Agon stared across the dark plains of his fathers farm.It was early morning and the sun was just peering over the horizon.
Farming definately wasn't a good living.Agon and his father had to spend all day working in the fields tending the crops.Starting at dawn and wearily returning inside at dusk.Agon's clothes were covered in patches.He looked like a quilt.His shoes squeezed his feet,giving him blisters and his clothes clung tight to his body.His sister's dress was torn in several places and her hair was stringy and knotted.His families' house consisted of one room.There was a bed in the corner and an indent in the centre for the fire.The limp bodies of chickens and turkeys hung from the ceiling.Even though there had been a good harvest that year his family were still stuggling to make ends meat.
They used to live in Western Germany but the Huns had invaded.Destroying their homes and generations of work.So Agon and his family had to uplift and move with the rest of their clan,The Visigoths, into Roman territory.His father had built their farm from scratch.Using timber from the forrest surrounding them.He had tried hard to make it as comfortable as possible but they were just getting by.The thatched roof had holes in it and some of the framework had been infested by woodworm.
Agon was dark,with rich brown hair and eyes.He was of medium build,and quite strong.Years of practising with his sword on a stump in the yard had made sure of that.He was quite a good swordsman but compared to other
boys in the village he was pretty average.
Agon went back inside to retreive his sword,and began his daily training.All young boys in his clan were expected to be an able swordsman.Fighting was very important in their way of life.Agon raised the sword above his head and swung at the wooden stump which he practiced on.He then proceded to perform a series of twists,stabs and lunges.
His mother came running out of the house.
"Fredan's here, he says he has an important message from the clan chief."
Fredan was a tall, broad shouldered man with arms like tree trunks and legs to match. His eyes were sunken and had the look of someone who had seen a lot.
Agon leant his sword against the back wall and walked through the door to see Fredan leaning against the supporting beam of the house with a worried frown creasing his face.
"We've been called to war Agon.There has been trouble with the romans and General Fritigern has started rounding up all the men he can find.Your father won't be coming,his disability prevents him."
Agon's father had had to have his leg amputated when he was hit by a crossbow bolt and it started to turn green and poison his body.For a few months he was extremely ill but by sheer luck he survived.
"Your father has asked me to watch over you in his absense,stay near me and I promise no harm will come to you."
Agon frowned.He didn't need someone to watch over him.He was fifteen,almost a man.
"I'm not a baby,I don't need a minder.I can look after myself thanks." Huffed Agon.
"You speak with much confidence for someone so young,"said Fredan,showing no offence.
"Do not be over confident in your abilities.Fools die thinking like that."
Agon's face burned with embarrasment.
"We leave tomorrow morning,we'll meet the others at the clan hall.Bring only essential supplies.We'll be fed once we join the rest of the army but we have a long journey to get there so bring as much food as you can."
With that he strode out the door,ducking under the wooden frame as he rose about a foot higher than it.
That night Agon had been too excited and nervous to sleep.He had always wanted to go to war but now it was actually happening the prospect terrified him.In the morning he packed his deerskin satchel with food and a change of clothes, strapped his sword to his waist and followed Fredan to the clan hall.The clan chief, Oengar, met them at the door. Agon bowed as Oengar approached him.
"Good luck Agon. I hope you are able to return," said Oengar solemly.
"Thank you," replied Agon, bowing again.
Oengar's son was standing on a tree stump, attempting to assemble the chaotic throng of men. Giving up he yelled an order and the men surged towards the edge of the village. The journey had begun.
Agon slumped on a bank by the roadside. His legs were sore and his feet were covered in blisters. They had been traveling for almost two weeks now, and the strain of carrying heavy packs and covering so much distance was beginning to take its toll on the men. Some had slipped in potholes in the road and had broken limbs. Resulting in them having to be carried on a stretcher. Making it even harder for the ones who had to carry them. They were stopping more and more frequently. Food and moral were dangerously low and they still had many miles to cover before they reached the rest of the army.
There had been no deaths yet but it wasn't looking good.
Fredan smiled down at him. He had had no problem keeping up with the rest. He was even carrying the packs of several injured men on top of his own. He extended a meaty hand towards Agon and pulled him up. Fredan picked up Agons pack and shouldered it.
"Are you sure you can manage that?" asked Agon, feeling guilty.
"I'm fine, and anyway you need to conserve your strength. You're not looking too good."
Fredan had a point. Agon felt terrible.His head was thumping like a hammer and his stomach was doing backflips. And the non stop walking hadn't had a good effect on his body. His muscles ached and burned with every step.
After what felt like weeks, they were in sight of the rest of the army. They had come over the top of a hill and there, splayed out before them was a mass of people and animals. Important men rode about on horses trying to keep order. Sheep and cows brayed as their owners tried to herd them onto carts and men ate and drank, singing loudly and swigging beer and ale.
Many of Agon's clan got so excited that they forgot their exhaustion and ran down the steep slope, most falling in the process and rolling several hundred feet down the side of the hill, much to the amusemant of their fellows and the men down on the ground. As the rest of the clan arrived at the base of the hill they were guided to a cluster of tents. Drunken men pushed food and drink into their grateful arms.
The next morning all the tents were packed up, the animals and food had been bundled onto carts and the army had been arranged into a formation.
Pikemen at the front, Agon, and the swordsman behind them, archers at the sides and cavalry flanking them. Agon heard murmurs of surprise ripple through the crowd. Before them a tall,muscled man dressed in gleaming armour and with a shining sword at his side rode infront of them on a tall white stallion. Fredan gasped.
"That's General Fritigern," he whispered, awstruck."The man who organised this whole thing, the man who's tales of bravery have spread through every village in the country."
Agon didn't quite share Fredan's level of dedication but all the same, General Fritigern had something that made you want to follow him. A born leader.
The crowd silenced abrubtly. Fritigern had begun to speak.
"We will march to Adrianople and take what is rightfully ours. A home where we can feel safe."
At this the crowd erupted into cheers and whoops. Fritigern waited calmy until the men lapsed into silence again then continued.
"Emperor Valens agreed to let us stay in this land after our homes were invaded and destroyed by the Huns. However he has not been fair to us. So we fight back. Now, we march!"
With that, he turned around, spurred his horse forwards and galloped away. The section commander barked an order to move and, line by line the army began to move forwards.
The first night, when they stopped to rest. Agon, Fredan and Ronan, who they had become friendly with, set up camp in a small clearing with a few other men. It was a clear night, the sky twinkled with stars and the clearing was lit up with an eerie white light from the full moon.
A rabbit roasted over the fire. Ronan picked up a branch and began to wittle it with his knife. He was a short, fair man with golden blond hair and bright blue eyes. He was around twenty years old and lived only a few miles from Agon's clan. He knew the clan cheif Oengar,they had fought alonside eachother in a battle against the Hun's.
As the night went on, they ate the rabbit and settled down to sleep with their backs against a fallen tree. Agon lay awake, gazing at the stars and wondering what the Romans would look like. From his father's descriptions, and the stories that passed around the village. They were tall, muscled, and rich. They washed every day and wore strange peices of material, which they wrapped around their bodies. Their army was the most formidable force in all of Europe.
The next morning, their departure was delayed because, acorrding to Ronan, General Fritigern and his advisors couldn't decide what direction to march in.
"So, this is the great army that is supposed overthrow the romans, confused as to what direction to walk in." Huffed Fredan.