Guithelm, Archbishop of Londugnum made a special trip to the docks to catch Festuscato before he slipped away again. Father Gaius and Father Lavius came with him, along with several other clerics and a number of monks from the monastery near Bishopsgate. Festuscato took Guithelm aside and explained what he was trying to do. Gaius, who butted in, became astounded, because Festuscato never explained. But Gaius had figured out most of it, and the rest sort of made sense in a convoluted Festuscato sort of way. After that, Festuscato introduced the Archbishop to the gathered Lords from Cornwall, Britain, Wales and Amorica—those that were planning on resettling on British soil—and left the Bishop in Constantine’s good hands while he went back to his observer status.
He still played observer when they left Londugnum two days later and headed north toward York. When they stopped for the night, he stepped into Constantine’s tent with a thought. “You have three thousand men from Cornwall and Wales that missed all the action against the Huns,” he remarked. “And with your son and his men, a number of Jutes and some Saxons, that makes over four thousand men, more than equal to the reported army of Wanius, even if your troops have no horsemen with them. They are two or three days ahead of us. So, what were your orders when they get to York?”
Constantine paused before he frowned. “I am getting discouraged.” He called several men of the three hundred and wrote several letters to his son and the other leaders of the advance troop, outlining his expectations concerning positions around York and eyes on the Norwegian shore. “I was just thinking to get them there. I don’t think I will ever get the hang of this.”
“You will,” Festuscato encouraged the man, but he stopped the letter carriers. “But a suggestion. You have good men in Julius, Cador, Ban, Hywel and Hellgard the Jute. That covers the basics. Maybe Weldig of Lyoness, Gregor the Saxon, Hywel’s Welsh friend Anwyn, and Emet who is from York who knows that land might be added. I thought you might call them in and get all of their thoughts first before making a decision, even if you end up where you began.”
Constantine frowned again. “No, I will never get this.”
“You will,” Festuscato encouraged again. Then he felt glad he only had to call for a vote one time. Emet, with Hywel’s backing wanted to tell the advance group to at least test Wainus’ defenses. Cador and Julius argued for them to take up strong positions and let Wainus worry about the testing. Festuscato turned to Constantine, who he instructed in how to approach things if they had a disagreement.
“Set up and wait for us, and cut York off from the countryside is what I was thinking,” Constantine said. “But I want to be fair about this. Raise a hand if you support Cador and Julius in their plan.” Everyone raised their hands except Emet and Hywel. Even Anwyn’s sheepish hand went up as he shrugged for his friend Hywel. “I would say that is a clear majority. Listen Emet. I know you are deeply concerned for your family in York. We are all concerned with you. But I think an attack at this point might cause Wainus to do something stupid. I want to make the best try to get your family back, alive. Are we agreed?” Every man there said yes and offered hands of support for Emet, and the meeting broke up. Constantine ended up sending the letters he had written before he readied himself for the critique. Festuscato came straight to the point.
“I would say, normally, it is best not to give your opinion before a vote. Some may be swayed to vote in your direction even if they don’t agree. There are ways to guide things by your questions without giving away the answers. Above all, you must appear to value everyone’s contribution equally, and in this case, you did that well.”
“Nope. I will never get the hang of this.”
“Yes you will.”
When they arrived at York, Constans had a hard time holding back the men. The town looked burned, and parts of the fort as well, and the three thousand men who missed the action before were anxious for a fight. Constantine doubled the number of men around York with a thousand British and a thousand Amorican foot soldiers, and more than two thousand horsemen which included some Jutes and Saxons. Some of the Lords figured Wainus had to be shaking scared. Some went to check where an assault on the town might be most effective.
It became quite a band of men who rode out to meet with Wainus and the Pictish Chiefs. Festuscato, Julius and Constantine brought Constans, for his education. Ban, Cador and Hywel represented their people groups, and Emet came for York. Hellgard the Jute and Gregor the Saxon had groups of their own to represent, and then the Four Horsemen were not going to be left behind. Festuscato thought fourteen might not be the best number, but better than thirteen. Wainus brought seven Chiefs down from the fort and seven more men in an honor guard. With Wainus, that made fifteen, and Festuscato thought of it as deliberate, just to be obnoxious.
Constantine did not spend much time on pleasantries. “You have until noon tomorrow,” he said. “To lay down your arms and surrender, unconditionally.” He said nothing about what would happen if they did or did not surrender. He waited for the question.
“We hold the high ground,” Wanius said. His British was not very good, but understandable. “Maybe you do have twice our number. You will break on our rock and wash away.”
“What do you hope to gain by your death?” Constantine sounded so reasonable.
“I will gain by my life. We will take the Northland that you British have abandoned. We will own the people, the land, and the cattle on all the hills.”
“Reason and common sense don’t appear to be working,” Constantine shook his head and turned to the assembly. “Any suggestions other than threats.”
“Allow me,” Festuscato stepped up. “Wainus, let me explain things to you. You see these men? They represent the Welsh, British, Cornish, Jute, Saxon, and Romans too. They are, everyone of them, a Lord with thousands of followers. Outside of the Scots and Picts, my whole island is here against you. Did I tell you this is my island? It is by Imperial Decree, and we have just taken those upstart Huns and we threw them off my island. Now, do you see this man? I have appointed him high chief of my island and war chief. Do you know what a war chief is? He calls, and the whole island comes to him to join together, to fight together, to squish any upstart bugs that want to get ahead of themselves. Are you with me so far? My island. And the whole island is united against you under the war chief. Do you know what I mean, united? Good…
“Now, you have three choices. You can pledge your allegiance to the high chief and war chief of Britannia and make amends for the damage and destruction you have caused. Or, you can refuse to join these other fine men, but you must pledge to go home and live in peace, again, after making amends. Or, you can die. It seems to me you have no other choices. But if you fight, understand that even if you later try to surrender, there will be a price to pay. Now, I suggest you go back up to the fort and think about it.”
“It is too late for peace,” one of the chiefs said, and shook his head sadly, but he turned and the others turned with him, one by one. Wanius did not get a chance to say anything else, because his back-up deserted him.
“What did he mean, it’s too late for peace?” Emet felt concerned and the others all felt for him.