LIV – A Roman Tale With A Bizarre Twist

Dear Journal:

Suffice it to say the picnic was pretty much past history, so we packed up and headed back to the palace. I was still a little wobbly and was semi-leaning on Brother for support. The Mutts were staying close in case they were needed, while the other wrinklies ambled or trotted back and forth in the line, presumably making sure there were no rogue plates in the area.

The Tribune, with the aid of the Lady, had pretty much cleaned himself up and glared at the Praetorians who were trying to keep from snickering about the Tribune’s impromptu present from yours truly. At any other time the whole scene would have been comical, but I was not in a laughing mood, and everyone else was somewhat subdued because of me.

As we neared the palace it became immediately apparent that something was amiss. Troops were everywhere running to and fro on different seemingly urgent errands, while the main force was drawn up in battle array. The Tribune left our party to confer with his second in command as I was rushed inside to safety from any would be danger. The gist of what we found out was explained by the old Senator as follows.

“After everybody had set out for your picnic, I was playing with my snake, Brutus. Everything seemed normal when in rushed a Praetorian looking a little worse for wear. His ripped and shredded clothes were a sorry sight, while his armor had dent marks all over it. He was bleeding from a number of wounds and he was bruised from head to foot. The fellow nearly collapsed in front of me and, with a good gulp of wine, began to narrate the following story.

The soldier was a member of the small group guarding the subterranean levels with it’s strange rooms. The guards were changing normally dull shifts when all hades broke loose. My collapsed friend went silent and, when I prodded him for more information, fell to the floor dead as a stone.

In a decidedly alarmed state I figured I’d better go see for myself. So off I went with a company of soldiers to investigate the fellow’s story. The treasure room seemed safe enough as nothing was missing and we found no dead bodies. It was further down in those titanic unexplored spaces that the man’s tale bore fruit. There were bodies everywhere.”

At this point the Senator’s voice cracked and his hands shook, nearly spilling his drink.

“Some were badly mauled while others seemed to be missing essential body parts such as heads, arms, legs and so on. It was appalling. I did have the presence of mind to pick up a dropped sword, as I’ve always lived with the motto ‘be prepared’. So down we went, with weapons drawn, to the closed doorway separating us from the unexplored regions beyond. It was no longer closed.”

His face bore an expession I’d never seen him show before. Stark fear.

“The circular door had been ripped from it’s hinges and lay twisted and broken some distance away. The stench of the dead rose about us from at least two companies of guardsmen who had been stationed there. Their bodies were shredded and mutilated exactly like those we had found earlier on. Blood was everywhere.”

With an uplifted hand I stopped the old Senator’s narration, as the old man was near collapse. What had we accidently disturbed down in those old rooms? We needed to find out.


Chapter LV

Published in: on January 31, 2010 at 2:22 PM  Comments (1)  

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