Part One: Early 5th Century Ireland
It was a beautiful day, the birds were out, there was a cool breeze blowing, and all around, one could tell that spring was in the air. The thin, white, ex-Roman slave girl, Caitlin walked through the woods along an old, and now, hardly recognizable trail. She liked to go out and just enjoy the woods. This also gave her a chance to spend time with her Savior. She spotted a little fawn at the edge of a small Brooke. She crept in closer for a better look. She began to creep, ever so cautiously, her attention now fully focused on the small creature. Its ears poked up, so she stopped and froze for a moment, until it went back to what it was doing. She got closer, and then.. ROARRR! A black man with funky hair jumped down from the trees right in front of her. It was her good friend Tully! She pushed him in the chest
"Curses, Tully! That was not funny!" she said, with a grin on her face, but still trying to catch her breath from being startled. The dear was now gone.
"Hey, why don't you come on back to town with me, there's this new guy there I want you to meet. He's Jewish, I think."
Hmm, Interesting, thought Caitlin. So she went with Tully back to the village where they lived. Their good friend, Connor, Caitlin's lover, was there waiting for them when they got back.
The young blonde prince took Caitlin in his arms and kissed her on the lips,
"Hey there, we've been waiting for you two, come-on, there's someone you should meet."
"Okay," said Caitlin.
He led her by the hand to the other end of the village where their other friend Fergus was talking with another man. Fergus was a rather tall man. Bald, with a long dark mustache, Fergus was an old friend of Connor's family, and was his father's champion when he was still alive.
"Ah, Caitlin!" This is Gideon, He's from Europe" He said, introducing her to the other man with which he had been talking.
"Hello, there," said the Jewish man
"Hello, I am Caitlin," said she.
"I was just telling Aaron here what an 'interesting' place this can be, heheh"
"Oh, it does get rather interesting sometimes," said Caitlin" with a slight smile on her face.
"So, I hear you where found as a slave of the Romans? That must have been tough," said Gideon.
"Yeah," said Caitlin, not really wanting to talk about it much.
"So there is a Roman queen on this island then?" asked Gideon.
"Oh aye," chuckled Fergus, " She's what ya might call interesting. Haha!"
"I imagine," said Aaron" "So do you people actually live under her control then?"
"Heheh! No, no, she's got a small Roman post that she uses to keep trade with the empire." Replied Fergus, "We don't get much trouble out of her anymore. But this new general, Cornelius.. he makes me a little uneasy. I'm not too sure he's quite satisfied with the situation over here on our island."
"Fergus, I already told you," said Conner, "the Romans have given up on Ireland, and with Longenus gone, there's no need for Queen Diana to bother us".
"I dunno.." said Fergus.
Conner just looked away. He said to Gideon "Hey, we are about to go over there now, we need to get some things for the village. Would you like to come with us?"
"Why certainly!" said he.
So they journeyed to the fort where Diana now stayed.
Meanwhile, Diana was having some trouble herself. What do you mean, 'they have to know the situation here?" shouted the lovely thin, dark-haired Queen.
The messenger replied, "A direct message from General Cornelius, says that you must give a report on the situation with the inhabitants of this island."
"Why?" she asked, confused.
"Because he will be coming here himself in a matter of weeks," he replied.
"Ok! Just leave me!" She said. Oh, this is not good… She thought. Over the past two years, she had somehow managed to make peaceful ties with the locals, after Longinus had bean "taken car of" by Conner, things had settled down, and now, Conner's goal of uniting the clans of the island to bring them together to help defend against the Romans was coming true.. Diana was Roman, but deep down she did find Conner kind of cute, and found herself somewhat attracted to him, even still. Besides, she was the one who was really in control of these "heathens". At least, that is, that's what she thought.
"Open the Gate!" a guardsman shouted, "It's prince Conner!"
As Conner and the two men walked into the small town, they could smell the scents of fruits and incense that had been brought in from the Empire.
"Fergus, would you like to get the things we need," asked Conner, "I'll show our new friend to the Queen."
"Very well," said Furgus.
They walked into Diana's room. She looked at the Jewish man for a moment and then gave Conner a look. Conner quickly took her aside, where upon she said:
"What do mean, bringing HIM here?"
"Look," said Conner, taking her aside, "He's a new friend, ok? He probably left Rome and came to this area for a reason-hmm!.?" He said, as he gave her a stirn look.
"Don't You forget who runs things around here" she said, but quickly regretted it. She turned and quickly changed the subject. "Conner, we've got bigger problems. I just got news that General Cornelius himself will be arriving here in a matter of weeks."
"What?" well, what does he want to come here for?" asked Conner "I don't know.
Apparently, he doesn't trust that I can run things around here by my self."
Conner said, "Okay, we'll figure something out.." He turned to Gideon, "Oh! Forgive me! Gideon, this is Queen Diana. Diana, this is my friend Gideon.
"A pleasure to meet you," he said. "I have been looking forward to meeting you for quite some time."
"I'm sure you have" she said, with her best fake smile.
They met back up with Fergus near the gate. As they walked out, Conner began to explain things to Fergus.
"..Yes, Fergus," he said, with a frustrated tone, "You were right." He said, rolling his eyes. He turned to Gideon: "Look," he said, "this probably isn't the best time for you to be here. As you may have heard, the General Cornelius is coming here in a matter of weeks, there is a great battle coming."
"I will stay," said the Jew, looking around, "I have rather grown to like this place," said he. "Perhaps I can help you all," he said.
They continued on until they reached the village. When they got there, Molly was there. Molly was the daughter of Fergus. With long brown hair that had a hint of reddish color to it. She had lovely brown eyes; she was slightly younger than Connor. At first, one would think her sweet and soft as a girl child, but deep down, she was strong and sturdy, "like a peach", as her father had once said, and she had an adventurous spirit, much like his. Molly came up to visit them when they arrived.
"Molly," said Fergus, "go find Caitlin and Tully, we have things to discuss."
"Is something wrong?" she asked.
Conner took her aside, and in a lower tone, explained the situation. She was surprised, but before she left, she did take the opportunity to get a look at the interesting looking stranger. She darted off to get the others.
She came back a little later with the others. Gideon went to her and introduced himself:
"Greetings, I am Gideon. I apologize for not having had the chance to introduce myself before."
She smiled sweetly at him: "I am Molly," she said to the dark skinned man with the beard. Soon, Molly's mother, Agrona, a lovely blonde woman, now had dinner ready. They all gathered around the table.
"Ok," said Conner, "We've got a major problem on our hands. I talked to Diana just today, and it seems General Cornelius himself is planning to come here to Ireland."
"I knew it!" said Tully. "I knew that Cornelius was trouble right from the start!."
"Well, now we have to decide what to do," said Conner.
Caitlin spoke up. "If the Romans see that Diana has everything under control, won't they just go and leave it to her again?"
"That is one option," said Conner, "just put on a front for the Romans and act like we are completely under her rule, just for the time they are here. Then, hopefully they will leave us again, and we can go about our business again. Unfortunately, that may not work with most of the people here, Ireland is a very proud and independent land, and most of the people may not warm up to the idea. The second option, which may be far more popular, but much less practical, would be open war against the Romans, including against Diana. I do not want that to happen. We have endured far too much already! I'm tired of all the fighting. I grow sick of all these battles, and all this struggling. We were just managing to bring the clans together. (Sigh!)" "Well, my friend, as much as I hate to bring it up," said Fergus, "there may yet be far more to come. Like you said, many people will really hate the idea of submitting to the Romans, even if it is just an act. And then there will be others who would prefer to go with your idea of putting up a front for the Romans."
Molly said, "Why don't you let me take some of the druids and go through the various towns and try to negotiate with them." (for she had trained as a druid for a time). "The important thing, though, is that we try to keep all of the clans united."
"Yes," said Caitlin "Jesus once said: 'A nation divided against itself can never stand'"
"That is true," said Conner. He looked to Gideon and said: "What about you, you have not said anything yet. Do have any ideas?"
Gideon replied: "All I can say is, be careful with your nation. My people were once a great nation, and now they have been all but engulfed by the Roman Empire."
"Okay," said Conner "let's all just get some rest. We will sleep on it."
Later, Conner was out on a cliff by the sea. He looked out at the horizon, thinking.
After a time, Caitlin came up from behind him. "Conner"
He took her around the waist and they gazed into each others' eyes. She gave him a longing look, but said nothing, but her look was almost as if to say ("Let's run away together, Conner, and forget all this")He turned around and took her in his arms. He took her around in front of him, so that she was in front of him and they were now both facing the sea. He caressed her and stroked his hand through her hair.
Then, almost as if reading her mind said, with an almost sarcastic chuckle: "Huh, yes, 'let's run away together.' (and even as he said this, his heart was stabbed, for once he had loved another, his first love, Claire. They had planned to run away together, but the Romans killed his father, killed her, and now everything was different, everything had changed.) "..yes, you know I have considered such, Caitlin," he continued. "but now I know we must stay, and continue to live out my father's dream." Then he kissed her on top of her head. They stayed there awhile like that, looking out at the sea and just enjoying the peacefulness of the night, and each the company of the other.
They all started out the next day bright and early. Molly took Gideon with her along the shore to each town they came to, one after another, and Conner and the rest went to see Diana again, to discuss things with her.
As Molly and Gideon were leaving, she noticed the enormous Hebrew sword he was carrying. "Wow," she said, "where did you get a sword like that?"
"This sword has long been passed down in my family for many years. Years ago, when my people would fight other armies, we were forbidden by tradition to even touch the enemies, and so our swords were made so large. This sword is actually much smaller than those once were."
Conner and the others were now approaching the small Roman settlement where Diana stayed.
"Conner, this will never work, I tell you!" said Fergus
"It has to," said Conner. They continued on through the big gates and into the town. Conner and Fergus proceeded through the town into Diana's quarters.
"Prince Conner and Fergus are here to see you, Highness" said the guard
"Well, send them in."
So he did.
"Hello, Connor, did you think of anything yet?" she asked
"Oh, yes we did," Fergus broke in, "and you're going to like this one.." he said, rolling his eyes.
"Fergus!" said Conner. "Ok, look, Diana, here's what we have decided on: Right now, Molly is on her way through the local villages with the Druids, negotiating with them. She is going to explain our plan to as many people as she can. We are all going to put up an act that looks like Rome has the island under a tight grip."
Fergus just looked on and said, to no one in particular: "I just hope They all are taking it well enough."
(meanwhile, from where Molly and Gideon stood, they were not.)
"Hah, no way, woman! We've fought too hard and given too much to just throw down our pride now!"
"Yes, that's exactly Why we need to through down our pride for now, we've fought enough! If there's a solution to keep us from more fighting, than we should take it!"
"She's right!" Gideon broke in.
"And who are you?" the man said.
"I am Gideon, a Jew. I once live in the Empire, for they have all but engulfed my people. But you, your people now have the opportunity to be free from them. And all you have to do is put on some show."
"We will not! And you can take your Druid friends and leave, girl!"
And so they left.
"Well, we anticipated this." Molly said with a sort of half smile. "We knew that all the people wouldn't listen. But I appreciate what you did back there, Gideon." Now it was more than just a half smile.
"Well, I suppose some people just don't listen to reason, do they?"
"I suppose" she replied, still with a smile on her face
And so, for the next several days, they continued on, traveling from this city to that, trying to talk with the people, but not getting very far. After a few days, they met back up with Conner and the others, who had been making preparations themselves. Conner had been training all of his men, expecting perhaps the worst, though hoping for the best. However, when Caitlin came to get him to tell him of Molly's return, he sat far up on a hill, way back up in the woods.
"Conner, there you are, I've been searching everywhere for you," she said
"Molly and Gideon have finally returned, they don't seem to pleased with the results, though."
Conner just nodded lightly.
"Conner, what is it?" she said with concern, as she sat down beside him. She could see that he was deep in thought, and could sense that something was wrong.
"Oh, nothing," he said, putting his arm around her as she now rested her head on his shoulder. "I've been thinking, Caitlin.." he paused now, as if unsure of the rest of his statement, "I don't know.. Call it a hunch, a feeling; but it, it seems like all this is part of a much bigger "something"
"I don't know, Conner," she said, now looking up at him, "but Christians believe that God, the one, true God, is watching over everything, and everything that happens somehow fits into His perfect plan for everyone."
"Well," Conner said, "do you think that God sent this Gideon?"
"hmm, I don't know, Conner, but I have to admit, I myself, sensed something.. strange about him, when I first met him."
"I guess I shouldn't be suspicious if he hasn't even given us a reason not to trust him yet. But, it's just that.."
"Come on, Conner," she said, as they both got up, "let's just go see what they have to report."
"Conner.. Well, we got some of the people to listen, but many of them are far against the idea, and some would even provoke civil war to keep from going through with the plan." She looked down sullenly, "It's not looking good, Conner."
Conner let out a big, pained, sigh, that was almost a groan. He looked around, trying to think.
Fergus, without thinking, broke in: "Conner..!" he stopped himself "Conner, why don't we go and.. go ourselves, and see if We can't maybe convince them to join us."
Conner said: "(sigh) Molly, where do you think we should go first?"
Molly stood and thought for a moment, then said, "hmm, well, probably the Frewin tribe up by the western brook about 10 miles from here. They have a lot of people, and it's considered one of the more important places in this region. The Romans will surely want to see that it is under control."
"Very well, then we will go there, immediately. Come, Fergus!"
And so, the small band set out for Frewin…
Meanwhile, in another part of the Empire, soldiers were preparing for a surprise trip to the island. They would send a small group ahead to scope out the area before Cornelius brought in the main wave. Ganymede, the leader of this small group, stood by, supervising the work of his men as they loaded up the small sea vessel. Ganymede, originally a Greek man, was tall and well built with long, dark-blonde hair .He looked out over the sea, knowing that somewhere, far out there, on that island, was his long time enemy. You will not escape me, this time, Gideon.
Conner and the others had now arrived at Ferwin. Along with him, he had brought Fergus, Tully, Molly, and several of the Druids. Gideon, however, he had left behind, Caitlin had said that she wanted to talk with him. They approached the village and asked to see the leader. A big man with a short black beard came out.
"Yeah, I am Johny!" said he, "You's Conner, isn't you?"
Conner replied: "I am. Listen, we-
"You listen, boy! Yee's best go back to where'n ye came from! If'n ye don't want a heep o' trouble!"
Fergus nearly lunged for him, but Conner put out an arm in front of him to stop him.
"Look," said Conner, "I am tired of fighting, all we are asking is that you make it look like the Romans are in control, it's only for a few Days, maybe a week at most"
"No, we Won't do it, and if you keep this up, you'll be fighting Us!
Fergus Had to speak up now: "Listen to what yer sayin', man! You would let your bloody pride ruin everything that we have fought for up to now?"
Johny sniped back at him, "I bloody well Would!"
Conner gave him a stern look and said: "You will live to regret this." He said.
The man gave no reaction. To this gesture. Conner and the rest of the group turned and left.
Meanwhile, back at the sanctuary:
"..So, you don't even know who your parents really were?" Caitlin asked Gideon.
"No, not at all. For as long as I can remember, I've been on my own. As a young boy, I wandered the streets of town, never being able to really feel safe anywhere. Sometimes, I would travel from one town to the other, not knowing if I would make it through the wilderness alive, and often not caring."
"That must have been horrible," Caitlin said.
"Well," said he, "it was rather bad, until one day when they captured me, took me away, made me a slave. THEN, it was horrible. (Sigh) but at least I now had a place to stay, and food to eat, even if it was only the bare minimum needed to keep me alive and working; I didn't have to worry about being eaten by hungry wolves, or attacked by bandits. My slave owner Really hated me, though. He would often beat me just because he felt like hitting something. Then one night, he nearly beat me to death, this was when I was much older; it was then that I knew that I must now leave, no matter What the cost. So I ran, I left one morning very early, long before dawn; I must have ran many miles, for I did not stop until it was long past dark. I spent three years wandering in the wilderness, for I was not yet ready to face civilization again, not after what they had done to me. Until finally, I made my way here. Met a an ex-soldier, who also was an outcast, he taught me how to use a sword. I spent several years with him, until finally making my way her." He looked around, "but," he added, "I think I rather like it here."
"Yes," she smiled, "All of us here, with Conner's help, we try to form a society where everyone can feel secure."
"And what of that Roman woman, Diana?" He said, with an all-too-serious look on his face. "Look," he said, I try not to hate them, but.. (sigh) sometimes, I can't help but feel.. 'Something', towards them."
" I know," she said, nodding, "but you just have to try to move on, start over, and if you can, forgive and forget." She said the last phrase with an understanding smile.
And so, over the next several days, Conner and his people spent their time preparing and training, for they new now, that a battle was almost certain. Conner trained and helped the others prepare for the potential battle with the other tribes, and perhaps, with Rome.
One day, they received word that the Ferwins were on their way; Conner went and took all his men out. Gideon, too, had come along with Conner. When the battle had begun, they were amazed at how well Gideon used is massive sword in battle. Near late afternoon, Johny and his men retreated, but it was not to last. Two days later, it was reported that a group of Romans was landing on the Eastern shore. On this same day, however, they were already busy dealing with the Ferwins. Conner said "No, this cannot be happening. But, they were not supposed to come for another two weeks!" However, when the Ferwins realized that the Romans were attacking, Johny called his men to break off the attack He quickly went to Connor and said: "I am sorry, Conner, let us unite Against the Romans, for this is all I wanted, anyway" "Very well," said Conner "I would rather fight With you, than against you, but we may be too late, thanks to your sorry pride!" "I am sorry, Conner, but let us do what we can!" Meanwhile, no one could find Diana, as she was trying to flee the scene, so that Ganymede would not find her. Back on the battlefield, which was taking place just near where Diana had been, Gideon had disappeared. Caitlin Thought she had seen him rushing to away in to the forest, so she decided to follow him. She caught sight of him at a small bridge over a deep canyon. She stopped and hid among the bushes in the woods. There, he stopped, looking around, as if he felt something in his head. Then, a large man with long blonde hair jumped out in front of him. He raised his sword towards Gideon, who drew his own sword. Caitlin was Much too far away to here what they were saying, but had she been closer she could have herd their Conversation:
Ganymede: "Ah-ha! You were going to go after the Queen, weren't you? Well, now it is over, my old nemesis, you cannot escape this time! Look around you, there is no where to run to, now!"
"I Will kill Diana this day, and taking the head of a Fool who allies himself with those Roman B$TRDS will only add to the spice of the day!"
And so, they went at each other with maniacal fury. And as they clashed their swords, it seemed to Caitlin that she could see sparks of light clash off of the metal weapons, and she would almost swear she felt the ground shake. But, as the battle went on, she could see that the Roman soldier was gaining headway, and Gideon was beginning to lose, she could not allow that to happen. He was her friend, and she could not allow him to be killed like this. Caitlin notched an arrow, and drew her bow. She knew she would only have one chance.
She focused, took aim, and.. Caitlin let the arrow fly. It looked like it was on track, but it missed its target and, instead, hit Gideon right in the chest. He fell down from the bridge, but before he did, he got one final harsh blow off on Ganymede, slashing across his chest, and sending him down over the other side of the bridge, far into the ravine below..
Caitlin looked down at where the man had fallen. No one could survive that. She thought to herself. It took her a Very long time to ever finally climb down to the bottom, but when she did, she saw Ganymede lying there, dead. Then, she saw something that shocked her beyond her imagination: his eyes suddenly popped open. He rose up slowly, and as he did, Caitlin instinctively drew her bow. She could hardly hold it though, as she stood there, speechless with shock at what she had just witnessed.
"What ARE you….?" She asked him
"We are of a different kind, me and him. We cannot be killed off so easily."
"WHY were you trying to kill my friend?" Caitlin cried out.
"Listen, he is not what you think." He replied
"LIER!" She screamed.
"No, it is true," he said, "Listen, I am Ganymede. I am over two hundred years old. I was born in a little village in Greece. My mother was very sick as long as I could remember. My father had told me that she had been that way almost my entire life. She died when I was only three years old. My father raised me until I was twenty-two. It was then that I left and went on to join the Roman army. One night, after I had been working with the Roman army for over five years, I was in a mess hall having dinner with several of my comrades. All of a sudden, from out of nowhere, a group of armed men burst into the room, and began slaughtering our men. Gideon was among them. My men fought hard for their lives, and killed most of the attackers, but Gideon continued to fight. I was one of the last that he killed. When he looked at me, he said, 'The next time around, be sure not to ally yourself with these Roman dogs, or ye may live to regret it!', the next thing I remember, is waking up. When I awoke, it was late in the afternoon, almost sundown. It had been early evening when the attackers arrived, so I knew I must have been out for quite some time. I looked around me, and saw that the entire building had been burned to the ground. I then looked at my own body, and to my amazement, my own flesh seemed almost completely unscathed by the fire, other than some loose ashes, and the smell of fire on me, (though Not that of seared flesh), it was as if I hadn't' even been touched by the flames. What's more, when I looked at my own chest, the sword wound from the night before was completely gone. It was then that it hit me: I Had been killed last night. 'I must be a ghost" I thought. And so, I wandered through the wilderness, refusing to see anyone, for I knew that as a ghost, it would be futile. It was only when I found myself becoming very hungry, that I realized that perhaps there was something else going on. Finally, after I had wandered for many months, I was found by a strange man from far away. He told me about what I was. That night was not the last night I would see Gideon, I have witnessed his deeds throughout Rome and the surrounding areas, and More than once he has tried to kill me. He has succeeded in killing many of my mortal friends. I stopped him there because he was trying to go to murder the Queen Diana."
For a long time, Caitlin did not say anything, she just sat there, trying to absorb it all.
Then, she spoke up "I am a Christian… If..f…If-I.. If you came ba-.. then Jesus-"NO!" Ganymede broke in,
"You must not think that way! Believe what you will about your Jesus, I do not know, but I tell you, I do not believe that he was one of us. You cannot allow what you have seen here today, to deter you from what you hold to be right and true. You must never lose you faith, for I believe that that is what happened to Gideon, and is what drove him to become so evil."
"Listen," said Ganymede "what you have seen here cannot be spread, it must remain a secret. Promise me."
"I promise," she said.
The tall, blonde, Greek man rose to his feet. As he took a bow, he said: "I bid you farewell." and then he walked off.
Caitlin got back up, and began to climb back up the ravine. It was nearly dark when she finally reached level ground again. She carefully slipped back to the Sanctuary, where she was greeted affectionately by Conner, who took her in his arms and held her for a long time.
Then he said, "Where have you been? I was so worried about you, Caitlin."
"It's a long story," she said, "I will have to tell you about it tomorrow."
"Okay," he said, and they both went to sleep.
Caitlin did remember her promise, but she needed Someone to talk with about it, and she couldn't just Lie to Conner about what had happened that night, but they both vowed to each other never t tell anyone about it. Without their leader, the Romans had been easily defeated, and Diana eventually returned. To everyone's relief and frustration, Cornelius was taken by a different mission, and never did come to the island, after all. Soon after, the Christian Priest, St. Patrick, came to Ireland to spread Christianity, as was prophesied by the Druid council.