Story Go Round 02/01/2002, round 2, #3

Brought to you by the word 'thraet'


Palonius stripped off his work toga and stepped into the baths. Rome was prospering. He could hear it in the energy of the men's discussions. They praised Caesar out one mouth and whispered treason from the other orifice. The last tax raise was a bold move, but Caesar really had enough chariots, already, if you believed the lout with the top bench. He kept dripping on Polonius every time he got excited, and shook like a dog. Mercenaries were like that, especially the ones from the mountains. Men like Palonius, loyal legion folks, were simply a class above, and such divisions were becoming increasingly important. New wealth, brought new blood to the empire. And new difficulties. A new class of mercenaries, "thraet", they were called in the common tongue, was emerging as the new favorites of the emperor. They strolled across the city streets as if they were its masters and their smell preceded them. Fashion followed them. Even the old blood women had developed a weakness for them, and last night, dining with Celia on the couch, Polonius had found her gaze wandering.


"Mmmm?" she responded absently.

"Anything you want to tell me?"

She had given him the lavish smile and snuggled in until eye contact was broken. Yet he knew.

The next day at the Senate, Palonius spoke up for his district and gave a mighty oratory, but its true meaning was to build up a distrust of the Thraet among his people without incurring the wrath of Caesar upon himself. He felt he'd succeeded until the apple core hit him, and he snapped his head around. All were nondescript except for the beady eyes of old Pablicus. But he was senile, and no harm to anyone. Palonius shook his head; that last thought had not been his own. Some said Pablicus had picked up some sorcery while stationed in Egypt, and Palonius started to wonder. He refocussed his eyes on the old man, but found Pablicus had disappeared. He scanned those senators and slaves standing nearby, but without result. But those men were staring past Palonius over the crowd to the open doorway to the Senate. There was a murmur in the crowd, and Palonius turned, following their eyes. Caesar was there, with a retinue of 5 Legionnaires, pushing through the assembly.

Palonius also saw one man at the far right of the room fight to the exit and run like a flushed quail.

Amber is purple; John is pink; Alan is blue; Terry is orange