Ardaric : King Of The Gepids
Uncertainty And Opportunity
The harsh actions, and ugly rhetoric spoken to each other by the sons of Attila, were not ignored by the Kings of the Germanic peoples. Two leaders in particular, who were most concerned, were Ardaric, King of the Gepids, and Valamir, King of the Goths. Both men viewed the infighting among the brothers as not only dangerous to their people, but also as an opportunity to break the yoke of slavery that had been forced upon them by Attila so many years before.
While Ardaric and Valamir had been close allies of Attila, and both were held in the highest regards by the Hun leader, neither now knew what their place would be at the courts of Ellac, Ernak, or Dengizich. The remaining Germanic kings, such as Flaccitheus of the Rugii, Remismund of the Suavi, Hunulphus of the Scirii, Deorold of the Turcilingi, and Rodulph of the Heruli, felt even less secure with their standing in the Hun's army. The only leader who seemed confident with his place within the Hun hierarchy was Sangiban, the King of the Alan people.
One night, after an especially drunken and very dangerous series of arguments between the sons of Attila, the Germanic leaders, with the exception of Sangiban, decided it was time to meet and discuss their future. To keep their meeting secret, and not arouse suspicion among the Huns, the Germanic kings rode out to a forest, not far from their encampment, in the middle of the night. And there, under the watchful eye of the moon, they discussed what should be done to protect their people.
As might be expected Ardaric and Valamir led the midnight meeting. Ardaric, King of the Gepids opened the discussion.
" I say that it is time to break the chains that the Huns have shackled us with for years. If we can do this peacefully, all the better, but if we must fight to win our freedom, then so be it ! " he told the others.
While the other kings voiced their approval Valamir stroked his beard, as if it could somehow add to his wisdom, before responding.
" It is easy to call for war, but it is much more difficult to execute such a decision. I agree that the Huns have become weakened by the loss of Attila, but I am not sure if I wish to commit my people, at this time, to a war in which there is not a certainty of victory ! " he replied.
Rodulph shook his head violently from side to side to show his displeasure with Valamir's words.
" I see only one, "certainty ", here,...., and that is that if we do not fight these Huns now, when they are divided and vulnerable, we shall never be free ! " he replied angrily.
The Scirii King Hunulphus quickly agreed.
" My people have been forced into military servitude, and made to march and fight for a people not their own. At first we were well compensated for our efforts, we defeated the Romans, and the Byzantine armies sent to stop us, and received much in the way of gold and silver from pillaged villages and towns. Lately, however, Attila had not kept up his promise of wealth, and my people have suffered accordingly. " he explained.
Remismund, of the Suavi, concurred.
" Yes ! I agree ! I am tired of watching my people fight and die for these Huns without receiving much in the way of compensation ! " he stated forcefully.
Valamir took a deep breath, and let it out slowly, before jumping back into the heated discussion.
" Can any of us say for certain that all of our people will abandon the Huns, for which they have fought side by side with for years, to seek out lands with which to carve out new kingdoms for themselves ? " the King of the Goths asked with raised eyebrows.
Flaccitheus of the Rugii nodded.
" It is true that some of my folk will remain with the Huns, which will weaken my army, but if we do not fight now for our freedom,..., then tell me when it will be the right time ?! " he asked in an exasperated tone.
Deorold of the Turlingi concurred.
" Yes ! I would rather fight now for freedom, then die later for the Huns ! " he exclaimed.
Ardaric drew his sword and held it high over his head.
" My army will march north into Dacia. Any, and all, who wish to join me may do so. And if the Huns come after us we will fight to the last to defend ourselves ! " he stated confidently to the other kings.
Valamir watched as the other Germanic kings drew their swords in a show of solidarity. He, however, did not remove his weapon from its scabbard, but instead shook his head in disagreement.
" I will not be going with you my friends ! For I have decided to return to our Gothic lands to live in harmony with my brothers Thiudimer, and Vidimer.
" Where are your brothers' kingdoms. And what will you do if the Huns will not allow you to live in peace ? " he asked.
Valamir looked off into the distance as though he could see their lands.
" Thiudimer's kingdom is near Lake Pelso, while mine is between the rivers Scarniunga, and Aqua Nigra. Vidimer's lies in the middle of both our lands. And if the Huns will not leave us be,...., well then,..., my brothers and I will band together and fight them. " he assured the Gepid king.
Ardaric lowered his sword as he gave the Goth king a worried look.
" Emperor Marcian has agreed to these kingdoms you and your brothers claim as your own ? " he asked.
Valamir grinned slyly back at the Gepid.
" Once the Emperor sees that we are the true power in Pannonia he will ! " he replied firmly.
Ardaric shook his head.
" But there is strength in our numbers my old friend ! " he told the Goth.
Valamir smiled at the warrior, who had stood by him at the many Hun council's of war called by Attila over the years, and then slapped him on the shoulder.
" I assure you, my old friend, that my brothers and I can hold off these Huns. For theirs is not the army that terrorized the Romans or the Byzantines. They are merely a shadow of what they once were. And I am not afraid of shadows ! " he explained to Ardaric.
The King of the Gepids nodded.
" Then I wish you well old friend, because tomorrow I will be breaking camp with the others and heading north before first light. " he told the Goth.
The others wished Valamir well also, with many of them invoking Wodan, the God of War, and Donar the God of Oak and Thunder to bless his journey. As they walked back to their respective camps all the Germanic kings knew that things would never be the same again. How different it would be, however, none of them could ever have dreamed !
- End Chapter 1
- Next : Chapter 2 : Indecision and Division
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.