Time on My Hands Chapter 12 - 203 CE: Retrieving Family

Time on My Hands
Chapter 12: 203 CE: Retrieving Family

Fiach didn’t flinch, neither did her smirk waver. His sword, held in his right hand, was raised high above his head ready to hack down, cleaving the impertinent girl. The instant he began to swing she ducked to his left and twisted around his left side while slashing his left hamstring.

The man yowled in pain and rage as his momentum made him stumble forward a few steps before the savagely wounded leg gave out sending him crashing onto the street. Smiling broadly Fiach pirouetted to stand facing her downed opponent. “Pfft! Is that the best you can do? I shall enjoy letting your sword taste your virgin ass! That is if it IS virgin!”

Those watching were stunned that the small girl had so easily dropped the big man. But it was her unflinching jeering words that made them shiver.

Fiach circled the downed man laughing and taunting him about his critical situation. The man swore and bellowed useless insults. She’d spring inside his reach to jab him before jumping out of the way of his awkward counter attack. All too quickly he was bleeding from dozens of small painful wounds while he had not even nicked her once. It quickly became evident to everyone she was toying with him.

“That’s enough playing around,” Fiach finally announced. With that she dove in nearly severing his right wrist.

The howling man screamed in pain as his nearly lifeless hand lost control of his sword as it dropped out of his non-existent grip. As he tried to twist to pick up the weapon with his other hand Fiach’s sword struck again with precise accuracy fully severing his left wrist. The big man screamed out in pain and rage. The onlookers stepped back as they watched utterly stunned as the small girl easily dismantled the much bigger man.

With a quick slash she hamstrung his left leg. By that time he was begging for mercy.

“How dare you ask for mercy! Did you ever grant mercy to those who begged you for mercy?”

“Damn it, Bitch, just kill me!”

“Not quite yet, asshole. Not quite yet.” With that she jabbed her sword into the man’s biceps hamstringing both arms.

Again the man howled in pain. Now unable to use his arms or legs the big man, who had been a life-long bully, broke down in tears of frustration and rage. Fiach rolled the helpless big man onto his stomach. Using one of her razor sharp knives she shredded his clothes exposing everything below his waist. As she quietly but efficiently worked his sobbing begging became more desperate. Stepping away from him she picked up his sword as his begging became hysterical. Stepping behind him she touched the point of the sword against his puckered anus applying pressure. The pitch of his panicking desperate voice rose as she twisted the point against his sphincter. Everyone waited with baited breath. Even the few who didn’t want to see what she was about to do were unable to look away.
Fiach pulled the sword from the thoroughly defeated and crushed bully, dropping it to the ground by his head. “Your life is in my hands. Do you want to live or die?”

“Wha... what?” the humiliated confused quivering man asked.

“I’m the best physician in Egypt,” Fiach replied. “I can sew your wounds and help you recover. It won’t be easy and it will take months of effort. I know I can heal you. But you’ll have to make a tremendous and often painful effort to recover. If you chose to live but don’t follow my recommendations, you’ll be a cripple. Or you can choose to die. If I don’t treat you, you’ll bleed out. Which do you choose... life or death?”

Those watching were stunned. The small girl had already killed six and mangled the huge bully.

The defeated hopeless man sobbed. “Just finish me off! Even if you successfully treat me I’ll be a cripple. There are too many people that would love to get their revenge against me. End it now!”

“Very well,” Fiach agreed. “I’ll make it quick and as painless as possible. Do you want a moment to pray?”

“Pray... huh... never had a god help me in life, why would one help me in death?”

“I’ll pray that Ianuaria eases your passage to the afterlife,” Fiach replied. With that she slipped a knife into his spinal cord at the base of his skull killing him instantly. His death was so swift his body didn’t even move.

Looking at those on the walls of the compound Fiach spoke. “The fighting is over, open the gates so I can have the wounded brought inside. I’ll treat all the wounded together.”

“Gather the wounded inside the compound so I can treat them,” Fiach ordered the still stunned crowd. “Gather the dead for burial. The rest of you, go home!”

Many quietly left. The dead were stripped of their possessions before being piled up to await wagons. The wounded were gathered and taken inside the compound. Fiach was already treating the injured as more were carried in. Those who stayed marveled at the small healer’s skill and speed as she worked. The city guard finally arrived and began investigating the turmoil. Upon finding out those attacking the compound were led by the now deceased bully they breathed a sigh of relief.

What they had difficulty believing was that big bully had been cut up by the small girl. Yet everyone told the same story. By nightfall the story of Fiach being a formidable fighter and a Demon Killer had spread through the city.

With the turmoil in the city Fiach decided that it would be wise to fortify Zamrab. The windows were altered to create openings too small for a person to pass through. Food was stockpiled as well. While the beefing up didn’t make the place a fortress, it would be enough to hold off attacking mobs. Almost as an afterthought she decided to have Egyptian writings translated into Greek and Latin.

Towards the end of February, 203, Fiach decided to head back to Rome. After locking her small fourth floor apartment she left instructions it was not to be disturbed before she board a ship to make the trip to Rome. While the trip from Rome to Alexandria took a bit less that two weeks, due to the prevailing winds of the Mediterranean, the reverse trip took nearly eight weeks. Of course the trip was done with frequent stops at various ports to replenish food and water. She found it quite unsettling to be out of sight of land but handled the unease. It was the end of April when they arrived in Ostia, she identified herself to the manager of the transport company that normally took all shipments to Mazbar. She rode on the wagon delivering the latest shipment of scrolls and treasures.

Upon arriving at Mazbar, the staff of Corvus Scriptorium began to unload the latest delivery. Fiach stepped down from the wagon. The estate looked basically the same except the trees and bushes had grown. Ulixes came out to see what arrived and stopped in surprise. Except for the fact he was dressed as a female, Raben hadn’t changed. The man was well aware that Fiach had made the trip from Athens to Alexandria. To see her now after four years... was a bit unsettling. She moved and spoke as if she had been born female.

Together they headed into the manor house where Ulixes’ family greeted Fiach. By this time Ulixes was fifty two, his wife Quinta was fifty three. The widowed step-daughter, Aula, had married the foreman of the vellum factory. Quinta’s grandson, Aula’s son Decimus was nine. The couple had a son five and daughter three. Quinta’s sons Appius, twenty three, was serving in the Legions. Son Manius, twenty one, was married to Kara, twenty. They had a daughter Rae, two. Manius was running the scriptorium. Son Lucius, sixteen, was learning on the job how to run the farm. Daughters Marca and Tita had married and moved out with their husbands, Spuria was still at home.
Besides Ulixes, only Quinta knew that Fiach was Raben and about the Curse. The others thought her cover story that she was Raben’s wife was true. Quinta was a bit spooked that Raben hadn’t changed one iota in the eight years she knew him. That he was still prepubescent and easily assumed the role of a female baffled her common sense. Still, she realized Raben had saved her family from insolvency and was now providing a better standard of living then she’d had with her first husband.

The three discussed Fiach’s travels and the hundreds of texts flowing into Corvus Scriptorium in Rome. Fiach had become comfortable in her role as a female. She also discovered people treated her better. As a prepubescent boy he was dismissed and often denigrated. As a prepubescent girl she was still often dismissed but treated with a modicum of civility. It was easier for people to accept Fiach as a knowledgeable physician rather than Raben. Due to his/her perceived age people underestimated his/her ability to fight and defend him/herself, however the effect was enhanced by those that thought she was female. She decided to continue living as her own wife while in Rome.

Once she was settled in she opened the crate with the rock she’d sent from Egypt. Now that she had free time she closely examined the glossy rock realizing from her reading it was a meteorite. After careful examination she decided to take a five pound chunl to a silversmith she knew only she’d have to go as Raben.

The man listened to Raben’s story of how he’d found the rock and was amazed. “This rock had to be thrown by the gods!”

Raben watched as the man tapped the rock. It was obviously metallic but not one they could identify. The man was eager to buy the metallic rock. They began to dicker.

Finally Raben accepted his offer... with a condition. “I want you to use a bit of the metal to make me a signet ring. The band will be covered with etched feathers and the signet will be encircled with feathers. The center of the signet will be a raven seated on a branch.” Raben quickly sketched his idea. The deal was done.

raven ring
Raben had never felt comfortable with the adopted last name of Longinus. Now that he had established dual identities as Raben and Fiach and since both identities were noted healers, he decided to select a surname more appropriate to his/her current and future selves. After much thought he decided to use Corvo as his/her surname since that was the Latin name for Raven. The new signet ring would become the new identifier that was more appropriate since both names meant raven.

One thing that really hit Raben was how everyone had aged while he remained unchanged. It drove home the point he’d be forever watching others grow old and die while he remained the same. This upset him but he understood there was nothing he could do but accept his eternal youth.

After two months reviewing the books and observing operations Fiach, or rather Raben, decided to return to Barmaz. He accompanied the next shipment of scrolls. The trip over the high mountain pass was invigorating. It felt like he was returning home. The meteorite rock was also in this shipment to Barmaz.

It was mid July when he crested the trail onto the middle level of Barmaz. He’d stopped in the provincial capital to change his surname and register the signet ring. He caught up to the caravan and took the lead then urged his horse to the side to allow the caravan to pass. It gave him a feeling of relief to be away from the maddening rush of cosmopolitan life. It had been almost five years since Raben left. As he approached he swung off the path so he could see the scree pile. The scree was intact with grasses and a few sturdy shrubs and small trees growing. A large area of the field was bare with grasses and flowers just starting to grow.

As he rode across the pasture the then twenty seven year old wife of the oldest son left the buildings where the caravan was unloading heading across the pasture to meet the straggler. She gasped when she recognized Raben. Raben dismounted and the pair hugged, then walked towards the buildings. The Bricus patriarch was now fifty one and his wife was forty seven. Their son, thirty one, was now running the farm with his wife. Their sons were thirteen and seven, their daughters eleven and nine. After the caravan was unloaded into the first floor barn Raben spent nearly an hour discussing the farm. Things on the farm were going well but the son was dissatisfied with his life wanting to move down valley to be around more people. Raben acknowledged the desire asking them to stay on for another few months so he could get someone to take over the farm. When he offered to give them enough cash to live on for a year they agreed to stay on until the fall.

The slaves had completed the construction of the hidden archives in the scree pile. The building that concealed the entrance was in excellent shape. The slaves were nervous wondering what their future held. After touring the archive tunnels Raben was pleased. The tunnels were watertight with no sign of water dripping from the roof or seeping through the sides. The French drains were functioning as designed diverting water away from the tunnels into the central drain beneath the stable floor. That drain ran beneath the stone paved path leading to the building to empty into the streambed beneath the small stone bridge that now crossed over the Torrent de Barme as it passed through the middle pasture. He thanked them for their efforts. Then he sat down with the slaves to discuss their future.
“Most of the work I initially wanted you to do has been completed,” Raben began. “I’ve decided to have you improve the paths and trails into paved roads with stone bridges across the streams and gullies. This means widening some paths to roads twenty feet. For the paths on steep slopes widen them to ten feet. To do that you’ll need to dig into the hillside and dump the excavated material over the side of the path. The winter freeze will cause the unsupported hillside to collapse onto the new road so you’ll have to go back to shovel the rubble over the side. The other thing I’d like is to clear the trees in the level areas of the lower pastures. We’ll use the lumber to build a house and barn near the Route de Barme on the eastern slope of the mountain just after the path to Barmaz heads off. I want the cleared land to be farm land for grains and beans. I also want stone bridges built across the streams wherever a path crosses.”

Since they had built their barn/home and were accustomed to moving rock and debris due to the work they did in the skree to build the archives, the challenge of the new projects was reasonable. While two of the men began widening the path from the lower to the middle pastures, the rest selected the location to build the farm house and barn. The main road exiting Champery, the last village on the La Vieze River, roughly followed the terrain along the La Vieze. The road crossed the Torrent de Barme which was a tributary of La Vieze. The path leading to Barmaz cut off from that road as the road crossed the Torrent de Barme. A sturdy stone bridge would be needed there.

The foundation for the house and barn were dug and a stone foundation put in place. Then as the trees were felled they were used to construct the buildings. The work went smoothly with Raben working shoulder to shoulder with his slaves. Raben assigned one of the couples to run the farm as both had grown up on farms.

During the next two weeks Raben made sure the slaves were doing as he directed. Then he left, heading back to Germany to visit his family and hopefully convince some of them to move to Barmaz.

The trip, mounted with a pack horse took eighteen days to reach the Roman Fort at Halheim where he crossed into Roman territory eight years before. He visited the current Fort commander identifying himself as a Roman citizen and letting him know he was going to visit his Germanic family to invite them to follow him to his estate. While unusual, Raben had the documents to back up that he was a successful physician and estate holder. He also let it be known he would be financially grateful. He also purchased six horses with tack. The six new horses were tethered to his pack horse forming a pack train when he left Roman territory.

It took four days to reach the villages of his youth. As he rode in many gasped to see him unchanged. Many were nervous until he assured them he was not staying but only came to visit his family. Even so they kept an eye on him. When he reached his family the reunion was happy.
Taking two nephews he went out hunting while word was sent out for the family to gather. Although his woodland skills were rusty no one would know. The boys were amazed as they followed their silent uncle. They came upon a herd of dear. They were even more amazed when Raben dropped a deer, then notched and fired another arrow hitting a second deer before it could bolt into the trees. The boys could talk of little but his archery prowess as they carried the carcasses home.

The family gathered the next day feasting on the venison. Like his brothers he was forty two. Their mother was fifty six. As they ate he regaled them with tales of his travels and the places he’d seen. His brothers talked about the changes occurring in their area of Germany. While they had not yet been greatly effected they knew changes were on the way. Eastern and northern Germanic tribes were on the move pushing into the areas already occupied by other Germanic tribes who were pushed against the Romans border. There had already been fighting between some of their tribe with those encroaching. Their clan had not been involved but the writing was on the wall.

Raben then invited his family to follow him to his farmstead. He didn’t color the hardships but insisted the location was so far off the beaten path they would be relatively safe from encroachment. Plus, he explained, he had slaves who could show them what was needed to operate the farm.

After a lot of discussion in which Raben described the fighting he’d witnessed and the strength of the Roman Legions, Adalfuns and Adlebert decided to make the move. It was Raben’s heart felt belief that while the tribes could win battles, they could not win a war. Roman reinforcements would always ne brought in to overwhelm their opponents. Their mother and two half siblings decided to go along as did their spouses and all their adult children, a total of seventy seven people, thirty eight adults and thirty nine children. It took a week for the family to wrap up their lives saying goodbye to family and friends. Their pared down belongings were strapped onto the pack horses. There were twenty eight children five and under who were carried by the adults or periodically rode on the horses. Raben’s family spoke the old German dialect of their tribe. As they traveled Raben did his best to teach them basic Latin. At each break he gathered the family for lessons in language. The four day outbound trip to the border took six days inbound.

As they traveled Raben realized this family needed a surname. He’d already adopted the surname of Corvo and hoped it would be appropriate. “In the Roman territories surnames are often needed. As a family we should all have the same surname. I’ve been using Corvo which is raven in Latin. Since our mother’s first name is Cori, I think Corvo might be a suitable surname for all of us. Truth be told we’re starting a new clan, the Clan Corvo. We’ll all be of the Corvoian lineage.

No one in the family objected so they agreed to become the Corvo family, Clan Corvo.

It was mid afternoon of the sixth day when they came within sight of the Halheim fort. As they crossed the open pasture to the fort the soldiers went on alert. The family stopped five hundred feet out and sat in the grass with the pack train as Raben mounted his horse and rode in alone. The soldiers recognized the healer and called the commander. Raben explained his mother, brothers, and sisters and their families had accepted his invitation to come to his estate.

The commander and a mounted squad rode with Raben back to his family. Raben introduced his family. The commander relaxed as he was able to see they were indeed an extended family. They decided to camp overnight in the field so the military scribes had time to draw up papers for the immigrants. Raben returned with the commander to his office where gold coins exchanged hands to facilitate the immigration.

By noon the next day the family had their papers and passed through the gate and fort into Halheim. For all but Adlebert it was their first time in a Roman town. They looked about taking in the Romanized citizens and buildings. They drew an equal amount of attention from the citizens. Raben led them through the town to a farmstead just outside of the town where he’d made arrangements for a campsite. Once they began setting up camp Raben took his four unmarried fifteen to seventeen year old nieces into town to buy supplies. The girls were amazed at the selections in the markets. Unfortunately they attracted the wrong kind of attention.

A group of young men began stalking the group as they made their purchases and headed out of town. The girls became anxious but Raben told them they were safe. As they cleared the village the men surrounded the group making lewd comments and requests.

Raben, who was the smallest and looked the youngest of the group, stepped forward. “Boys, if you value your lives I suggest you head back into town.”

“Oh, We’re scared!” The leader laughed. “Run on home little boy before you get hurt.”

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