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DISSENSION IN THE RANKS

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

“I hate these uniforms. Can’t I just go to a normal school?”

Aerilius looked like he was holding back bile at the very thought.

“Master Septimus, you know that your father would never allow…”

I forestalled the lecture with a raised hand and sighed. I didn’t want to have this conversation again and it was a relief when Aerilius dropped it and went back to looking at his phone. I looked out the car window at the rain-washed sidewalks of New Gesoriacum.

Father was a leading senator in the Patrician party. Because of the recent ascension of Uncle Sulla to the Imperial throne, the Patricians had received an increase of support. As a result, Father had even more power, and even less time to spend with me.

I wondered when the last time it was that Father had played catch with me. I decided that the answer was years.


The limo pulled up to the curb in front of the over-priced, Gawdy private school. Statues of Gods battling hydras or some other ancient monster covered the exterior. Marcus exited the driver’s seat and hurried to me with an umbrella.

“It’s fine Marcus, I don’t need it.” I said.

“It’s nothing Master Septimus. If your father learned that I had let you catch cold I’d be out on my ear, and for good reason.” He said, and covered me with it as I walked to the massive double doors.

“If one more person mentions my father…” I grumbled.

Marcus tutted. “Your father is a good man. A great man. He...”

“He’s not here.” I growled. “You don’t have to blow smoke up his asinus forminis.”

“I grant you that he can be hard at times, but…” Marcus was clearly struggling, being caught between two masters was wounding the man’s soul a little.

“It’s okay Marcus, I love my dad. I just don’t like him most of the time.”

Marcus laughed uncomfortably.


I left Marcus on the steps and entered the dormitory wing of New Gesoriacum’s oldest school and took the curving staircase to my room on the third level.

Validus’ door was open and he yelled a greeting as I passed. I mumbled the correct response and opened my door. The room was in a shambles. My small library worth of books was scattered over the floor. The dresser was tipped over, as was the desk. The mattress had been gutted and the stuffing covered half the floor. Latin letters were scrolled in what looked like blood across the far wall.

Et non morieris

You will die.


I grunted, there was little more I could do. I was stunned. This would cause a veritable firestorm if father found out. I set about cleaning up the mess. I couldn’t let anyone know that this happened. I was more afraid of what father would do to whoever had done this than of the poor stupid fool that did it.

Validus gasped from the doorway and I cursed my stupidity. I should have closed the door.

“Come in. Close the door.” I said.

He hesitated, then came in hurriedly.

“Did you do this?” He asked.

“Yeah, I wrote ‘you will die’ to myself. You know, as kind of a stay humble you arrogant ass.”

Validus nodded as if that made sense.

“No I didn’t do it!” I said.

Validus was never the sharpest crayon in the box.

He started picking up books.

“Why do you think they did it?” He asked.

“Because they're complete morons.” I said.

“So, you know who did it?”

“No. But all Plebeians are morons so it isn’t hard to guess their reasons.”

“Yeah, it must be Plebeians.” Validus said.

Even Validus could see that I was a main target for the Plebeian party. His eyebrows lifted. If Validus had been a cartoon a lightbulb would have lit up above his head.

“There’s gonna be hell to pay when your dad finds out.”

“He’s not going to find out, Validus.”

“He’s not?” Validus looked confused.

“No.”

“But how will you hide this from him?”

I sighed and put my hand on his shoulder.

“Because you closed the door, Validus”

Another lightbulb appeared as he, finally, understood.

“That’s why we’re cleaning up.” He said, nodding.

“That’s why we’re cleaning up.” I echoed.

“You’re too good. I’d have called my dad by now and had the whole Pretorian Guard out searching for them.” He said.

“That’s why I’m not. I catch enough crap around here without something like that adding to it.”

Validus nodded.

Again, this was something so obvious that Validus knew.

"Anyway, you don't need to help me, I just wanted to make sure you wouldn't tell anyone."

"I don't have anything better to do."

Validus hesitated, then laughed.

"What?" I asked.

"I don't have anything better than help the Emperor's nephew. I'd say I could do a lot worse for myself."

Maybe Validus wasn't as slow witted as he seemed.

"Thanks."


There was only so much we could do about the mattress and the paint on the wall, but we did our best, and within a couple of hours we had the room cleaned. I tried to strategically hang my posters over the paint and we called it good.

Dinner that night was good enough, but Maximus Lucinius Gracus and his band of Plebeian scum kept looking over at him and Validus from their table in the corner and laughing.

After dinner I walked with Validus from the cafeteria back to our dorms. We crossed through the main courtyard. It was practically empty this time of night and at this time of the year, most student's parents didn't pawn off their kids until closer to the official start of lessons.

I saw Maximus on the opposite side of the courtyard. He was accompanied by his ever-present ilk and so Validus and I skirted through a dark alley, hoping that he didn't see us.


We were about to cross an open grassy area when I heard someone speaking. I held up a hand to stop Validus. I put my finger to my lips and Validus nodded.

I peaked around the corner and saw two professors, one was Dr. Fidelius and the other was Dr. Macro. I hid myself once again in the shadows. These two were known Plebeian supports. Although they were Professors, they're ire was almost always directed at him and so I wanted to be seen by them about as much as I wanted Maximus to see me. I decided to wait till they moved on.

"How are our plans coming?" came Fidelius' deep voice.

"Good, we should be able to proceed with it at the festival as planned. Said Macro.

"Good news. The guard has been paid off?"

"Of course, sir. There will be no attempt to stop the assassination.

My heart skipped a beat.

"Sulla will not live past a fortnight."

"Excellent." Came Fidelius' baritone.


----Dream----

This dream was interesting to me as it felt very much like a modern Roman Empire. I fleshed it out a little, but the dream happened much as I depict. Let me know what you think. Should this be a book?



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