Below the Surface

A property in the country. What is the strange story attached to that place and the people who have successively called it their home? For that we have to go right back- to the distant past that connects it all.









 Not out of bravery, defiance or determination would locals weather the change, but because forward is the only choice. Possession and adherence, controlled with great armies of short swarthy men had come. Rome,they were told,was the centre of all things. All else was ignorance. They had come to take what the powerful desired, to be fed. Anyone who objected went, along with their family to a brutal end,wiped away from their ancestral place forever. To accompany their Roman indulgence, once occupation was in place, this new institution shrewdly and deviously set about trying to present their way as good intentioned, great and honourable. No matter how murderously and how cruelly they had obtained their position, they could begin re-inventing their ethics. With the wealth they had stolen, they could dress themselves up in dazzling moral finery. With the technology they had recruited and requisitioned at their disposal, they ordered great constructions on such a scale never before seen. Such could they impress, that their objectives could then be reached without the reinforcements and necessity of warfare. Intimidation and fear. Respect and conditioning.They were the benign ones, the honourable ones, they insisted to the subordinated and humiliated peoples who had lost their homelands- apparently because they were ignorant. This new way was the superior way. All before and all outside was, they instilled, inferior and primitive. And they, the most powerful would protect them from those brutal coveting foreigners who eyed all this new finery they now saw about them. And intimidated as they were, the dispossessed began to believe it.This was the new time. A new face had come.

 And Lynly, dispite always having been left alone on the rim,was to receive the consequences of a new time too where violent means had brought violent people.



   And for those who had been brought here, to attack and to kill ,to violate and to steal, to destroy and to take,  were all the verbs of greatness and superiority in their minds,filling them with narcotic confidence and infatuated self pride like an opiate haze until  innate true reason and consideration had been obscured. When their service to Rome was completed, many had little other reason but to continue their method of obtaining their wants from commonfolk on whose land they strode.To their eyes, the inhabitants  were not people but the conquered and therefore below them.


  Deluded in the superiority and pride that had always been instilled in them by Rome, to goad them on and despise the inferior, they were unwilling to recall a way of obtaining things other than the way they had served.Indeed,they regarded such community skills as only for the inferior .Like this, dismissed soldiers whose pride had outgrown their own humble homeland origins, had no wish to return .Instead they became bands of foreign speaking murderers who wandered the highways hunting for what they could take. No longer the mobsters under Roman commission, they came together seeking eachother out in an effort to return to familiar camaraderie, to reignite their ideology and try once again to bask in the pretended blessing of superiority. A blessing that was easier to believe within the company of other like minded men.Murderer was victor and theft was claim.In this way, their belief and justification could be kept strong enough in their minds to obscure that which they did not want to see there-REASON.


   It would always be there, waiting for the day when  superior pride and profound allegiance would eventually consult reason to learn that they had been serving a pretended master all along. A master that insisted on blind allegiance and which rewarded with pride. Anything less it said,was treachery and pride taken away. A difficult truth to face knowing that pride would be replaced by shame. So long does reason have to wait for such a man to sum up such personal courage that it is often turned to only when that person is eventually left alone with nothing else to face except death.


A foreign owner has no interest in protecting what does not have value to them. And so the local inhabitants all over the country were left to these roaming wolves that had been introduced by such a foreign owner.



   Such did a party of eight exist in this story. Eight murderers who came to Lynly. Loaded with goods stolen from traders returning from the market,they happened upon a farmhouse. Large and round with a  conical thatched roof that could be seen from the road, smoke drifting from its apex. Closer inspection revealed it was two roundhouses joined together by a short middle entrance,something of a roman influence. Here,they decided would make a good base to store all their goods.


They then set about unloading their goods casually at the front of the dwelling as if they had always lived here.Upon finding an astonished old lady at the rear of the dwelling,one of them, a broad bodied man with  dark hair swiftly took hold of her. His close set eyes hardly looked at the woman, instead, turning his head to survey the interior of the dwelling revealing a short purple scare on the left side of his neck. It had been the result of a near fatal fight at the garrison long ago. Unfortunately for this occasion, he had managed to survive.  Unimpressed with what he saw, he soon steered the old woman out towards the front of the dwelling in a fashion like he had done it a thousand times. On his way he pulled the spoon from the large stewing pot  which hung down from the apex. He took a large mouthful of  barley and fish, dropped the spoon back in and grunted approvingly. Baffled at this sudden intrusion,the old woman half went along, pleading for an explanation. But he,nor any of the others spoke the native tongue,indeed,it was considered beneath them and so he ignored her. Instead,he chatted unaffected, to his comrades, the old lady in tow like a chore. More pressing was where to put what was coming off of the wagon. With his dagger he pointed as to where to take a  barrel of apples. The woman shouted, demanding, he let go of her wrist, where upon he briefly looked at her,pursing his lips, still distracted. She stared into his face quizzically, seeing him face on for the first time. For a brief moment she tried to understand the nature of this being that had somehow arrived in her yard from somewhere far away. It was a different face, with a wide almost heavy forehead.From there,divided by the large thin nose, it seemed to shrink down  to its small boney nub of a chin and angular jaw which housed a meagre unexpressive line for a mouth. Inside, she glimpsed little diminutive teeth, amongst spaces. And as she looked into his dark little eyes, she struggled to understand his mind until her considering thoughts were interrupted matter-of-factly by the pulling her head downward and expertly sliced one side of her neck, and steered the gush away from him. Following that he then pushed the body away with his foot where it fell amongst the leaves and twigs. He had already turned his back on her  before she had fallen, her life ebbing away, mouthing  muted cries. But by now he was laughing excitedly and moving towards the three amphorae containing drink that were being unloaded from the wagon.


  Later that afternoon, her son and his wife were found standing at the front of the house looking at first bemused,then attempted to run for the forest but were quickly caught. She, the wife may have made it, but hesitated on seeing her husband surrounded. He pleaded that she go. But she remained, unable to move while watching her husband become secured by a gang member's foot. This was done by standing across his arms while another of the men,in  between eating an apple, pushed his dagger into his chest. His wife, also being held in the same manner nearby, watched on with disbelief at the unfolding events. Her breaths became un co-ordinated growing and growing until erupting into a terrible low roaring hysteria. It was not the end of it for her there. The one with close set eyes would take his turn first, while voicing his thoughts on seemingly other matters in their unintelligible tongue of  lurching sounds and laconic grunts. He brought the girl to her feet then twisted her delicate arm in the direction of the woods ahead and there she went as his apple core was tossed back. Her thrashing was soon stilled by two economical punches distributed to the face.


   Two days of vile disregard degradation and violation from this band of eight, was what she lasted. With weak breaths, her crumpled body lay damaged like a screwed up flower, good no more for abuse ,redundant for her worth,she was then shoved on the forest floor late one night somewhere near the other two decomposing bodies in the woods. Finally,she was urinated upon by each for a final wring of entertainment in payment for the chore of  deposing her. They laughed and stumbled about, discussing the originally fair quality of her body before leaving her. With their foul urine,she suddenly became aware to the arrival of a  deep cut being drawn across her neck. With the leaking away of warm blood, she grew steadily colder and soon parched with thirst alongside the throb of a struggling heart.In the darkness of the night, she could still hear them laughing drunkenly around a fire nearby, holding a terror and disbelief she had not known in her life until now. But the terror slipped away as her own senses grew evermore distant. Only her outrage remained burning and it murmured. It murmured that this would not be the end of it. And it would not.


   This particular valley had witnessed great lines of strangers passing  through the middle of Lynly. Roman soldiers on the march northwest,their sandalled feet leaving an impression across this dark earth they trod. And with them,amongst other things, came their garlic.  Today, the marching tracks have long since reverted to pasture  but the medicinal garlic cloves, once bound between the sore toes of  Roman soldiers occasionally cast loose, taking root on the wayside and into the islands' countryside forever after.


   The wheel eventually turned and the Romans went home, though it had been so long, no one alive remembered their coming.It was not, however a return to how it was, because there were others from across the seas, waiting their turn. Like more hungry wolves,coveting the spoils for themselves they had bided their time during many seasons spent hired in the service of Rome. They too wanted to be fed. For long years after,the inane and thug-like claims from outsiders came by the blade or axe following in the same ideology and logic of those first thieves of the basket.


   Seasons came and went. Generation after generation lived on. Century after century passed. Things were altered a little,but the same violent wrestling for legitimate control went on.It was a wonder that everyone involved did not end up dead until their was no one to carry on this argument of claim. But of course,it was infectious. An argument of legitimacy to subjugate that the Romans had first bought over so many centuries ago. An idea of living, seductive and poisonous that spread deceitfulness, whose crown always fell to the most devious,vain and ambitious. How could any good come from this?




   And as before, time went on. The sun rose,cows were driven up the lane in the grey morning mist and back again when the sun was low in its climb, shining amber through turning oak leaves.



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