First of the great Germanic migrations

 

The first book in the epic series THE CIMBRIAN WAR is now available in print, ebook and on Kindle Unlimited.

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The Cimbri Appear

ISBN 978-1-7375539-2-2

In 120 BC a cataclysmic tidal wave destroys the Jutland peninsula, home to the Cimbri, a Germanic tribe already living on the edge of survival.

                                          

The Cimbri nation embarks on an unprecedented migration that will take them on a twenty-year quest to find a new homeland. Following the ancient trade routes and the great rivers of Iron-Age Europe, they traverse foreboding swamps, primordial forests, vast plains, and towering mountains.

When a jealous god’s curse is revealed as the reason for their sufferings, the Cimbri must continue their epic journey, but their rampage in Noricum has attracted the attention of the Roman republic.

The Cimbri Appear is a historical fiction novel, full of action, adventure, suspense, betrayal, and romance. Archeological and historical facts are woven into a fictional world of violence, climatic change, and social upheaval.

Chapter One

Jutland

September 120 BC

 

The morning that changed my life forever began no differently than any other.

My mother, Ishild, pushed an errant strand of blonde hair back from her face, leaving a dark smudge on her forehead as she added a piece of wood to the fire. She exclaimed and looked up in alarm at the thatch roof when a shower of sparks rose, watching for any that may have settled into the dry straw.

 

She was tall and fair, sturdily built with a strength of character that made her a perfect match for my father. The two complimented each other in every way. Golden blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and a quick smile or a laugh for a joke, but just as quick to anger when provoked.

 

Smoke from the morning cooking fires hung low over the village, creating a haze just above the rooftops. A sudden breeze cleared the air, and with it came a feeling of unexplained foreboding, as the people outside looked about, sensing something was amiss.

My family was seated at the solidly built roughhewn table my father had built before I was born, laughing at something my three-year-old sister Hilgi had just done, when the sound of the sentry’s warning horn jarred us from our breakfast.

 

Borremose, the fortress of the Wolf Clan of the Cimbri, sat on high ground, an island within a man-made lake, near the northern end of the Cimbrian Chersonese. The only approach was a stone causeway that crossed the shallow lake and entered the village through a large gateway framed by oak timbers.

 

Thick doors of oak planks hung from iron hinges, and a great oak beam barred the gate.

 

An earthen embankment rose from the lake, on top of which stood a double walled timber palisade with a platform around the inside that allowed defenders to keep watch and fight over the top of the wall.

 

My father, Haistulf, hunno of the Wolf Clan, dropped what he was eating, seized his weapons and raced outside to see men running to the walls, expecting an attack. I was a few steps behind him and stopped abruptly when a shadow passed overhead. Thousands of birds of every kind were in panicked flight, passing over the village, racing eastward as if Hel herself were chasing them. The animals in the village added to the racket assaulting my ears, bawling and bleating as if they had seen a predator.

 

When I reached the walkway, I was shocked to discover the surrounding lake had disappeared, rushing back down the streambed that led to the Limsfjord, exposing the mud and deep pits, sharpened stakes, and other defenses under the surface.

 

The base of my skull tingled, and the hair on my arms stood up as my body reacted to the signs of impending danger. In stunned silence, we all looked westward as a growing rumble filled the air. A thin dark line formed where the sea met the horizon and as the noise grew, so did that line until it disappeared behind the trees between us and the shore. There was a distant crash of sound, accompanied by spectacular fountains of water splashing skyward as we all realized we were watching a monstrous wave impact the outer islands and banks. I stood transfixed; my feet rooted to the planks of the walkway as I watched helplessly.

Men ran and jumped off the wall, some injuring themselves when they landed. They ran for their homes and families, slamming doors behind them in a futile attempt to shut out the approaching doom. Trees fell before the tremendous force as wheat to the scythe, cracking so loudly it rivaled Donar’s thunder. Enormous oaks that stood for hundreds of years were splintered and stripped of branches as lesser trees were toppled and swept along in the deluge.

The colossal wave slowed, its force somewhat diminished when it struck land and forest, but it continued to surge up the unobstructed streambed to the edge of the protective lake. I was finally jolted to action by my father’s shouts and turned for the stairs leading to the courtyard. Half running and half falling I stumbled down until he grabbed my shoulder and shoved me against the earthen bank that formed the lower part of the wall.  

The deafening roar of the wave and its terrible destruction drowned out screams of panic from man and beast as the ground trembled beneath my feet. When the wave impacted the fortress walls it broke or pushed over the palisade timbers above our heads, creating a cave-like space that protected us from the debris that topped the wall. Water slopped over the earthen rampart into the courtyard, filling the basin within the fortress like a barrel. We were spared most of the force of the wave as its momentum slowed, having traveled miles inland.

 

Its last strength died on the ridge of high ground at the center of the peninsula, and it gradually slowed, then paused for a few moments, and began draining away into the river valleys and fjords back to the sea. The retreating waters swept away untold numbers of houses, wagons, animals, and people into the sea, leaving still more lying across the land covered with thick layers of sand and gravel.

 

All low-lying areas were covered in standing water. Bogs retained the sea water in their basins and fields were flooded, any unharvested crops were ruined. The seaside communities on the western side were destroyed. Most of the farmsteads were built in protected areas to avoid the winds and now were either swept away or covered in the remaining water. The defensive lake around the fortress was refilled, but now it contained the broken remains of men and animals, along with all the detritus that came from the flood. It had taken only moments to transform our land from the bright colors of fall to a dirty brown.

 

The trees that remained standing were broken and twisted like the teeth of an old crone.

 

The fortress was flooded chest deep, and we waited until most of it receded before crossing the draining current to return to our home.

My mother had followed us to the doorway and watched wide-eyed as the wave crested the palisade. She ducked back into our home, slamming the door in a hopeless effort to keep the water out. She screamed at her sister Nilda to get into the rafters and threw Hilgi to her, scrambling up behind them. When the water entered, they were safe and when my father forced the door open the water came rushing back out, carrying many of our belongings with it.

 

Relieved that the family had survived intact, my father and I joined the people outside who had already moved several palisade logs that blocked the gate when the water rushed out. Nilda and my mother helped the injured. 

 

Everywhere there was shock and despair as the people tried to comprehend what had happened. Among the injuries and death, we discovered that the wave had swept away the buildings where meat and grain had been stored for the winter. The dirty seawater had destroyed everything in the storage pits inside the various homes.

 

A sudden shout warned us of a second wave approaching and the people ran for something to hold onto, but this one weakened quickly and only rolled through the area and did not crest the top of the earth rampart.

 

Storm clouds gathered on the horizon, a sign that our ordeal was not yet complete. Within the hour the people had to seek whatever shelter they could find as the sea god Njoror followed the great flood with a frightful storm. Wind and rain, lightning and thunder threatened to destroy those that survived the flood.

 

By nightfall, the terrible fury subsided, and a soaking downpour set in. Our people spent a sleepless night huddled in fear under whatever shelter they could find, praying to the gods for mercy, fearing it was the end of the world. The buildings inside the fortress were mostly intact and provided some shelter from the cold and rain, but there were no fires, and many died before morning, cold and wet, shivering uncontrollably, and slipping into a deep sleep they would never awaken from.   

 

When dawn finally broke, the clouds were low and gray, and a light mist blanketed the earth. The rain had stopped, but the air was damp and thick. Moisture clung to everything, and it was cold enough to see my breath. We all shivered in our wet clothes, and my family huddled together with Hilgi in the middle for warmth. There was no sun that day to disperse the haze, and in the weak light my father gathered his men and issued instructions to scatter and search for survivors.

 

People climbed from the sodden wreckage of their homes, calling for loved ones, gathering the remains of their belongings, trying to round up their surviving animals, weeping over those who were lost. Most of the cattle and other livestock that had not been slaughtered for winter were still pastured out on the heath. Because it was higher ground, it had escaped the worst of the flooding.

 

When I emerged from what was left of our home, I stood frozen in place, hardly able to comprehend the carnage that had occurred in such a short time.

The wrath of Njoror was spent.