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Frank James

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The Kelt
by Frank James   

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Books by Frank James
· The Sword in the Wilderness
· The Two Edged Sword
· Return to Ladybower
· Nuptial Pact
· The Sword Couchant
                >> View all


Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Saga Books ISBN-10:  1894936159 Type: 


Copyright:  Jun 1 2003 ISBN-13:  9781894936156

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Saga Books

A lone name stands out against a backdrop of the Pax Romana. A gallic prince who dared to challenge the might of Rome in the pugnacious stance of Julius Caesar, his name, Vercingetorix. Here he is fleshed out and portrayed in his magnificence, as a man, a lover and a rebel prince.

The Kelt Chapter 15.... Vercingetorix had not discussed the Aeduan visitors with any, at least not more than to say he merely wished to hear about how Rome dealt with them. So it was that the usual four were sitting around a night fire, that Gobannitio asked him. "My son, there has been much speculation abroad on the recent visit of the Aedui." "Swine." Dvorian interjected quietly. Yvain leaned over and pushed him sharply on the shoulder causing him to spill his wine. Dvorian snarled, equally as playfully and hit back. Gobannitio flicked a glance to their horseplay and continued with. "Did you learn anything to our advantage?" Vercingetorix used their funning to delay answering his foster father. His eyes held the two who pushed and sported until long after they settled. The night, kindly dark, the summer though gone was followed by an unusually warm autumn. Here and there a late fire could be seen with groups of men seated around it. Many of the women were already abed or singing softly to a fussing child. Miriatne had trouble with Donnagh who discovered his first major trial as a human being in the form of teething. She finally shooed away Vercingetorix's many offers for help and he was now relegated to sharing a fire with his friends. He did not want to answer his foster father but he knew he would have to, as Gobannitio pressed again. "Many say, that to trust the Aedui is as tricky as salting pork before you catch the pig." He grinned and looked to the two who once again began baiting one another, they too grinned then Yvain said. "A salted Aeduan or a salted pig, who could tell the difference?" Giggling at his own joke. Dvorian laughed and said. "I could, I would spit out the Aeduan." They both fell to laughing and Gobannitio coughed lightly to draw his son's attention again. "Well my son, did you learn anything from them, do you propose to ally or give in to Rome." His foster son turned a narrowed eye to him. "What do you think of Julius Caesar, father?" "Why, from what I remember of him he was a strong man, somewhat fanatical for Rome." "Did my father care for him?" Gobannitio stared, where was this leading, seldom was Celtillus mentioned. He stirred uncomfortably flicking a glance to the other two who now quieted, he answered. "Your father trusted few men." "He was right in that, wouldn't you say?" His voice even, despite the tilt to his eyebrow. Gobannitio looked away, he had not wanted Celtillus as king of all Gaul any more than they who slew him, but he had not wanted his wife's brother dead either. Vercingetorix's eyes were on him coolly and the other two ceased their play fighting as they paid attention to the serious tone that now courted the firelight. "Celtillus had ambition." Vercingetorix smiled coldly. "So too does Caesar. Shall we kill him for it, uncle?" "He is a Roman, he is not of our concern." "He is a Roman who wants Gaul, we kill Gauls who want Gaul. Perhaps we should seek to extend that obligation." "He is a madman, he wants to conquer the whole earth. He is mad." "Celtillus did not want the whole earth, uncle, just this small part of it. He is dead and he was not mad, but ambitious. Caesar is both ambitious and mad, you say, yet we will not kill him." Gobannitio did not like it when his foster son remembered his father in this way. There played a slight smile of menace around Vercingetorix's lips, they curled unpleasantly as he said. "I tell you Gobannitio, that for one mad act, a man is remembered as a fool, for many, as a hero. Celtillus was mad to think that the Arverni would hail him king of all Gaul, yet Caesar's madness earns him the laurel wreath of Rome. How then do we Keltoi honor our valiant? With the wreath or the stake?" Gobannitio stammered, lost for words, then silenced. Yvain spoke quietly into the tense pause and in the quiet of the night the sincerity of his strong voice struck home to the other three. "In Celtillus we lost our bravest and our best. No Roman could ever come close to his valor, no matter how many wreaths he wears." Vercingetorix felt sad, it was to him a comfort that his foster brother remembered his father the way he did. Gobannitio began again hoping to change the subject back to his theme. "But the Aeduani, what of them?" Vercingetorix looked to his foster father again, narrowed his eyes against a sudden wisp of smoke and said. "They love Caesar, they are Gauls but they love Caesar. What, my uncle, do you think of them?" "That they are dangerous to ally with." "Yes, dangerous,... and necessary." "Then you will, you will trust them?" His foster son turned back to the fire and said. "To fight Rome, we will need every man of Gaul, even the Aeduani." "Then you do think to war, to fight Rome?" Again he lifted his face to the man who had raised him and Yvain. "I think, to freedom, freedom to be who we are, to not have the boot of any man resting on our necks. I think, to keeping this land free from any who would exact tribute of it who has never lived, loved or laughed in it. I think, to burying our dead without let or hindrance and to raising our stock for our own gain. I think, to watching the sun die without dreading the cold because I have no cloak for another has taken it. You have a wife, how do you think the Romans would assess her beautiful hair, her elegant form? They are takers and users. Already below the mountains there are Gauls who have cut their hair, have become, Roman, civilized. I tell you this, that if Rome survives for another thousand years they will never know the soft luxury of the freedom we know now. To ride the wild turf and break through the tall winds of our home. To stretch out our hands in largesse or take back that which is taken from us. We know the soft touch of our women without the dread of some other taking them. The laughter of our children as they play in security. There is no hand to our backs, no sword to our bellies. We sleep sound for our strength and peacefully dream. This is what I think, Gobannitio, that this life, this love that I have, is worth fighting for"  

"I tell you Gobannitio, that for one mad act, a man is remembered as a fool, for many, as a hero. Celtillus was mad to think that the Arverni would hail him king of all Gaul, yet Caesar's madness earns him the laurel wreath of Rome. How then do we Keltoi honor our valiant? With the wreath or the stake?"

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