by 300AD the roman empire extended from Arabia to Britain...but they wanted more...more land, more peoples law and subservient to Rome...but no people so important as the powerful Sarmatians to the East. Thousands died on that field, and when the smoke cleared on the fourth day, the only Sarmatian soldiers left alive were members of the decimated but legendary Sarmatian cavalry. The Romans, impressed by their bravery and horsemanship spared their lives. In exchange, these warriors were incorporated into the Roman military.
Better they had died that day. For the second part of the bargain that they struck indebted not only themselves, but their sons, and their sons and so on, to serve the empire as Knights.
I was such a son.
Our post was Britain, or, at least, the Southern half, for the land was divided by a seventy three mile wall, built to protect the empire from the native fighters of the north. So, as our forefathers had done, we made our way and reported to our roman commander in Britain, ancestrally named for the first, Artorius...
After eight years, patience and numbers are wearing thin -- the graveyard too crowded, too many knights gone on, long gone on, to run free beneath different skies. Britain is beginning to get inside their bones; the damp here, the grey skies, the cold, making some of the Knights seemed dampened down, tempered...making other's fire splutter and spark. Band of brothers, closer than kin, a bond forged back to back, sword in hand. If a fight is not your own, you cling to the smallest reason; the smallest motivation to keep you lifting your sword, to keep going back to the battle again, and again? What reason did they have?
A promise made some long ago day. Of freedom, too far in the future to even be dreamed of. And each other.