She Prays for Victory - Part 5

Camulodunum stood in darkness still when she arrived, with only the faintest suggestion of dawn at the very rim of her vision. Stopping in the open square at the center of the town, she looked up at the figure that loomed over her in the blackness—the winged form of a woman, arms spread out in front of her and feet posed as if running forward, toward the north. Ten feet above her head at the least, it towered, an abomination, a symbol of the conqueror’s dominion over the conquered—a never-ending reminder for the native people of their subjugation, and the subjugation of their land. Sparing a moment to smile at the irony of such thoughts arising within her own mind, she circled the great statue and leaped up from behind it to grasp at the outstretched wings. She pulled herself up by her arms, then braced her knees against the stony feathers and pulled the coil of rope over her head. She passed one end of it under the statue’s armpits, then tied it in a loop before springing backward to land once more on the ground. Looping the other end of the rope around her own back, she wound it about her elbows before backing away until the slack tightened. With her heels digging into the ground, she leaned backward and pulled on the rope with all her strength, until it bit into the flesh of her shoulders and a cold sweat broke out on her skin. The stone at the base of the statue’s feet cracked, then broke away, and she tumbled backward as the figure plummeted down and landed with a low thud upon the soft ground at her feet.

She rose, panting a little but laughing under her breath, and untied the rope from the statue. The figure lay on its back, resting on the outstretched wings with its hands to the sky. Squatting beneath the left wing, she placed her hands on the woman’s back and heaved upward and over, so that the statue rolled onto its face, with its feet toward the north, as if it was fleeing southward.

Still laughing, she coiled the rope and tossed it back over her head. The edge of the sky was growing lighter, and soon the town would begin to stir. Hitching up her fraying skirt, she ran away toward the north once more.

When her daughters returned at the end of the third day, she had already swept all the ashes out of the house and salvaged what goods and furnishings had been left undamaged. A few of their livestock had scattered during the attack, and these had gradually returned, providing them with milk and eggs. She had even found time to venture into the forest and slay a deer, which she was roasting over the fire when Mave and Lavena burst into the house, exuberant with the news that some two thousand of their clansmen would muster on their land within two days time.