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The Changing Quest
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-325-5
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Medieval
eBook Length: 161 Pages
Published: February 2006

From inside the flap

During the Dark Ages in South West Britain. Saxon colonists seize the opportunity to gain more lands from their neighbors in the West when the old Celtic king dies leaving a power vacum. From across the West Saxon lands; all hamlets send men to participate in the invasion of the Celtic land, Dumonia. However, efforts don?t always go to plan and aims of the invasion begin to diminish as the invaders move deeper into the Celtic realm and resistance becomes more stubborn.

The Changing Quest (Excerpt)


In the year 560 A.D., King Ceawlin took the throne of West Saxon Land with the unstinting help of his younger brother, Cutha. Together, they had ruled with a firm hand for seven years, and successfully resisted continuing external threats.

To the east lay the kingdom of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, who was always poised to launch his Jutish army into the West Saxons? domain. The northern borders were menaced by the Angles of Mercia, while in Dumnonia, to the west, the Celts held nothing but hatred for the Saxon colonisers. Indeed, much of Ceawlin’s kingdom had been won from Dumnonia by earlier West Saxon kings.

There were no links of any kind between West Saxon Land and Dumnonia, whose cultures, races and language were completely different. Border skirmishes and small raids were commonplace, though they had never developed into full-scale war.

The Dumnonian King had great respect for Ceawlin, who was already, after only seven years as a monarch, being referred to as Bretwalda, King of Britain. Ceawlin, for his part, had no desire to create trouble with Dumnonia, when the borders with Kent and Mercia held so many problems for him.

The Dumnonian raids were mainly against a group of separatist-minded Saxons known as the Gewisse, who occupied settlements along the border. Being kept busy by the enemy raids, the Gewisse thus had little time to protest against West Saxon overlordship.

The Gewisse, one of many Saxon races within West Saxon Land, were different in that their ancestors had started colonising the area a generation before the rest of the West Saxons.

The remainder of Ceawlin’s subjects saw them as a threat to the stability of the kingdom with their separatist attitudes, and viewed the continuous skirmishing with the Dumnonians as, at least, a way of preventing internal troubles. However, the Gewisse argued they were losing their identity because of their absorption into West Saxon Land.

In early September of 567, separatist views had become inflamed to such an extent, they were prepared to disregard the commands of Caewlin. Dumnonia’s king had died, leaving the title to be fought for among the nobility, thus causing the kingdom to break up. Hearing of this, the Gewisse decided to take advantage of the situation by invading.

Ceawlin was greatly tempted to agree with them for the overall gain of his kingdom; but the danger of Mercia and Kent attacking when his back was turned forced him to forbid any expeditions into Dumnonia. Resentment among the Gewisse was so deep, they decided to disobey him and try to win a separate kingdom for themselves in Dumnonia.

They were supported in this by their anti-Christian priesthood, who had good reason to dislike Dumnonia because of the successful influence the Christian religion was beginning to have upon the Saxons, Angles and Jutes.

Christian missionaries were coming into the Teutonic areas of Britain from countries like Hibernia, Cymru and Dumnonia in order to try and convert the pagan colonists. Gods like Woden, Thunder, Ty and Frigg were losing their influence upon the Germanic nobility.

Ceawlin would certainly not allow the West Saxon priesthood to intimidate his position, even though he himself paid no attention to the Christian missionaries.

The proposed attack on Dumnonia offered a chance for the pagan priesthood to hit back at Christianity and they used all their power to encourage the separatists to invade Dumnonia-although the Gewisse saw no need for the blessing of their priests in the venture. Their acceptance of the priests? support was based on the fact it would profit them a little among the people of West Saxon Land, for despite the general lack of enthusiasm for the religion, no Saxon would openly condemn the gods. Fear and suspicion of the unknown could still be aroused.

Early September saw the Gewisse recklessly and blindly leave their crops in order to battle Dumnonia. These ?farmers-turned-warriors? believed it necessary to abandon their harvest in order to prepare for the coming campaign, sure that a quick victory within Dumnonia’s eastern territory would bring wealth in the form of plunder and a large Celtic harvest-and land to settle on.

Three armies were to invade Dumnonia, each led by an overlord chosen from the most wealthy Gewisse chieftains.

Each army was made up of small clans led by land-owning sub-chieftains, who virtually owned all the men in their settlements. All would strike out for the west: along the northern coast, Fulcher would lead eight thousand men, while Egbert’s seven thousand travelled the southern coast. Taking the mid-country route would be Arfast, with three thousand men.