Oppius adjusted his trousers again in the muggy heat, feeling ill at ease in his woollen barbarian clothes. Trousers were unnatural he considered. The skirt of a tunic felt more natural, manly. The centurion also felt uncomfortable wearing bits of barbarian jewellery. A man was not supposed to jangle as he walked along. He missed the feeling of his gladius hanging from his belt too. He was duly armed with a dagger and bow however.

"You look like a Briton," Fabius had remarked, whilst nodding in approval earlier that morning.


"I look like a complete c-"

"Convincing mercenary," Teucer remarked, cutting Oppius off.

Teucer naturally looked and felt more comfortable as he walked alongside his friend  -  and he permitted himself an ironic smile that morning when he changed into the garb of his native land.

Thankfully it had stopped raining. The two men walked, trying their best not to march, through a half-formed track in a wood and came out to look upon a lush valley. Lucius had to admit that Britain was an attractive and fertile land  -  or "a sometimes green and pleasant land," Teucer said.

"This is Kent. The garden of Britain," the archer remarked, not without a little pride, as he gazed across the valley.

"You're still clearly fond of this land."

"It's my home, for better or for worse."

"Why did you leave?"

"It's a long story."

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"It's a long walk."

Teucer, whose real name was Adiminus, was born into relative privilege in his tribe, being the youngest son of the region's chieftain.

"I was not the hardiest of children and my father took little notice of me, preferring to spend his energies on my elder brother, Caradog. They often hunted together. I was either too young or ill to join them. My mother doted upon her eldest son too. He was athletic and charismatic, although personally I grew to find him dull and often cruel. I was largely left to grow up by myself, although I possessed a curious mind and I would often spend time with visiting traders and craftsmen. Once I developed physically I also went off on my own and practised my archery. The harder you practise the luckier you get. Shortly after I came of age my father had a hunting accident, which left him crippled and bed-ridden. I began to spend a lot of time with him. Partly I felt sorry for my father and partly he grew to enjoy my company. He often asked me about the foreign ideas and stories that I had picked up from people who had visited the tribe over the years. I expressed to him how I wanted to one day leave the village and venture further afield, beyond Britain and Gaul even. He who knows only of the village knows nothing of the village, I somewhat conceitedly remarked to him. Trade and exchange, in the form of goods, skills and culture should be encouraged, I argued. Ideas should have sex with one another, to create new ideas. I dare say I sometimes bored myself with my zeal but my father I think was influenced by my arguments. He confided that he wanted me to succeed him as chieftain. "Don't be the chieftain I was," he confessed one time to me... Recognising how close father and I had become  -  and seeing that my father was perhaps positioning me to succeed him  -  my brother became envious and resentful towards me. I suspect that Caradog hated me even more because I was neither envious nor resentful of him at this time... My father died and Caradog accused me of poisoning him. His death was sudden and suspicious; there was no real evidence against me though. Yet my brother swiftly poisoned the tribe's minds against me and I was banished. My mother and a number of the tribal elders interceded to stop my being condemned to death... I think about it nigh on every day, whether my brother planned to have my father killed and to implicate me  -  but at the end of each day I'm no closer to discovering the truth."

"Do you want revenge?" Oppius asked, thinking as much about his own father's death as Teucer's. He would sharpen, rather than bait, his sword if ever he encountered the man who had murdered him. And then challenge him in single combat.

"I would much rather just have my father back," the archer replied, with a gentle but mournful expression on his face.

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