None of them had seen the oceans before, the largest lakes of their homeland were dwarfed by what they saw, and their awe was obvious to even the most unobservant bystander.
The older recruits whispered amongst themselves, pointing to the ships docked and the strange birds that circled overhead.
The younger boys edged closer to the waterside, laughing and calling out to newly made friends.
The seas were calm that day, and under the unusually clear skies, Roman soldiers and Sarmatian recruits, along with their mounts and belongings, as well as provisions for the journey were loaded onto the boats.
The boats finally left at dusk with the tide, and as the lights of the foreign dock vanished into the evening light, the prospect of an even stranger land brought tears to the eyes of many of the young Sarmatians, while the Romans looked on with hard eyed disinterest.
It was Tristan, one of the younger boys who first spotted land looming ahead of them as dawn broke over the expanse of water. Soon a large group had gathered around him, some still yawning and wiping sleep from their eyes as they took in the sight of their new home.
Their march north to their new home was long and slowed wagons containing their belongings. Lancelot, who had proven himself to be an outspoken annoyance more often than not commented regularly on how they were being paraded around as trophies, the resident Roman landowners all staring as they rode past.
On the third day of their march two of the older boys made a break for the south, intending to return home and away from Rome’s grasp. They were brought down by Roman bowmen without mercy. Their deaths were a harsh warning to the others; desertion will bring only death.
Occidens et Orientis
As the sun sank on the western side of the fort, drunken Roman soldiers, and the Sarmatians who had been posted there in previous years told tales of blue skinned demons appearing from the woods, striking down unsuspecting Romans as they slept.
Tristan vowed, that he would learn this land so he may do the same, and Galahad, the youngest nodded, bravado masking his fear as he sank deeper into his mantle.
The next morning, long before the sun rose in the eastern sky, Tristan slipped into the forest, fully intent on keeping that vow, while Galahad slept on, unaware.
The months of training were harder than the months of travel they had endured, but as the earth they stood on, they accepted what they were shown, but changed slowly, if at all; refusing the religion of their superiors and not forgetting the ways of their homelands.
It was the stars that gave them hope, as they watched the constellations dance around the black canvas above them they told tales of what the shapes were called and what they meant to their tribes. It was this that brought them together, strengthening their bonds as they grew from boys to men.
Hiems et Aestas
Their first winter arrived mere weeks after they had, and with raging snowstorms and gale force winds came illness and misery. They lost another of their number, this time to the cold after he fell into the nearby river.
Dagonet acted as a healer to sniffles and turned ankles, as their tutors forced them through drills even in heavy blizzards.
They carried on into summer, their training almost complete. Shirts were ignored in the scorching heat, and more than a few of the older boys became the centre of attention among the local women, whether it was wanted or not.
Auntumnus et Tempus Vernum
The autumn that followed the summer was dry and lazy. The crops were bountiful and the recruits were told their training was over. Their new commander would be arriving any day, and until then, their duties were dull patrols along the wall, never being trusted with more.
The springtime arrived far too slowly, but was filled with the arrival of new people and new hope. Artorius Castus, their new commander had finally arrived from Rome just as the winter snows began to recede, and weeks later, Cai’s first born greeted the world, to the joy and amusement of his companions.
Radius Solis et Umbra, Ignis Aqua
Over the first two years, their true personalities had grown. Gawain and Cai, despite the years between them, were the rays of sunlight in the group, the eternal optimists (or rather, not eternal pessimists) and the troublemakers, always joking, and always ready to cheer the others to good humour.
The shade was the realm of Tristan and Dagonet, both unobtrusive and observant, both realists to the core. Tristan was as deadly as any shadow creature, while Dagonet merely preferred the quite the shade provided. Sometimes Agravaine would join them on the days when his brother’s cheery nature was too much.
Lancelot was, without doubt their fire. His passions, be they battle or women, or arguing with Arthur kept them on their toes, never knowing in which direction he would flare up. They would watch as he wound himself into a fury, then either burn himself out, exhausted, or die down in the arms of a woman.
Unpredictability lay with Galahad, who, like the water, swept them along with his moods, often going from a turbulent rage to calm instantly. He was excused because of his age, having just reached fourteen, but often that caused his anger to boil over again.