tip, and a short stretch of the wooden shaft, had gone straight through.
“We need to get it out, Enya, before we can move on. He cannot run otherwise.” Nith heaved, still out of breath but determined.
She had seen her Aunt Nara care for many a wound and knew what needed to be done. Pointing to the longer length of shaft, and taking a firmer hold of Feargus, her words were a grim whisper.
“Break it.”
Feargus snapped back at her. Agony laced each word. “Waste no more time on me. Make your own escape.”
When she wrenched her hands free of his shoulders, the look of despair in his eyes almost made her weep. Fumbling with the clasp of her dripping bratt she swung it free. Snagging a corner of the material she deftly twisted it into a thin rope. Thrusting the middle of it into Feargus’ mouth she pleaded with him. “Breathe through your nose. Do not let the Roman shite have the satisfaction of hearing your pain.”
When Feargus bit down on the gag with a suppressed squeal Nith used a small boulder to break off the wooden shaft as close to Feargus’ skin as possible. “Pull it out, Enya. Your fingers are defter than mine. I’ll steady him.”
Changing positions with Nith, she made sure to peel away any rough shards from the broken end, smoothing the wood as quickly as she could. Using her knife, she ripped off the edge of her tunic creating a strip for binding the leg. She had some knowledge of herbs to pack within the binding, but gathering them would need to wait till later. Staunching the blood would be her priority when she freed the spear tip.
Nith settled Feargus’ head in his lap and firmly grasped the injured man’s shoulders while Enya used her short blade to slit down the cloth of Feargus’ braccae. When the material flopped aside, she could see the spear had gone from back to front near the outer edge of his leg. She prayed to her Aunt Nara’s favourite goddess Rhianna that it had not made too much inner damage, and had missed shattering the bone. She would have prayed to her own favourite goddess, but she did not yet have one. She could not remember a time when it seemed a particular goddess favoured her with peace and healthy surroundings, so that final choice still eluded her.
After another glance at Nith to ensure he still had a firm clasp of Feargus’ shoulders, she gripped the metal tip and slowly prised the remaining shaft free of the wound.
Feargus’ muffled howl of pain did not deter her. Feeling his body jerk, she pinioned his leg to the ground with her own weight and ignored his cries while she concentrated on completing her task.

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1 comment

  1. Thank you for featuring the extract today! It's a pleasure to visit your blog.


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