The Eagle of the Ninth (1977) s01e05 Episode Script

The Wild Hunt

Oh, when I joined the Eagles, as it might be yesterday, I kissed a girl at Clusium before I marched away.
A long march, a long march and 20 years in store.
When I left my girl in Clusium beside the threshing floor.
It's the Dance of the New Spears.
So we dance it, too, we the Brigantes, on the night our boys become men.
And do your people not hold the Feast of the New Spears? We hold a feast but not like this.
All this is strange to me.
I've seen many things tonight to make me wonder.
And these things? Wait, for I will tell you.
For you are young and doubtless wish to know.
I am old and by far the wisest man in all the tribes.
Truly wisdom shines from the face of Tradui.
My ears are open.
And you say that no guard is kept on the Place of Life, no watch of attendant priests? What need? The Place of Life has guardians of its own and who would dare meddle with that which is of the Horned One? And are all these things of the Horned One, even the wingless bird? Why do you speak of the Eagle, caught of the Red Crests? I've seen such Eagle gods before and wondered to see it here.
We are always curious, we Greeks.
- Also we have little cause to love Rome.
- Aye! Tell me how you took this Eagle god? There was a great hosting of the tribes, not more than ten or 12 seasons ago, to put down a great army of the Red Crests.
I went south with the rest of them, though I was an old man even then and it was my last fight.
We brought them to bay a day north of the place they call the Three Hills.
We pulled them down at last! Ah, but they took a goodly escort of our warriors with them.
But we pulled them down, and they were left but a knot, as many as there are fingers on my two hands.
And the Eagle god still in their midst.
But I, Tradui, threw with my last throw-spear the priest in the wolf's hide who held the staff, but another took it from him and held it so that the god did not go down.
Oh, he was a chieftain among the rest.
I would that I had slain him, but another was before me.
We left them and the Eagle god came back with us.
And there was great rain later and the rivers coming down in spate, and at a ford the warrior who held the god was swept away.
And when we found it later, the wings were gone.
That chieftain of the Red Crests he was like you! And yet you say you're a Greek.
Is not that strange? There are many of Greek blood among the Red Crests.
So.
That could be it.
Oh, but they were truly warriors.
And we left them their weapons, as befits warriors.
But from that chieftain of the Red Crests I took this, for he was fierce and valiant beyond all the others.
See.
It will not go on my hand.
Take you it and look.
- Are you sure it was your father's ring? - Yes.
I'd often seen it before on his hand and it was engraved with our family badge.
Still that's not what I came here to find.
- So you're still going to take the Eagle? - If I can.
- Did you find a place? - Oh, aye.
They might search till the loch runs dry and never find it.
But I shall know the place when I come again.
Good.
I've already told the chieftain that we're starting south tomorrow.
He's loath to see us go, but I said I wish to be south again before the winter closes in on us.
Do you not feel bad in your heart to deceive him? No.
They welcomed us and in return I have doctored their sore eyes with all the skill I possess.
There's no debt on either side, no room for guilt.
- Aye, but in the matter of the Eagle? - They're the enemy.
A worthy enemy.
I I like them, respect them.
Let them keep the Eagle if they can.
In the name of light.
Blood? Deer's blood or that of a black cock.
A midnight offering.
It's strong magic, don't touch it.
Look.
The Eagle.
The last Roman hand to touch this was my father's.
The bolts are corroded into the holes.
Stay on your feet! To kneel would leave us unprotected against whatever is here.
Stiff.
If only we could take it outside, away from here.
We must have light to work by and light anywhere outside might betray us.
This is the one place that we're free from interruption.
From the interruption of men.
It might be a fault in the wick or bad air.
Or it might not.
Think light, Esca.
Think light! Oh, great god Mithras, slayer of the bull, hear the prayer of thy son.
Let us not go down into darkness, oh, great god Mithras.
Steady, old friend.
We ride south by the shores of the loch and then north-east through the mountains but slowly, Esca, slowly, breathing the horses often.
We mustn't get too far from the Place of Life before the next move In the game can be played.
The loss of the Eagle won't be discovered until after midnight, when the priest comes to renew the offering.
Here they come.
Dergdian? Liathan? What is it you want with us in such haste? You know well enough.
- I fear not, you will have to tell me.
- Yes, we'll tell you.
We come to take back the winged god, also for blood to wash off the insults you put upon us and the gods of our tribe.
The winged god? The Eagle god? You mean, you've lost it? - We mean that it is stolen.
- And it must needs be I who stole it? Why in the name of the Thunderer should I want a wingless Roman Eagle? You might have had your reasons.
Is it the custom of the Seal People to hunt and slay those who have been their guests? Well, do the Romans call the men of the north barbarians.
If you are so sure it is we who have stolen the Red Crests' god, you have but to search our gear to find it.
Search then! Will you bid your hounds be less rough with the tools of my trade? It maybe that there are still sore eyes in Caledonia, though your own son 's eyes are now well.
Softly you fool.
There is no need that you should break the medicine sticks.
Are you satisfied now? Or is it that you would search us to the skin? Though it must be perfectly obvious that we have nothing a tenth the size of an Eagle hidden about us.
We must cast our net wider, it seems.
We have offended against our own laws of hospitality.
We have hunted down two who have been our guests and not found the winged god, after all.
Come back with us, Demetrius of Alexandria.
Come back with us, lest our hearths be shamed.
We are for the south, before the year closes in.
We shall remember that we've been your guests.
The rest we've already forgotten.
Good hunting to you on your game trails this winter.
Do you wish the Eagle yet in the place we took it from? No.
If it were still there, it would still be a danger to the frontier, danger to other Legions, also it was my father's Eagle, none of theirs.
I only wish that we needn't have made Dergdian and his sword brethren feel ashamed.
Ah, there was no helping it.
We shall be upon a village soon.
How do you know? Smoke over yonder.
I caught the blur of it a while back.
Could be heat smoke.
No, no, it was hearth smoke.
It is time I sickened of the fever.
Oh, my head! Man, my head's on fire! Esca, Esca.
Slump a little more and roll a little less.
It's fever not barely spirits that's lit the fire, remember.
Be at peace, Esca.
It's only me.
The villagers are terrified of entering.
I explained that the sickness in my servant is caused by devils in his belly and he cannot be looked upon by any who have not the marks for protection.
- But they'll let us stay? - Yes.
The headman invited us to share his fireside.
I insisted that we must have a place as far away from the living huts as may be.
Good.
It's rough, but it'll keep out the weather for the two or three days until you return.
The sooner I go, the sooner I return.
Oh, curse this leg of mine.
It should be me going back, not you.
No, even if your leg was strong enough, you couldn't leave this place without rousing the dogs or find your way back through the mountains.
This is work for a hunter, not a soldier.
It's pitch black but all's clear.
Well? Can you find your way? Yes.
Then, good hunting.
- Is it well? - It is well.
How went the hunting? The hunting was good.
Was there any trouble? None.
Is there anything to eat? Gault the fisherman found it on the island.
It was caught in an alder bush.
You were right, wise one.
I was right, who am never wrong.
I said it was the healer who took the Eagle god.
He had the face of that chieftain of the Red Crests I saw killed under its wings.
I must have been blind or doting not to know him for his father's son.
And I am ashamed for doubting you.
It may be that it is you who will hunt him down, for there is a link of fate between his line and ours.
If it be so, kill him if you can, for he has put shame upon the gods of our tribe.
Over there.
A broch built by the forgotten people.
It'll give us shelter for the night.
It's been a gruelling ride, Esca.
Two more days should see us out of the mountains.
Mithras be praised! It's been a good hunting, brother.
I can scarce believe that all has gone so well.
The ring-brooch.
Where's the ring-brooch? It could have fallen off anywhere, even while you were in the water.
No, it rang on the pebbles when I dropped it to remove the Eagle from its hiding place.
Oh, yes, and then when I picked it up, it caught for an instant on a branch.
I remember now.
At the time, I scarcely noticed.
If anyone finds it, they'll know that one of us has been back since they searched our gear and there could only be one possible reason for that.
Well, no matter how fast the hunt comes on, we'll pass the point where we can be cut off in the mountains.
But the horses won't stand another two days like the last.
I know, and the old cavalry brands make them only too recognisable.
We should trade them for others.
There's a town nearby.
No.
No, word of the Eagle may have reached there ahead of us.
We'd best press on.
The hound has their scent.
And their horses are lame.
Three more days.
Three more days now, by my reckoning, we shall reach the wall.
Aye, we've made good speed.
But we're gonna have to get rid of the horses soon, take to the heather on foot.
I wish to be as far south as possible before that day comes.
The hunt is up with a vengeance! Down to the stream! We might have a chance.
Go on! Hip! They've gone after the horses.
Without our weight, they'll run like the wind, for a while.
Till they run them down, then the hunt will be back to look for us.
We'll stick with this stream for a bit, break the trail.
It aches? Intolerably.
Now I know what Guern meant.
Now I know what it means to be hunted.
How far is it to the nearest guard post on the wall? At least two full days' march.
And we'll be marching on empty stomachs, since we can't stop to trap as we go.
Oh, it's bad! What little food we had has gone with the horses.
I know.
I feel sad about the horses.
I'd grown quite fond of them.
No harm will come to them.
Hunting dogs are trained to bring to bay, not to kill until the word is given.
With us the word wouId have been given.
Aye.
No food.
Well, at least I remembered to take the Eagle.
We daren't rest here.
They're bound to find the place where we went into the water.
I think they already have.