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Caesar IV Heaven » Forums » Story Archives » The Silk Road - A Story of Ancient Rome
Topic Subject:The Silk Road - A Story of Ancient Rome
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Civis Romanus
posted 02-11-01 00:19 ET (US)         
A Story of Ancient Rome in the time of Caesar Marcus Aurelius

TYPE (Genre): Epic Fantasy/Adventure. TONE: Drama/Comedy (nothing silly)
STYLE: Highly Descriptive. Rich Characterizations.
VOICE: 3rd Person Narrative w/Dialogue.
CONSTRUCTION: Multi-paragraph encouraged. No limit on post size.

CIVIS ROMANUS: 30ish Chief Military Advisor to Caesar. Master swordsman. Brown hair, blue eyes, medium heighth and build. Spouse of Apolita. Father of Apollonia and Civis the Younger. (Civis Romanus)
GAIUS ACCIPITER: Immortal Angel with sensitivity to humans. Tall with green eyes that flash hues of blue, gold or red when using personal powers. (Jayhawk)
MAGANHARD: Visigoth warrior, 6 ft., with sandy colored hair. Ice-blue eyes. Shaggy beard. Unkept appearance. Appeared in Damascus. (Benson)
MARCUS HORATIUS: 21 year old legionnaire. Cohort leader. Clara's merchant father demands excessive dowry. Joined travellers in Syracusae. (Caesar Alan)
RADKO: Stablemaster on Civis' villa. (Nutmegger)
ROULV DANIA: Runaway Christian slave of nordic descent. Appeared in Tyre. (Proconsul Creaticus Dania)
SEPTIMUS ODYSSEUS: Moderate heighth, grey haired young man of mixed Ch'in heritage. Apprentice magician who carries similar yellow medallion as Sin Ying. Joined expedition in Tyre. (Cyber Paladin)
SIN YING: Orphaned oriental girl in Rome with vague memories of homeland but no other recollection. (Jaguar)
TITUS TARQUINTIUS: 21 year old Tribune. Brown hair, brown eyes, olive complexion. Assigned by Caesar to accompany Civis on his mission. (Micah Aragorn)

APOLITA: Spouse of Civis Romanus. Celtic girl educated as a Roman on the Isle of Celtia. Thick auburn-colored hair and hazel eyes. A few years younger than Civis. (Civis Romanus)
APOLLONIA: 10 year old daughter of Civis Romanus and Apolita. Favors mother in appearance. (Civis Romanus)
CIVIS THE YOUNGER: "Civi" is the 7 yr. old son of Civis Romanus and Apolita. Favors father in appearance. (Civis Romanus)
CRASSUS: Former Roman legionaire and Cohort Leader in Damascus. Fled into Parthia following failure of conspiracy to assassinate Civis.
OSROES: Seleucid Parthian rebel leader.
VOLOGEZES IV: King of Parthia in the time of Marcus Aurelius.

Please do not use this thread for plot discussions or other communication among authors. Please conduct these activities in this DISCUSSION THREAD.


[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 09-22-2001 @ 02:46 PM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 02-16-01 21:39 ET (US)     26 / 295       
Waves slapped against the galley's bow occasionally spraying sea water into the all-seeing eyes painted there. The wind now propelled the ship forward giving the galley slaves a much desired rest. Still, their rest was incomplete, for while they were not required to row, they were nonetheless chained to their places and could not move but a few inches from where they sat. For this was not a merchant's galley. This ship was a military cargo galley, commanded by an officer in Caesar's Mediterranean Fleet and charged with the responsibility for getting Civis and the members of his expedition safely to Tyre.

The Captain of the vessel, Quintus Latinus, finished paying his respects to Caesar's Chief Military Advisor and was advised that all of the arrangements were quite satisfactory. As he left Civis' cabin, he was met by Titus and Gaius who were just about to enter. It was time, decided Civis, to deal with matters of finance.

Civis divided the dinarii given to him by Caesar's Finance Minister into three piles. Titus and Gaius patiently observed what he was doing. More for Titus' benefit Civis began to explain why he was dividing his funds.

"Should anything happen to the one among us who holds the funds and the funds are lost," Civis began, "the remaining members of this expedition would suffer great and immediate hardship. If we divide the funds among us, one or two of us might meet our fate and yet there would be some funds left to aid the survivor in getting the children and others back to their homes. If all three of us should fail to complete this mission (not likely - but only Civis and Gaius knew this) then these funds would be lost anyway. So it is better we divide the funds among us and draw from them in a somewhat balanced way as needed." Titus considered what Civis was saying and found no reason to dispute the logic. Gaius remained quiet.

Civis proceeded to complete the distribution of the dinarii placing each pile into its own pouch and giving first one pouch to Titus and another pouch to Gaius. Unspoken communication passed between Civis, the only one beside the tall man himself who understood the nature of Gaius.

There was no risk of lack of funds so long as Gaius was with him. Civis knew that Gaius' pouch would never empty of dinarii no matter how much was spent. The Angel would see to its availability in his own mysterious way. Civis in his wily mind was counting on just this very thing. No matter what happened, the children and others would be safe and supported. Gaius could be trusted to see to it.

At last, Civis could relax both in body and mind. He reached behind himself and drew out a bottle of poppy-steeped wine from his stores that he brought along for just this moment. He poured a goblet for the others and himself. The walls of his cabin echoed the clang of the three goblets as they were brought together over the table in a salute to the start of the mission. The goblets were emptied in one drinking by all three.

It was a good start, Civi's condition aside. If the gods permitted, thought Civis, the rest of the mission would be no more eventful than its start. Later on, Civis would recognize the fact was otherwise.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 02-18-2001).]

Micah Aragorn
posted 02-19-01 06:11 ET (US)     27 / 295       
Titus, setting his goblet down, took leave of Civis and Gaius to walk the main deck of the galley. He looked out at the waters of the Mediterreanian and tried to take in the beauty of its colors. The sun's rays glanced off its surface and the salty smell in the air were clear to his senses. He had not ventured out this far on the sea as most of his childhood and military training were centered in and around Rome. He watched the horizon as the galley bobbed up and down and started to feel slightly queezy from the movement. "Maybe it would be better to keep his thoughts and concentration on something else" he thought to himself.

Titus had some questions about why Civis would bring his son on such a journey. Was that normal? The young boy did not look that well when brought on board. Was he ill? And who was the young girl that clenched her arms so hard around Gaius when they boarded. And for that matter who was this Gaius Accipiter? He had a strangeness about him that Titus could not figure out.

These questions nagged at him and he felt that he would need to have some sort of answers soon. But Caesar's Chief Military Advisor was not one to give out information so easily and to prod Romanus would certainly not gain any advantage to his goal for this journey. Titus was sure he would get his answers when asked at the right moment and mood. Except right now was not the right moment for standing on the deck. His stomach was gurgling and seemed to be following the motion of the vessel. Maybe now was a better time to go lie down in his cabin for awhile until he gained his sea legs. "Sure hope this is a short voyage" he muttered to himself as he headed to the cabin holding his stomach.

Civis Romanus
posted 02-19-01 18:39 ET (US)     28 / 295       
If indeed the voyage would be long, at least this leg of the journey was relatively brief. The entry to Syracusae loomed in the distance. Civis took the opportunity to give his young son something of a history lesson.

"Syracusae was founded by the Greeks many hundreds of years ago, Civi. They were the same Greeks who founded other cities along the Mediterranean, included Carthago. Over the years, Carthago grew very strong and began to make it difficult for Roma to carry on trade in this part of the Mediterranean. They began to threaten Roma itself saying they would send their ships and soldiers and destroy Roma."

Civi listened intently adding this comment: "Well, the Carthaginians were weak. We beat them three times, didn't we?"

"We did beat them, Civi. But the Carthaginians were not weak. They were led by many great generals. Syracusae thought the Carthaginians would win and allied themselves with Carthago and fought Roma for 23 years. Here, in this island, the Carthaginians were led by Hamilcar Barca. Roma was very fortunate to win. A great Greek scientist in the city of Syracusae thwarted our siege for 3 long years. His name was Archimedes. He invented fabulous war machines that sank our war galleys before we could gain access to the city."

"Whatever happened to Archimedes, Father, you know, when Roma won the war?"

"It was a great tragedy, Civi. Our general, Marcellus, ordered that the man be captured alive and not harmed in any way. General Marcellus hoped that the old scientist would design great war machines for Roma and make us even stronger. But a Roman soldier found Archimedes in his chamber drawing circles. The Roman ordered him to surrender. Archimedes said, 'Don't disturb my circles,' and the Roman soldier fearing the man's powers thought Archimedes was weaving a deadly spell. The Roman soldier thrust him through with his sword and killed the old man. The Roman soldier was put to death later by his Commander for disobeying General Marcellus' orders. That Commander was one of our ancestors."

"Was his name Civis like yours and mine, Father?"

"Yes it was, Civi." The boy turned his darkened eyes towards the harbor and began to imagine the waters filled with Roman galleys, some floating, some sinking, some on fire. Something deeply hidden within the boy developed special interest in the boy's macabre thoughts and drew from them a small amount of dark power and then added it to its growing cache.

They were now docked. Civis saw Titus, legs only slightly wobbly, find an immediate opportunity to gain the shore. He was followed by Radko. No doubt on a shopping expedition, thought Civis. Good. We should replenish any supplies consumed on this leg, just as we will do the same in Athens. He watched them walk up the street to the city's marketplace, then Civis returned to his cabin, Civi in tow.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 02-19-2001).]

Eminence Grise
posted 02-20-01 09:40 ET (US)     29 / 295       
Gaius Accipiter had taken Sin Ying with him into the town and on the market had bought her some sweets. The little girl had looked at him questioningly and then taken a big bit out of one of the sweetened apples. A big smile lit up her small face and with her mouth still full she told her tall companion that she'd save one or two fo them to share with Civi.

After the market, Gaius stopped by the temple of Minerva-Athena, where he lit a cone of incense.
"Why do you do that?" The girl asked.
"For luck, " Gaius answered, "it never hurts to have the gods on your side.
No matter what people call them." he added in a lower voice. As they walked out he noticed a timid looking man with a scruffy book in his hand telling about a man in Israel who had danced on the sabbath and cured the lame. The holy people said it was a shame and had him whipped and stripped and hung on high. They'd left him on a cross to die.

Sin Ying looked at Accipiter for a second and as they walked on asked.
"What was that? It sounded sad..."
"It was sad, " Gaius answered, "He meant well, but people didn't understand his message and it will grow and change the world beyond recognition."
He shook his head.
"Never mind, let's get something to drink."
Sin Ying bounced up and down, the sad tale already forgotten.
"Yes, yes, please."

A short while later they were back at the harbour front, sitting in a small wineshop. Gaius Accipiter with a goblet of poppy-steeped wine before him, Sin Ying with a mug of unfermented grapejuice.

Angel Jayhawk
Eyrie, Pharaoh Heaven, Caesar 3 Heaven, Zeus Heaven

Civis Romanus
posted 02-20-01 16:16 ET (US)     30 / 295       
Titus had a craving for something wet and refreshing, mentioning such to Radko. The stablemaster decided he would finish the supply shopping and left Titus to his cravings. Payment would be made upon delivery to the ship, so there was no need for Titus to be with him while Radko arranged for items and quantities. In fact, it would be easier for Radko to bargain if the Roman were not with him so that the tribune's appearance of wealth would not encourage the merchants to bargain harder in their own favor.

A ways down the street, Titus saw a tavern. He waved to Radko as the stablemaster walked further up the pathway, then the tribune walked directly towards the tavern and entered its interior through its recessed doorway. The beam above the door was so low the Roman had to duck slightly as he entered. Soon enough his eyes adjusted to the dark interior, at the same time his sense of smell keyed on and picked up the aroma of brew.

A serving girl of 19 years holding two tankards in her hand stopped in midstride to stare at Titus. He looked back at her and smiled. Her cheeks pinkened somewhat and she quickly lowered her eyes, but not before the hint of a smile in return escaped to her face. She then resumed her walk to a nearby table to deliver the two tankards to two seedy, scruffy looking men. Titus sat down at an empty table not far from the two men.

"Wench... Bring us two more!" said one of the men to the girl just as she delivered the two tankards. "Sir, I cannot," she pleaded. "The tavern master will only allow one tankard at a time to be served to a customer. It will mean my job if I disobey him."

"That will be your problem, Wench. Two more tankards, I say!" The man who spoke suddenly lunged forward and grasped the girl by the arm. She winced as the pain of his hard grip penetrated her arm. Tears began to well up in her eyes uncontrollably. "You heard me, didn't you?" he persisted.

"Release her," said Titus. "Let her go about her business. Whether one tankard or two, there's plenty of brew in this tavern. Enough for two rats to drown in it." The implication was clear. The second unkept man made a motion as if to reach for a hidden sword. Titus swiftly reached for his own short sword and had it out of its sheath and balanced in his hand before the other could finish his motion. Both men opposing Titus froze in their places. They slowly removed their hands from whatever the destination had been and placed them on the tankards. The girl was free to move away from their table.

She carefully stepped over to where Titus sat, eyes saying thank you, her lips inquiring if she could bring Titus some brew. He said yes and so she did.

Her passage among the tables to the place where Titus sat brought her close to the table where the two troublemakers sat. At the closest point of passage one of the men stuck a leg out. The unfortunate girl's foot caught on the man's leg and she tripped spilling the full content of the tankard she carried into the face and front of Titus.

In an instant the two men leaped to their feet and advanced on Titus. The Roman was soaked in brew and half blinded by the liquid that had found his eyes. He knew they were coming for him as he could see their blurred movement in his direction. He placed hand on hilt, but more slowly this time as he struggled to see and find its location. If not for the stranger, Titus realized, his role in Caesar's mission would have ended in a pool of his own blood on the tavern floor.

Caesar Alan
posted 02-20-01 16:32 ET (US)     31 / 295       

The command bore such weight the two men stopped in their tracks. Titus, wiping the brew from his eyes, turned to see the man who had spoken. A tall, athletic young man holding a short sword was standing at his side. He gestured with his sword towards the door; the two unkempt men immediately beat a hasty retreat.

The stranger turned to the serving girl and helped her to her feet.

"I must apologise for your treatment, young lady. Are you quite recovered?"

"Yes... sir" The girl replied.

"Very good, then perhaps you could bring the gentleman some more brew."

"Certainly, sir." And with that, the serving girl hurried off.

The man turned to Titus:

"You picked a fight with some dangerous opponents, my friend."

Caesar Alan
posted 02-20-01 16:46 ET (US)     32 / 295       
Titus, having regained his composure somewhat, replied:

"So it would seem. I thank you for your timely intervention. Might I have the pleasure of your name?"

"I am Marcus Horatius. Those two ruffians served in my cohort in the campaign against the Parthians. It would appear they still regard me as their superior, which is fortunate for both of us. And you might be?"

"I am Titus Tarquintius."

"And may I ask what brings a tribune to Syracuse, Titus Tarquintius?"

Before Titus could reply, the serving girl returned with two fresh tankards of brew.

Eminence Grise
posted 02-21-01 06:07 ET (US)     33 / 295       
Titus accepted the cloth the serving girl handed him and wiped the beer from his face and hair. Civis would have my hide, he thought, if only for smelling like I've drunk myself stupid.
He looked at Marcus and thought, and I can definitely not tell him what we're up to. Maybe Civis will want another hand, though, the man seemed level headed enough to be useful.

He raised his tankerd and said.
"Thanks for the help." then he drank deeply.
I am not at liberty to tell you what I'm doing here, but I can introduce you to my commander. Only he can decide whether or not to tell you."
"Your commander?"
"I am with here with Civis Romanus"
"The Civis Romanus?" Marcus sounded impressed.
"Could you arrange for me to meet him?"

If Civis Romanus himself was here, Marcus thought, it must be something important that they'reup to. Maybe he's the answer to my prayers...

Angel Jayhawk
Eyrie, Pharaoh Heaven, Caesar 3 Heaven, Zeus Heaven

posted 02-21-01 09:47 ET (US)     34 / 295       
Back on the boat, Radko had cringed when T. Tarquintius had "volunteered" to help him get supplies. Nothing would drive up prices like some young Roman kid in tribune's robes. Still, a glance over at his boss told Radko this was an offer he should not refuse. When the tribune stopped for refreshment, Radko took the opportunity to resume his original plans.

After procuring staples at the market, Radko wanted deep across the city. Any animals kept by the docks were likely to be the highest priced and worst treated ones in all Syracuse. On the far ends of the city, where the buildings seemed to peter out, and there actually seemed to be areas for animals to graze, Radko began hunting for beasts of burden. After visiting several inns and stables and getting a sense of price and local quality, Radko found one farmer who seemed particularly eager to sell. Radko picked up a 4 year-old painted mare and a mule at a more than fair price, but then his conscience got the better of him, and he asked the farmer why he needed to sell his stock. The farmer said that his wife had recently fallen ill, and the local physician was charging him terribly for the medicine she needed. Radko felt badly about taking advantage of the man, but knew that the next buyer was likely to strike a harder bargain.

Back at the ship, Radko told his story to C. Romanus and G. Accipiter. Each focused on something different. The boss became quite cross that Radko had left Titus alone in a bar. Apparently, Civis had wanted Radko to keep an eye on him. Radko had wanted to reply that he was too old to baby-sit a tribune, but thought better of it. Gaius, however, asked about the farmer's wife, and the location of the stable. Sometime later, Radko noticed that Gauis had left the ship... for what reason, Radko did not venture a guess.

Civis Romanus
posted 02-21-01 16:12 ET (US)     35 / 295       
Gaius Accipiter had very little time as the Roman cargo galley was scheduled to depart from Syracusae at first light the next day. He hurried to the location of the farm as described to him by Radko. Finally arriving, he sought out the man who sold the animals to the stablemaster...

Meanwhile... On the Roman galley...

Civis tapped the point of his stylus on the table behind which he sat. Marcus Horatius stood at formal attention before the Commander. "And so, Cohort Leader, since you have no unit to lead and no Legion to which you currently belong, you seek to accompany us on our mission eventhough I have not told you what it is," Civis said.

"Yes, Commander. That is correct."

"Legionaire Horatius, we travel the Silk Road... its entire length. That is all I can tell you now. Do you still wish to join us?"

This time Marcus paused before answering as the full import of what Civis said struck home. However, he did not pause for long, nor was his answer delivered with any hint of hesitation. "I shall be honored to be included in your mission, Commander... The entire mission."

"Consider yourself included then," replied Civis. "Gather your belongings and be at this dock well before we depart tomorrow. I would suggest this evening if at all possible. And talk to no one about this, do you understand?"

"Yes, Commander... And thank you," said Marcus. Civis smiled. "Let's hope you will still have reason to thank me once this mission is completed, Legionaire. Now be off to gather your things. Tomorrow will be here before you know it... Oh, and please have Tribune Titus come in after you leave." Marcus saluted and left Civis' cabin to find Titus.
He found the Tribune on the maindeck watching the crewmen load supplies into the galley and it was there he told Titus of his acceptance into the mission and that Civis wanted to speak with Titus. The Tribune's smile elevated with the first part of the message, then fell with the second part.

In Civis' Cabin...

"TRIBUNE TITUS! You put yourself and this mission in imminent danger simply to be a gallant and to protect some serving wench in some nameless, godless tavern?! Caesar Marcus Aurelius did not put his trust in you for this mission to see you forget your purpose the minute some beer maiden batts her eyes at you. Neither Caesar nor I can afford for the sake of this mission to find you in a pool of your own blood on some tavern's floor. Your presence in this mission is too important to us both. Do you understand, Tribune?!"

"Y.. Yes, Commander. I wasn't thinking of the mission at that moment, Sir," stammered Titus.

"Always be thinking of the mission, Tribune, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, or wherever it takes you. Am I being clear, Titus Tarquintius?!

"Yes, Commander Romanus. Very clear," answered Titus.

"Good. You are confined to this ship during the rest of our stay in Syracusae. Dismissed." Titus saluted sharply and promptly left Civis' cabin.

Civis Romanus watched the tribune depart the cabin, close the door and reveal by his footsteps that he had walked a distance away. Civis frowned. I hope I wasn't too harsh on him, thought Civis. But he is a young man, and a young tribune at that. He needs to understand his personal duty and that sometimes a sacrifice must be made. Sometimes the sacrifice is another, sometimes it is oneself. A tavern is not the place for him to sacrifice himself without good purpose. On the other hand...

Civis now began to smile. A young girl in distress, being abused by crass men in front of everyone. But only Titus stepped forward to come to her immediate aid. Then Civis said out loud to himself, "And you, Civis Romanus, what would you have done in that situation, eh?" Civis stopped and thought a moment then continued out loud. "The very same thing, you hypocrite, that's what."

Civis started to laugh. He was beginning to appreciate the tribune more so now than after their first meeting. There is quality present in the young man and that is perhaps what Caesar saw all along; and now I, he admitted to himself, am beginning to see it too.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 02-21-2001).]

Micah Aragorn
posted 02-22-01 06:59 ET (US)     36 / 295       
"I wasn't thinking of the mission at the moment. Oh! Great answer Titus. Why don't you just ask Romanus if you can just fall on your sword now?!" The young tribune's thoughts were quite vocal. He opened the door to his quarters and started to remove his armor and tunic all the while muttering to himself about how he surely just made a wonderful display of trust to his commander. He laid down on the bunk and putting his hands behind his head was deep in thought.

"All I wanted was one small drink. One small drink!" he continued to try an justify his actions. "How was I suppose to know what would happen? Should I have just let them had their way with the girl? Did I jeopardize the mission? What would Caesar have said. Caesar! I don't think I want to even think about that."

The thoughts of the days event continued to race through his mind,"Would I do it again the same way? Probably wouldn't have gone for the drink but....protect the girl....there is a matter of the weak being protected against menacing cowards. Yes, yes I would. Even Romanus himself would have acted the same way. Wouldn't he?"

But as if to pull some sort of good of the mishap,"Well at least I wasn't wrong about Marcus Horatius. The commander did approve of his decision to bring Marcus to him."

"Tomorrow is another day so I'll......Wait a minute. Come to think about it I could swear that I heard a hint of laughter come from the commander's quarters as I was walking away. No, it couldn't have been. Impossible!

Titus turned on his side and as his eye lids shut and sleep started to overtake him he quietly mumbled,"Impossible!"

[This message has been edited by Micah Aragorn (edited 02-22-2001).]

Eminence Grise
posted 02-22-01 08:19 ET (US)     37 / 295       
Gaius Accipiter walked up to the man who was hoeing a patch of vegetables.
"I hear you have some animals for sale?"
"I'm sorry, gov'ner, but I already sold them to a gentlemen earlier this morning."
Accipter looked around and asked
"Why did you sell them, though, it seems you could do with an animal ar two to help you run the farm"
The farmer told Gaius the same story he'd told Radko.
"Hmmm, I could do with a doctor. Where does this man live?"
The farmer patiently explained his visitor where the doctor could be found, then added.
"He's charging a fortune, though, gov'ner."
"We'll see about that. Thank you, my friend."
Accipter turned about to leave, then bent over, pushed away some dirt and said:
"Seems like something's burried here, my friend."
The farmer got down on his knees and started digging as Accipiter walked off. Moments later he'd uncovered a small ancient looking jar. He shook it and it rattled, with a strangely metallic sound. With some effort he broke the seal on the jar and upended it. Shiny coins in different sizes rolled on his lap.
"Gold..." he mumbled.

Gaius Accipter meanwhile had found the doctor's office. As he passed the doorstep he seemed to change, his shadow darkened and his skin shaded more pale than any had seen. He knew he was not supposed to 'meddle' as his father always told him, but sometimes he had to follow his heart rather than the rules. Sure, someday he was going to pay for it, but he was willing to accept that.

The next door opened on a breeze that wasn't there. A small pinched looking man was sitting behind a desk counting coins, each stacked neatly with others of it's kind. He looked up as the room plunged into sudden darkness and an pale light appeared in the door opening.

A shape dressed in shadows, white, alabaster flesh peering through the wrappings, the eyes startlit holes in the deathmask that formed the face. Black hair streamed down it's face.
Luculles Miseris pushed back his chair as the smell of a long buried tomb assaulted his nose. The table toppled scattering a waterfall of coins.

"Luculles..." a voice caressed his ears.
"I died because of you, Luculles...
I died because you withheld your medicine...
I died because you value money more than lives...
Tartarus awaits you, false doctor, and I will be revenged...
The voice, which had steadily risen in volume and sharpness, now screamed in Luculles ears.

Luculles was cowering in the corner by now, the smell of fear on him was thick upon him.
The voice dropped to a whisper.
" might mend your ways and escape the depths or Tartaros, Luculles. Behave like a doctor and not as a money-grubbing fool and you might escape your fate..."

The apparation disappeared in a golden glow, leaving Luculles alone with his money. The small man shivered, mend my ways, he thought, mend my ways...
He got up, and forgetting all about his coins got his tools, his glass and walked out of his house in to the town.
No where was that farmer...

Gaius Accipter walked back to the harbour, nibbling on a pomegranate. His face was passive, while his mind rushed down familiar paths. Why wouldn't people listen to their hearts? Why could some people only be happy if they held power over others? In his own way he loved the human race, but on occasions like this he was sick and tired of it.
Then he smiled, at least there were good ones, with souls as great as any god could wish for and he was travelling with some of them.

posted 02-22-01 09:34 ET (US)     38 / 295       
"Civi, let's play something. I am getting kinda bored and Uncle Jay isn't around either." Sin Ying asked Civi. "I don't want to play. But tell me about the necklace."

"I don't really know anything about it except that I've always had it. I think my mother gave it to me, but those memories are so far away. It is pretty though, isn't it?
"Come on, Civi. You can't just stay cooped up in here all day. I want to go outside. You coming?"

Sin Ying got up and went above decks to look at the city and the stars. Everything was so different and yet for some reason she couldn't shake the feeling tha she was going home.

Civis Romanus
posted 02-22-01 11:45 ET (US)     39 / 295       
Civi's dark eyes watched Sin Ying walk out of their cabin. That which is within crawled back into its recessed hiding place in the boy's soul. There will be another time to deal with the talisman, it reasoned; and so it was prepared to wait patiently for the right moment.

Civi blinked and looked around. "Sin Ying? Where are you, Sin Ying?" The boy rose off his cot to look outside and see if the Ch'in girl was there. She was.

"So you came out to play afterall," said Sin Ying.

"Play? I guess so. What do you want to play?" answered the boy.

"Really, Civi. Sometimes I just don't know what to do about you." Sin Ying's expression changed to pretended exasperation. Civi simply stood there, a recollection flooding back into his mind. Hmmm, he thought. That's exactly what Mother says to Father... then she kisses him. Am I supposed to let her kiss me because she said that? Yuck! Kissed by a girl? Not me. "TAG!" he shouted and touched the girl lightly on her shoulder then ran for the farthest end of the galley as fast as he could.


Marcus Horatius stowed his belongings in the crew compartment designated by the galley's first officer. Well... A little snug but it will do. It's not the first time I've been on a galley, he told himself. But it is the first time I've been on one that hauls cargo instead of people.

The galley gave a slight start as oars bit into the waters of Syracusae's harbor. Gaius Accipiter noticed the movement just as had all of the others on board destined for the silk road. Though quiet at first, the galley drum now increased in volume and sped up its tempo and the ship surged ahead with each measured stroke of its oars. Then the drum ceased, but the motion did not. It was the sail that did the work now.

Civis picked up his stylus and recorded in the soft clay words in the language of the people of Roma that stated the day and time their ship departed for the port of Athens. He would record the rest once they made port then have the clay baked and sent to Caesar by messenger. He reached for a second object, a scroll of sheepskin. He selected a brush and paint then began his next writing. My Dear Apolita... he began.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 02-22-2001).]

posted 02-23-01 10:04 ET (US)     40 / 295       
Radko began distributing feed to the enlarged herd. Suddenly he heard squealing and felt a small child careen off his leg and into the hay. Then more squealing and a second small child make the same bounce off his leg into the hay. Radko lifted Civi and Sin Ying out of the hay and wagged a finger at the small boy.

"Did you just run behind that mule, young master?"

"Yes, Sir", said the young boy.

"Well, I've only had that mule a day or so, but already I know her temper. Do you know what she does to people who come up behind her?"

"No, Sir."

"She gives them a mean kick. Your father would have my hide if I let you get kicked by a mule. Understand?"

"Yes, Sir."

"So did you learn anything today, young man?"

"Yes, Sir. I learned not to play in the stables."

Radko turned his eye on the small girl. "And what did you learn today?"

Sin Ying stuck out her jaw and said in her loudest voice, "I learned that the stablemaster is a MEAN OLD MAN!" Then she gave her best glare.

Radko glanced over at Civi, just in time to catch him covering his mouth and turning away to suppress a giggle.

"Listen here, young miss, I have saved young Civi's father on more than one occasion, and I don't get paid to treat things lightly."

The little girl continued to glare, undeterred.

Radko moved the two children back into the hall, and closed the door to the makeshift stable. Almost immediately he heard the girl say "tag" and tear down the hall giggling. Followed almost immediately by another set of child's footsteps and more giggling. Radko sighed and reached for his grooming brushes.

"Kantos, it is going to be a long trip." The horse said nothing, which was just fine by Radko.

[This message has been edited by Nutmegger (edited 02-23-2001).]

Cyber Paladin
posted 02-23-01 10:25 ET (US)     41 / 295       
"Peek a boo!" Sin Ying poped up from behind Civi.
"Argh!" Exclamated Civi, "You got me again Sin Ying. It's my turn."
"No..." Yawned Sin Ying who shook her head. "I'm pretty tired. I'd better get a nap, yawn"
"You didn't sleep well last night?" Asked Civi.
Sin Ying didn't reply, she just gave Civi a strange stare and turned away. Civi suddenly remembered whenever he wakes up in a nightmare, Sin Ying is always by his side. That means... "No... even Apollonia won't do this?" Wondered Civi.

In the cabin, Sin Ying made her bed and laid down for an afternoon nap...
The same grassland. The same black sky. The same stirring cloud.
"Civi? Civi? That thing comes again?"
The same setting alarmed Sin Ying, everytime she sees this, Civi is troubled by the evil thing. But strangly, that thing flees as soon as Sin Ying appears.
"Civi? Where are you?" Sin Ying paniced around. Usually she can see Civi not far away. But this time, there's no sight of people.
A gentle male voice rose behide Sin Ying, but she don't understand him. She turned around, and she saw an old man. Long shining white hair and beard. His black eyes seemed to be able to see anything on Earth.
Sin Ying didn't know what the old man is saying. Yet she somehow understand the words. It's like chanting.
"Do you want to help the boy?"
Sin Ying nodded.
The old man smiled kindly and gently brushed her hair.
"That thing that is bothering Civi is a 'long'."
Sin Ying frowned, her mind was definitly puzzled by what the old man's talking about.
"Don't understand? Well, to make things simple, your first step is to find the Great Long's Blood, and Civi will be freed."
Sin Ying frowned even deeper.
"Don't worry girl. I'll be watching you." The old man's smile seemed being able to comfort the girl's troubling mind. "My apprentice will be able to help you."
Sin Ying finally opened her mouth, but the old man started talking before she can say a word.
"I know. I know. He's wearing a medallion similar to this" The old man show the girl a medallion made from yellow papyrus. "Strange, it looked familiar." thought Sin Ying.
"Don't forget to ask The Messenger when you're in doubt. Don't worry girl, I'll be watching over you."
The old man turned away and sang a strange song, fading into the background.

"Sin Ying? Sin Ying?"
The familar face with green eyes came into Sin Ying's sight as she opened her eyes.
"Dinner's set, come on" Gaius helped the little girl off her bed.
"Uncle Jay, I had a strange dream." And Gaius stopped the motion, looking at the little girl, waiting her to go on.
Sin Ying told him about her dream.
Gaius frowned deeply, then said to the little girl. "Don't worry Sin Ying, it's just a dream."

[This message has been edited by Cyber Paladin (edited 02-24-2001).]

Civis Romanus
posted 02-23-01 11:45 ET (US)     42 / 295       
A few more days passed uneventfully as the galley coursed its way to Athens and the ship's next port 'o call. Civis pointed out to his son interesting sights along the way as the galley by design generally stayed closer to the shore than would a deep sea ship. The father wasn't sure if the import of his explanations registered firmly on his young son, but if only a small portion of it stayed with the boy then the father had done what he could... or so Civis told himself.

Gaius was more withdrawn on this leg of the journey as if something troubled him more than usually. He kept to himself, except in those instances when he was in the company of Sin Ying. Civis couldn't tell what it was that troubled his friend, but knew sooner or later he would find out. He would be told by Gaius when it was the right time and the right place. It had always been that way.

Titus, too, kept to himself. Pleasant as always, the tribune nonetheless seemed reluctant to approach Civis these days. Civis decided it was time to do something about the tribune's reluctance.

"Any duties at the moment Tribune?" he asked Titus.

"No sir, not at the moment," replied Titus somewhat formally.

"Good, join me in my cabin as soon as you can." Civis saw the man stiffen a little and the tribune's expression take on a wary look. Civis pretended not to notice and walked to his cabin.

A short time later there was a knock on the door. "Enter," said Civis. The tribune opened the door and walked in then prepared to salute, but before he could Civis smiled and told him to take a seat. Titus blinked and then sat down on the nearest chair.

Civis reached behind himself and grasped two tankards of beer placing them on the table between them. "I think you missed enjoying one of these the other day, didn't you?" Civis smiled to see the surprised look on Titus' face. "Tell no one we have this... your word on it Titus... or there'll be no end to the meetings they'll all want to have in my cabin." Titus tried to maintain a serious expression as he said, "Of course, Commander, you have my word on it." Then the conspirators both laughed out loud.

"And by the way, Titus. The name is Civis. We'll save the 'Commander' and similar words for those formal occasions when it will impress someone... as few as those occasions or individuals might be."

"Yes... Civis," said Titus. Civis' expression now changed to feigned seriousness. "And now, Titus, have you any interest in learning games demanding great mental skill, strategy and a little in the way of luck."

"As a matter of fact, I do, Comman... I mean, Civis."

"Good," replied Civis. "There is a fascinating game played with cups, stones and cubes I learned a time ago in Aegyptus. It was taught to me by a lovely servant girl in the household of Cleopatra."

"Cleopatra? But she...," Titus said in some confusion. Civis quickly realized his mistake. "Oh, did I say 'household of Cleopatra'? I meant in Cleopatra's palace... you know... the building itself. Well, anyway... here's how it is played." And Civis began an explanation of the game's rules. Titus would never believe Civis if he tried to explain what he was doing in Aegyptus in the time of Cleopatra or how Gaius got him there. Better that the tribune be focused on the game.

Titus soon forgot the reference to Cleopatra as he concentrated on the game. Fourteen attempts later, he finally scored his first win against Civis. In both their minds, that made the game only that much more interesting.

Before long, it was time to dock in the harbor town servicing the great Greek city of Athens.

Eminence Grise
posted 02-26-01 06:33 ET (US)     43 / 295       
Athens was busy as ever, as Gaius, with Titus and the children, made his way towards the Acropolis.

They had taken Africus and one of the other horses from the habour and travelled along the crowded road. Civi was riding with Titus, his black eyes taking in all the commotion around them. He seemed to be ignoring the bouncing, which made Titus a little nervous. Sin Ying was riding with Gaius and asking a thousand questions.

The stabled the horses at an inn, near the Sacred Rock and climbed the stairs. As they climbed the city spread out beneath them like a mosaic. The small temples rose before them as the walked up the last staircase, four more pelgrims amongst the crowd.

The rich smell of incense was wafting from the buildings. Small sacrifices were made on the various altars and augurs were reading the entrails of pigeons and other small animals. They passed the large Parthenon temple dedicated to Athena-Minerva and slipped behind it to enter a small temple, with a handful of caryathids holding up the low roof.

An old man, his hair white as snow, with a small well kept beard and bright dark eyes looked up from where he sat reading a scroll.
"Angelos" he mumbled and smiled a smile that made years drop from his face like snow from a tree in spingtime.
Titus wondered why the old man called his companion: messenger, his Greek wasn't perfect, but he sure he heard correct.

"My lord Aythadis, it has been far too long since you visited us here."
Accipter smiled and gripped the old man's wrists.
"Misenus, it has been long. I am glad to see you well.
I'd like to introduce you to my companions,
Titus Tarquintius, a young tribune I travel with meet Misenus of Rhodes, High-Priest of Apollo in Athens.
And these two are Sin Ying, who hails from the Lands of the Dragon and Civi, son to a friend of mine."

Misenus greeted Gaius' companions, then looked at the green-eyed man and said.
"As always you have interesting companions, one that is destinied for greatness, one that is lost and one that carries two souls."
He knelt down in front of Civi and put his hands to either side of the boy's head.
"Two souls and one very ancient. What happened to the boy. He's too young to have brought this upon himself?"

Gaius explained briefly, then asked Misenus,
"Can you ask the Shining One if he can bind that dark soul more closely until we reach Ch'in?"
The old man looked doubtful and answered.
"I can trace the bonds you laid on it and can ask my master to strengthen them, but the will not keep the dark at bay. He needs to go to the source in order to be freed from it's grip."
Gaius nodded
"I know, but we need the bonds to be strengthened for we have a long way ahead of us. I can not afford to let the dark take over the child."
A pained look crossed his features.
"My friend would not survive the loss."

Misenus touche dhis hands to the boy once more and closed his eyes. His deep voice murmered a soothing flow of Greek, the sounds rolling of his lips as water flows from a well. The light dimmed and Gaius felt Sin Ying's small hand slip into his as she moved closer to him.
"I she going to hurt Civi?" the girl whispered.
Accipter shook his head,
"No, Little One, he's trying to help Civi."

Then the light brightenend back to it's original glow and Misenus let out a deep breath. He shivered.
"I have bound it more strongly, and pushed the dark as deep as I could. It is strong, though, very strong."
"I owe you, Misenus, old friend."
"You owe me nothing, Angelos.
You nor any of those that fight the dark."

Gaius Accipter bowed his head in thanks then shook hands with the old man once more.
"Until we meet again, Angelos."
"Until we meet, Misenus."

The four of them left the small temple and were quickly enveloped in the crowd. Civi's blue eyes shone, walking next to Sin Ying.
"This place is wonderful!
How did we get here...?"

Civis Romanus
posted 02-26-01 11:33 ET (US)     44 / 295       
"But how...?" Civis looked incredulously at his son's bright blue eyes. "What did you do?"

"I did very little, Civis, except to bring him to someone who I thought could help in way I could not," replied Gaius.

"Then he is cured?" asked Civis, hope in his voice.

"No. That which is in him is constrained more greatly now than before. I hope it is constrained enough to permit the child to reach our destination without the entity breaking free. For now, he should be very much the son you've always had, unless something unforeseen prematurely loosens the bonds placed on the entity." Gaius smiled. "I'll be watching for any such thing."

"Thank you, Gaius." Simple words, but Gaius quickly read the deep appreciation behind them.

Civis Romanus had followed behind them by a matter of hours arriving at the Inn described by Gaius before the tall, green-eyed man left to visit Athens with Titus and the two children. Radko had accompanied Civis and even now was busy securing supplies needed for the last sea leg of the journey and for the long land trip beyond. There were items of equipment to be obtained in rocky Greece that would help them on those parts of their journey characterized by mountainous land. The able Stablemaster was away from the Inn at the moment.

"Let me see the children to their rooms and I will rejoin you momentarily," said Gaius. Titus and Civis sat at the table in the serving room watching the two children being led off to their room. They seemed like two dwarfs in comparison to the heighth of the man holding a child's hand in each of his.

Two men in the far end of the room watched the movements of the travelers with more than casual curiousity. They whispered to each other in a language different than any to be found within the Empire. Only Civis among the Romans would have recognized the language and its origin, but the two foreigners were out of Civis' hearing and so he couldn't know they were being closely watched by disguised agents from the land of...

the Parthians.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 02-26-2001).]

posted 02-27-01 10:56 ET (US)     45 / 295       
"Uncle Jay, can you tell us a story before we go to bed?"

"Yes please, Uncle Jay" the girl's voice echoed.

"What do you want to hear about, kids?"

"Oh, anything with gory battles and the good guys winning at the end" shouted Civi.
"A love story and romance and everyone lived happily ever after" Sin Ying said at the same time. The two children looked at eachother and started giggling.

Gaius thought for a bit and decided to tell a story that had battles and love both.

When he finished, he saw smiles on both faces in appreciation.

"Don't leave yet, Uncle Jay. I don't want the dreams to come back." Sin Ying was looking a little apprehensive.

"Don't worry, little one, there should be no dreams tonight."

At that, both Civi and Sin Ying looked releived. And true to his word, there were no bad dreams to disturb their sleep this night.

Civis Romanus
posted 02-27-01 22:18 ET (US)     46 / 295       
"They're settled in their room," said Gaius as he sat in his chair at the table with Titus and Civis, being careful in his speech not to mention Civis by name. Marcus had opted to remain on the galley and so hadn't travelled with Civis and Radko to Athens. Radko hadn't yet returned from his shopping expedition though he was expected to arrive at the Inn at any time.

"Good. Thanks, Gaius." Civis pushed over a tankard of beer he'd ordered for Gaius as they waited. "Thirsty?" the Roman asked. Gaius looked at the tankard noncommitally.

"In a moment... When are we leaving Athens according to our schedule?"

The Roman ran through the itinerary embedded in his memory. "The third morning after our arrival... let's see. We arrived yesterday early afternoon. Yes, we leave the morning after tomorrow at first light. We should be on the galley no later than dusk tomorrow." Gaius brows knitted as he considered his options.

"I'm not sure yet,but I may need to do something unaccompanied by the children. Can the children stay with you tomorrow if I decide to do this thing I think is necessary."

"I think Titus and I can manage with the children, Gaius." Civis was unconcerned, but Titus was less confident. "Both of them, Gaius?" the Tribune asked.

"Possibly," said Gaius. "I'll know for sure at breakfast. We meet at sunrise tomorrow for breakfast, correct?"

"Yes, Gaius... At sunrise," confirmed Civis. "At sunrise, then," said Gaius. The tall man rose with a far away look in his eyes, turned about and walked towards the sleeping rooms and disappeared through the doorway. Civis and Titus looked down at the table noticing that Gaius never touched his tankard of beer. They looked at each other wondering what had so preoccupied Gaius that he had no interest in the brew.

It was then that Radko arrived. The Stablemaster's entrance was immediately noticed by Titus, who gestured to Radko to join them. The Stablemaster was only too willing, seeing the full tankard sitting there with no claimant. He sat down and before he could ask, Civis bid him to enjoy the tankard and tell him of any news.

Radko wiped away a small amount of foam that clinged to his upper lip. "No news of the empire, Master. But your messages are sent as requested. And I have arranged for supplies to be replenished. We have rope for any need in the mountains and furs from the North for any cold weather we might encounter. All for a fair price, if I must say so myself. They are being sent to the galley tomorrow morning to the attention of Civis Romanus... Radko immediately paused, realizing his mistake. Civis didn't chide the Stablemaster, but Radko knew Civis was not happy to have had his name mentioned in public. Radko hoped no one had heard.

But at least two men across the room had heard. Their attention was now riveted to the table where sat the three men, one newly arrived. Civis Romanus? Here? They both had heard rumors of a mission to the East but had not expected it to cross their path. One of the men hurriedly scribbled something on a piece of scroll. The other, when the one was finished, stood up and walked to the door.

The man with the scrap of scroll cautiously approached the table where sat Civis, Titus and Radko. He addressed Radko directly in inexpertly structured latin. "You... servant... at villa... Civis Romanus. Give to Romanus. No fail." Then in one quick move he dropped the scrap of scroll in front of Radko and quickly exited the Inn with the other man who had been sitting with him at his table.

Radko had the presence of mind not to glance at Civis when the Parthian mentioned his name. Now that they had gone, Radko picked up the scrap of scroll and handed it to Civis.
Civis unfolded the scrap. The message was written in Parthian, a language learned rudimentarily by Civis when he was stationed as a tribune at the border with Parthia. The note said, "If you are the Civis Romanus who knew King Parthos, you are expected in Damascus. Do not fail to appear or you will be sought out wherever you go in the East. By order of his son, Vologezes, King of Parthia."

There would be much to discuss among them before they reached the port of Tyre, thought Civis.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-15-2001 @ 03:41 PM).]

Micah Aragorn
posted 02-28-01 05:10 ET (US)     47 / 295       
Remembering not to draw attention to themselves or more than already existed Titus watched Civis read the scroll and noticing an expression of curiosity and concern asked Civis "Is everything alright,sir? Who were those men and what may I ask is written on the scroll."

"All is okay.I think", Civis said while rolling up the scrap of scroll,"Although this is not the time or place to discuss this. We'll wait until were on the galley away from any other ears who may choose to listen."

"By the way Titus, your not apprehensive about watching the children tommorrow are you." Civis had a sly smile on his face as he addressed the tribune and glancing slightly at Radko could see the stablemaster grining from ear to ear.

"No. It's just I'm not used to being around children that much and find I may not have the patience or the appitude to entertain them. Your son I can probably occupy because he's been around a military person all his young life but the girl....that's a different story. Besides I think she is more comfortable around Gaius."

Radko snickering and leaning close to the young tribune offered him what advice he found worked with children. "They are no different than the animals I tend to in the stables. At times they require a gentle hand and at other times a firm hand and in between you allow them to be themselves." There does that help you?"

Titus open mouthed and staring bewildered at Radko's offering of child rearing sat back in his chair and simply shook his head. If he wasn't hesitant before he certainly was now.

Civis, taking all this in, laughed at Titus' unfamiliar grasp of raising children and offered one more round of beer before they departed.

Eminence Grise
posted 02-28-01 08:19 ET (US)     48 / 295       
The next morning found Gaius high on the Acropolis facing the rising sun. Nobody seemed to see the tall man who sat cross-legged on the edge of the hill, drinking in the sun light. Not the priests preparing for their morning rituals, not the early petiton seekers.

A pigeon landed on his head and Gaius waved his hand over his head.
"Shoo, go away you silly bird." He whispered.
The pigeon obliged.

Accipiter concentrated and his eyes shot golden with the sunlight. The face and shoulders of a young man appeared before him. The man's eyes were brown and slanted, his skin was the colour of Sin Yings, his hair as dark it was near blue. A pair of brushes was tucked behind one ear and tan wings swept away from his shoulder.
"Good morning, brother" a voice sounded in Gaius head.
"And a good evening to you, brother" he replied the words could hardly be heard over the noise of the city.
"How's life treating you? Are you still among those pale skinned barbarians?"
Accipiter's temper flared slightly then settled down as he saw the smile hover on Zen's face.
"Still with the barbarians, brother. One of these days you'll be surprised by them. Besides, we're going to come for a visit."
"A visit? An unexpected pleasure."

Gaius Accipter briefly told Zen the tale of what happened to Civi and of Civis mission to the Far East. The two of them spoke for a while longer, then Zen spoke.
"Tea's ready. I need to go."
"Farewell Zen, I'll be seeing you soon."

The image faded and Gaius climbed down from the balustrade and vanished into the crowd.

Cyber Paladin
posted 02-28-01 09:43 ET (US)     49 / 295       
Civi and Sin Ying were playing tag onboard as usual when they see Gaius coming back, taking with him a large cloth bag.
"... Hello uncle Jay... so .. you're back!" gasped Civi, who was chased by Sin Ying.
"Uncle Jay, what is in that bag?" The cheerful girl turned up from behind a corner.
"Your favorite, both of you." Gaius smiled benevolently as ever, "now get yourself clean and come to my cabin."

"Our favorite? What could it be? Em... let me guess... sweets? fruit? cakes?" Sin Ying kept making her guesses audible, while Civi was washing his face.
"Come on... Cakes being hold that way? You can have my share if they're stuffed that way?" Finally Civi is somewhat fed up with the girl's never ending voice. Surely Sin Ying's voice is soft and pleasing, sometimes, but it just get's annoying when it never stops. Civi thoughts to himself.
"Who says cakes cannot be held that way?" Sin Ying put her hands around her waist, head tilted a little bit to show her irritation by his contempt.
"Cakes should be in baskets when you take them around. You know BASKETS! Those what marketwomen carries." But Civi wasn't watching as he was wiping his face with a piece of cloth, and carried on scorning her.
"I like them in bags, so what?"
Civi surely gets an idea of Sin Ying's mood just by the intonation. His sister Apollonia usually says "I like it this way that way, so what?" when he makes her angry.
Girls always need to be treated gently. Civi suddenly remembered his little theorem about girls, but as usual, by the time he remembers, it's already too late. Sin Ying was not there as he turned around.

As he approached Gaius' cabin, he heard the too-familiar giggle. "Thank you Uncle Jay!" That's Sin Ying's giggle for sure. Civi thought to himself, and hesitated a bit wondering if it's a good idea to go in right now.
"Hey Civi, what are you doing at the door? Come in." Gaius knew he is right outside and dragged the boy in. Soon Gaius sensed something's not right with the kids as as soon as Civi comes in, Sin Ying became surprisingly quiet. She just gave Civi a squint and turned the other way.
"Let's see what I have for you kid." Gaius broke the silence and pointed at the table, which laid a full jar of orange juice and three big cups. They didn't had much fruit as they took ship in the travelling, and certainly couldn't afford the luxury of juices. Sin Ying jumped in excitement when she saw the juice, but Civi kept strangly calm.
Gaius knew it somewhat when he asked Sin Ying the whereabout of Civi a moment ago. And now Gaius know his guess is right.
In silence, the cups were filled with fresh orange juices, but as soon as Civi reached for it. Sin Ying outbursted "Don't drink it. It was stuffed in a bag, not a basket!"
She didn't forget to grab her cup before she stomped her way out.

"What attitude?" Civi mimicked what his father does when Apollonia bursts her temper.
"Be a gentleman, Civi" Gaius took a sip of the refreshing juice.
"Girls..." Civi tried to sound like he was the true victim, and gulped some juice.
"I understand, Civi. But girls need to be attended." Smiled Gaius and took another sip.
"But you know. She is nice I admit, but can't you see she just don't know when to stop talking?" Complained Civi, taking another gulp.
"Yeah, so?" Nodded Gaius without his lips leaving the cup.
"So I don't know what she is angry for." frowned Civi.
"Don't worry Civi, girls are all this way. Just treat her like Apollonia." And Civi understand what he meant.
"3, 2, 1." Counted Civi.
Sin Ying came in and poured herself another cup of juice before sitting down again.

Civis Romanus
posted 02-28-01 22:28 ET (US)     50 / 295       
All were back on board the galley once more, Radko being the last to arrive as he finished attending to delivery of their latest set of supplies. He watched the dock workers depart the ship, the last basket of bread now in the hands of the ship's cook.

Radko yawned and stretched. Another day's work behind and another evening's rest ahead. It had been a good day. Tomorrow would be that much better. The sun set behind the rocky hills on which sat the distant city of Athens. The dark of night enveloped the cargo galley where it floated in the calm waters of its berth.

Civis awoke to the feel of the ship's movement over the water. First light had come and gone and the ship had departed its berth at the scheduled time. Civis lifted himself from his cot and walked barefoot to the wood porthole, unlocked the latch and looked out to see what he could see.

Slipping by as the ship left the harbor was the rocky edge of the Greecian coast. Here, where once departed a great Athenian fleet bound for Salamis to battle with the ever threatening Persians, now could be seen only a fishing vessel or two seeking its daily catch from beneath the waves.

The Roman yawned, closed the porthole cover and latched it. Today, just because, he would do something he seldom allowed for himself: extra sleep. He padded over to his cot, climbed back in and returned to the place he was before the ship's movement drew him away.

Yes, there she was once more, waving to him and beckoning him to her side. In his dream he walked to her and sat down on the sweet smelling grass. She offered him a goblet of wine and some plump purple grapes. He eagerly accepted, but before drinking he leaned across and kissed Apolita softly on the lips. Then he drank from the goblet and felt the warmth of the wine settle inside bringing contentment in its wake. His sleep deepened and for the moment he forgot completely the duty that pressed him forward and the possible fate that awaited him and his charges on the Silk Road.

For the moment, there was no place called Tyre, no land of the Parthians and no such thing as the Silk Road. There was only wine, grapes and Apolita.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 02-28-2001).]

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