Copyright 2012 by Steven Carr
Gariannonum’s end began with the departure of the Stablesian Horse.
An elite, all-Italian mobile squadron comprising two hundred seasoned, loyal equites sagittarii, hardened veterans through decades of frontier patrols and campaigning. They had arrived from Gaul in better times with a fearsome reputation; experts in barbarian tactics and marsh warfare, knowledge that would prove to be especially useful among the Anglian Saxon Shore garrisons. Conversely, it was this that also led in turn to incessant bouts of politicking by many an envious legate desperate to procure their services; such was the stature of Gariannonum’s illustrious residents.
Aulus Septimius knew this when the Ignis Aeternus first bore him unto the misty shores of Britannia eighteen years ago, steadfastly refusing to be cowed into submission by these overtly public displays of bravado and leaving politics to more impetuous, wealthier men than himself. By all accounts his work had been hugely successful; the Horse had remained stationed there with a minimum of outside interference for the duration of his extended term as the cohort’s senior centurion – until two months prior.
Septimius’ compassionate nature decided the matter alone, sending them north under solemn oath to relieve the dwindling garrison at Branodunum. Other frontier commanders might well have looked to their own station first, but Septimius didn’t hesitate. He could not stand about engaged in tedious debate while fellow Romans and countrymen died, desperately holding out in the hope that aid might arrive. After all, Septimius insisted, were he not to help them who would be left to return the favour if and when the time came?