[Fanfic] The Fate of Hearts

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[Fanfic] The Fate of Hearts

Postby Mythos on Fri Dec 15, 2006 7:33 pm

Yes, my second EGS fic. I will post more info on the first part, as this is a prologue and I won't be posting any more until after the first of the year.

Sorry, but this is a teaser. ;)

All legalese applies...Dan Shive is a kind and benevolent God among mortalsyadddayaada...

Grab yourself a long cool one, or a warm and toasty one, all things depending...

C&C (Comments and Criticism) always welcome...You can post it here, send me a PM, or an email...

Flames will be TG'd, shrunk and stored in a closet...

***

The Fate of Hearts
An El Goonish Shive Alternafic
By
Joshua Trujillo

Prologue

Some things change. You go through life, trying to succeed and get ahead. Things conspire to keep you in that same place, but you keep striving.

Some things don't change. Humans, for example. Individuals can change the world. Individuals can hear words, in the privacy of their own head, that will force them to go out and walk on water, touch people with horrible diseases and kick some usuring asses. People, humans, however, do not change. We live. We die. Everything in between rarely varies.

Sometimes, though, it only takes one change to make the difference...

***

Rain dripped in the darkening night. It came in thick, bitterly cold swaths across the mountains, bathing the solemn figure hunched over on the cart as it made a slow progress up the mountain path. Flashes of starlight poked through clearing clouds and illuminated the wetness in silver around him.

Lucius sneezed. He'd always hated the mountains, especially since he always got stuck bringing the cart home when it rained. He reached up and rubbed his nose. It was still sore from the bruise he'd recieved back in town. The wise and mighty Arturo. Lucius spat out onto the ground again. Just because Arturo'd been made a centurion. Just because he was being sent to the wilds of Brittania. Just because he'd gotten a garrison in a northern town there. Hah! He would be sent home by the rowdy heathens there, his gladius stuck up his-

Lucius pulled up on the reins as several people stepped out onto the muddy road ahead of him. The horses wuffled heavily, their breath curling to the trees that overhung the road. He couldn't see it for the dark of the night, but he knew that the edge of the mountain sloped sharply and worryingly downward.

"Civis romanus sum," Lucius rumbled.

The shapes in the gloam looked to one another and several of them spread out around him, one of them setting itself near the horses, none coming close enough to identify to the magistrates later.

"We care not where you're from," the nearest one said above the rain.

"Then you'll not care to have your village wiped out."

"You Roman pigs fear what you cannot control," the person said. "We cannot be controlled, so you fear."

The person reached up and pulled back the hood. Lucius squinted up ahead, but the person looked like it had a face full of hair, and yet, not a beard. It also held a very feminine look to it, aside from the two huge hanks of hair that sprang from her head and fell, now damply, over her face. She looked up into the cover of the trees overhead.

"Vlad?"

A rustling came from overhead. The horses bucked and shook in their reins and Lucius pulled hard to keep them in line.

"I have explained, time and again, that this country is ours," she said back to Lucius. "But the Romans continue to encroach. They continue to depredate our lands and our people. I will stand by no longer."

A keening howl came up from the trees. She glanced up and shook her head.

"No, Vlad," she said. "He must deliver the message."

The woman walked forward slowly and took the reins of the horses, who immediately calmed in her grasp. If Lucius were imaginative enough to see, he thought he could probably imagine them to be shaking. Perhaps, in fear.

"The horses, however," the woman flashed a bright, sharp smile. "Should provide a decent meal. The Romans think they can bring this land to heel? Vlad, make sure you show this one fear."

The woman replaced her hood and turned back to her comrades on the road. Most of them turned to follow her away, but one stayed. More rustling came from the trees and Lucius looked up, and into an unholy face. He tried to scream.

***
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Postby DasteRoad on Sun Dec 17, 2006 4:41 am

Yay! New Mythos writing to feast upon -- errm, to read now and then :D
Me likey the teaser, but you are very evil for not posting more until new year, you know that right? ;)
I'm very curious about what will come... Grace looks very creepy in her first appearance! This will be interesting - not that I doubted that of course 8)

Oh, and a little note: it's "Britannia", not "Brittania". Probably you skipped it while re-reading.
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Postby Mythos on Sun Dec 17, 2006 7:02 am

DasteRoad wrote:Oh, and a little note: it's "Britannia", not "Brittania". Probably you skipped it while re-reading.


D'oh! Yes, I did know that...in my rush to post, I didn't reread enough. You know, like usual. And it HAS been years since I dealt in a Roman environment.

That is one reason why I'm not posting anything else for a while. I want to get my facts straight (AND the spelling). I have two sourcebooks. Shelton's As the Romans Did and Cary and Scullard's History of Rome. They were my texts in college, along with a TON of literary works, including Livy and Juvenal (my fav).

But, I doubt that anything beyond Britannia will be recognizable to most readers. After all, they probably won't understand where Gallia Cisalpina is. :P

I have to be off to work, but yes, I'll fix the spelling later. Thanks! :D
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Postby DasteRoad on Sun Dec 17, 2006 9:37 am

Mythos wrote:But, I doubt that anything beyond Britannia will be recognizable to most readers. After all, they probably won't understand where Gallia Cisalpina is. :P

Don't worry, I would. I'm Italian, after all :P

Silliness aside, I understand your need to take some time and flesh out things better... and I'm very curious about how you'll fit the EGS cast in this setting! You know... having very non-roman names like Elliot, Nanase and such ^^

Anyhow, I know I won't be disappointed, and I can't wait to follow this new Mythos novel bit by bit! Keep up the good work pal :)
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Postby Mythos on Sun Dec 31, 2006 9:27 pm

Hey there...first of the year and I said I wouldn't post until after the new year, so here it is. :P

As far as the names go, they will, in all likelihood, not be truly standard Roman names. Sometimes, when the solution presents itself, I will get those in. For most of the cast though, these will be Roman bastardizations of their own names, close enough for you to recognize them without carrying a lexicon. After all, I'm not looking for historical accuracy (though I LOVE it when I am), I'm looking to tell a story.

I must also admit that I have no idea how long this will run or how often I will be able to post parts. This is gonna be a hard year for me, but I find solace in writing. I will hope to have at least one part out every week, at least until I move home in April. Thanks for reading. :)

Hmmm, suppose I need to replace the disclaimer too...

All legalese applies...Dan Shive is a kind and benevolent God among mortalsyadddayaada...

Grab yourself a long cool one, or a warm and toasty one, all things depending...

C&C (Comments and Criticism) always welcome...You can post it here, send me a PM, or an email...

Flames will be crucified!

***

Part 1

"Senator Verres," the pudgy man hadn't looked up from his attendant. "It has come to my attention that your son has been a rather naughty boy of late."

Verres said nothing.

The pudgy man glanced at the odd man. Honestly, why couldn't the senators these days be more...Roman? As he understood it, the odd man came from somewhere near Moesia. Or was it Macedonia? He would have to remember to look it up. Sometime.

"A naughty boy," he continued as he tried to get back on track. "And yet you think that he is good enough, bright enough and so on that he should be rewarded with magistrate over a town in my empire."

It hadn't been a question and Verres still stood there. It infuriated him when the man just stood there. Still, no one had been more loyal than Verres, which was probably how he attained as much power as he had in the last twenty years. First, as the youngest magistrate ever, presiding over a mess that had been Judea, then as a Senator, making his family in Rome. The pudgy man stopped and huffed.

"Have I heard of this town you want to send him to, Verres?"

"No, your majesty," Verres said at last. "Moperium. A garrison town just on the outside border in Pannonia. We've been having barbarian incursions in the area lately and it is my opinion that Teodorus could follow in my footsteps."

Nero turned sharply, a wicked smile on his face.

"Oh ho, Verres!" he snarled. "You plan a coup, using your own son, after he's got the support of the troops in the Upper Danubis?!"

"No, your majesty," Verres tried to keep his temper. "My son is an erudite fop. Forcing responsibility on him will harden him and perhaps make something of him. If it were up to me, I would allow him his mercurial freedom. But it is not. His mother-"

Verres looked down as his voice caught.

"I think I understand," Nero ran a thick hand through his slimy locks and nodded. "You are henpecked and want a little more freedom. Very well, Verres. Let your son govern, if he will. If he can't, he is certainly pretty enough to join my theatrical retinue, so either way, his future is secure."

The Emperor waved his hand dismissively. Verres bowed, turned and walked out. And tried not to throw up on his way out of the palace.

***

The cells stunk. He supposed they were supposed to stink. They were cells, after all. The dregs of society had to be locked up somewhere. He looked down at his wrists. The shackles cut into his wrists. He'd have to talk to his father about getting the jailers flogged for chaining him up like this. Really. The son of a Senator should be given this kind of treatment. Just because that blasted centurion stuck out his arm...

Teodorus Verres reached up and rubbed his jaw again. It had been like running into a wooden beam and Teo thought it might have loosened a few teeth. Almost broke his nose too. He couldn't have his face damaged! How else would he win with the ladies? Well, there were always the boys at the baths, with whom he seemed fairly popular. Both genders loved his gloriously long, purple locks. He did too. No one in Rome, man or woman, had any like it. And no one could present themselves half as well as he.

Teo shivered and drew his legs to him, as best he could against the cold. Where was his father? Probably off finding himself a new whore. Teo growled angrily. The gods only knew why he couldn't simply honor his mother's memory. A groan from the next cell almost made Teo wretch as a cloud of steam and stench arose into the hallway. He could see the sun in the cells across the hall as it went to the horizon. Soon, he would need to-

Steps down the hallway brought his attention away from the wastes floating in from the next cell and he looked up at the smirking face of his household guard.

"Justinus."

"M'lord," the smiling blonde centurion set a hand at his hip. "Your father has paid for your release and he has something interesting for you."

"He'd better have the staff preparing dinner," Teo said as he stood.

"Maybe," Justinus stood aside as the jailer worked the locks. "Personally, I'm along just to make sure you don't run away again."

"On the orders of my father?"

Justinus nodded.

"Will you also partake of this...interesting thing?"

Justinus sighed and nodded again.

"Good," Teo looked to the jailer, who stood smiling a greasy smile. "Get these off of me, you brute."

The jailer stopped smiling and looked at Justinus, who nodded. Teo smiled languidly as the jailer worked the irons off his wrists. Justinus chewed it over as Teo laughed. One day, the young master wouldn't get bailed out and he would be there to watch.

***

Teo looked up at his father as he lounged on the seat. His father looked back at him. On the table in front of Teo lay the scrolls and letters he would need for this fanciful burst from his father. Teo chewed on a bit of fruit as he picked up one of the scrolls again.

"Moperium?" Teo snorted and tossed the scroll down again. "I've never heard of it."

"Good," Verres turned back to the window. "It means that the Emperor hasn't heard of it either."

"I don't want to do it..."

Verres waited for the other part of the sentence. His son might've been a dandy, but he had two good ears and a brain to use them with.

"But perhaps some time in the back country of the empire will do me some good," Teo absently rubbed at his wrists. "And being magistrate, I can choose my own guard."

Yes, Verres thought. You know how dangerous Nero is, don't you?

"I want to make Elias my garrison commander."

Verres turned and thought he would see his son smirking that irritating little smirk of his, but the boy had a piece of something stuck in his mouth as he rifled through the letters.

"I didn't think..." Verres stopped, then continued. "I didn't think you two spoke to each other anymore."

"There is...sparse correspondence," Teo cleared his throat and looked very uneasy. "But Elias's too good to refuse a direct order."

He looked up at his father expectantly.

"I suppose he is," Verres nodded. "It's the difference between you two. Very well, but Elias makes his own conditions. He has a sister to care for, after all."

"Fine," Teo groused as he sat back.

Verres mused for a minute as his son looked over the scrolls. The boy had an intensity, when he could be herded into doing something. When he put his mind to something, he usually did it better than anyone else. One reason that Verres had wanted to keep him as far from the Emperor as possible. Well, one of many reasons.

"I..." Verres blew out a breath as he sat. "I want you to take two of the servants with you, as well as Justinus and two other household guard. He can choose them, but you can have the two Gauls."

"They talk funny."

"Yes, but the sister can cook," Verres smirked. "And you can't."

Teo glanced up at his father, but thought better than to say anything. He had been right.

"If you...need anything, son..."

"This is serious, isn't it?"

Verres nodded, but said nothing else as he turned back to the window.

"Very well," Teo sniffed as he straightened. "I will gather what we require and I will be off. Please say goodbye...to mother...for me, will you?"

Teo stood and gathered the papers, then walked out. Verres nodded.

***

A knock came on the outside of the carriage. Teo looked up as Justinus poked his head inside.

"We're here."

"Oh good," Teo sniffed as he began to pack the scrolls away. "Send the Gauls in to get his servants out for the horses and I'll-"

"I already sent Julius in-"

A shout and scream from across the field, in the direction of the house, made them both flinch. Teo scurried out of the carriage as Justinus drew his sword.

"Put that away, you idiot," Teo snarled. "Don't provoke him!"

The house, a two story affair of a simple plastered nature, had been situated near the middle plateau of a stretch of large hills, a pond near the bottom of the hills nearest the house. A large grove of olive trees lay spread on the one side of the pond and stretched to the opposite side. Cool, January winds blew down from the mighty mountains beyond, blowing kisses down upon the pond and trees. Fields of winter wheat came up to the road on the side away from the trees and swayed. Idyllic. Teo snorted to himself as he scanned along the-

He stopped as he saw a figure pulling itself out of a door at the house. He looked like one of the other guards he'd brought. Teo stepped out of the shadow of the carriage and squinted. Was that...him? A sharp grunt of pain made him jump and Justinus slumped face first to the ground next to him. Teo spun around and met a fist coming the other way.

***
Last edited by Mythos on Mon Jan 08, 2007 12:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby DasteRoad on Thu Jan 04, 2007 3:14 am

Yay, you started it! :D
(and I only saw it now... ehm)

Well, there's not much to go on right now, but I can't wait to see where this is going. Nice attitude with "Teo", btw ^^
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Postby Berk on Thu Jan 04, 2007 3:41 am

Arr, I missed it too. Oh well, better late than never with the praise and praise this deserves. I like the way it's shaping up though my knowledge of the Roman empire is sparse to non-existent so any deviations will go right by me.

Hmm.. Would the Gauls be the immortals?
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Postby Mythos on Thu Jan 04, 2007 11:07 am

Ya know, I was just thinking of sending out reminders to my readers... :wink:

Anyway, how do you think the Romanizations work? So far, I mean. Of course, they're going to be many many more, but how do you think they work so far?

And yes, the Gauls are the immortals. Looking on a Roman map, you will see that the area of Gaul is indeed...France. I don't know what it is, but I can't help but think of those two coming from France. So yeah. :P

I have the goal of getting two parts done this weekend. I dunno if that's possible, but at least one will be done. :)
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Postby DasteRoad on Thu Jan 04, 2007 11:57 am

The Romanizations are pretty fine with me, at least until now. Justinius is the only one that left me a bit puzzled, in the sense of "um, maybe there's a better way to adapt Justin's name but I can't figure it out", but other than that, Teo and expecially Elias are very good for me! :D

Keep up the good work, as I said, I can't wait for more ^^
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Postby Mythos on Thu Jan 04, 2007 12:06 pm

If Justinius doesn't work, I am open to suggestions. No harm in retconning the name this early, after all. I just wanted to stick close to the original for everyone else's sake. The last Roman fanfic I wrote, I went all out and had full changes, which just ended up confusing people... :shifty:
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Postby DasteRoad on Sun Jan 07, 2007 3:36 am

The thing is that, while Justinius has something weird for me, I don't really know how to make it better. So probably it's better to just stick to the original like you said :)
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Postby A Fan on Sun Jan 07, 2007 7:13 am

Yay! A new Mythos period piece! This is looking quite good. I look forward to see how you adapt the other characters and themes to Roman times. And who just punched out Teo. Update soon!
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Postby Free Radical on Sun Jan 07, 2007 11:29 am

DasteRoad wrote:The thing is that, while Justinius has something weird for me, I don't really know how to make it better.

Well, there was a Roman Emperor named Justinian, which sounds pretty good to me at least.
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Postby DasteRoad on Mon Jan 08, 2007 12:05 pm

Free Radical wrote:
DasteRoad wrote:The thing is that, while Justinius has something weird for me, I don't really know how to make it better.

Well, there was a Roman Emperor named Justinian, which sounds pretty good to me at least.

It does sound better, but I believe that Justinian is actually an anglo-ification of the original name. I checked my Latin dictionary, and it says the original Latin form of the Emperor's name was "Iustinianus".
I've also found out that "Iustinus" was an actual name at the time, and at least to me, it sounds a bit better than Justinius.
Oh, and probably we can leave to Mythos' taste whether he wants to use a beginning "I" or "J", since both letters were pronounced as "I" and both forms of names were used.
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Postby Mythos on Mon Jan 08, 2007 12:37 pm

Okay, I think that 'Justinus' would be just fine. I will retcon that name in the first part...and I know about the I vs. J, most anglicanization changes it to J and I think I will too, for as much ease of typing as for others ease of reading.

Didn't get to work on anything this weekend, but I'll be able to work tonight. Yay! Thanks everyone. Feedback does indeed help. :D
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Postby Mythos on Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:05 pm

I am quite tired, but I think this bit is about as done as I can make it.

There will be a couple necessary variations in the names. I mean, what Roman would name their kid Nanase? Really...still, I like what I came up with. Hope you do too. :D

...doesn't mean she's in this part, but I hope you like it when she DOES come up. :P

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***

Part 2

Sara awoke with a start, her heart pounding heavily in the chill, early morning air. Images from her dreams swirled in a cloudy melee behind her eyes. They began to fade, ever so slowly and she looked down at the knife in her hand. She'd kept the little blade in a scabbard under her pillow. She smiled slightly. She really didn't think that the thing would help, in the long run. After all...

Sara's bed, and indeed all the beds in the temple, had been surrounded with heavy curtains and each one supplied with it's own censor. Filled with coals, the censors would keep the area nicely warm for the entire night. She sniffed and dug out the scabbard, replacing the knife. She gathered her robes around her and swung out of the bed. She slipped her feet into her slippers and pulled back the curtains around her bed. She pulled them quickly back behind her to keep the heat in, the coals in her censor still glowing heartily. Sara plucked her furs from the nearby chair and set them around her as she stepped toward the patio.

She yawned slightly in the chill air. Seagulls spun in the early morning, swooping to the breaking rocks at the shore below. Spray from the sea rose to greet her, like a lost lover. Sara closed her eyes and smiled at the tender caress.

Yes, Father Neptune, she sighed happily. These dreams were from you, weren't they?

"You could damn well give them to someone else!" she groused out loud.

Sara huffed and knew it was futile. Neptune had told her to have the temple built here, by the sea. She obeyed and now, the temple stood out as one of the best places any good Roman could come for the answers they sought. Even the men, which was something that caused more than one raised eyebrow amongst the religious figures in the Empire. Sara hadn't cared. She wanted to help women and men and simply pass along the knowledge the gods had given her.

Another salt spray breeze came up and fluttered around her lower legs. Sara squeaked and angrily backed away from the edge. The dawn had made the Old Man of the Sea frisky. She sighed and calmed herself as she looked out toward the horizon. The larger birds were congregating at the inlet and took turns swooping down. It portented darkness. A gathering of crows, as it were. Though, she supposed that it would all really depend upon their prey. Normal fishing wouldn't mean anything, except that didn't often happen at the inlet. Only when something big had died there. A scuff scuff along the stone floor behind her made her smile.

"Mistress?"

She didn't need to look at the visitor. Only her personal assistant would dare to think of coming into the bedroom of the High Priestess. She would have shortish, black hair that flipped out from her head at the bottom like a pair of raven wings. Indeed, Sara had given her the nickname pennae.

"Rhoda, it is probably for the best that Father Neptune woke me when he did," Sara muttered without turning around. "There is a visitor?"

"Yes, Mistress."

A cold sliver ran down Sara's back. She opened her mouth, but closed it again. She couldn't bring herself to ask.

"She says she's from Creta," Rhoda twiddled her hands. "She looks like she's from Germania or Gaul, really."

"She is indeed from Creta," Sara slowly turned to her adjutant.

Flashes of dream struck Sara and she wobbled slightly. Strong hands guided her to a chair as she swooned. She opened her eyes to the wide-eyed girl that had served her for two years already, full of worry for her mistress.

"She's come seeking answers and possibly help," Rhoda said. "But I told her you were still in repose."

Sara smiled and nodded. Rhoda always knew how to look after her, though perhaps she kept too many things from the high priestess of the temple. Creta, but not Creta. Somewhere else. Somewhere much larger and a long time ago. Sara took a long breath. She squeezed Rhoda's hand and gave her a warm smile.

"Have her comforts looked after. She is a guest," Sara said softly. "I will ready myself and we will discover her needs."

Rhoda knelt low and scurried out. Sara rubbed her forehead and breathed out. She had been brought in and raised in Southern Greece at another temple of Neputne. Sara's piety and her visions had brought her through to the rank of priestess from temple maiden and someone who had brought thousands of denarii to the temple coffers. She'd even given an interpretation to the emperor at the time. Her fame had left her a pariah in her own temple and so, with the wealth she'd collected, Sara set off. She settled here in the northern Mare Adriaticum, a large temple and a small retinue. Still and all, it had never felt like home. Nothing had.

For a year, her visions had stopped. Just when she thought she could no longer head the temple, Neptune began to give her visions in her dreams. They ended up being more accurate than any vision she'd had before. And they had never steered her wrong. She yawned. As much as she wanted to crawl back into bed and wake up at a more normal time, she knew she had to get ready. Though...

"If she has red hair," Sara said quietly. "I'm in real trouble."

***

Teo spun off into the grass across from the carriage. The ground still had a bit of freeze to it and he clutched at his jaw. Teo struggled to his feet as he spun around. Elias stepped out and cracked his knuckles. The man wore a simple blue shift with sandals, his brown hair wild in the winter breezes. The only thing he wore in deference to his esteemed former position within the Legions was his belt. A stout, triple clasped affair that looked like it took a long, long time to take off. At least the man couldn't beat him with it.

"...'Is less than a warm recep-"

"I can't believe you," Elias growled. "Of all the people in the Empire that I never want to see again..."

Elias picked Teo up by the front of his robes and lifted the smaller man to his feet. Teo began to say something, but Elias stepped back and swung Teo hard into the side of the carriage, knocking the air from his lungs.

"I didn't..." Teo gasped as Elias slammed him again. "I didn't steal her!"

"Yes, you did!" Elias rattled the purple-haired man again. "The only reason I don't cut you down right now is that I can't find my sword!"

Lights sparked in Teo's eyes as he tried to form a coherent sentence before he couldn't anymore.

"Elias...please..." he said the first thing that came to mind. "...she wasn't that good anywa-"

Darkness swallowed him quickly as the back of his head met with the carriage.

***

Teo woke with a start and lay back as pain shot through his head. He grasped his forehead and wondered why he was still alive. And what someone could do to remedy that. Teo opened his eyes and started at the person staring down at him. He grasped his head again as the pain flared. She had leaned forward in her chair and looked down at him, her brown hair long around her face.

"I'm glad to see you again, Helena," Teo muttered. "But I wish my head didn't hurt so much."

He opened his eyes again. Helena stared down at him and gave him a smile. Teo sighed and tried to smile back. She was mute, crippled and a little off, but essentially the only family that Elias had left. Only he and Elias knew of her true origin, but neither of them knew why she was mute. She blinked a few times and raised an eyebrow at him. He shook his head and got up. Her skin still held that glow from when she was...born...in Judea. Her look wasn't unwelcoming, but instead wary. Teo sighed again as he sat there. He knew why.

"Some things don't change, do they?"

Helena gave him a knowing smile and sat back in her chair. She looked up as the sun came out from behind the clouds and painted glorius light across her features. She closed her eyes happily and let the gods play at her cheeks. Teo coughed in embarrassment and pulled himself to his feet. He walked toward the house. Elias had not only left him alive, but had found the irony to set him in the garden with his sister. He blinked in the darkness as he went inside. He stepped through the house and stopped as familiar smells assailed him. He breathed deep as sage and oregano and other, countless herbs- He lurched forward slightly and looked behind him. A large, grey dog gave him a wag.

"Brutus?"

The dog gave him a friendly wurgle and trotted off. Teo, for lack of a better idea, followed. Brutus had been Teo's last gift to his friend. Just a pup when Elias had left for Germania and parts...elsewhere. The hairy dog trundled up the stairs and into a small office. Teo stopped as he heard voices. Justinus. Elias too. At least they seemed convivial. He stopped at the doorway.

"You're awake," Elias said.

Justinus stood and coughed as he hurried out of the room. Elias huffed as Brutus' tail wagged several scrolls from the table.

"Sit."

Whether Elias had said this to either he or the dog, the effect was the same. Elias cleared his throat as Teo took a seat. He chewed something over and leaned back in his own chair.

"I would love nothing more than to run you through," Elias said flatly. "But you know I can't. Even if I have found my sword."

Teo remained neutral, even if both of their eyes strayed to the gladius propped in the corner. Brutus huffed out a heavy sigh as he got comfortable under the desk. Elias picked up a scroll again and read something, then blew out a sigh and threw it back down on his desk.

"Orders, huh?" he snorted as he ran a hand through his hair. "Teo, that was low, even for you."

Teo licked his lips.

"I need you, Elias."

"You don't need me," Elias growled as he stood. "You need a good spanking. You always have!"

Teo knew his friend was at a dangerous place. He wanted to press him for an answer, but he also knew that he couldn't press too hard, lest he lose Elias. He dared not look at the man.

"Will you obey the orders?" Teo asked softly.

Elias snapped a glance back at the other man. Teo had kept his head down and seemed to be watching Brutus. Elias turned back to the window, so his friend wouldn't see his face. Friend. That word had brought him nothing but pain for many years, but there had never been any time that he would have cut off the other entirely. Certainly, they hadn't spoken a great deal since...

Elias sniffed and cleared his throat. He hadn't wanted to think of Teo and Julia. Together. His palms itched. He felt the old, slow burn in his chest. The want to pick up his sword and all it would take would be a simple stroke. A thrust and she-

But Julia was dead. By her own hand. Because of Teo? Not really. Not any more than because of himself. Elias had spent the last year coming to terms with her death and he hadn't thought that the man would be stupid enough to actually face him again. Teo had fortitude, but perhaps not too much brains.

"The orders say that I can place my own conditions," Elias didn't turn back. "That's good. Hellena is coming with us. If I have to be garrison commander, then at least she will be where I can keep her safe."

He finally turned back and Teo nodded slightly, but still kept his head down. Elias slumped into his seat.

"Nero's depredations on the army has led to more deserters and outlaw brigandry than you can possibly imagine," Elias continued. "I don't expect to find much when I get home, therefore, most of the home will be coming with us."

Teo smiled warmly and nodded.

"I had thought as much."

"Really?" Elias seemed surprised. "Since when are you anything more than a gadfly?"

"I am a social gadfly, thank you very much," Teo smirked. "I have two ears and a brain to use them."

Elias sputtered a laugh.

"You weren't very bright in coming here."

They shared a laugh. It had felt good, like an old, worn pair of gloves that just fit right. Teo settled and a dark cloud washed over his features.

"I'm sorry about Helena."

Elias started. It had been the first time he'd heard Teo apologize for anything, much less his sister.

"It was never my intent to hurt her."

"Yeah, I know."

"You still have the lamp?" Teo asked.

"Of course I still have the lamp," Elias smirked. "We still have one-"

"Why not use it for her, then?"

"I've tried," Elias shrugged. "She stops me."

"Really?"

"Yeah," Elias rubbed his head. "...Teo, what you did..."

"I don't expect you to forgive me, Elias," Teo squirmed in his seat. "But I know I can trust you to do the best job. You didn't become commander of your cohort for nothing."

"I became commander because the cohort got wiped out."

"Still, I do need you," Teo smirked. "Will you serve?"

Elias sat back and rubbed his nose, then nodded. Perhaps, through serving, he could discover the truth. And, if need be, still run the man through...

***
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Postby Berk on Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:48 pm

Well, Elliot and Tedd are certainly different in this story. I like it though, it's nice to have a change between them. Wanting to know who Julia is and it's interesting to see Rhoda join the cast.

I'm guessing the lap is this version of the TF gun, though how it's different and how Helena's backstory is different I want to know.
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Postby Mythos on Mon Jan 15, 2007 12:51 pm

We're all in for the introductions first. Backstory later. :wink:

Yay for more introductions!

All legalese applies...Dan Shive is a kind and benevolent God among mortalsyadddayaada...

Grab yourself a long cool one, or a warm and toasty one, all things depending...

C&C (Comments and Criticism) always welcome...You can post it here, send me a PM, or an email...

Flames will be crucified!

***

Part 3

The sun flared hot overhead. A robed figure knelt and scratched a strange, eldritch symbol in the sand. He wished they could have stopped at the last oasis, but they'd made excellent time otherwise. The lines in the sigil flared black and ran together with a deep hum. Then the whole mess simply faded to nothing and the sand lay as pristine as if he'd never touched it. He turned to the robed figure behind him, both of them covered completely against the horrible star overhead.

"The lamp is gone."

"Thank you for the obvious."

"I'm just saying..." the first figure stood and looked back over the ridge to the small town beyond.

"The caravan trail leads into Judea," the second figure said as he came level with the first.

"They're not in Judea," the first figure said. "They've already gone much deeper than we'll ever get."

"Oh, I don't know," the second chuckled. "Immortality puts you in a certain mindset, like not forgetting where you put things."

The first figure began to protest, but stopped himself. The second could be quite...testy sometimes...

"We'll get into the Empire," the second said preemptively. "After all Hejj, empires never last."

***

She threw her arms in front of her as the cliff fell away. She felt the branches cut into her skin as she crashed into the snowy detritus below. She tried to pull herself up and coughed blood onto the rotten log. Her skin, fair and pale and years taken care of had been scratched and bloodied. Her hair, just as fair and fine, tangled and turned to a brown from the mud and detritus of the forest.

They had beat her. They had beaten her! Inhuman bastards! She couldn't feel the cold of the winter around her, adrenaline pounding through what little blood she had left in her. Her whole body burned from the running, the stumbling. Falling and tripping and trying to get away-

A lonely, cold howl broke through the forest behind her. Sabina stopped and turned back, fear leaping back into her heart again. She ignored the groans of pain from her bruised and battered body, pulled herself up and began to run again. Wicked cuts scarred her naked body, but Sabina didn't care. They had violated her, but they hadn't taken her flower. She would have wanted to die, and probably would have let them kill her, if they had done that. Now, she just wanted to kill. She tried to grit her teeth, but stopped at the flare of pain from her jaw.

The wolves had attacked. It had been the first time she'd convinced her father she would be useful on the caravan. Her brothers had stuck up for her, something she'd been surprised about, but very pleased. All of them had lived in Apulum since Sabina was born and the family business had always been in lumber. The wolves had often taken lone travellers and stragglers and outcasts, but they had never attacked any caravan. They had attacked from all sides, jumping around the wagons with unnatural agility and precision. She held one of her brothers as he died, his throat splashing blood all over her. A red haze had fallen over her eyes at that point, the agony in her heart given way to blinding rage. She'd taken his pick and hacked at one of the wolves, but screamed in horror as another turned into a human right in front of her.

Another hit her from behind, but she didn't go down. Her brothers had always claimed she had a hard head, but she swung back and planted the pick in the face of her attacker. The wolves, having finished with the others, settled almost playfully on her. They kicked her, scratched her, tore her clothes away and beat her, but they'd never bitten her. She didn't understand why they couldn't simply kill her. She tried to fight as long as she could, but settled down as they took turns. She had caught her breath in ragged, bloody gasps as she knelt on the ground, naked, on her knees. The cold had caught up with her and bit through the pain and blood. Sabina simply shook. Laughing. Laughter filled her ears. Mocking, hateful laughter. Her fingers closed around something half buried in the peat on the road. A coin. A silver denarius that had one side stamped sharp by the tremendously heavy wagon wheels.

She began to cry. She wanted to die, she simply wanted to join her beloved father and brothers on the other side. But she would never be welcomed if she simply gave up. That wasn't how she had been raised and giving up would dishonor their memory. She would be cursed and damned and could never see them, if she gave up. The salt of her tears poured into the wounds on her face and stung her. The men around her were fully naked, strange belts strapped tightly to their prefect bodies. The belts held long daggers, or perhaps short swords, whichever Sabina didn't know. One of the nearby men growled something and tried to pick Sabina to her feet.

She howled in anger and sliced upward with the flattened coin. The coin sliced across the man's abdomen and into his neck. Sabina shoved it into his neck as hard as she could, until he fell backward, fountaining blood all over her. Without waiting to see his fate, she'd bolted. She had fallen over small cliffs, ripped her skin amongst the winter thorns and mountain thistles, cut her feet on the sharp rocks. She had even pounded through and across a small pond, washing her skin as clean as if she'd scrubbed it and gratefully numbing her body against her wounds.

She had hoped to double back, knowing that, had she simply gone back up the road, they would have caught her before she'd went around the last bend. So she kept running. Without protection, she knew she would freeze and, if she stopped, they would catch up and kill her. She had been able to find a small cave sometime during the night and curled up in the back, hoping that they wouldn't find her. The old cave had housed a bear or something else in the past, the sweet smell of decayed leaves and twigs settled around her, filling her dreams with sweet flashes of her former life. Her only life. They hadn't found her that night, but they soon picked up her trail in the morning. So pained that she could hardly move, she nonetheless willed herself back to running. Especially when she had to kill another one that had caught up with her. How many had that been? Four? Five? She'd lost count.

She pulled herself up a ridge in the waning light of the second day and almost laughed out loud at the small, obviously non-Roman town that lay in the valley beyond. She slung herself over the ridge and barked a surprised shout as the hill gave way underneath her. Sabina slipped and slid down the wet, frozen earth and bounced into a small clearing at the bottom of the hill. She cried out in pain and grabbed her leg as she tried to get up again. A bone stuck out of her left ankle. Tears now came to her in frustration. The wolves howled happily from beyond the ridge and Sabina tried to pull herself ahead, toward the town, toward safety.

Sabina pulled herself around a tree and stopped. A girl, dark in skin and simple in dress, stood there, her arms around a pile of kindling. She watched Sabina with an absolute stillness, like the doe that had caught the scent of the hunter. The girl had wide eyes and both of them started with another howl.

"Run..." Sabina felt herself spit out to the girl. "...the wolves...run!"

The pain screamed up her legs, making her hips and back spasm in the freezing air. Sabina panted as she tried to pull herself up by the tree she'd come around. The wolves sprinted into the clearing and surrounded both she and the dark girl. To her credit, the girl simply shifted uneasily as the wolves bounded around. Just to keep them from escaping. A sick feeling crawled into her belly at the thought. One large wolf padded to the girl and turned human. She glanced at him wearily.

"Tiberius," she said. "Explain yourself."

Sabina's mouth fell. This girl knows these murdering brutes?! She felt the blood curl out of her heart with the realization. The sick feeling in her stomach brought the bitter taste of bile to her lips. The cold around her pounded like hammers at her head.

"Cau' a lumber caravan ou' a' Apulum," Tiberius growled as he glanced back at Sabina.

"That's nearly twenty miles," the girl mused as she looked at Sabina as well.

"Aye," Tiberius licked his lips ferally. "This one's go' life."

Suddenly, Sabina could feel again. Hot anger burned through her veins, filling her world with hate. How dare he look at Sabina with those haughty eyes?! How dare he try to play with her to death?! Sabina growled and panted and dribbled blood down her lips as she pulled herself to her one good leg, bracing herself with the tree. The other wolves turned themselves human around her, each one casting mocking glances and hated stares at her.

"You led her to the village," the girl said almost softly.

The wolves around her shifted and took a step back as an almost palpable fear washed through them.

"Nay, Mistress!" Tiberius sputtered. "We 're jus'-"

"Torturing her," the girl frown hardened. "Getting your kicks. You know what I feel about that. Especially with a girl from a Roman city."

Before the wolves could respond, Sabina thrust herself at the nearest man. She jammed a finger in his eyes, gouging it out as she pulled his sword from it's scabbard. She turned the sword in her hands and rammed the point in the man's throat. She quickly pulled it out and backed up to the nearest tree, hopping on one leg. The wolves moved as one-

"Hold!" the girl commanded.

The wolves all stopped, but only the voice of the girl's command held the dogs at bay. Sabina waved the sword at them, but she knew her strength, run on blood and fear and hatred and anger, was finally fading. A sputter made her look at the body near her. The man reached up and groaned as he got to his feet. He rubbed his eye-

His eye. He blinked unsteadily and looked at her. With two good eyes, one grey, one blue. The jagged wound finished closing at his throat and Sabina realized. Hopelessness dropped an iron dagger, cold and merciless, into her gullet. She knew it was finally over. She had fought though. The gods couldn't deny her anymore. She smiled and laughed as she turned the sword on herself-

"No!" the girl shouted. "Stop her!"

Sabina took a breath and pushed.

***
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Postby DasteRoad on Mon Jan 15, 2007 1:35 pm

This becomes more and more interesting :D
I get that Sabina would be Susan, right?
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Postby Mythos on Mon Jan 15, 2007 2:05 pm

DasteRoad wrote:This becomes more and more interesting :D
I get that Sabina would be Susan, right?


Yes, Sabina is Susan. I thought I had added enough descriptions to take care of the names...if I need to add a glossary for names, I will...but I'd rather not. :nervous:
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Postby Mythos on Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:36 am

Hmph. Sorry about the lateness, but it seems I will have to be surreptitious in my writing at work. Apparently, they want me to actually work?! WTF!? :P

This part was written entirely at home, and in about three hours. If I can do this kind of work in three at home, I may simply continue to write at home. Anyway, hope both of you enjoy it! :wink:

All legalese applies...Dan Shive is a kind and benevolent God among mortalsyadddayaada...

Grab yourself a long cool one, or a warm and toasty one, all things depending...

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Flames will be crucified!

***

Part 4

Narcissa sat impatiently. She never liked to wait, especially when her money was doing the talking. It seemed- well, impolite to say the least. Perhaps if she were just a common petitioner, then they could have made her wait for three days, but this was getting ridiculous. And besides, she wasn't common. One of the numerous, adorable temple maids knelt at the side of the large fire that smouldered in the large, circular end of the temple. Even for January, the fires and such going on all around the temple helped heat it to where Narcissa thought she might start seeing things. She tugged at the edge of her heavy tunic. She should have remembered to bring lighter clothes. Sure, she hadn't put on her leggings this morning, which left her silky, perfect legs on display for the naughty little maids, but it meant they were also frequently cold, which meant covering them. How could her upper body be so warm and the lower, so cold? It made no sense!

Narcissa sighed in frustration. The girl looked over to her, which she ignored. She had dallied more in this temple than in any short of her adventures in the Greek isles. And certainly the breathless ecstasies she had enjoyed left her little complaint, but still the waiting continued and that rankled. She supposed that the girls had been given an order to make her comfortable and to keep her occupied and Narcissa thought that she would happily take advantage of that. Another girl entered and quickly gathered up the remains of Narcissa's breakfast. The girl looked up at her and blushed, her wonderfully blue doe eyes blinking a couple times against the haughty sneer Narcissa had been giving her.

She'd been fairly disappointed. This temple hadn't really been unlike any other temple she'd been to since her dying father had sent her on this journey three years ago. Four, now. Narcissa stopped watching the girl leave and rubbed her forehead. She had been impressed at the size of the library they had collected. And a few of the books had even contained tantalizing little snippets. Another reason she hadn't left yet. She hoped that this priestess would have something different. Something other than the usual Doom and Gloom predictions about her past. Oh sure, predictions about the future are easy to do, one old hag had told her. Predicting the future is like counting the rows of wheat you've planted and then figuring out how many stalks will come up in the Spring. Predicting the past, now that's the hard part. Narcissa hadn't understood her and she'd smelled funny, so she'd paid and left.

Her travels had taken her all through the Empire. She'd seen the grandeur and the stink that was Rome. She'd been to Sicilia and even the ancient city of Carthago. Narcissa had seen the bones of Troy and the monuments to ancient kings in Aegyptus. What had it gotten her? Tired feet. Her grandfather had been from Troy, indeed, her lineage traced from there, but what true Roman couldn't trace it from there? Hah. Not many of them had a few of the treasures hanging on their walls. Narcissa snorted. She picked up her wine and groused at the lack of liquid therein. She sighed and swung her legs over the edge of the seat, coming up to her feet in one catlike motion. She stopped and surreptitiously glanced around the room. The curtains along the far wall fluttered in the breezes. Damn, no one saw her. She shook her head and sauntered to the pitcher and basin at the wall. Only the temple had running water. The guests had to make due. Narcissa tched. How primitive. She looked up and into the mirror on the wall.

A scowl met her. Hiding behind wild looking sanguine locks, her one good eye stared back. Like an emerald in a river of blood, her father had told her. Narcissa reached up and gathered her hair back and into a ponytail. She winced as her fingers brushed the black leather eye patch. The scar that split her eyebrow flared in the flickering light. It ran from just above her eyebrow, through that and her eye and down to just even with the bottom of her nose. On good days, she would have hardly noticed it. Then there were days like today-

Chimes rang out behind her and she glanced past herself in the mirror. Three maidens had entered the large room and had taken up station around it reverentially. Finally. She swallowed the sour look she'd been pouting at herself in the mirror, turned and walked slowly back to her seat. The priestess entered, followed by Rhoda, the girl that had been the mouthpiece in the past three days. Nice girl, if a little shy. Narcissa perked up. The priestess had bright yellow hair. Yellow like the fields of wheat in the fall. Stunning, really, especially for the simple, yet elegant raiments of her station. The gold along her arm and around her neck spoke of power. Narcissa suppressed a snort. Wealth more than any commoner would see, but not so much as to predispose the wealthy from giving. This one was shrewd. The girl was also just that. Young. So young to be the priestess of a temple of Neptune! Very shrewd indeed. Her face was pale and, Narcissa had to admit, beautiful. Perfect skin and quite fit, she noticed as she ran an appraising eye along the girl's body. The priestess stopped and frowned at something, then opened her eyes for the first time. A trick but certainly a good one. The girl Rhoda probably gave her little clues as to where she was. Blue eyes broke into an almost embarrassed smile. She settled her own dress and set down at a chair placed opposite Narcissa.

"My name is Sara," the girl said. "And I must apologize for the wait. I have been having visions and, unfortunately, when they occur, they require my full attention."

"I'm sure they do," Narcissa said smoothly. "I don't have visions, Priestess Sara. I do not understand them, but I have questions that require answers."

"I have them."

"I'm sure you think you do."

Sara's right eye twitched slightly, but she bit down her comment as she rolled her eyes.

"Your family is not from this land," Sara began.

Narcissa stared past her to one of the attendants, who blushed at the attention. Sara ground her teeth and cleared her throat as she began again.

"They came from a doomed land."

Narcissa jerked herself around to full attention on Sara.

"You are amongst the last."

Narcissa narrowed her eyes at the girl.

"Where am I from?"

"Across the sea."

"That's it?"

"The large sea," Sara smirked. "Beyond the gates of Heracles. You have no memory because the land was swallowed many thousands of years ago."

Narcissa stopped and counted to ten before she said anything else. Her mother had always told her that hasty thought led to hasty action. She hadn't been right about much, but she hadn't been wrong about this.

"How do you know this?" Narcissa asked quietly after a minute.

Finally! Sara thought to herself.

She had finally gotten around the other's cynicism and world weariness and Sara took a good look at this Narcissa. A girl herself, perhaps a tad older. More than a bit vain, but then she had no room to talk. Narcissa seemed a lot younger. Perhaps it was the scar and the eye patch that led to a face closed to inspection. It said that she'd lived through something harsh and, just maybe, you should take a look at the other guy first.

"You were sent to finally find the information your family lost dozens of generations ago," Sara said confidently. "You are from Atlantis."

"My family is from Troy, actually," Narcissa said, all sarcasm gone from her.

Sara smiled.

"Atlantian survivors founded the ancient city of Troy," she said. "And thusly, the Roman empire. Your journey ends here, for in no other place will you find the information you seek. But there are other people that you might want to find."

Narcissa was suddenly glad that she had taken a seat as the world swirled around her. At last! Someone who knew about her ancestors and her true home! She closed her eye against the tears that she felt welling up there. Her own visions came to her, of sitting at the knee of her maternal grandmother, watching her weave ancient patterns in the cloth, her gnarled fingers working with the dexterity of a Goddess. She had listened to the old stories woven by her clan, listen to the ancient music, sung in the old halls and around the campfire where people would look into the fire and remember, not only the destruction of their second home, but of their first as well. Eyes that had never glimpsed Troy, wizened and blind by age, they nonetheless looked back through the histories and saw the tragedy. There had been another story though. One of the second great race from that age. Of the ancient enemies of the Atlantians. They survived their own homeland being destroyed and vowed to murder all Atlantians until both races were swallowed by the gentle waves. Hateful, vicious thugs and rapists and murderers...

"Lemurians," Narcissa opened her eye again.

"There is-" Sara squirmed under the baleful glare of an eye not seeing. "There is an enclave of them not far from here."

All of them flinched at the sudden movement as Narcissa shot forward.

"Where?!"

Sara took a breath and held up a steadying hand.

"You cannot defeat them as you are," she used the voice of authority. "There are simply too many. You must prepare and you must have help, which will be arriving in three days time. Until then, you may continue to study and be welcome here."

Narcissa, tears streaming from her only eye, nodded in awe as Sara stood. The blonde smiled gently at the redhead, turned and strode from the room, her attendants flowing in her wake. Sara dismissed them as she hurried along the corridors. She stopped at a convenient balcony and, making sure no one had followed her, became sick over the edge to the sea below. She coughed as her stomach stopped roiling inside her and she sank, her own tears falling down. Father Neptune raised a misty hand and stroked her cheek as she cried in fear and despair. The woman with the red hair! It was her! Sara couldn't stop her own traitorous mind from the final vision, the vision of her own death. The vision that spoke of the angry woman Narcissa as she drove a sword through Sara's belly.

***
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Postby Mythos on Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:28 pm

To make up for the previous lateness...another part! :lol:

Seriously though, this one needed to be written before I went along with the plotting...now, I can.

All legalese applies...Dan Shive is a kind and benevolent God among mortalsyadddayaada...

Grab yourself a long cool one, or a warm and toasty one, all things depending...

C&C (Comments and Criticism) always welcome...You can post it here, send me a PM, or an email...

Flames will be crucified!

***

Part 5

"She smiled."

Teo pulled his cloak more around his head against the cold rain that fell as they traveled on.

"Yeah," Elias said from the seat next to him. "I know."

"She shouldn't have smiled for seeing her house burning down."

"It's not really her house anymore."

"Yeah, I know," Teo snorted. "Still creepy."

Elias smirked under his own hood.

"She's still my sister," he said with a sigh. "I know how she feels, even if she can't say it."

Teo glanced at his friend, but couldn't see anything beyond the cloak. He began, but stopped again. He didn't want to prod an already sore subject.

"How do you feel?" Teo asked quietly. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah. I guess it does hurt to see it all go," Elias sighed. "Especially since I just got it the way I wanted it."

Teo nodded and sat back in the chair as a cold wind blew.

"Who else should I have gone to?"

"I didn't say I wouldn't take it," Elias growled angrily. "But try giving a damn about someone else for a change."

Teo glanced at his friend in shock, but tried at least to look embarrassed.

"Yeah, sorry."

"What's wrong with you? Why have you changed?" Elias grumbled. "I talked with Justinus about the conditions that made your father give you this assignment. I understand about getting you away from the emperor, but the petty thefts?"

Teo sat silently. What could he say when he didn't understand himself?

"Justinus talks too much."

"Perhaps, but he's also loyal to you to a fault," Elias snorted.

"Elias, I don't know why I did what I did sometimes."

"Fair enough," Elias nodded. "I suppose you'll tell me when you're ready."

Teo said nothing, but at least the confession seemed to curb his friend's curiosity. And, since he had no answers, it was just as well. The days went on this way. Specks of conversation between long stretches of nothing. But that was how it was when you traveled with- Teo leaned out the side of the cart and glanced behind them- three wagons of household things. The road wound out of the hills as the mountains came down to meet the sea. Three days had passed since they'd left the remains of Elias' estate. The local magistrate had been entirely too sad to see Elias go and had even offered him double his asking price for the land, crops included. Of course, Elias refused that price, but Teo suspected the man snuck some extra in anyway.

Teo groused. That's the way things were with Elias. People should have used him right and left and yet, he refuses and leaves himself open and vulnerable and he walks off, holding bags of money. Or the best women. Or even women that didn't exist before him. Teo tried not to glance behind him, in the cart, to Helena, who slept silently and peacefully there. Teo's mouth watered and he pulled himself back to face forward. He blew out a breath and let the cool mist wet his skin. And cool him off. The weather was the one constant. Misty and cool in the mornings, a short warming trend, then a quick cool down to a frigid night. Teo stuck out his tongue. He hated winter.

They saw the temple before they saw the town. The temple, grand and round and nestled on the cliffside like some huge beehive, sat below the town, but only so far as to make the supplicants think about things as they made their way down. Teo narrowed his eyes. The person that designed the placement was intelligent. And crafty. A little time later, the town came into view. Nothing special, particularly. Roman, certainly, but also possessing something of a provincial quality that Teo thought many people would consider quaint. Teo considered it primitive. But, after three solid days of travel, even primitive is welcome. Elias was off the cart first, as Helena looked on, heading out to talk to the local magistrate. Teo wondered about that, since the inn would certainly be all they would need, but perhaps it was a military thing. Justinus and the servants took care of the carts and the animals.

The sun split the clouds as the last of the carts rolled past. Teo stopped. Helena had been set at the curb opposite them and a mother cat had wandered up, her kittens in tow. Two crawled over Brutus, who always took station near Helena and three more were mewling and pawing at her. She chuckled and brushed one of the kittens across her cheek. One kitten nibbled on Brutus' ear. He seemed to handle them with a good natured tolerance. The sun reached down and lit her face again, shining highlights Teo didn't know had been there. He swallowed hard and forced himself to turn away from her.

"The magistrate will speak to the innkeeper about us," Elias said as he returned. "We should get runners out to the next town, perhaps even have a hot bath waiting?"

He smirked at the look on Teo's face.

"Okay, maybe we should wait until we get to Moperium before indulging," he poked at his friend, then walked past to Helena. "After all, you're the power in the area now. We could build a nice bath there, if you'd like. I know Helena would enjoy it."

Teo blushed and turned away from them.

"This is the-" Teo swallowed and counted before continuing. "This is the last town before the provinces, isn't it?"

"Yes," Justinus nodded as he took Helena in his arms. "The provinces won't be so nearly as eager to lodge us."

"At least the smaller towns," Elias nodded. "I agree. Honestly though, we've made excellent time and we should be to Moperium inside of three weeks. Oh, Justinus, go ahead and take Helena up to her room and make sure she's comfortable."

Teo blew out a breath as the two left. Damn the lamp. Damn himself. He shook his head and turned as a runner came up. A spry girl who had the good natured glow of a temple maiden. She stopped before Elias and bowed to one knee. Elias nodded, as if this happened all the time to him.

Perhaps it did, Teo thought sourly.

"Master," the girl address Elias. "The High Priestess of my temple sends word that she would meet with you."

"And how fortuitous that we just get in to this town not but this day," Teo snorted.

The girl looked up, a confused look crossing her face.

"Um, no m'Lord," she said. "She sent me presently. The ink on the scroll is probably not even dry yet."

Elias and Teo exchanged glances, but said nothing. Elias took the scroll and opened it. Indeed, a few lines were smudged from a rushed script.

"She doesn't explain why she would need to see us."

The girl bowed again.

"I apologize, Master," she said. "I was just sent to bring you and the Master of the Caravan to the temple, post haste."

"Well..." Elias looked to Teo, who shrugged. "Yes, we will come to your temple with you. Please lead on."

"Wait, what about-?"

"Justinus is good enough to deal with the innkeeper," Elias smirked. "Besides, I want to know how she knew we'd be here today."

Teo sputtered, but set off after them.

***

Hejj watched the smoke as it rose from the fire, into the clear desert sky. A flutter of wings from a nearby boulder caught his attention. An owl perked up, a tail hanging from it's beak. The two watched each other and the owl took off again. The goat slumped in the fire, sizzling away. He wasn't really hungry, but he knew that if he didn't eat, he could never keep up. Hejj looked to the false sunset. The light went out and the real sky resumed it's nightly work. He would be returning. And hungry. The town had been reduced to rubble, smoking and ugly. Each of the people had been rounded up like the goats in their fields. At least he'd prodded his brother into killing them quickly. That had almost been a mercy until he realized just how his brother, B'el, intended to dispatch them. He was a monster. They were both monsters. Hejj rubbed his eyes again as the wind shifted. The smell of burned manflesh reeked.

He picked up a small, copper cup from the large water bucket and sipped. A crackling sound came from his left. B'el reached into the fire and pulled out a sizzling leg. He stuck it in his mouth and crunched down hard, bone and all. It would have been more impressive, save for the sounds he made as he ate. B'el looked at his brother and then down at the leg, before thrusting it at him. Hejj smirked and shook his head.

"I know you're hungry, brother," Hejj said.

Soot covered his naked body from head to toe. Hejj had taken his clothes with him when he'd left.

"I think there's a river not far from here," B'el said through a mouthful of goat. "We should follow that north until we find a trail to the sea."

B'el picked up the other water bucket and slurped heavily from the cup there. He took a cupful and rubbed his face clean, the pale whiteness showing through the heavy soot. Hejj knew soot wasn't the only thing coming off his hands and tried not to think about it. He drew a long knife and sliced a hunk of meat from the goat and blew on it before chewing thoughtfully.

"They knew nothing," B'el grumbled as he continued to wash.

Hejj said nothing. They'd probably not seen anything like a man on fire. No one had, except for the Bedouins that had raised them both. Hejj bit his tongue and growled. He waved off his brother and angrily ripped off another hunk of meat. He sighed.

"Once we get to the sea," Hejj began. "Then where?"

"It's a small jump to Cyprus," B'el took another bite of his own. "Then...off to Lycia or Pamphylia. A little jump then to Achaea and into the Empire."

"Why not simply catch a caravan north into Syria and across to Achaea that way?" Hejj wondered. "Maybe even as far north as Macedonia?"

"Too slow," B'el huffed. "Besides, we want to go the way they went."

"If they'd used up the three wishes," Hejj groused. "Then they would've thrown the lamp away."

B'el shook his head.

"The lamp knows where it is, remember?" he said. "It won't be where it can't be found by a human. If they'd dropped it overboard, it would float."

"I hope you're right."

"You have no need to hope," B'el said darkly. "You only need to be there when I attain godhood."

Hejj sniffed, but got up and walked from the fire. He knew that his brother sometimes flamed when he got angry and wouldn't want to be on the end of that. Again. The cool night air rushed over him, making it prickle and stand up. As his eyes adjusted, Hejj could make out the other side of the valley. Motion made him stop and squint. A small light flickered back and forth, almost like a torch. Almost. Hejj glanced back at his brother, who had dunked his head into the water, trying to wash the blood and soot from his hair. Hejj turned back to the valley. Probably a couple villagers who got out in time. Good for them. Godhood? Hejj sighed heavily and hoped sincerely that he wouldn't be around to witness it.

***
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Die evil 404!

Postby Berk on Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:33 pm

Yee, i was going to reply last night, but the forums broke on me. Now I return from work and find another glorious piece.

Well written as always and it's good to see the story unfold and more characters enter and how they fit. B'el appears to be Damien, his divine intentions are still around. I imagine Hejj would be Hedge, though it's interesting to see them separate from Grace and Vlad. Lemurians and Atlanteans only add to the mysteries.

I want more.
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Cool Ellen quotes:
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Ah Yes, The Wonder Twins... They do complicate matters don't they?
That crazed look could have meant any number of things!
I feel significantly less menacing.
Blasphemy!
Given that I'd be in the closet with another girl, I don't think I'd be doing a very good job.
I'm supposed to know how magic works?
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Postby Mythos on Thu Feb 01, 2007 5:03 pm

F@cking page 4. :grumble:

Anyway, here's the part for this week...not as big, but twice as juicy! :P

All legalese applies...Dan Shive is a kind and benevolent God among mortalsyadddayaada...

Grab yourself a long cool one, or a warm and toasty one, all things depending...

C&C (Comments and Criticism) always welcome...You can post it here, send me a PM, or an email...

Flames will be crucified!

***

Part 6

The temple didn't loom, like some of the ones Elias had seen in Rome or Athens. The Achaeans had a habit of making everything loom that he'd never gotten used to. This temple looked...feminine, quite frankly. He wondered at that, but said nothing because he was sure that he was simply out of fashion and that all temples today looked like a pair of...well...yeah. He'd never really been to a temple before. He'd never had reason, though he supposed he probably should have. Teo had taken care of Julia's funeral and he hadn't attended. Probably for good reason. Mists folding up from the sea curled around the outer edges of the temple. The arms of Neptune, eh? The front curtains were pulled back as they approached and the two stepped from the chilling air outside to a blast of heat inside. Teo had been to a temple. He'd once stolen a few things from one of them in Rome.

"Don't steal anything in here," Elias grumbled quietly.

Teo shot him a nasty glance. He'd always hated it when Elias read his mind. Of course, he couldn't really read his mind, but it seemed like it at times.

"I only did that once!" Teo hissed.

"It's a wonder you weren't hanged," Elias smirked. "Still, don't steal from this one."

"Shove it."

Elias chuckled as they were led to an alcove off the main hall. The whole thing had been set with frescos along the outer edge, for visitors to acquaint themselves with the various stories of Neptune and his court. Teo looked down and started slightly at the huge diorama of the story of Prometheus set in tile in the floor. He smiled at the work. Simply exquisite, but why would this be put in a temple of Neptune? Wouldn't that anger him? He smelled something. Teo glanced up at the cloud of incense that swirled and hung in smokey curls near the ceiling. He wondered if that ever settled, or if it just hung there, like a pet eel or something. He sat on one couch as Elias took up position on the other. Elias sat rigid and straight. Perfect posture. Of course. Teo stopped himself from rolling his eyes and huffed as one of th-

She glanced up at him with soft brown, doe eyes that glittered in the firelight in the dark hall. She smiled a coy smile and proffered the goblet to him, which he took mutely. A heavy sigh brought Teo out of his trance. He glanced to his friend, who had his own goblet and seemed content to simply smirk in return. Teo quickly glanced back to the girl, but she'd stood and had already made her way to the other side of the chamber. She stopped, gave him a quick glance, the smile still on her pert lips and hurried out.

"Like I said," Elias said quietly. "Don't steal anything while you're here."

Teo took a sip of his wine and smirked to himself.

"I can't steal what's freely given."

"You're an ass, sometimes."

"I'm an ass quite often, Elias," Teo chuckled.

Teo followed Elias in standing as three attendants entered the room at the far end. Teo smoothed his tunic and got serious. The High Priestess might likely know who it was that designed the temple. And that person, Teo would very much like to meet. Teo stopped as a girl entered. Blonde, quite attractive. Very pale. She needed to get out in the sun more. Another girl followed behind her. Short, black hair, styled into two rather large bird wings on either side of her face. The effect gave her an innocence that probably belied her years. Still, she looked young. Teo kept quiet as the blonde stopped at the edge of the circle made by the couches. Teo raised an eyebrow in surprise. She'd had her eyes closed! Well, of course, the other girl-

Teo stopped as he realized the other girl had kept absolutely silent and indeed had been a step behind...her mistress. This?! This girl was the High Priestess?! Teo restrained himself from simply turning and walking out right then. How could she possibly-

The girl raised her hand to Teo, interrupting his thoughts.

"Peace be upon you, young Master," she said softly. "I came to speak to you and..."

She opened her eyes and stopped. Her mouth hung open in shock and surprise, as if she had no idea that Elias stood there, open like any book in his library. She stammered, but couldn't form a single sentence as her eyes never left his. Sara looked at the tall Roman and never had she instantly felt...home. She felt hotness creep up from her...toes...threatening to overtake her! A slight panic came over her. What could she say to this- Rhoda cleared her throat and Sara shook herself clear of the hypnotic brown eyes. She turned to the second man, with purple hair. Yes, this would be...

"You are the master of the new town."

It hadn't been a question.

"Yes," Teo said as he glanced back at Elias. "But it's not really a new town."

"Moperium."

"Yes."

The girl took a breath.

"We have need to travel to a town near yours and we require help and safe passage," she said, having regained something of her regal composure. "We will join your caravan."

Teo set his hands at his hips and smirked at the young priestess.

"Oh, you will?"

"Just like that," she said, a smirk on her own face.

"What's in it for us?" Elias said quietly.

Teo and the priestess jumped at the interruption in their staredown.

"Having a priestess with us makes us a target for gypsy bands, as well as the heathen Germanic tribes," he sipped at his goblet, still in his hand, then set it down. "They would kill you, or I suppose more accurately, sacrifice you."

The priestess seemed to digest this. She glanced behind her to her assistant and nodded slightly. The raven-haired girl nodded in response and clapped her hands. The other attendants jumped slightly and scurried out. The other girl pulled the curtains closed and nodded back to the priestess.

"My name is Sara," the priestess said to them both. "I have information that would purchase our passage."

She turned to Elias.

"I know what's happened to your sister," then she turned to Teo. "I know you're really running from the Emperor. While I don't like resorting to this, one letter from me and you're back before Nero and there's nothing your father can do about it."

Sara closed her eyes and swooned slightly. The other girl rushed to her and set her on the couch opposite the men. Sara produced a bit of cloth from somewhere and Teo gasped as she wiped away a tear of blood. She held her forehead and whimpered a bit, but drew herself together. Her attendant helped her back to her feet.

"It always hurts when I get active visions..." Sara grumled. "There will only be three of us coming with you and we have our own wagon."

Her hands shook slighlty and she hadn't opened her eyes to them, but took the goblet as Teo offered it to her. She opened her eyes and looked into the wine, as if startled to see it in her hands. She drank and blew out a breath. The shaking seemed to calm and she smiled at both of them.

"Myself, my attendant Rhoda," she indicated the raven-haired girl at her right. "And one other, who is paying the actual dinarii for all this."

"I hate to sound negative," Teo cleared his throat. "But what's to stop us from getting you out to the mountains and then doing something...horrible? We could claim anything, you know?"

Sara stopped at this and smirked at him, a little evil glint in her own eye.

"You're attracted to us."

Elias tried to contain his mirth as Teo almost fell over the couch behind him. Teo felt a blush of his own rise through him.

"I-!" he stammered. "I-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-iiii..."

Elias opened laughed as Teo sat down hard. He folded his arms and angrily faced away from the ladies, who turned back to Elias.

"Do you really know what's happened to my sister?" he asked.

"Yes."

"Fine," Teo snorted, still trying to avoid eye contact. "You have your own wagon, we'll put you somewhere between the three of ours."

Rhoda steadied Sara as they bowed in thanks. Elias nodded and Teo got to his feet as they left.

"And I am not attracted to either of you!"

***
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Postby Mythos on Wed Feb 07, 2007 8:55 pm

Damn, I hate not being able to write at work...I need to get money for a laptop! :grumble:

Anyway, this is a big part! And, I'm thinking, those parts concerning Sabina will probably continue to be big...which is good for you guys. :wink:

Oh, and I will NOT be using the latinization of Shade Tail. Umbra Penis just doesn't get it for me, so, to make it a little more palatable and to provide another little wrinkle, I'm going with Umbra Fabula. Shade Tale. :lol:

All legalese applies...Dan Shive is a kind and benevolent God among mortalsyadddayaada...

Grab yourself a long cool one, or a warm and toasty one, all things depending...

C&C (Comments and Criticism) always welcome...You can post it here, send me a PM, or an email...

Flames will be crucified!

***

Part 7

Consciousness rolled through her mind like ice along a sullen, winter river. Sabina opened her eyes and looked straight up. Thick curtains. Plaited near the apex. A bed curtain. They were a dull red in color. Her first thoughts should have been for her last waking moments, but they weren't. She threw back the blankets that had been piled on top of her. She was clean and a clean, white cotton shift had been fitted over her. Her bare, pale legs poked out from the other end as she sat up and she stared at them listlessly.

Hades is like earth, then? she thought.

No. She felt sore. In Hades, at least there was some rest. She felt no rest here. Only the aching pain of having had run for her life-

She looked down at herself. The scratches were gone. She was sore, yes, but probably not as sore as she should have been, all things considered. She tried to move, to stretch, but only met with the ache in her muscles. The first image that came to her was one of a bone that'd been chewed on by the family dogs. She smirked to herself and wondered where that image had come from, but decided against thinking about it. Or anything, for that matter. She reached down and pulled up the shift. Her stomach lay there, white, firm and unmarred by stitch or scar. No evidence that she had tried to take her own life. She probably missed. She leaned forward as she let go of the shift and started as her hair fell around her.

It...was black. Jet black. She looked down her body. It would explain why her feminine hair had also become black. She had thought it was a trick of the light, but no. Black and curly. The hair on her head, black and straight. She hadn't thought about her eyebrows, but she supposed those had changed as well. Why? She let her hand fall lifelessly back onto her tummy as she sat back a little. Another mystery. She really hated mysteries. Her grandfather always wanted to give her little mysteries, but she'd either solved them all quickly or ignored the old man. Possibly she should have taken more thought on just how she had solved them as quickly as she had. What did a three year old girl think of such things, anyway. Not much.

Sabina reached out and cautiously picked at the bedside curtains. No one shoved them back. No one looked her way. The room beyond seemed empty. A fire smouldered in the largish fireplace on the other side of the small room. Plaster had been set along the walls and the walls themselves had been covered in tapestries and cloths. Probably as much to keep out the cold as for decoration. The whole thing spoke of gypsies, which sent a shiver along Sabina's spine. She started when she remembered something else and swung her legs out from under the covers. Her ankle was fresh and whole. No bone poked through. No blood pooled in a bandage. She set her feet on the rug near the bed. Rugs covered the entire floor. Whoever slept here didn't seem to want to touch cold floor in the mornings. Sabina could understand.

Was it that girl's room? The dark girl with the strange hair. The ones that commanded the dogs. Dogs that became men. She would have to be powerful indeed to command such demons. She pushed herself off the bed and tested her ankle. It felt sore, but being whole, it could take her weight. The shift fell to midthigh as she stood. In a nearby chair, a fine robe of animal furs had been set. For her? She had no idea, but since she came to this place without clothes, anything set out would be better. She pulled the robe around her and shivered at the touch of the gloriously fine fur around her. She sobered at the thought that this robe belonged to the people that had attacked her. People. Animals. Things. She had no idea. A cold wind scurried around her feet like a pup with a wet nose and Sabina turned to the doorway. Another cloth had been laid across, for a door. She approached it and again picked at the curtain, pulling it slowly aside. Again, the room beyond lay empty. The grey light that filtered in from the high windows told her it was late afternoon. The cold said that she had not slept enough to heal her ankle. Not that sleep could've healed a break that bad anyway.

The stepped out into the hall and noted almost absently that the cold of the flagstones at her feet were a distant happiness. Something telling her that she was still alive. Along the far end of the hall lay a stairwell down. She could hear voices down there, but distant, like she were hearing it through layers of cloth. She could smell them too, to which she wrinkled her nose. To be pungent at this distance? But...not really pungent. Just, layers of smells, like the rich, earthy tilled mud in the spring near the river. That kind of smell, but faint and drifting, overlayed with a smell of...metal...something metal. Sabina opened her eyes when a sound came to her. Another room lay down the hall a little ways and light flickered out, warm and inviting. Only one person was in that room. How did she know? She crept down the hall and looked slowly into the room, her curiosity getting the best of her.

The study, for any room with this many books could be called nothing other than a study, was small. Books, maps and scrolls lined two of the walls and a good portion of a third. Along the fourth wall, a settee had been set under a rather large window. A low table set in front of the settee, covered with various scrolls, books and maps. A fireplace warmed the whole of the room to a toasty degree opposite the window. Between them, with his back to the doorway, set a man. His hair had been gathered into tight spikes. Sabina wondered what a Nubian would be doing this far north, but decided that, since it was obviously his study, he had a right to be here. He rubbed at his neck and sighed heavily.

"I'm glad you're awake," he said without turning.

Sabina gasped and stepped back from the doorway, but stopped short of bounding away. The furs would give her some protection, but not enough to get back to Apulum.

"Please don't run," he said. "You wouldn't get very far."

He stopped at this and seemed to consider something.

"Actually, given that you get out of the village," he muttered to himself. "There's probably no where in the entire world you couldn't go."

He turned to Sabina and smiled at her. A wide open kind of face. One that you would imagine scribing the path of the stars across a night sky in the summer. Certainly not a winter kind of face. His face also said father. At least one that hadn't ever gotten too much sleep. He reached up and rubbed at his eyes.

"My name is Philip Scuridae," he said as he motioned to the settee. "I know you've met my daughter, Gratia. She's the one that saved you, brought you in."

She entered the room and cautiously took a seat. He smiled at this and turned to the fireplace, where a kettle had been quietly boiling, from the smell of it, for a long time. He got two earthen cups and poured a measure of the ugly liquid into each and proferred her one. She accepted it and sniffed. She wrinkled her nose again and looked up at him as he sat across from her, the table between them. He seemed to mull something over in his mind and cleared his throat. He blew on his cup and took a sip.

"I'm very sorry about the wolves," he said quietly.

Sabina looked down at her own cup and took an experimental sip. It tasted- well, it tasted like...it tasted...she took a larger sip. It didn't taste the way it smelled. The flavors melded on her tongue and down her throat to give her the impression of pine and old places and spices that she couldn't name. Of bitterness and something sweet...something like a promise...

She nodded at her cup.

"They're..." Philip struggled for the right word. "Savage. Sometimes. They went too far in attacking your caravan and I apologize for what they did."

He pointed to the window behind her and she moved as he pulled one of the heavy curtains aside. Sabina gasped as she looked down into the courtyard of the village below. On three short crosses erected there, three men had been crucified, the intestines of one spilt onto the ground below. Ravens had already had at their eyes. Sabina shifted away from Philip, her mouth open, aghast at the cruelt-

He saw the look on her face and chuckled as he let the curtain go.

"They the wolves, remember?" he smirked. "They can't die."

He sobered and took a drink before he spoke again.

"But, the endangered and exposed the village," his face grew stiff and stern. "We have ways of punishing those that defy our rules."

Sabina sat there. Would she be-what a stupid thought. Of course, if she broke the rules, she would be subject to their punishments. What kind of inhumane place was this?! If those men couldn't die, then crucifying them wasn't punishment, but torture! Philip smiled openly and looked at her again.

"But you-" he chuckled again. "You actually killed one of them. I mean, killed. Dead."

Sabina couldn't even gasp at this accusation and just shook her head. Philip smiled even more and nodded against her protestations.

"Yes, you did," he smiled. "Remember the sharpened coin? Silver. It creates a cut that can't be healed by their disease. Well...it's not really a disease, but they like to think of it as such...anyway, you slice the throat open like you did and it would actually kill them."

Sabina looked down into her cup and took another sip. She closed her eyes. She'd never killed anyone. Even though she felt she wanted to, she didn't know that she actually wanted to.

"This?" he looked out the window again. "This is just punishment. One that they devised for themselves. Personally, I think it's rather barbaric. But apparently, that's just me."

He looked back to Sabina.

"Would you like a little something to eat?"

She looked up at him, but only saw a genuine concern. She nodded, saying nothing. Philip smiled as he wrapped a towel around his hand. He reached for another pot bubbling in the fire and spooned out something into a bowl. He set a spoon in the gruel and placed it before her. It did look good. If not tasty, at least hot. She set the grog down and picked up the spoon, blowing on it, but she hesitated. If this were the Underworld, one bite and she could never leave. She thought of her father and brothers. She thought of her home. Then the thought of her mother came to her and she shoved the spoon in her mouth. Philip sat back down and rubbed at his neck.

"You're still quite weak from your fight. I think you should sleep more before Gratia and I tell you more," he said. "Please think of this as your own house now. Gratia fixed up the guest room and I hope it's comfortable enough?"

Sabina chewed on the gruel and nodded.

"Good!" he said. "The others will not touch you while you're under my care and Gratia's care."

"My..." Sabina started at the sound of her own voice. "My hair is black now."

"...yes."

His smile slipped slightly and she knew he was hiding something and actually embarrassed by it. She decided to press.

"I should have numerous scars too," she said through her gruel. "What's happened to me?"

"Please...eat," he cleared his throat and sat back. "I can't- It's hard for me to explain. I have a hard enough time writing down the things I've seen and the things I know without going into...what happened with you."

Sabina wanted to know more, but she decided that perhaps this wouldn't be the best time to ask for more. She looked over at the desk and saw the opportunity.

"What are you writing?"

He smiled, grateful for the change.

"Have you ever heard of a man named Jesus?"

Sabina shook her head.

"He's a great prophet from a town in Judea called Nazareth," he stumbled over his own thoughts. "A...prophet of a new religious movement. Well, he was born about 60 years ago and..."

Philip stopped at this and looked back at his desk. He rubbed his beard and blew out a heavy sigh. He turned back to Sabina and cast a sullen look at the table.

"The others wanted me to write about things that would...elevate Jesus," he said. "I want to write what I saw. It tears at me, but I will work through it."

Sabina licked at her spoon and wondered at this...priest? He hadn't the look of the priesthood about him, but then if he came from far off Judea, perhaps they did things a little differently there, like they did in Aegyptus. Sabina didn't know.

"It's that hard to write what you've seen?"

He looked up at this and chuckled.

"Well, in some ways, no," he said. "But so that my works might be read with those of the others...yes. But enough of my troubles, please eat. We have plenty of time to talk later."

She found herself smiling at this and plowed through another bowl of the thick gruel. Philip smiled and went back to work as she plodded back to her room, sleep rustling around her head. Her stomach full, she set the thick robe back on the chair and curled tightly under the massive blankets. The warmth spread through her toes and up her legs to the rest of her body again and she floated back to sleep. A stray thought, echoing distance and sharp, cut at her sleep and made her eyes snap open. She sighed and rolled onto her back.

She lived. She lived while her father and brothers died. Guilt hovered overhead, just on the other side of the cloud of sleep, but another thought came to her. Perhaps this was a test the gods had devised, telling her that she should live and continue to fight? Finding a prophet in the wilderness. Stumbling to him and his daughter, that controlled demons by their mere presence? Yes. She would fight. She let her eyes close as a tear drifted from her eye.

Yes, Papa, she thought. I will fight, I promise.

***
Reader of It's Walky! since May 17, 2002
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Fanfics in EGS:
Fantasmas en la Nieve
Christmas in the Snow
The Happy Pure Fics - Overheard Again
Angels
The Fate of Hearts
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