Centurion: From Glory to Glory

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Injustice

“But General, his action almost led to an uprising in the Northern Province. If you don’t do something … ” Gaius was pleading his case against Valerius when General Sextus held up his hand and cut him off.

“Do you presume to tell me how to run my army, young Gaius?” General Sextus was not accustomed to being questioned by his officers, let alone by a common soldier. “If not for my fondness for you, I should have you flogged for such insolence. As for Valerius, his actions were dishonorable, but she was just a farm girl.” The Tribunus could see that this reference disturbed Gaius’ sensibilities. But then it would, seeing that he, too, was from the plebian class. Though class distinctions in Rome were not supposed to determine a person’s worth, everyone knew that wasn’t so. The wealthy ruled, and the poor served at their whim. What happened in the legislative chambers was only for show. The Emperor ruled supreme, or at least at the leisure of the military.

“The more important issue is your disobedience. I gave you direct instructions to observe and report. What I am hearing is that you interfered with the rebellion and they have fled into the mountains. Is that so?”

There was an unwitting convergence on the main highway north: Gallius’ troops met up with Valerius’ contingent.

“Valerius, forward scout of General Sextus, at your service, Legate.” Valerius stood at attention, his armor tightly fitted against his sculpted body. Most soldiers’ armor enhanced their physic, but Valerius had no need. He was the perfect Roman soldier, strong and proficient at his craft.

“Stand at ease soldier. Do you know why I am here?” Gallius asked.

“No, sir. I haven’t had any contact with the legion in over four days.” He would make no assumptions, because speculation wasn’t important, only the orders. “I am at your disposal, my lord. How can I be of service?”

“I am here to make contact with a farmer named Marcellinus. In your scouting have you come across any farmers harboring ill feelings toward the army’s approach?” The name sounded familiar to Valerius, but he couldn’t put a face to it. During his time in the area, he had visited quiet a few farms. After a while all the people looked the same.

“I do not recall, my lord. As for how the farmers feel, they are unhappy. Most have remained silent, but a few …” Now it dawned on him. “This Marcellinus you asked about, he did express his discontent. In fact his daughter accosted me. We made our point very clear and moved on.”

“We can’t let farmers stand in the way of Rome’s glory can we?” He kept his tone level. “Did you see any indications of a local militia that could cause trouble for the legion?” Gallius was fishing for information. He didn’t want to come across too eager. That might cause Valerius to keep any pertinent information to himself. “How did you get your point across?”

“I don’t believe there will be any problem with the farmers. We met force with force, and then left. When the girl hit me, I took her offense out on her father,” he lied. “I believe we made our point sufficiently.” Valerius wasn’t used to someone questioning his tactics. He had been awarded for decisive and harsh discipline, but he wasn’t here to question his superior, only to give his assistance wherever necessary.

“I just received a report from my attaché. He found this note attached to the door of one of the farmers.” He handed it to Valerius.

“Well, I guess we won’t have to worry about any resistance, at least from this farmer.” Valerius was not trying to be impertinent, but his feelings were obvious.

Gallius was not satisfied with this soldier’s accounting of events. Something more must have happened, or his brother wouldn’t have sent such a distressful letter. He would investigate this himself, and he only had two days before the Legions arrived.

Marcellinus woke his wife up early. “Wake the children. We need to load as much as we can on the oxcart and head to the west.” Before she could question him he interrupted, “The army is coming, and we want to save everything we can from their voracious appetite. We need to act quickly.”

She was barely able to get dressed and grab a bite to eat before he rushed them all out the door. They didn’t own a lot, but the tools they had accumulated over the years were essential if they were to rebuild. They caged some chickens, and two of the smaller pigs, piled a stack of grain, and most importantly readied the plow. When they had filled the cart as full as they could, they set out over the rugged path leading through the valley, hopefully to make their way to Pisae. They had some family in that area. It was far enough away from the Via Aemilia and the fifty-mile radius in which the army would forage for provisions.

They were halfway down the lane when Marcellinus stopped. “I want to leave a note, in case Gallius comes. I don’t know if he will be allowed, or even if he is alive.” He ran to the house, scribbled a note and nailed it to the door. It wasn’t long, a bit brash, but he didn’t care anymore. It just said, “Take what you can find.”

His wife was crying when he came back to the family. “I don’t want to leave.” Her heart was longing for her dead daughter. “Will we ever come back? Will I ever get to see my darling Gillian again?”

Holding her in his arms he whispered in her ear, “Shhh … I know it isn’t easy, but we need to leave. We have other children who need us now. We will be back, I promise.” He pulled a blanket over her legs, and taking hold of the ox’s harness, led the cart down the lane. They would return as soon as the army had passed through, and he didn’t think that it would be more than a week. Gallius had told him once that as the army marched through an area they camped for no longer than two days. A week would give time for advance scouts to identify provision “providers” and for the rear guards to steal what was left. As long as they didn’t dismantle their house and barn for wood, starting over wouldn’t be too difficult.

Too difficult. He thought that with such ease. Since Gillian’s death everything has happened so quickly. They hadn’t had time to properly grieve. His grief would find release only in the death of the murdering soldier who took his little girl’s life. It was this bitterness and determination that drove him now, even if his revenge would never come.

Dismounting, Gallius walked to the door where the note had been posted, touching the door as if it were still there. He had hoped that his brother would return, but he didn’t. It was obvious that he had packed up and left, most likely to find family in the west. The question was whether Gallius should pursue him. Marcellinus had a day’s head start, and the General was a day out. To him there wasn’t any need to host a tribunal for a rebellion that wasn’t going to take place. But General Sextus didn’t always do things that made sense. The other dilemma was whether he should send others after his brother or go himself. Sending anyone else could end in someone’s death, but he couldn’t leave an underling to meet the General.

In the end, he decided to pursue his brother. To be empty-handed when the General arrived would be just as disastrous as if he were gone.

“If General Sextus arrives before I return,” he instructed his attaché, “tell him I will be back shortly with my brother, Marcellinus. Assure him that there is no armed rebellion, and that my brother’s testimony will set the record straight.” Gallius directed two of his guards to mount, and they headed down the trail left by an ox-driven cart. Gallius didn’t waste any time. Galloping the horses as fast as they could, they made haste through the mountain pass. The first few miles were easy going, but as the path narrowed, the elevation grew steeper and the foliage became denser, they had to slow their pace. He feared that he would not be able to reach his brother and bring him back in time to satisfy the General. Coming to an abrupt stop, the guards to his rear almost ran into him: they had come to a fork in the road. Carts, definitely more than just one, had recently traveled through the area. It dawned on him that other farmers had left the approaching army as well, and the two paths before him had equally grooved ruts where travelers had fled. Both led to Pisae. The one to the left followed the river through the mountain valleys. The other took a harder route along the crest. It was steeper and lacked water, but was shorter. He was fairly certain that his brother would take the easier direction, believing that no one cared enough to follow. But he couldn’t take the chance that he might choose the faster route. Pointing to his guards he said, “Take the mountain crest. If he went that direction you should be able to catch up with him quickly. If you do, one of you come for me, while the other travels with the cart, returning to the camp. We will rendezvous here.”

Acknowledging him with a nod they reigned in their horses and sped away up the mountain.

Gallius’ instincts were correct. His brother had gone along the river. They were definitely in a hurry. Several items on their cart had fallen off, and they didn’t even take the time to retrieve them. Marcellinus must have felt it crucial to put as much daylight between his family and the army as possible. What had happened to his brother? Why was he this desperate to leave? Didn’t he know that Gallius could have protected his farm? While contemplating these questions, he could hear yelling in the distance.

“Everyone off!” Marcellinus cried out. The roar of the river was making it hard for the people to hear him. “I will guide the ox and cart across. You stay here until I get back. I will help you cross as soon as I tie him on the other side.” This was the worst part of the path: crossing the river. The trail couldn’t follow on just one side of the river because of the mountain; at times it rose high and tight to its bank. Travelers had to ford the river on several occasions. The river was fast, the rocks slick, and the way treacherous. The ox stumbled a couple of times, but its massive body and sure footing allowed him to cross without too much difficulty. That couldn’t be said for the rest of the family. Once on the other side, Marcellinus secured the animal to a tree, pulled out a long piece of rope and fastened it to the trunk of a cypress. Then he carefully waded back across the river until he was standing next to his wife. Taking the end he attached it to another cypress. “Take this piece of rope and tie it round your waist. I will loop it over the line and it will keep you from being swept away if you trip and fall.” He did this with his wife and each of his children, until they were all across. When the last one was safely on shore, he turned, surprised at what he saw.

“Hurry!” He instructed his family, “There is a soldier on the other side. They have caught up with us.” They no longer hesitated; his wife and children ran ahead as he tried to motivate the ox to move faster, but it was to no avail. He knew he couldn’t outrun him, so he yelled to his family to keep running, and he turned to take a stand. Marcellinus was not a brave man, but he was not going to let another one of his family fall victim to the army’s brutality. The face straps of Gallius’ helmet hid his identity. If Marcellinus had known it was his brother he wouldn’t have acted so defensively. A large stick was lying on the ground nearby, and he picked it up to make himself as menacing as possible.

“Marcellinus, wait for me,” Gallius yelled, but the river was too loud. He dismounted and tied his horse to a nearby tree. Taking hold of the rope line Marcellinus had secured, Gallius attempted to cross over the slick rocks. He didn’t bother untying the rope, and was halfway across when the rope gave way and he fell into the river. Gripping the rope tighter he was able to keep from being swept away, but the current was strong and it was all he could do to keep from drowning.

As he turned to run, Marcellinus’ conscience got the better of him. He couldn’t let the soldier drown. He had no sympathy for the army, especially now that his daughter was dead, but it wasn’t this man’s fault. Not knowing what the outcome meant for him, he tied another rope to the tree and worked his way to the middle of the river. When he arrived, the soldier was gulping for air as the water rushed against and over his face. The force of the current had caused his helmet to come loose, and when he came up for what he thought to be his final breath, a strong hand grabbed the top of his tunic, and pulling up steadied the soldier so he could regain his balance.

Marcellinus almost lost his balance when he saw who the soldier was. “Gallius, what are you doing here?” He held him by the arm until they were safely on shore. “Why are you chasing me?”

Gasping for air, Gallius wasn’t able to speak. He held up his hand until he caught his breath. “Why am I chasing you? Why are you running? You have caused quite a stir with the General. He thinks you are trying to form an armed rebellion.” His tone was a mixture of anger, exasperation, and urgency. “I was instructed to reach out to you and set up a meeting between you and the General. Now, rather, the General wants to set up a tribunal! If I don’t get you back right away, I might as well run to the hills with you.”

Over Marcellinus’ shoulder he could see tentative faces poking out from behind the trees. His wife and children had returned to see what was taking him so long. They were fearful, and even when at his urging they hesitated to come out.

“They’re afraid of you,” Marcellinus said softly. “It has been a long time since you have been around, and my children only see a soldier. Their experience with the Roman army has not been good. Their oldest sister was killed by a soldier.” The reaction on Gallius’ face was incredulous.

“What are you talking about? The message you sent me didn’t say anything about this. You need to tell me everything.” So Marcellinus told his story. He was animated, and angry, his contorted face betraying the pain that wrenched at his gut. Gallius tried not to react. He wanted to ascertain all the facts, find out what had really happened, and act accordingly. He was, after all, a legate in the Roman army. But as his brother recounted the horrifying rape and death of his niece, his emotions got the better of him, and a tear rolled down his cheek.

“We need to leave right away. The General will be waiting for us, and he needs to hear an account of this event. I do not know if justice will be exacted on this soldier, but I assure you Valerius will not get away with it.” He turned and remembered that they needed to cross the river again. Standing up he went and retrieved the rope, securing it once more to the tree. Working together they were able to cross more quickly and easily. Continuing their journey back along the path, Gallius knew their pace would be too slow. He couldn’t, however, bring himself to leave the girls on their own, so they trudged along.

Waiting for them at the fork in the road were his soldiers. Realizing that they were pursuing in the wrong direction, they had returned to wait for their legate. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Gallius instructed them to stay with the women while he and Marcellinus rode on ahead. Reluctantly one of the soldiers relinquished his horse. Obediently he took hold of the ox’s harness and pulled the beast along. Gallius and his brother sped off down the trail.

Gaius mulled over the question of his interference carefully. “My Lord, I do not mean to be disrespectful. My intention was as you instructed, but what I found didn’t line up with the report you had received. I thought it would be helpful to understand the situation, and more information was necessary. When Marcellinus told me his story, and told of Valerius’ dishonor, I could empathize with their plight.” He cautiously continued, “I thought it would save time and trouble if the situation was rectified, seeing that you have more pressing matters in moving the army north.”

“It is not for you to decide what is or is not important to me. However, what is done is done, and in truth, I am glad. But what you do not know is that I must attend to the situation anyway. Legate Gallius, whose brother is at the center of this matter, went on ahead to prepare a meeting so that I may judge for myself innocence and guilt.”

General Sextus rose from his chair and motioned for one of his guards, “Sound the horn for departure. We will leave at sunrise. Gaius, attend to your responsibilities, and prepare your men to march.” He paused before continuing. “And well done. Dismissed.”

Gaius snapped to attention, saluted, and left the tent. He was glad to be out of the General’s presence. Even though they had developed a bond over the years, he never knew exactly where he stood. He couldn’t help but think of Valerius, and how he had caused all this trouble. If it were up to him, Valerius would be beaten and left to the farmers to exact justice. Yet, as the General pointed out, it wasn’t up to him. Truth always comes to light though, even if it is ever so slow.

Legate Gallius’ attaché met him as he rode up to the farm. “The General is inside, sir. He hasn’t been waiting too long, but he isn’t happy with your delay. I tried to explain the situation, but he dismissed me.” After Gallius dismounted, he led the horse and fastened him to a rope line between two trees. Approximately twelve men stood guard around the farm. They looked warily at the man who rode alongside the Legate.

The farmhouse was rustic and dirty. The General was accustomed to better accommodations, even when the army was on a march. He cleaned one of the seats and sat down to pour over some parchments he had brought to pass the time.

When the Legate walked in he was surprised to see the General with only two guards. He was expecting a tribunal. He came to attention. “Legate Gallius, reporting sir.”

General Sextus walked past Gallius to stand in front of his brother. His guards moved behind the farmer making it clear that any treacherous act would be dealt with swiftly. To everyone’s surprise the General put his hand on Marcellinus’ arm and led him over to the small table in the corner of the room. He beckoned for the farmer to sit beside him. With a nod the guards escorted Gallius out of the house. He was confused, but refrained from speaking and obediently followed the soldiers.

The slight tremor gave away Marcellinus’ nervousness.

“You have nothing to fear. I have talked with a friend of yours, Gaius, do you remember him?”

Marcellinus mouthed yes, but nothing audible came out.

“He has told me about your daughter, and on behalf of Rome, I extend my condolence. Valerius … is a useful soldier, albeit ruthless. It is with deep regret that we find ourselves in this situation, and frankly, if it were not for your brother’s position, I may have not given it much further thought. I would, however, like to hear what you think I should do in this situation.”

Marcellinus understood that he was nothing to this man, and his compassionate words sounded more like a politician than a concerned friend. Yet, he was here and offering him an opportunity to speak. His anger rising in his throat, he asserted, “I claim lex talionis, a life for a life!” Marcellinus emphasized his point by pounding his fist on the table. Then he thought better of it, and grabbed his fist with his other hand.

Hearing the farmer’s angry voice, a guard poked his head through the door. “Is everything alright, my lord?”

The General nodded yes, and the guard withdrew. There was a moment of silence before the General spoke. “My friend…” It was a common phrase between brothers of Rome. “As much as I would like to give you what you want, I cannot.” He held up his hands, feigning powerlessness. “Not that I don’t want to. What Valerius has done is dishonorable, but we are on our way to engage a most dangerous enemy. I need the best soldiers in this fight for Rome’s honor.”

Rome’s honor. Marcellinus heard the words, but where was the honor of Rome for his daughter?

“But this I will do: I will allow you to administer twenty lashes with the whip, and I will pay you restitution.” Standing, he held out his hand to Marcellinus. What could he do but accept the offer? Though it wasn’t enough, at least it was something, and hopefully enough to cause the man’s death. They walked into the farmyard together, and there, between the house and the barn, Valerius was already tied to a tree. It was obvious that the outcome of this meeting had been preordained.

Walking up to one of the guards, General Sextus took the whip from his hand. He turned and held it out to Marcellinus. “This is your opportunity to exact justice.”

Taking the whip, he slid his hand over the rough leather. At the end were attached three tails, and on each tail a small rock. The army had worse whips at their disposal, but the General didn’t want too much damage done to one of his best soldiers.

Marcellinus cautiously approached Valerius. Looking him in the face he said, “The whip is too good for you. I wish it were a knife, and I would butcher you like the pig you are. But I will have to be satisfied with this.” He stepped back, and with all his strength he flung the whip across his back, then dragged it in hopes of tearing the skin. Valerius winced in pain, but didn’t cry out. He wouldn’t give this farmer the satisfaction. Nineteen more times Marcellinus scourged the back of this criminal, but his inexperience didn’t produce the carnage he had hoped. Valerius groaned, but didn’t plead for mercy. The guards untied the prisoner and laid him in a wagon that had accompanied the General.

When everyone had mounted their horses, the General gave the word, and turning they rode back to camp. Only Gallius was left. Marcellinus’ family had arrived earlier, the women taken into the house to avoid witnessing the grisly lashing.

“I am sorry brother. Nothing is as we had hoped, and nothing will still your grief. I can’t stay any longer. I have responsibilities, a long march, and war to wage. I will pray that the gods, in time, will exact revenge on your behalf.” Handing him a bag of coins, he continued, “I know this will never replace what you have lost, but I hope you will find some solace.” Gallius mounted his horse and never looked back. Marcellinus stood alone in the farmyard with a broken heart, and an unsatisfied soul.

Gaius was mending part of his uniform when news came that the General had returned. Though he was bursting with curiosity, he held it in check. He did not need to put his nose in other people’s business. He had done his job and more, and fate would accomplish its purpose soon enough. Setting his mending aside, Gaius stood and stretched. The sky was filled with stars tonight, and the air was crisp and cool. They had little need for lamps, as the rising full moon lit the night. Staring into the sky, he felt small and insignificant. He wondered at how mere mortals played their parts in the games of the gods. The gods … he had always believed in them, but wondered if they even cared about the affairs of men. Taking a deep breath, Gaius went to his tent and slept, but his dreams relived the events of the past weeks: the rape and death of a young girl, the grief of a father, and the ever-haunting presence of Valerius.

Lying in the wagon, which carried him back to camp, Valerius could hear his comrades recounting the events leading up to his lashing. Fading in and out of consciousness he paid it no mind, until he heard one name: Gaius. He hated the sound of that name, he hated the man who owned it, and the more he heard of the General’s gratitude toward him, the more he resolved to take revenge. At last they arrived at the camp, and a company physician attended to him as he groaned in pain. Applying various salves to ease the pain and ward off infection, he instructed Valerius to get some rest. Valerius was strong, and though the beating took its toll, it would not incapacitate him for long. He knew that his punishment could have been worse, but instead of being appreciative, his bitterness toward Gaius hardened his heart even more. He would have his retribution.

He winced as Aalina tended to his wounds. “Careful, woman!” He loathed her, but her presence was a continual reminder that he held what Gaius could not keep. She dabbed again, a little harder, causing Valerius to sit straight up, which shot more pain through his back. Reflexively, he struck Aalina across the face. “You impetuous woman. Don’t think for a second that I don’t know you cause me pain on purpose.”

The force of his hand had knocked Aalina backwards against the tent. Tears welled up, but she forced herself not to make a sound. She would not give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry. Quickly, she took a towel and wiped up the spilt water, and picking up the bowl, she left the tent, which angered Valerius even more. He had not given her permission to leave, but couldn’t move fast enough to stop her. Opening the tent flap, he saw the sun had risen to midmorning, and the camp was busy with preparations for leaving. “When do we set out?” He questioned a soldier packing up his supplies.

“The rest of the legions left this morning. Our century will leave tomorrow.” He looked at Valerius with a certain amount of contempt. “For some reason the General didn’t want us with the regiment.” It was obvious that Valerius had tarnished his century’s reputation, and his disgrace became theirs.

“Did you see where my woman went?” No one answered as they continued with their own preparations. Valerius angrily grabbed the shoulder of the soldier he had addressed. “I asked you a question!”

Turning to face his assailant, the soldier pushed back, sending Valerius to the ground. “The next time you touch me like that I will kill you. You have lost favor in the sight of the commanders, and if the General didn’t need everybody for this campaign, you would have been executed instead of whipped.”

“Is there a problem?” They hadn’t seen their centurion approach from behind.

“No sir.” Valerius’ adversary snapped to attention. Valerius merely grumbled, and slowly stood at attention.

“You are dismissed then,” he ordered. “Valerius, stand firm. As you can see, the men no longer fear you. You have lost your position and rank.” He could see the venom in Valerius’ eyes. “You are good at what you do, but it is your arrogance that has brought this upon you. Be careful, or what little honor you have left will be gone.” Centurions were hard, battle-proven men. They showed little patience for weakness, but strength without honor was worse.

“Our task will take us on a different route, over the hills to the Via Aurelia, near Genua. A smaller contingent can move more quickly, and we will meet up with the full army at Placentia after we have accomplished our mission.” Valerius was a little confused. If he had lost so much favor, why was the Century explaining to him in such detail? His unspoken question was soon answered; “Because of the nature of our mission, all soldiers are to leave behind camp wives and slaves.” The Century dismissed him and walked away.

Fuming, Valerius set about packing his equipment. It wasn’t that he cared what happened to his whore, but the thought of her going free, after such disrespect, infuriated him. But he could do nothing except send her on her way. He left his tent in search of her; he might as well get this unpleasant task over.

After leaving Valerius’ tent, Aalina had made her way down to the river. There the sound of the rushing water hid her crying. Camiria had followed from a distance. She had seen Aalina rush away from Valerius’ tent and knew that something had happened. She slowly came up from behind her friend and laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. Aalina jumped, but at the sight of Camiria her heart settled. There was no need for words; they had endured so much together. In the silence they each wondered about their future, and at the same time they looked into each other’s eyes, smiles spreading across their faces. Camiria spoke first.

“We could run away, right now. The men are packing up to leave, and they wouldn’t notice for some time.”

“I was thinking the exact same thing,” Aalina giggled. “But I don’t know. Valerius isn’t the type to let things go. He would hunt me down.”

“He wouldn’t have time. They are pulling out in the morning.” Camiria’s eyes were encouraging and full of hope. “If anything he would have to wait until they returned.” She paused and said quietly, “And with any luck, and the smile of the gods, he wouldn’t come back.”

A twig snapped behind them, and they barely heard it over the rushing water. Turning, they could see Valerius walking through the woods. “Aalina!” he called. Neither of them answered.

“You need to go, Camiria. If he finds us together he will be angry. I have already upset him.” Aalina wouldn’t let her speak, but waved her off for her own safety. She thought it best to acknowledge him first. “I am over here by the path.”

The disgust in his eyes was evident, and his contempt showed in his voice. “I have been looking all over for you. Why are you down here?” He didn’t wait for an answer, because he didn’t really care. “I have just been instructed that our century is moving out in the morning, and we won’t be taking unnecessary people with us. You will be left behind.” Valerius wasn’t sure how Aalina would react, but what he saw in her eyes set his anger boiling. It wasn’t surprise, relief, or even happiness. Those he expected, but what he saw was hope. He assumed it was hope of being reunited with Gaius. Even with his injuries he was fast, and before Aalina could respond he had grabbed hold of her neck.

“You are nothing but a whore. You were born a whore, brought up as a whore, bought and paid for as a whore.” If his words were meant to demean and humiliate Aalina, they were working. “You think that Gaius set you free because he loved you? He didn’t buy your freedom, he bought you, but he was too much a coward to deal with his slave as he should.” He tightened his grip. “You beguiled him and he let you slip from his hands to his own disgrace.” Valerius was pushing her backward as he talked, and his grip was tightening with each step. “Your insolence and bewitching won’t work on me. Go ahead and struggle, no one can hear you take your last gasp!” And with those last words, Aalina went limp and fell to the ground. Valerius was breathing hard as he stood over her dead body. Quickly he looked to see if anyone was around. Picking up her body, he waded out into the river and dropped her in the water. He pushed the body as far as he could until it was swept away down stream.

Camiria saw everything. Hidden in the bushes she wanted to wait for Aalina, in case Valerius beat her, but what he did was much worse. As Valerius pushed the body out into the river, Camiria made her escape, and she began to run. Before she realized where she was going, she stumbled into the camp. What would her master do? Leave her or kill her, too? She decided not to wait on fate. But she couldn’t let Aalina’s death pass without notice. Quickly, she found a piece of parchment and a quill. She hastily scribbled three words: Valerius killed Aalina. With some stealth she found the Centurion and slipped the note in his pack. He didn’t even notice her, and she hoped her escape would be just as silent. Grabbing a few items of food and a small piece of cloth to carry them, Camiria made her way back into the tree line, and headed toward Rome.



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