What Pegman Saw – My enemy’s enemy

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Goizueta, Navarre, Spain.

WPS - My enemy's enemy 180922

Goizueta, Navarre | © Google Maps

My enemy’s enemy

Abarran had watched as the legions tramped towards the mountain pass, the thud of their feet filling the valley. He had seen their armour, their broad-bladed swords, their spear-tips more numerous than the stars. They would massacre any army he could raise. He had moved swiftly to order his people to co-operate; to give willingly what was asked rather than fight and have everything taken with only death as their reward.

And now the legions were at the gates of his city.

His chieftains were muttering. This morning, one had gone so far as to draw blade against him. He had left his own weapons sheathed and stared the man down, but he could no longer count on unquestioning loyalty.

The gates of the city creaked open and Abarran walked out.

It was time to see whether he could persuade these foreigners to make alliance with him against the Celtiberians.

20 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw – My enemy’s enemy

    • Dear Josh
      Thank you for reading and commenting. It was a good prompt. I hadn’t realised quite how long the Basques had been living successfully in that region. The fact that archaeologists had found no traces of conflict between the Romans and the Vascones suggested the latter must have been pretty good diplomats, even after allowing for the Roman’s habit of using local leaders wherever possible.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lish
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I hadn’t heard of the Celtiberians until this week’s Pegman either! I’m glad you felt the tension; Abarran must have been very close to death that day.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Had to look up celtoiberians, and now I have to ask are the legions you speak of the Roman army?

    Either way i hope your main character’s negotiating skills are at their peak. Otherwise, according to an article I just skimmed, the fate of the British may be at risk.

    The article cited a genetic study that showed the British Isles Celts actually came over from spain! All new to me. What a crossroads in time you have captured!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Andi
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      Yes, the legions are the Roman army, and Abarran is the leader of the Vascones, who, it would seem, are the direct forebears of the modern Basque people. When researching for the story, I read that archaeologists had not found any evidence of conflict between the Vascones and the Romans, rather they found that that they had acted together against a mutual enemy. This would not be out of line with Roman practice, which was to leave local leaders in place and use them to collect Roman taxes.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done! Often times, peaceful surrender was the non-glamorous (and often costly but hopefully lesser-in-bloodshed) option to war and rampant violence. It was always a gamble. Remains such in some places of the word. Hindsight is always 20/20, but human nature is such that blades drawn may at times feel less humiliating than blades sheathed, yet the consequences are never easy, no matter what path one takes to survive (or try to survive) domination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Abhijit
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      You’re quite right, of course – the Romans wanted a vassal and not an ally. The way they usually organised matters was to use their military might to gain compliance, and then use the original leaders of the conquered people to rule on their behalf. What they wanted was tribute and a peaceful, loyal state on which they could draw for military auxiliaries – many Roman legions were made up of soldiers from loyal vassal states.
      The Vascones – forebears of today’s Basque people – sided with the Romans against a common enemy, and there is (apparently) no archaeological evidence of conflict between the two. I think that Abarran would have sold the deal with the Romans to his chieftains by referring to it as an alliance – don’t you?
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Dale
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re right about the Basques being a most interesting people. I didn’t find much about Goizueta, so I looked at the Basque region as a whole and discovered that it’s very prosperous, with high-tech industry and a per capita gross domestic product that is one of the highest in Europe. And the Basques can trace their ancestry back at least 2,500 years. Out of that came the idea that throughout history, when confronted by a threat, they probably rolled with the punch and survived to prosper another day.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  3. Such a fascinating take on the prompt! I enjoyed where you took this and your lyrical choice of words. Especially loved “He had seen their armour, their broad-bladed swords, their spear-tips more numerous than the stars.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Karen
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re very kind to praise my lyrical choice of words!
      I struggled a bit for inspiration – a bit of ‘writer’s block’ I suppose – so this was more perspiration than inspiration!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  4. This is the kind of pragmatism that saved many a neck during Rome’s long reign. You’re quite right, Penny – many local chieftains chose to work with the Romans and adopt their ways rather than lose everything. And in a strange way, the Romans were open minded, accepting any and all gods to add to their own pantheon … until Christ of course! Evocative writing as ever

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Lynn
    Thank you for reading and for your kind comments. The thing that surprised me most when I read about the region was how long the Basques had been living there as an identifiable people – and how prosperous they were. It made me think that they must be natural diplomats!
    With very best wishes
    Penny

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s