The Guardian

chapter one

122 A.D. Hadrian's Wall, the Scottish border, currently Roman territory

"Marcus, when are the rest of the stones arriving?"

"They were supposed to be here hours ago." I'm reluctant to say it. I know he will take it out in a pound of flesh on these Celts we seem to want to rule or kill by turns.

"Can't you talk to them? You look like them", he guffaws. It's true. I owe my blonde hair and blue eyes, so odd back in Rome, to a Gaulish grandmother. My family have all been Golden Eagles, soldiers in the Roman Empire, devoted to the Emperor. But my grandfather took one look at my grandmother while on campaign, and became devoted to something else.

"There will be hell to pay when the Captain gets here", he adds. It's true.

We work as well as we can until the sun goes down. Aurelius, our Captain, arrives exactly when we believed he would, at the head of 100 troops.

His aide de camp hands his a skin of water and he tosses it back, and sits to empty stones from his sandals. "I thought we would be further along than this", he says looking over our project.

"We intended to be", my friend tells him, "Our stones never arrived." Quick to shift the blame off us.

"By far the laziest and stupidest people I've ever encountered", Aurelius says. He's spent days on a forced marched and arrives to find our project far behind the emperor's plans. Someone will pay.

He growls, shakes the dust from his red cloak, and dons it again. "Let's go hunting", he says.

We follow him into the village of Celts. The moment he's seen, the survivors rush indoors. Yes, survivors. We fought their warriors a month ago, and killed them, to the man.

"I need stone and men to move it!" Aurelius bellows. "You were told this. Now where is my stone?"

All the doors are closed to us, but we know they hear every word.

"Torch", he says to my friend.

"Surely there's some other way", I suggest but get glared at by both men. Our Captain is about to take out his anger, and now I'm interfering. But I never developed a taste for murder, or the smell of roasted flesh.

Julian runs back to camp, and returns with a lit torch. Aurelius approaches the closest hovel. Inside are five women. One shakes a handful of bones and releases them, like dice, on the table.

"No", I say, "There aren't men in this home. These are only women and children, surely we can find another..."

"You're in the employ of the emperor to follow orders", Aurelius suggests, "Do you have a problem following orders?

I swallow hard.

Julian glares at me to shut up.

"They worship false gods anyway", Aurelius says, "They practice...what do they call it...witchcraft? They worship female gods", he laughs.

"We worship Juno, Venus, Minerva and Ceres..." I begin.

"Zeus always first", he says, and hands me the torch. "Toss it in the window. Perhaps the burning of innocents will result in getting my stones tomorrow. Perhaps they shall learn this way."

"I...there must be some other way..."

The women at the table are all light - like my grandmother, blonde hair. A small girl plays on the floor.

"Do it!"

"Surely you don't wish to kill a child, she would make a good slave", I suggest.

Aurelius backhands me, hard. "I have no use for disobedient soldiers."

"Marcus!!", Julian shouts.

Aurelius hands the torch to Julian, who tosses it in the window. Aurelius's fist smashes into my jaw.

I can hear the screams, women's voices rising, cursing, begging. I grab Aureliu's fist and suddenly I'm doing what I must not - I'm fighting back.

As their screams fill my ears, I can see in my mind's eye their flesh burning, melting, those women who look so much like my grandmother.

I punch Aurelius and he falls back, and then I'm running, knocking down the door. These barbarians don't speak a word of Latin, and they think I've come to finish them off.

And old woman hurls an invective at me, as she screams, surrounded by flames. The little girl is on the floor by the door and tries to run back to the women, deeper into the home.

"No!" I shout, and grab her. She bites my hand, the little devil. "Run!" I set her on her feet outside the door, and she's off into the forest without a backward glance.

The flames rush up into my face and climb the walls of the structure, devouring the souls within and even their screams.

I'm still watching when something slams into the back of my head, and I hit the ground.

I come to, with Julian standing by my side, but hiding his face.

Aurelius stands over me and I hear the zing as he draws his sword from its sheath.

"You, Marcus of the family Servillus, are sentenced to death for attacking a superior officer. On your knees."

He forces me down on my knees.

Julian grimaces, looks at me, then looks away again.

Aurelius lifts the sword in the air.

Zeus, hear me, I think desperately, take me to Elysium. I did only what I thought best. Don't abandon me to Hades. I think then of my parents, and my grandmother and their loss. But I have no time to think of much else.

Aurelius swings down his sword to cleave my neck. I feel a tenth of an instant of the worst agony imaginable...and then nothing.
8 chapters, created 9 years , updated 9 years
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FrecherTyp 9 years
h this is great so lovely and romantic :-) and a nice comlicated story with lots of elements very interesting and hottt ^^
Obsessed 9 years
Oh wonderful!!
Junepearl 9 years
Junepearl 9 years
Thank you!
Fatrnfatr 9 years
Romance, well drawn characters, an historical plot and of course, sexy as hell. Another wonderful contribution.
Junepearl 9 years
Awww, thanks! Might be a bit more coming.
Built4com4t 9 years
just finished 5...junepearl you are amazing
Junepearl 9 years
Thank you!
Built4com4t 9 years
wow! if this is a "slow start" i can't wait for the rest ;-)