In the following excerpt Lorcan of the Brigantes attempts to explain why Nara of the Selgovae is vital to his plan to bring some unity amongst the normally warring Celtic tribes of the north, in order to repel the Roman advances in A.D. 71 Britannia.
The sadness in his voice touched her, but Nara refused to mark its relevance. “Your father is nothing to me.”
“He will be. Listen and heed.” His command sought her co-operation. “My brother Arian was two winters older than me. Our clan held him in high esteem, and he was likely to replace my father at the coming Beltane rites. Certainly well before the Brigante High Council, at Samhain, when the weather turns cold and frost sets in.”
Empathising with his genuine sadness, Nara’s response was careful. “I had nothing to do with Arian’s death. I commiserate, but I did not know him.”
“That you listen is all I ask.” Riveting looks relayed his strength of purpose. “Now is a time when all Celtic tribes must work together. The Brigantes confederation is large in numbers, and we are spread over a huge area, but it is vital we join forces with other tribes to repel the Roman threat. That means we must make peace with our neighbours.”
“You seek the impossible, Lorcan.” Her answer was derisive, but she needed him to appreciate she was not fooled into believing him. “How do you expect to achieve peace? We have been enemies for time immemorial, yet you expect accord at your command.”
“It must not be impossible, Nara. We must join forces. It is the only solution for our whole way of life to be safeguarded. We must be in accord, standing together, when we confront the Romans.”
Lorcan’s voice rose dangerously, passion flaring with every utterance. Firm fortitude set his features in a grim mask, yet Nara found she was not cowed by it; rather she was impressed by his stubborn persistence. The man was indeed a worthy enemy. Lorcan slowed their horses to a walk when they skirted the edge of a forest.
“We have no time to waste, Nara. They march on us even now.”
“Though you ignored me, I listened well to your talk with Gyptus. Your warriors brace themselves for conflict with the Romans, but I heard no mention of your plans for allying yourself with tribes such as the Selgovae.” She shook her head remembering her failed attempt to pass on the information to her father. “There was no talk of making peace with my tribe, but now you tell me these ambitious plans of yours.” Her voice rose, agitation mounting. “I am your enemy, yet I seem to be told more of your plans than your faithful warriors. Why me, and why now?”
Lorcan looked as exasperated as she felt. “What you say is not true. I discussed this with Gyptus, and the other warriors, when you were with Lleia. Nara, do you not see we are the answer?”
“The answer to what? Now you have lost me, Lorcan. Explain!”
“Explain?” The strain again building up between them was broken by his sudden laughter. His voice mimicked her terse tones. “Now you speak like a true Selgovaen princess. I will explain, but first make me understand why your father holds you worthless.”
Nara stared ahead feeling her jaw lock, unwilling to answer him. Yet, when Lorcan’s tone softened, it was difficult to maintain resistance.
“You protest this fervently, Nara. Make me understand.”
If he had commanded she would not have, but the appeal in his voice broke down her reserve. Still, she procrastinated.
“Say what you will first, Lorcan.”
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