Celtic Connection – Naked Blue Warriors

Celtic Men and Women were warriors

The Nameless Novel is off for review by my trusted friend, Paul. While waiting, I have returned to the Journey Through Time series. I have slipped back in time from the 900 AD Viking book, to tell the story that begins in 50 AD, during the Roman Age when Caesar waged war against the Celtic tribes of northwestern France and Belgium. With that bit of intro, I want to take you to the opening scene of the story. I hope you enjoy it. Oh, just before I do, the Ambiani were noted by Caesar as fierce fighters who had blue tattoos and who fought naked.

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The early autumn mist had begun to descend upon the settlement of a village surrounded by a wooden palisade. Outside the gates of the palisade, scattered houses edged the bogs that flanked the river that flowed to the sea. An ill-kept road linked several other villages along the river. The village was home to trades people and artisans who made dyes from various plants that were native to the countryside, the most important being the blue dye that was made using the woad flowers. The village was the link to other villages along the river.

The druids who lived in the forests, were not only the link with the protective gods and goddesses, they were also the source of news from a larger world. Their primary protector was the god Cernunnos, the horned god of the forest, the green god.

Celtic Warrior

The people, called Ambiani, had claimed the land on both sides of the river four hundred years earlier. They were just one tribe of the larger Belgic federation. They were farmers, fishermen, metal workers, and warriors. Claiming and keeping this land that was rich was met with continual need to defend the land. Most of their enemies came out of the north. As fierce as the Germanic barbarians were, the Ambiani were rightly feared as guerilla fighters that slipped in and out of the forests, naked warriors painted with blue dye which was also used in intricate tattoos that were unique to each warrior.

Lugorix lifted another square of peat onto the cart, his dark hair pulled back and tied with a leather thong. Like the men working at his side, he wore nothing for the dank water and the mud destroyed clothing which only got in the way of their labours. Lugorix was tall, even for an Ambiani. His arms, chest, and face had patterns that told a story as a young man. There was ample space for the story, his story yet to be lived. He was named after the god, Lugus, the god of harvests, commerce, and tradesmen.

The men worked until the light told them night was approaching. They pulled the wagon filled with blocks of peat by hand. Four men pulled and another four pushed the cart down the trail to reach an open field where they then unloaded the cart onto raised stands where the peat would dry. The peat blocks would eventually be used in the fires of the smiths, and in the kitchens of each family for cooking and heating when winter came.

The work done, the men, most of them between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five, grinned and slapped each other on their backs and began talking about the meal that waited and the young women who would be there. Lugorix was being teased by his best friend, Drutalos about Lugorix’s fascination with a sixteen-year-old woman named Cartimandua. Drutalos was stout, aptly named after the mighty oak.

“Lugo, I don’t think I’d tangle with Carti if I was you. I mean, she’s deadly with that long knife of hers. If you get too close, she might just unman you. Then what would you do? No shaft to penetrate the mysteries of a woman to father sons. If I were you, I’d turn my eyes to Fiacha. She’s got the perfect body for gifting a man with many sons.”

“I thought that you were interested in Fiacha?”

“She’s not interested in me,” Drutalos confessed with a grin. “Her best friend Peccia told her that I was hands off. Peccia wants me. I mean, why wouldn’t she?”

“Does she want you, Dru, or that mighty shaft between your legs,” Lugorix said with a teasing laugh.

“Do you blame her? I mean, it’s the biggest prick ever,” Drutalos said with some exaggeration.

The ribaldry between the eight men continued as the took a quick bath in a bend of the river that had provided a beach of pebbles. The cold water washed the mud that had found every crevice and had even coated their hair. More important than the mud, was being able to get rid of the sour stench. Finally clean, they took the path toward the village where others were also gathering. Only the aged men and women wore rough, thin robes of course cloth. The younger women wore skirts, while the children ran about unencumbered by clothing.

At the entrance to the village, two older men stood guard. Lugorix was impressed, as always with their tattoos that covered most of their body. The two men had shaven heads that were also tattooed. One of those men was his father, Orgetorix. The other was his uncle Segovax.

“Your mother has returned,” Orgetorix said to his son. “She’s in council with the council. She seemed troubled when she came through the gate. I’d advise that you keep a low profile and don’t antagonise her when she returns to the house.”

“Do you think she has information about the Romans?” Lugorix asked.

“What else? That’s all the council talks about, especially now that the Remi have allied themselves with the Romans. Cowards and dung eaters,” his father said with disdain as he spit onto the ground, an act that his uncle repeated.

Lugorix and the rest of his group wasted no time in finding the rest of their friends after having stopped at their homes to put on tunics. As expected, all were gathered near the council’s circular building. Despite the warmth, several fires were burning as two deer were being roasted on spits, as well as a young wild boar. Large pots were hung over smaller fires, pots filled with some of the early harvest from the gardens. Children were pretending to be warriors as the wrestled and play fought using sticks as their weapons. The return of their general and her trusted guard was the main topic of conversation and gossip.

Lugorix saw Cartimandua leaning against a post holding a javelin. While he had been working in the peat pits, she had been in training. He had spent his morning on the practice fields while she had been with the hunting party that had bagged the deer and the boar. As in every such village along the river, youth were trained from an early age to be warriors, as well as to work in assorted tasks for the community. There were a few exceptions, those who had valuable skills but not the body to serve as warriors. Yet even those were trained in the use of a knife should an enemy attack.

Cartimandua saw Lugorix’s gaze settle on her and smiled. She had told her mother years ago that she would marry Lugo when she was old enough. She could hardly wait for Samhain when she could mate with Lugo and claim him as hers. Her body had proclaimed her as a woman, and she now had all the rights of a woman. She would choose her mates with Lugo being her first and primary mate. Like all villagers, she looked forward to the Lughnasadh festival with the coming of the full moon, the harvest moon. This would be the first year that she would be able to dance with the adult women around the bonfire. Lugorix had been part of the men’s dance for the past two years. There was no doubt that she would take Lugo to her bed that night.

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