-We are hunters. We don’t fight. We hunt.
-I understand. – Marcus Lucius added shortly.
The older man hawked and continued:
-They are known as men from Pictavia. They try to conquer southern and central parts of the island every now and then. We try to live our lives. We avoid the fights, but when we’re forced to fight, then we fight. Our fate is simple and predefined. We appreciate the support of everyone who follows the same goals.
Marcus Lucius nodded, but kept silence. The old man’s fingers trembled a bit.
-We know that your soldiers rested last months and are not prepared to fight. – The other elder spoke. He had snowy brows and white hair. His eyes glued. It wasn’t easy to understand his intentions.
-Attacks of the men from North are rather less probable in the time of winter. – The third elder spoke. He had eyes like coals and he seemed to be the youngest and burly. His statement could be analysed from different perspectives. Marcus Lucius couldn’t estimate the attitude of the speaker.
-I understand your worries. During the winter, we keep training our soldiers. You have my word for it. – Marcus Lucius promised. – We keep patrolling the surrounding and will protect you as far as we can, with every day even better.
The elders looked at each other. There was an unknown tension, not mentioned yet, and it hung in the air and bounded the local inhabitants with a touch of missing trust. It was their piece of information that didn’t suit to what was said in this meeting.
-If you are the son of your father, why don’t you use his name as yours? Why are you hiding behind a name of another man? – Cunobarros formed aloud the thought that occupied everyone here.
Marcus Lucius smiled brighter, but sadder.
-That is right what you say. I am hiding behind a name of another man. You remember my father and his friend. My father fell during a battle as a real warrior. His friend needs my support and therefore, I act under false name. However, my promise given to you is binding with the same power independent from the name I use. I give you my word for that.
Cunobarros nodded politely, but inconclusively.
-Give us time to confer. We will give you our answer soon.
Marcus Lucius nodded and stood up slowly.
-Fair enough. – He said and bowed out.
Nerva followed his example. The local villagers went to the side so that Marcus Lucius and Nerva could leave the building. Then, they took their horses and rid away. The late afternoon began and they were happy to come back to the villa before the darkness came. After the ride, they had to confer themselves.
-Give me a moment. – Marcus Lucius said and sent for Julia.
He was strictly confused as she couldn’t be found. The slaves acted nervously and Marcus Lucius didn’t like the kind of tension. He felt under his skin that something wasn’t right.
In the meanwhile, he took Nerva aside, but they didn’t start talking. Marcus Lucius looked to the slaves that ran from one room into next and couldn’t find Julia. His internal tension raised quickly, but his face expression didn’t change. He stood calmly and just his eyes betrayed his unease. He thought about his impression of the meeting. It was hard to estimate whether the locals were going to accept his offer and whether they would keep the secret for themselves. The first option seemed to be probable. The second one could be a premise for the first one. Marcus Lucius wasn’t sure what to think about reminding his father. Cunobarros remembered Maximus, but Marcus Lucius didn’t know the context of the memory. The problem was that Maximus negotiated in Britannia, but he was displaced later. It wouldn’t be supportive when the elders would be convinced that Marcus Lucius didn’t keep his word. It would reflect negatively on his attitude. He knew that he had to wait for the answer and he hated to wait. Patience wasn’t his strength. He ignored Nerva and his questions:
-What do you think? What shall we do? What do you plan?