Opening Excerpt of Augusta

creux du van
The Creux du Van in the Jura Mountains, Switzerland.  It’s a bit too south to be the location of this scene, but this blog needed a scenic pic.  Image Source

Assuming you read the title, you already know what this post is.  I’m just trying to build some hype, so here ya’ go.  And yes, as I promised, this totally starts in media res like all good epics.

Let me recall now the memories of she
Who caused the world to burn, yet to it
Offered quenching waters to soothe its pain.
Exiled from Ravenna’s heights, by long labors
She traversed the earth’s wide expanses
Until she saw the Land of Dragons,
Older than human empires, and from there went
To contest the Scourge of God,
Met him in hateful contest and settled there
The strifes of our age.
Relate, my Muse, to posterity the causes of our pain,
And let her legacy live on,
She, though condemned in life as an exile,
May gain her well deserved respect in a future epoch.

There she was, hurled headlong
Into the land of the Franks, a proud people
Established generations earlier as tribes amassed-
The Sicambri, born for battle and marauding,
The Bructeri, allies of old Arminius,
Who shattered the legions of Varus
Underneath the shade of German firs,
The Ampsivarii, or at least the few of them
Who joined Arminius in his traitorous advance,
The Chamavi, famed settlers them all,
The Chattuari, turbulent and licentious,
And tribes of Tencteri and Ubii-
Seven nations merged into one,
Still under the shadow of fractured Rome.
A waning empire wounded and weary,
The West limped on broken limbs
Cracked by decades of pressure
From without and within.
Yet one day shall from the Franks
Emerge a mighty kingdom
And among their number shall be named
An emperor of the West,
The first since the fall of high-born Rome.

Yet no heroes or future kings did the exile find,
Wandering Ildico,
Goth by name and Italian by homeland.
Alone through patches of tall grass she crawled,
Watching the wary eyes of Roman pursuers
Like a lion stalking prancing gazelles
Though she was the hunted and not the hunter.
Itching blades scratched against bare skin,
Lashing at their prey with relentless assault,
Yet she did not coil to pain
Nor did she voice her aggravation
For too near were the Romans,
Though even now she held not their attention,
Their eyes fixated on another target
Larger and Stranger,
Wrapped by the mystery of a barbarian land
Oozing with primordial enchantments.
In a slab of stone along the encircling cliff
Appeared a gaping whole
Which had not been there before.

“Almighty Father!” declared Maximinus,
The youngest Roman of the lot,
Untested,
Yet eager now to prove his merit,
“This yonder shadowy cave was not here
Yet moments ago,
And now its opening maw sits ready
To engulf any who stumble within.
What devilish sorceries draw me now
To wander within and see the source
Of vanishing rock with my own eyes.
God has given me many gifts,
Though restraint be not one of them.
I go now to inspect the ensorcelled hollow
And come out again with nary a tall tale.”

Down he descended into the gloom,
Trouncing through stagnant pools.
Air immeasurably hot blew against him
And sweat beat at his brow
And stung at his eyes.
The blasting aroma of sulfur
Bombarded his nostrils
As if a blazing conflagration was kindled
Deeper in, yet nothing
Save a single eye could be seen,
Glowing in the dark like a lone torch
In the gloom of encroaching twilight.

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