Restitutor Orbis

Dobunnia

One of Caius’ men finds a wax tablet left by Titus Martinianus Valerius Maximus, addressed to him and warning him about Myrddin. It relates a story that Myrddin is the son of the devil, the antichrist. Caius disregards it as the ravings of a religious zealot.

Modron offers help to Caius to find his family, preparing a potion that will bring him to the brink of death, so that he can learn things otherwise unknowable. He has a vision of a hill sprouting a town.

A local named Melisos seeks Peredur’s help, asking that the women rescued from the legion be put to death. It is revealed that they offered human sacrifices to their pagan gods. In ancient days, criminals were sacrificed. Modron and her sisters continued this practice, sacrificing those who were not held accountable by Roman law, primarily rapists and wife-beaters.

In Glevum, the three magistrates of Dobunnia each hide behind the others to refuse help to Arthur, so the knight trick them into a meeting, where they can all be forced to cooperate.

The situation in Glevum forces Badiovirus to choose between a Roman model of virtus, a British ideal of manhood, or pursuing his own path. He chooses the latter, beginning to formulate his own, personal code of chivalry, based largely on Pelagian ideals.

As the army turns south on the final road to meet Ælle, they’re met by three druids, guardians of the grove of Bran the Blessed. They tell Arthur that they bring him good news: he will triumph in the battle to come. Arthur asks them how they know this; they tell him that they sacrificed a man, giving him the three-fold death: feeding him mistletoe, drowning him in the sacred cauldron, and slitting his throat. They foretold the future in his dying convulsions, and how the blood spread in the water. Incensed at this murder committed in his name, Arthur commands his men to kill the druids, then find their grove and bring him to it.

Myrddin turns to his apprentice, Owain Rheged, to help smuggle the Cauldron of Bran out of the grove before Arthur finds it. He brings it to the shore, where there is a small boat waiting for him to spirit it away.

When Arthur finds the grove, he destroys the head of Bran the Blessed. The druids are horrified, sure that Arthur has destroyed the island’s supernatural protection. Arthur has no tolerance for the gruesome rites of human sacrifice that he has seen displayed, and says that the Britons must now band together to defend the island, without the intervention of whatever bloodthirsty, demonic powers that would demand such sacrifices.

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Jason

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