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Rabbo Book 5 - Chapter 3

By Mark Crocker

Holes within Holes

         Rabbo woke up just before dawn aware that the elders where still sleeping downstairs in the living room. So quietly he hopped down the stairs and slipped out though the flap in the kitchen door and head out down the garden across the little bridge into the meadow where the cattle were grazing.

         Rabbo headed towards the far corner of the meadow towards where two round houses had been built and rebuilt over the years.

         Asleep in one of the round houses was Bastet and the maiden. In the other round house was the sailor that Bastet had brought with her.

         Rabbo hopped up to the two round houses and closed his eyes and looked for Bastet’s aura.

         Having spotted Bastet’s aura Rabbo went up to the door and let himself in.

         Bastet and the maiden where snuggled together still sleeping so Rabbo went over to the fire and using the kindling and the embers in the fire, Rabbo got the fire going and started to boil water to make a warm morning drink for Bastet and the maiden.

         As the water came to the boil Rabbo heard behind him a soft moan and the sound of Bastet starting to wake up.

         “I’m boiling water” Rabbo said softly as not to wake the maiden.

         “There is cha leafs in my bag if you want to make some cha” Bastet said with the tone of sleep still in her voice.

         “I thought I should come over before you left” Rabbo said.

         “It won’t be an early start” said Bastet. “We where talking late and getting to know each other”.

         Rabbo laughed softly and added the leafs to the boiled water before he turn to look at Bastet.

         “I hope my idea won’t ruin your trade business” Rabbo said watching Bastet as she slipped on leggings and a short dress.

         “If anything dear rabbit” Bastet said thoughtfully “It will boost business. It will mean less traveling up and down the coast as everything will be centralized. That means I won’t waste time sailing up and down the coast to collect copper from one place and Tin from another and grain from yet another place’. Bastet paused as she adjusted her belt. “So much time is lost traveling up and down the coast. By having just one place to go to means I can make more trips and thus make a bigger profit. The price of trade items will go down but I will be able to make fast trips and return faster which means I can bring in more trade items which means while the price goes down I will be able to bring in more goods thus making my profit go up”.

         “I don’t understand” Rabbo said slowly trying to understand what Bastet was trying to say.

         “Look dear rabbit its simple” Bastet said smiling at Rabbo’s confusion. “It’s like this. The price goes down which means more people can afford the items. More people affording the trade items means that I have to bring more in to meet the demand. Now if you factor in that I don’t have to race up and down the coast to collect the items I need for the other end of the supply chain and instead I just have one stop instead of the eleven or twelve I normally have that means I can load up my ships with tin, copper, wool, and grain at that one location. Then I can set sail and head to my central location and unload my ship of the tin, copper, wool and grain and reload with olive oil, wine, and any other item that is needed here. What that means is my travel time if cut down dramatically. I can make three or four trips in the same time that I would make one” Bastet smiled at Rabbo before she went on. “Three or four trips means that even if I lower my price by half I come out ahead” Bastet smiled again “You would understand it better if you came along on one of my trading trips. Or you should talk to soft eyes as she understands very well about the business of supply and demand”.

         Bastet was about to continue to explain the finer details of trading but was interrupted by a soft moan from the sleeping area.

         “I think the cha is ready” Rabbo said as he poured three cups of cha.

         The maiden came and sat next to Bastet and snuggled in resting her head on Bastet’s shoulder.

         Rabbo turned his head while Bastet leaned in and kissed the maiden.

         The three of them sat drinking the cha without saying anything. Then once the cha was drunk and as Rabbo was about to leave, Bastet turned to the maiden and spoke in a soft tender voice. “You better go and say farewell to your father”.

         The maiden stood up and started to walk towards the door but stopped and then blushed as she turned and looked at Bastet.

         “I better put on more than a smile” said the maiden as she turned and reached for her dress.

         After the maiden had left Rabbo turned to Bastet “Are you finally over Solee”?

         “No” Bastet said with a sad tone in her voice. “I will never be over the passing of Solee. It’s taken me over eight hundred years since Solee passed to open up enough to let someone join with me in passion” Bastet was silent for a while before she spoke again. “Last night was special for me. I’ve not felt that touch or feeling for so long. So long in fact that I had almost forgotten what it felt like”.

         “I thought you and Athena would couple” Rabbo said with confusion entering his voice again.

          “No dear rabbit we did not couple or have been intimate. As much as Athena has tried we have not. It’s not her lack of trying rather my willingness”.

         Rabbo just nodded and then turned to leave.

* * * * *

         Plautius woke early as he normally did when on campaign. Next to him still a sleep was Merryn.

         Plautius slipped out of bed and dressed quickly and headed out of his tent to make his morning round’s, around the marching camp.

         As he passed the soldiers who were just starting their day he would nod his head or stop and have a few words with the solider.

         Plautius arrived at the west gate and climbed up into the almost finished watch tower and looked around.

         From the high point he could see inside the camp as well as outside.

         Inside the camp work parties where getting ready for their morning details while a patrol was about to head out though the west gate.

          “You” said Plautius pointing at the leader of the patrol “Come here”.

         The solider walked up to Plautius and saluted “Sir”.

         “I want to you patrol to the southeast but do not pass the line of that oak tree”. Plautius paused for a moment before he continued as he pointed at the oak tree that was about a mile away. “Do you have anyone who speaks the local language? If you don’t then trade in your most junior solider for someone who does. What I want is for you to make contact with the locals but do not fight. Be friendly and kind. I don’t want to provoke a fight. Also get a good idea of the lay out of the land and where the good clear steams are. Plus look for good strong oak trees that we can use to build a strong palisade wall. Oh and remember if you make contact be kind and friendly”.

          Plautius returned to his tent and was not surprised that Merryn was gone. As he looked around he saw a note on the bedside table. “My father will see you when the sun is at its highest point”.

* * * * *

         Merryn drifted down the forest road about three feet of the ground. She was a little upset with the telepathic hail from Merwyn but she understand that there where other matters more important then her own pleasure. Her only consolation was that if she had timed things right she would have her own reward in due time.

          Merryn thought about what Plautius had told her about what Rabbo had suggested.

         It was clear that things where about to change and if things worked out there would be very little if any bloodshed and that pleased Merryn as she had seen the face of battle a number of times.

         Merryn turned her mind away from the bloodshed she had seen and instead thought about all the possibilities that had now opened up.

         If Rabbo’s plan worked Merryn could see herself becoming very rich and with luck be able to get the rare metals she needed to carry out her own plan that she had never told anyone about, not even Wenna her own twin sister.

         Merryn chuckled to herself as she thought about her twin.

         So much alike to look at yet so different, Wenna lived in the now and rarely gave thought of what would happen tomorrow.

         Bastet had often said that Wenna was more like she was than her own daughter with one big difference. Wenna liked guys and she liked to be a mother.

         Suddenly Merryn felt sad as she remembered her younger half sister Morrigan.

         Morrigan was a sweet child but as she grew there was a smoldering anger that had filled her. Morrigan’s anger was directed at her own father who she blamed for mistreating her mother.

         The anger had grown all though her teen years and by the time Morrigan was in her twenties the anger was such that it filled her life.

         But there were times when Morrigan would seem relaxed and happy. Those times were mostly when she was with her grandfather, Merwyn or when she was with Rabbo.

         Great sadness suddenly filled Merryn as she remembered the darkest side of Morrigan.

         The first time Merryn saw Morrigan’s darkest side was just after the village that Morrigan and Merryn where living in was raided.

         Morrigan was recounting how she had defended her round house and as she did her face had lit up and her skin flushed, her eyes became wide with excitement and her breath would catch almost as if she was in a high state of rapture.

         Merryn had become alarmed but thought it was best to keep her observations to herself as she was not totally sure if she was reading things right or just putting her own interpretation on something she did not fully understand.

         After the raid Morrigan had planned and led a revenge raid on the village that had attacked them.

         And again Morrigan seemed to be in a high state of rapture when she retold the tale of how she had engaged one of the warriors.

          Rumor had it that after the raid Morrigan had gotten very passionate with a number of the men in the village and her first and only child was the end result.

          Merryn stopped her line of thought as she arrived at the lane that led down to Merwyn’s house.

* * * * *

          Rabbo sat down by the river watching Bastet, the maiden soft eyes and the sailor as they pushed the small boat out in to the main stream of the river and stated to sail away.

         Rabbo watched until the small boat went around a bend in the river and was lost to sight. Only then did Rabbo turn for home.

         As he hopped though the woods he listened to all the sounds in the woods. He could hear the birds singing and a fox trying to stalk him.

          Rabbo followed the pathway though the woods until he came to the gate that Merwyn had put there many years before.

          As Rabbo crawled under the gate he spotted two of the wild hares sitting on their hind legs boxing at each other.

          As Rabbo watched the two wild hares a thought popped into his head that watching the smaller hare fighting the larger hare was something akin to watching the small Celtic nations standing up to the might of the Roman empire.

         The smaller of the two wild hares suddenly leaped onto the back of the larger hare knocking it flat to the ground.

         Then the larger hare rolled on his back kicked wildly knocking the smaller hare off. Then the larger hare turned and ran off towards the far end of the meadow.

          Rabbo continued across the meadow until he came to the small foot bridge across the stream. Once across Rabbo hopped up though the garden until he came to Merwyn who was still gazing into the meadow.

          “Did you see that smaller hare chase of the larger hare” Rabbo asked looking up at Merwyn.

          “Yes I did”

          “It made me think about the people here standing up to the might of the Romans and that even a small group of people that fight with heart and spirit can beat and win against a larger force” Rabbo said thoughtfully.

          “Ahh but did you see the larger hare return and chase off the smaller hare” Merwyn answered also with a thoughtful tone. “You think that your idea is wrong and that the Dumnonii should stand up and fight the Romans”?

          “Maybe” Rabbo looked down at the ground and pulled on a long blade of grass until it broke. He the popped the blade of grass in his mouth. “It seems to me that the trade idea is good. But the people don’t want to change and change is not always good”.

          “Why is it that sometimes change is not good” Merwyn said.

          “You have your teacher face on” Rabbo said as he looked up.

          “Maybe but you still have not answered the question”.

         Rabbo mused for a moment and then looked up again at Merwyn giving him a sideways glance. “No” said Rabbo finally.

          “Just no” Merwyn said looking down at Rabbo.

          “I’m not playing your bloody games” said Rabbo and with that Rabbo hopped off and went in though the flap on the kitchen door.

          “One of these days you are going to push him too far” said Athena coming out of the barn.

          “It’s not happened yet. Beside what will he do that he’s not already done” Merwyn said.

          “Pee in your tea perhaps” said Athena turning back to grab two pails of milk.

         “He’s done that” Merwyn said grimacing a little.

         “What” said Athena with the look of total shock on her face?

          “He peed in my wine once” Merwyn said grimacing at the memoir of what Rabbo had done. “Rabbo had threatened and threatened to pee in my wine and one day I told him that threats are not good if you don’t back them up”.

          “And he peed in your wine” Athena said trying not to giggle.

          “Well not right away and not for some months but then one day I had been tease him and Rabbo was good natured about my teasing as he is most of the time. Well he went and got some after dinner wine and brought me some. I should have known something was up as he was being so nice. But as soon as I tasted the wine I knew he had done something. All Rabbo said was “Threats have to be back up from time to time”. And I did bring it on myself”.

         “Hey I heard that” said Rabbo shouting from the kitchen. “Remember I have very good hearing”.

         “Wenna just hailed me” said Athena. “She said the elders should be here soon for their meeting with Plautius”.

         “You heard that Rabbo” said Merwyn speaking loudly.

          “Yes, yes” Rabbo’s voice said drifting out of the kitchen. “I best get busy working out the finer details of my plan as they are sure to have thought of all the holes I left”.

          “Did he really pee in your wine” Athena said speaking very softly.

          “Hey I heard that” shouted Rabbo. “I’m not deaf you know”.

          Merwyn smiled and nodded not daring to vocalize what he was going to say. So speaking on Athena’s private telepathic mode Merwyn said “I think its best we either don’t talk about it or we talk on the private mode telepathically”.

          Athena nodded and turned to look up the lane that led from the road down to the house “Merryn is almost back”.

          Merwyn just nodded and turned back to looking at the meadow.

* * * * *

         Merryn floated down the lane hoping that Merwyn would not spot her levitating and that he would not ask too many questions. She was surprised then when Rabbo hailed her telepathically.

          “What can I do for you” Merryn asked.

          “You spent the night with Plautius and I assume you talked about what he thinks is wrong with my plan” Rabbo asked trying to sound confidant.

          “Well among other things” Merryn said. “I assume you want to know what he thought about your plan”.

         “Yes I do. There are to many if and buts and it all hangs on those that don’t know what is going on thinking something different than what is really going on”.

         “Speak plainly dear rabbit. You are not being very clear” Merryn said.

          “It’s like this. We have to fool the emperor the senate, the local warriors and the local people that they are getting what they want. The emperor and the senate we have to fool into thinking that they are winning and that they will end up having control over this area. The Dumnonii we have to fool into thinking that they are winning a war with the Romans and that they are going to win. At the same time the two elders and Plautius have to act like they are fighting each other but are in fact trade partners and that they are in fact keeping both sides from all out war and killing each other. The first issue I see and the biggest is that if any of them open their mouths then everything will go wrong”.

         “True” said Merryn “but I know that Plautius will keep his mouth shut as if word gets out he will be killed. The same goes for the two elders. So I don’t see that as an issue” Merryn was silent for a moment before she continued to speak. “The Romans keep records in great detail. That I do see as an issue. Because if someone realizes that not all the items are accounted for then someone will put two and two together and come up with the right answer and that would be that the figures don’t match. Now if that happens some of it can be accounted for by raiders and sloppy accounting. So you need to come up with away of hiding what is really going on”.

          “I never thought of that” Rabbo said sounding a little down hearted in his voice. “I see another issue to and that’s Plautius being recalled to Rome. If that happens then we will have to start all over again”.

          “Not necessarily” said Merryn. “If things work out right I will be umm Plautius man here and I will have control over him as I will have something he wants”.

          “How do you plan to keep control of Plautius if he returns to Rome”?

          “Oh I have my ways” said Merryn laughing.

          “Another issue is that the Dumnonii warriors tend to enjoy their raiding more than they should. I am worried that they might get a little carried away with the raiding and that things could get out of hand and that either one or both of the elders won’t be able to control them. As yet I’ve not come up with a way to control them” Rabbo said with worry once again creeping into his voice.

          “I think that’s a non issue. If we ask Wenna and entice her with something she wants she will help. Plus she is very good at keeping her mouth shut and controlling people” Merryn said trying to put Rabbo’s worry to rest. “You have to remember that a lot of the Dumnonii are descended from dad, mom, Wenna, Morrigan and the rest of us. Our genes are mixed with theirs and we are grandparents great grandparents and great, great grandparents as well as mothers of many of the Dumnonii. Both elders are descended from me and Wenna. We have control over them”.

         “Something else I had forgotten” Rabbo said.

         “There is also another control factor you are forgetting too. And that is fear. They also fear us as we have full mental abilities while they are latent”.

          “But fear also breeds anger and that can turn against us very quickly”.

          “That’s why we stay in the shadows and as dad puts it we pull the strings from behind” Merryn said her tone becoming soft and gentle to still Rabbo’s worries. “We just have to be careful that all. Remember how Morrigan was and what happened before she went off and anger got the better of her”?

          “Yes I remember” said Rabbo. “What a mess that was. She created a warrior cult which brings us back to the local warriors and their enjoyment of raiding and how do we control them”.

          “There is good and bad in everything Rabbo” Merryn said. “Mom often gets mistake for Morrgian. We might be able to use that to control the raiding”.

          “Some of them believe that Athena is Morrigan” Rabbo mused. “And she is fully involved with our little plan. But would she go for masquerading as Morrigan”?

          “You would have to ask her”.

          “Yes I would have to ask her” mused Rabbo.

          “The trick won’t be asking her but talking her into pretending to be Morrigan. Mom does not like being mistake for Morrigan. Its still umm painful for her” Merryn said with a tone of sadness creeping into her voice. “Look Rabbo I’ll be there soon maybe we can finish up then”?

          “Ok sure” Rabbo said his mind now racing with new possibilities.

* * * * *

         Plautius stood in his tent giving orders for the day while he waited for his horse to be saddled and brought to the command tent.

         The day to day running of an army in the field had long ago lost its glory for him and now it was a chore that he hated more than dealing with the senate or even then emperor. But like dealing with the senate or emperor it was something that had to be done. And if he delegated or ignored the daily details of running an army in the field then soon indiscipline would settle in and the army would be useless.

         Plautius laughed softly to himself as he thought about all the trouble bored soldiers could get into. The key was to keep them too busy so that they did not have time to start trouble. But that in its self could breed trouble. The trick was to find that fine balance between keeping them busy but not to busy.

          As he mused an older legionnaire entered the command tent.

          “Ahh just the man I want to see” said Plautius smiling “Last night when I came back I noticed that the defense ditch was not deep enough. I want it twice as deep and twice as wide. The dirt from the ditch can be used to increase the height of the palisade wall around the camp” Plautius paused as if the idea had just came to him before he continued to speak “I think we might be here for a while and I want the defenses so that we can withstand an attack for a long period of time. I want supplies collected that will keep us in food for a month. But don’t use our normal method of just taking. I want you to trade for the food we might need”.

          “Yes sir” said the legionnaire.

          “Oh and another thing, while the soldiers are out on work details and patrols I want them not to engage in any trouble but I want them to keep their eyes open and count how many warriors they see. I have a feeling that some of them might try to start trouble. Right now I want to avoid a fight if that is at all possible as I think we could be outnumbered here”.

          “Yes sir”

          “And I want to see the survey party that laid out this camp before I leave” Plautius then turned back to his desk and without looking up spoke again. This time his voice had a hard edge to it. “I don’t want the emperor finding out that I have been spending so much time away”.

          “Yes sir” said the legionnaire.

         “Oh and Darius it would be a pity if something happened to your only son. He’s just turned fourteen. Such a young life to lose and so ease for an accident to happen too”.

          The legionnaire suddenly stiffened and looked at Plautius. “Yes sir I understand”.

          Once the legionnaire had left Plautius sent silent thanks to Merryn who had warned him about the spy of the emperor.

         A few minutes late Plautius’s horse was brought to his tent and at the same time the survey party who had laid out the camp arrived.

         Plautius looked at the survey party and while some of them were clearly young and recruits just out of training they all looked trustworthy men.

          “When you arrived here did you see anything odd, strange or umm unusual” Plautius said smiling to each other legionnaires in turn.

          They all turned and looked at their avocati and then back at Plautius.

          “Well sire” said the avocati trying to look relaxed and instead looking very nervous.

          Plautius smiled and leaned forward in his saddle to try and seem friendlier. “You would be surprised at the odd things I have seen in my twenty five years. I remember one time in Gaul I saw a man that had antlers on his head” Plautius laughed softly to himself. “Another time I saw a talking rabbit that is just as smart and intelligent as you or I”.

         The avocati looked at Plautius thoughtfully for a moment wonder if someone had mentioned the giant bloody rabbit they had seen.

         “Just recently I had a long conversion with the talking rabbit” Plautius said trying not to sound as if he had lost his mind.

         “Sir we did see something. But I did not want my men spreading wild rumors. I told them to keep their mouths shut about it” said the avocati.

          “You did the right thing” Plautius said smiling to help relax the poor man. “Well what did your men see”?

          “It was like you said sir. It was a rabbit only huge. Taller than a tall man” the avocati said.

          Just then the youngest of the legionnaire spoke up “It was huge a monstrous thing with fangs and blood dripping from is mouth. We did not think it saw us as it seemed to be more interested in the wolves that where hunting something. Then like magic it disappeared” the young legionnaire suddenly flushed and looked down at the ground “the gods sent it to warn use that we are in danger in this land”.

          Plautius smiled at the young legionnaire “It is always wise to listens to the gods. But in this case I thing the gods where protecting you and your comrades not warning you away”.

          The young legionnaire nodded and then relaxed. He looked at Plautius and spoke again softly almost as if he did not wish the others to hear him. “You know more about the gods of this land that you are letting on about”. Then the legionnaire blush for speaking out of turn.

          Plautius gave him a long hard look then turned his horse and started to head towards the meeting with Merwyn and the elders.

* * * * *

         Merwyn, Athena, Merryn, Rabbo and the two elders sat in the garden looking into the meadow.

         “I think its going to be an early harvest this year” Merwyn said.

         The second elder nodded before he spoke “Its going to be another huge harvest. Those new methods you showed us are really paying off and we will be able to sell the Romans so much more than we planned. We just have to hide the fact that we have far more than they think. That way we will have a bigger profit”.

         “Spoken like a true merchant” said Rabbo looking up at the second elder.

         “If I didn’t know better” said the first elder “I would say you planned all of this. The Romans coming, the trade set up and the fact that you seem to know this Plautius. To me it smells of preplanning”.

         “Seeing into the future is Rabbo’s area of ability” said Merryn looking down at Rabbo.

         Rabbo turned and looked at Merryn before laughing softly.

          “With all this extra rain and the young grain growing fast I think it will be what I use to call a bumper crop” Merwyn said as he closed his eyes for a moment. “Looks like there is a high pressure system moving into our area at last and that will warm things up”.

          Merryn looked at Merwyn and the spoke softly “What if thinks don’t go as planned”?

         Merwyn opened one eye “When do they go as planned. Something always happens that make it so that the plans have to be changed”.

          “That is why I have made it flexible” Rabbo said as he listened for hoof beats.

         The second elder looked down at Rabbo “It’s all so complicated. But I think I understand things better than I would have if I had never grown up with you”.

          Athena who had been deep in thought spoke softly and slowly “It would be hard to believe or understand if you had not grown up without a talking super intelligent rabbit. This would all be something that you would not believe” Athena grinned “But you both grow up with Rabbo and this is normal. Think of the other nations that have only heard stories and half stories of this mystical talking rabbit that is wiser than all the bards and druids. To them this is something that would be hard to swallow or believe”.

          The first elder laughed “You should hear the stories I heard in my younger days when I traveled over the water to Gaul and down to Rome”. He turned and looked at the second elder. “If you had seen the things I’ve seen you would be a lot more tolerant than you are. When I was in Rome I saw people of so many different colors and shades”.

          “I know I’ve heard your tales of so many people living so close together that they can’t breathe. I’ve heard your tales of lands of just sand and dust. I am glad that I stayed here.

         “But if you had seen it with your own eyes then you would understand” said the first elder.

          “Then would I be me? No I think I would not be me as I am now. Would I be as you put it a better man? I am or I would like to think a good man. I put our people before myself and I am a good hand with a sword, spear dagger and any other thing I can use as a weapon” The second elder said his voice becoming a little dry.

          “I did not mean it that way. What I meant was that you would see things differently”.

         “Oh I am blind am I” said the second elder turning towards the first elder.

          The first elder looked at him for a moment “and deaf too”.

          Laughing softly the second elder reached out and placed a hand on the shoulder of the first elder “we are who we are. We both do what is right for our people. And in doing so we become wealthy as do our people. You know as well as I do that the key to being a good chief is to improve the lives of those that let us lead them. If we don’t become wealthy then how can our people become wealthy”?

          “I’m glad you have come around to my way of thinking” said the first elder smiling.

          “I never needed to come around to your way of thinking. I just needed someone other than myself to ask the questions I needed asked so that I could answer them myself. What I did was have you ask those questions and then listen to the answers and confirm what I already thought. To be truthful I had already made up my mind to work with this Roman and all I needed was to voice the other side of the points of view and hear them being put down so that I could put the few misgivings I had to rest”.

          The first elder looked at him carefully before speaking. “You had me fooled”.

          “And me” said Rabbo on the group telepathic mode.

          Both Athena and Merryn agreed while Merwyn looked thoughtful.

          “You have always been highly intelligent” Merwyn said looking at the second elder.

          “I should be plus I have certain other gifts that if you trace my line back eighteen generations you will see where the gifts come from. My grandfather once told me before he passed to the other world that if you see things only as black or white you see nothing that you should always use all the tools at hand to come up with the answer that is best for everyone and not just yourself”.

          “I remember your grandfather very well. So sad that he passed when he did. His wisdom would have been useful right now” Athena said.

         “He was stupid to go hunting that great white hart in the middle of winter. He knew better” said the first elder.

         Laughing softly the second elder smiled. “Not his smartest move ever. But still being one hundred and two summers he could get away with things. I do miss his wisdom”.

          “Longevity runs in your line” Merwyn asked.

          “Oh yes indeed it does. Normally we died either in battle like my father did or of great old age. My grandfather’s father passed at one hundred and tens summers, and his father passed at one hundred and twenty one summers. While his father was only seventy when he passed but that was in a raid where he traded his life so that his sons could live” The second elder suddenly looked very proud. “I trace my line back to the founder who was known as Angus son of the bow. He was the son of a great warrior who came from another world”.

         “You are descended from Angus MacBow” Merwyn asked with a surprised tone in his voice.

         “I don’t know about any MacBow. But my famed ancestor Angus son of the bow was said to have been the son of a man that was said that he came from the stars. But his wife was human from the hot lands far to the south”.

          Athena nodded and looked at Merwyn. “He is descended from Angus. I have watched over his line”. Athena paused for a moment “he is also descended from me on his mothers family line and thus from you”.

          “Why did you tell me” Merwyn said looking at Athena crossly.

          “I thought it best not to tell you” Athena said as she crossed her arms.

         “I hate to interrupt but I hear horse’s hoofs” Rabbo said as he turned towards the lane.

* * * * *

         The moon had risen and the night sky was shining bright with many stars by the time that Plautius, the elders, Athena, Merryn Merwyn and Rabbo had finished working out the final details of the planned trading center.

         “I must say that even if I get recalled to Rome this will be very profitable for all of us”.

         Rabbo laughed softly “who would have thought that the great general would turn trader”.

         “General’s do what they must my dear friend” Merwyn said as he leaned back in his chair.

          Plautius reached down to the low chair that Rabbo was sitting in and slid his fingers down the back of Rabbo’s head and back. “I have seen many rabbits. And if you will forgive me I’ve eaten a few. But I have never seen a rabbit as large of as intelligent as you”.

          “Thank you. I think” Rabbo said.

          “Talking of food” the second elder said as he turned and looked at the first elder before looking at Plautius. “The day after tomorrow we are having a gathering for local traders and farmers to trade their wares. Would you like to be our guest”?

          Plautius laughed and then spoke thoughtfully “I only have one issue. And that is while I maybe tall for a Roman compared to you I am short. I have seen Celtic children in Gaul that are taller than I am”.

         The second elder looked at Plautius out of the corner of his eye and laughed softly “aye but no child is as skilled with a sword as you. Or so I have heard”.

          Plautius smiles “and how did you come by that”?

         “I have long ears” said the second elder.

         “But not as long or as good of hearing as Rabbo’s” laughed the first elder.

          All three laughed as the looked at Rabbo who was trying to look small.

          “You will be able to see first hand what our craftsmen can make and how skilled they are” said the second elder.

          “Oh I have seen their wares many times” Plautius said. “The Celtic peoples are known throughout the empire for their skills and not just with swords and spears”.

         The discussion carried on late into the night. And all the while Rabbo worried if anyone had spotted the glaring hole in his plan.

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