Scenes from a Roman Taverna: Aftermath

Calgacus held Vita close to him as she sobbed uncontrollably into his tunic. He was close to tears himself. The boy Adeodatus just looked confused, unsure at what at just happened and how to react to it in this group of strangers.
‘Now who will I get to fix my furniture?’ Exuperatus moaned.
Calgacus shot the older man a furious glare. Then he saw the empty, haunted look in the man’s eyes and his anger died. They all would have to deal with this in their own way.
‘Come on,’ he barked harshly,’ we’re not out of danger yet. We have some travelling to do and we need to be in cover by daylight.’
To his surprise, the other two men just nodded and looked at him to lead.
He raised Vita’s face to look her in the eyes. To his relief she held his gaze firmly, while blinking the last of the tears away.
‘Let’s go,’ she said.
As he led them through the burning ruins of the Vicus that had surrounded the city Calgacus realised with relief that if they kept their heads, getting away was going to be easier than he had thought.
The city itself was now fully alight, and the Iceni were concentrating on that. The tribesmen outside the walls were few, and it appeared they were mostly drunk with celebrating their victory.
‘At least they didn’t get any of our wine, Senodo,’ Exuperatus muttered before choking back something that might have been a sob.
The group waded across the river and cut upland through woods as the city outskirts gave way to fields and arable land.
‘Where are we making for?’ Vita asked.
‘I was thinking of lying low in the old settlement to the East. Where my people lived before the Roman’s came. But now I am wondering if there is another choice.’
‘Which is?’
‘There are a lot of big villas in this area, including one over the next hill,’ Calgacus paused,’ now they might have been burnt by the Iceni, or they might have been passed by. If one is intact, that would be a lot more comfortable place to stay.’
‘The owners might object,’ Exuperatus said.
‘I can requisition it. On behalf of the Roman army,’ interjected Adeodatus, to the surprise of all three,’ as… Requisition it as a base of operations in a combat zone.’
‘I knew we brought this boy along for something,’ Exuperatus smiled thinly.
‘But won’t the Iceni come back and burn it?’ Vita continued to hold his hand and Calgacus was again forced to remember just how young she really was.
‘No. I don’t think so,’ Exuperatus said before Calgacus could say anything,’ the Iceni are like a stampede, plunging on and they think the gods are with them. They’ll be thinking of Calleva Atrebatum next. Thinking of more plunder and destruction right up until they run into the Governor and his massed and very pissed off legions.’
‘You think the rebellion will be halted?’
‘Oh yes. The war machine has been headless up to now. Under proper direction the slaughter will be massive and complete and serve them right,’ they crested a ridge looking down on what seemed amazingly peaceful farmland,’ we, however, seem to be in luck.’
The villa lay nestled on a slope on the opposite side of the fields. Although dark, it looked intact.
The original impression was born out. The villa was undamaged, although the occupants had fled in a hurry taking anything valuable. However, they had left basics such as food and blankets and other household items which the fugitives took full advantage of. Adeodatus lit a small fire and they sat huddled in the Atrium.
‘We don’t want to give out too much light,’ the soldier explained, but we do need to keep warm.
‘A sensible precaution, boy,’ agreed a voice from the shadow of the entrance hall.
All four of them got to their feet in alarm.
‘Oh sit down, all of you,’ Castor said as he walked calmly in and promptly followed his own instruction by resting his bones on a bench with a satisfied sigh,’ excuse me for my rudeness but it has taken me some time and effort to find you lot and I am not a young man anymore.’
The Roman agent looked at the wild eyes of the four and shook his head. What was he thinking of? Castor shrugged.
‘Alright you bunch of miscreants. Let’s talk.’