Owain Rheged waited with the Wailing Arrows in Durobrivae, as commanded by his master, Myrddin, where he met Titus and his Irish warriors, come to take advantage of the Saxon insurrection in Lindum. Aulus Hectorius arrived shortly thereafter with his army. Myrddin welcomed Owain and his horse archers to the ranks, and Titus offered his services as well.
The next morning, the army road out, following the Roman road east into Icenia. While camping that night, Peredur noticed signal fires being lit, and deduced that Saxon scouts must be tracking them, and alerting their comrades of their movements.
In the morning, they found out why: the Saxons had built a huge earthwork cutting across the road, stretching for miles in either direction. A hundred Saxon warriors stood at the top of the earthwork, forming a shield wall. Lugh Striking-Hand and his men dismounted and began scrambling up the earthwork to attack the northern flank, while Titus’s Irish warriors attacked the southern flank. Caius joined his brother on a charge against the center. The Saxons had put everything in their favor, playing to every weakness of the cavalry force Aulus had mustered. They repulsed the charge against their center. On the southern flank, Titus lost control of his men, and the Saxons slaughtered them all. On the northern flank, Lugh had more success, as Peredur led some of Lugh’s men to run down some fleeing Saxons, but Aulus’s failure to break the center of the line forced them to retreat.
The retreat left Peredur on the wrong side of the enemy line, and his pursuit of the fleeing Saxon warriors left him deep in enemy territory before he realized that Aulus had lost the battle. At the camp, Titus questioned Aulus’s leadership. Caius became irritated with Titus, not for questioning Aulus, but for doing so loudly and publicly, ending in Caius knocking Titus out. Lugh began recruiting volunteers for a grand expedition in the morning to rescue Peredur. Myrddin, fearing that Lugh would not have the subtlety for such a task and may invite further disaster, asked Content Not Found: badiovirus to undertake a rescue mission that night and be back with Peredur before morning — and, if possible, scout out the road ahead. Myrddin suspected that they would likely face other earthworks further down the road.
Badiovirus and the Fraternitas did find Peredur and the warriors he’d led, feeling triumphant for their part in the fight. Together, they scouted the road ahead, and discovered a second earthwork further down the road. Both stretched for miles, ending only where the terrain became marshy, where the horses would become bogged down and infantry — like the Saxons — would have the advantage.
In the morning, Titus confronted Aulus about his tactical decisions. Myrddin agreed with him that they should not try a conventional attack a second time, but suggested something even more unorthodox than Titus had in mind: settle the affair with a duel, playing on Icel’s family history to bind him in a sacred oath of non-aggression.
Badiovirus and Peredur returned to camp with the dawn. Badiovirus reported Peredur’s successes to Aulus, who was about to give him his own warband to command, when Lugh offered him his own warriors, the ones he had led at the earthwork. Badiovirus and Peredur then set out immediately again to find and kill the Saxon scouts following the army.
When they returned to camp, they found Ælle in the camp. He had come to offer to act as an intermediary between Aulus and Icel, to help arrange a meeting. In return, he asked Aulus to make him Comes litoris Saxonici — the Count of the Saxon Shore. Aulus agreed.
Myrddin gathered the knights and told them about a sword called Caliburn. It came from a time when steel weapons were very rare, so they called this sword “hard edge,” Caledfwlch, or Caliburn. It was the sword of a Catuvellauni chieftain named Cassivellaunus. When Julius Caesar invaded Britain, Cassivellaunus united the tribes to stand against him. His sword became the symbol of British unity against the invader. When Cassivellaunus surrendered to Caesar, he presented the sword to him, and it became the sword of Julius Caesar, father of the Roman Empire. It was returned to Rome, and there it stayed for half a century. Then, a descendant of Julius Caesar, the Emperor Claudius, launched the final invasion of Britain. When he succeeded, he had his ancestor’s sword brought to Camulodunum, where a temple was erected to his victory, and placed it there as a symbol of Roman power. So, a few years later, when the Iceni queen Boudicca rebelled against the Romans and sacked Camulodunum, she took that sword, and offered it to Andraste, the goddess of victory, by throwing it into a lake. Thus, Caliburn had become a symbol of unified defiance against foreign invaders to the Britons, a symbol of the ancient glories of the empire to the Romans, a sword dedicated to the goddess of victory, the Lady of the Lake. Aulus’s duel with Icel had moved the battle from the earthworks, where the Saxons had built their advantage, to symbols and stories. There, the knights would need to build Aulus’s advantage — by finding Caliburn.
Owain had a vision of a giant bear roaring, overlooking a town. When he shared that with his fellow knights, they reasoned that it must mean the town of the Iceni, their civitas capital, Venta Icenorum. So, they rode out to Venta.
There, the knights met with Lucius Adeodatus, king of the Iceni and Count of the Saxon Shore. They asked for the location of any witches in the territory, who might know the places sacred to the ancient pagans. Adeodatus had ordered the execution of every witch he knew of, so he had none to offer, but promised to send his men to look for one. Lugh also asked to speak with any warriors he had who might have seen Icel fight personally. He did have a few, all Saxons themselves. From their descriptions, Lugh gleaned some insights into Icel’s fighting style. Impressed by his hospitality and generosity, Lugh told Adeodatus that Aulus planned to give his position to Ælle. Adeodatus said that it was his duty as Aulus’s lieutenant to provide him with another option. He decided to seek out an ealdorman who’d sided with Icel, who might still owe him enough loyalty to at least let him talk to the Anglian king.
Meanwhile, Titus found Paullus Hostilius, the commander of Branodunum, and disappointed with the influence and power the Saxons have gained under Adeodatus. When Titus told him that Aulus planned to place Ælle in charge of the Saxon Shore, they began a scheme to raise an insurrection among the fort commanders to make Hostilius the new Count.
Peredur decided to hit the streets and see what he could learn. He had locals speaking of a demonic bear plaguing the countryside. Owain thought that his vision must point to this bear. The other knights decided to join in the hunt. They found signs of it easily enough in the woods, for it was a very large bear. They tracked it to its den, at the side of a lake. Caius charged into the cave. Together, the knights brought the bear down. In the back of its den, they found an ancient Celtic longsword, very similar to the spathae they wield. Deciding that this must be Caliburn, they took the sword and returned to Aulus’s camp.
Lugh had time to give Aulus a few dueling lessons before Icel arrived with Ælle — and the head of Lucius Adeodatus. The ealdorman that Adeodatus thought might still be loyal to him, wasn’t, and it cost him his life. Aulus challenged Icel to a duel: if Aulus won, Icel would never attack the Britons again; and if Icel won, Aulus would recognize him as king of Icenia. To bind the terms of the duel, Myrddin laid Caliburn on a stone altar. By ancient British tradition, only the victor could draw the sword from the stone, and it would forever symbolize the oaths that bound them.
The duel began. Each of the knights contributed in their own way — cheering for Aulus, praying for him, analyzing Icel’s fighting stance and shouting out their suggestions, or controlling the crowd. Together, they gave Aulus the edge, allowing him to defeat Icel and draw the sword from the stone.