Rome was eternal and her legions invincible. Then the world changed.
The Huns rode from the east, spilling from the windswept steppes and into Eastern Europe. The tribes that first felt their wrath were ill-prepared for their mastery of mounted warfare, and found that they had two choices; to submit to the Hunnic yoke, or to run for their lives. The mighty Goths, a raft of Germanic tribes that had warred amongst one another and with Rome for hundreds of years, were the last of these tribes between the Huns’ advance and the Eastern Roman Empire. But when the Huns arrived, the Goths were forged together in the fires of adversity and they made their choice – they ran from the Huns and flooded across the Danube and into the empire. Hundreds of thousands of them. Warriors, elderly, children.
The Goths arrived in the province of Moesia Inferior, panicked but respecting the tentative truce that had been brokered with the empire. They were initially kept in a vast refugee camp on the southern banks of the Danube. Despite this fragile peace, the border legions were threadbare and ill-equipped to police such an incursion.
It was this that sparked my imagination. Such a huge number of people – proud and noble – terrified, angry and lost in a foreign land. And the Romans, so few, doubtless anxious at the Goths’ arrival and fearful that the Huns would surely follow. This seething cauldron of emotion and strife was always balanced on a knife-edge. Then, I had the killer thought – the thought that inspired the tale of ‘Legionary: Viper of the North’:
What if one dark individual had engineered all of this, and now readied to tip that balance?