XXV – The Roman and . . . HAIL WHO . . . ?

Dear Journal:

There we were, at the royal residence, in a processional display I had never before seen the likes of. Waiting for us along our route were long lines of Praetorians in full imperial panoply. Talk about overdressing! Crimson and black plumes disappeared into the distance as I gave up trying to count them.

From the look of it, our party was severely outnumbered. However, the Lady didn’t seem at all worried.

“Numbers mean nothing, fish monger. Timing is everything.”

At the time, I wondered what she meant by that. If I’d known, I would have turned around, gone back home, and hid myself. Little did I realise I wouldn’t be coming back out of that palace the same man who entered.

Leaving the litters behind, our group, augmented by a small force of our Praetorians (the remaining force taking up position outside the palace), entered the main feast hall. As our guards took up positions around the room (augmenting the sizable force of Caesar’s Praetorians already present) the rest of us upper class types were shown to couches scattered about the hall. The Lady and I had front row seats directly across from Caeser’s overly decorated couch.

I know I should have felt honored, but I was too scared to enjoy the privilege thrust upon me. I wanted to hide in the worst way. Mutt Three, meanwhile, had snagged a loose cushion and, making herself a bed next to me, settled in for the evening. I could swear she was still mumbling her doggie tune. That tune actually meant something, as I later found out.

So we waited for Great Caesar to arrive.

With a flourish of clarions and kettledrums (no ‘blaat’ this time) in strode the Emperor of Rome, in all his glory, and flopped down on his couch. Waving imperiously (Caesar never did anything simply) to the gathered servants, he commanded the feast to commence.

Thus the strangest night of my life began.

While we ate and drank, the Lady and I being unobtrusively sparing of both, Ceasar engaged us in very lively conversation. The battle of wits had begun.

Looking me over with a critical eye, Caesar seemed pleased.

“You’re looking good fish monger. Wealth seems to agree with you.”

“Meeep!!” was all I could get out.

Turning his attention to the Lady, he chuckled.

“Your companion seems to be a limited conversationalist. Hopefully, he’ll improve as the evening progresses.”

The lady smiled her wintery smile.

“Our fish monger friend is a simple man with simple virtues. I don’t think he’s learned how to respond to flattery. Especially when it’s insincere.”

Caesar scowled.

“Are you implying that my observation was less than honest?”

Oh boy!! This was not the way I expected this dinner party to start out. The Lady grinned.

“No Caesar. I was merely pointing out that my friend doesn’t yet know how to lie like a Patrician and get away with it. It does, generally, take a lifetime of practice in the art of insincerity. After all, he didn’t have power and influence to protect him as we do.”

Caesar faltered slightly.

“Well, I do hope he improves. So far he’s been pretty dull. I expected more from my SPECIAL guest.”

That remark caused everyone, especially me, to sit up and pay attention. Caesar continued.

“Well fish monger, it seems your traitor brother is, even now, marching against Rome. I do hope he realises the consequences of his actions? After all, it would be a shame if something befell you as a result of HIS treason.”

At that moment, the Lady’s smile vanished, to be replaced by a visage hard as stone. She turned to me and spoke.

“Show him your hand! Show Caesar why nothing will happen to you!”

With the greatest fear I had ever known, I showed Caesar the hand with the ring. He went livid. Sputtering and fuming, he faced down the Lady.

“You’ve made him your HEIR?!!!” He screamed. “HOW DARE YOU!!!”

The Lady stared him a cold stare, seemingly unmoved by his tantrum.

“I’ve merely given him his lawful inheritance. Which he would have had from birth, if your father hadn’t been such a vicious pig! Look at him, my son! HE IS YOUR BROTHER!!”

I sat there, stunned. Waitaminut! If Caesar is my REAL brother and the lady is HIS MOTHER, then that means….! I had passed my ability to comprehend everything at once, and went into overload and shock.

The lady continued.

“I saved his life to protect him and the Empire from your father’s ‘gentle’ tutalage. Fortunately, he turned out a man of principles, unlike you. You, my son, have been my greatest disappointment!”

What happened next is still somewhat unclear in my mind, but I believe it happened something like this. Ceasar stared at me with a look of disbelief and hatred etched in his face. He then looked at the Lady, his mother, with shock and fury. Then, with a lunge, he grabbed a sword from a nearby soldier and attacked both the Lady and myself.

Fatal mistake.

As soon as Caesar moved toward us, Mutt Three charged.

WUFFF!! ROAR!!! SNARL!!!

In an instant, Caesar was dead, his throat ripped out. I grabbed Mutt’s collar and pulled her away from Caesar’s body, while our troops prevented the enacting of any revenge.

Pandemonium reigned as people fled the room and Praetorians faced Praetorians, swords drawn.

Then, above the noise, I heard a shout.

“ENOUGH! CEASE!!!”

It was the Lady. Everyone, including the soldiers, stopped and turned toward her. She looked around the hall and spoke in a soft voice.

“There’s been enough killing here. Let Caesar’s death be the only one tonight. NO REPRISALS! The dog was protecting her master! Good thing too.”

She turned toward me and raised her hand.

“By blood and rightful inheritence, we are yours. Ave Imperator! Hail Caesar!!”

A momentary silence was followed by a roar of assent.

“HAIL CAESAR!!”

All I could think to say was “ARE ALL OF YOU CRAZY?!!”

Nobody changed their mind. Well, my evening was ruined! Hail Caesar indeed!

Yikes!!

Chapter XXVI

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Published in: on October 11, 2009 at 9:08 PM  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] Chapter XXV Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)XX ā€“ Rude Romans And PaybackXIX ā€“ WUFF!!! Crowded RomanXXVI ā€“ Roman Caesar, Little Brother, and Mutts Published in: […]


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