Historical setting: 589 C.E. when Brittany was forest
It was a long night and day and night again of celebrating this vague hope that generations may come and this tribe by the Loire may go on.
On this new morning I am following the pagan tribe of hunters, though I’ve set my own sights on finding this Christian, Columbanus. I’ve been told he is living with his followers in the Vosges Mountains. The hunters of this tribe work in small groups of two’s and three’s, probably because, while thirty-some bowmen are useful for warfare against humankind, the deer hunt is more intimate.
Guldilyn takes me to the two who were hunting in the mountains when they came upon these Christians living in the ruin of Annegray.
“They are Heinrique and Auldouff. They hunt the distant places you want to visit and they will teach you the bow.”
So Guldilyn has assigned mentors and I believe, from their expressions, I’m something of an unwelcome intrusion – a sprouting upstart with no possible good sense. At least my tonsure is nearly hidden now under the rough pattern of unkempt curls, and my unshorn beard doesn’t reek of Christian monk.
This entire tribe is on a slow trek north and east, mostly men, but the few women among us are at the front of the pack with their Druid, Balfour. Maybe that is so we will keep a woman’s pace, or possibly women have a place of leadership among these people. I follow behind Heinrique and Auldouff who are walking side-by-side talking to one another and make no glance or gesture at all to include me. They seem to have a lot to talk about but are speaking only in their tribal language leaving the Roman edges of the common tongue understood but not spoken. For a moment their shared story has humor. They both laugh, but then they glance back at me and I can guess I am the punch line.
This wilderness is hardly a journey of new discovery for these two. They seem to know this path well. Even the rest sites have been set here on an earlier journey. There is no wonder in it. We walk most of the day at a good pace so this evening we are in a place where the river we’ve been following cascades over winter ice. Amid the rocky ledges protruding in the woodlands are several caves and here we have our camp.