Clair’s Clan presents an interview with Drustan, hero of Life on the Edge.


In honour of VINVATAR’S re-release of Life on the Edge, here’s an interview with Drustan, the hero of the story.


Clair : Salve Drustan!

Drustan : Salve  Clair! I am glad to meet you.

Clair : Thank you for agreeing to meet me. I know you are a busy man.

Drustan : Yes. I thought I was busy as an auxiliary in the army of Rome but now I realise that the responsibility lay on other shoulders.

Clair : How do you mean?

Drustan : I obeyed orders. That’s all I had to do, that and grumble about my lot in life. So long as I obeyed orders I was fed and clothed and taken care of.

Clair : How has that changed?

Drustan : Now I am head of the family. Taranis is a valuable aide but the sole responsibility is mine. All look to me and every decision I make has consequences for someone.

Clair : This is since you left Cartimandua’s settlement?

Drustan : Yes. I assume that you don’t want me to say how or why?

Clair : Yes indeed. I don’t want to spoil your story by revealing too many details especially the ending.

Drustan : No indeed, that would be a great pity.

Clair : How did you feel when you found out whose son you were?

Drustan : I didn’t believe it at first. I had a mother and my place as an auxiliary in the army of Rome, my future was secure.

Clair : Was that so good a life?

Drustan : The winters on Hadrian’s Wall were long and very severe. It was dark for many hours a day. Duty could be boring as I wasn’t assigned to a mile castle. There were not too many women there.

Clair : But there were brothels provided for the use of the soldiers.

Drustan : Yes but there were many soldiers and often the women were not clean.

Clair : I see.

Drustan : You can see why I was looking for a woman of my own. Not that I was happy when I first saw Elisedd.

Clair : Tell us a little about that.

Drustan : I was obliged to take her as payment of a debt. She was filthy and smelled so very bad. She hated her master and did all she could to make herself obnoxious to him and his friends so she wouldn’t be shared amongst them.

Clair : Very understandable but wasn’t that dangerous? He did own her after all.

Drustan : Yes she was very brave. He tricked her by offering marriage then made her his slave. She never forgave him. That’s why he got rid of her.

Clair : How did you keep in touch with friends in other parts of the empire?

Drustan : Wooden tablets. We used a stylus and ink to write messages on them. For writing notes we used wax tablets, any mistakes or alterations could be easily altered. The wooden tablets were sent in official dispatches and eventually, if the gods were on your side, they would reach their destination. Gifts could be sent too.

Clair : What sort of gifts?

Drustan : Mainly clothing or a new pair of sandals.

Clair : It must have been an exciting day when you received a gift.

Drustan : Indeed it was. The army had many specialists, masons, road builders, bakers and leather workers but if you lived on a remote part of the wall they were thin on the ground.

Clair : Yes I see. What did you eat?

Drustan : We ate a light breakfast, then at midday perhaps bread and cheese or boiled eggs with salad. Dinner was in the late afternoon. We always had a starter followed by some sort of meat or fish depending on where we were. We ate hare, pig, beef, goat, chicken or pigeon. We had nuts or fruit depending on the season. We even had ice-cream very occasionally. We had lettuce served at the end of the meal to aid sleep.

Clair : It seems as if you ate well.

Drustan : Yes we did, especially compared with the rest of the population.

Clair : What did the wall look like?

Drustan : It was built to keep out the Picts and was twelve feet high and eight feet wide. To start with some of it was built with turf but eventually the masons completed the job. There were eighty mile castes and it was a coveted duty. Certainly life was more comfortable in one of them. There were sixty troops posted there and a lot of varied company. They were used to control the locals and allow passage from one side of the wall to the other by those who had need to go north or south.

Clair: Did you enjoy your life?

Drustan : Yes I did. Training and discipline were brutal but if you fought well and obeyed orders you could become a citizen of Rome after twenty-five years’ service.

Clair : So why did you leave?

Drustan : That would be revealing too much of the story. Now, duty calls and I believe I have a council to attend so I must leave you. Salve Clair.

Clair : Slave, Drustan. May the gods be with you. We look forward to reading all your story in “Life on the Edge.”

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