I spent the last six days writing this out because I couldn’t get it out of my head enough to work on editing my novel, or tackling that screenplay. Where did it come from? I recently re-read Howard Brenton’s stage play, the Romans in Britain for its 1980s take on the English occupation of N. Ireland, and that led to me re-read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
[UPDATED – EDITED FOR CLARITY AND EPISODIC RUN TIME]
The Lion and the Owl: A vengeful legionnaire enslaves the druid priest who murdered his father, bringing chaos to his once-peaceful household.
In addition—I haven’t sheathed my sword since seeing this—across from the Capitol I saw a lion who stared at me and then walked by without harming me.
And there were a hundred frightened women all clustered together, who swore they saw men covered in fire walk up and down the streets. And yesterday the owl sat hooting and shrieking in the marketplace at noon.
When all these strange things happen at the same time, men should not say, “Here are the reasons why this is happening; it’s all natural and normal.”
CASCA TO CICERO – Julius Cæsar Act I. Scene III
 54BC Lucius Scipio Servius serves in the Tenth Legion cavalry with his father, Lucius Vitus Servius, a wealthy cartographer.
Julius Caesar promotes Vitus (vy-tuss) after a harrowing uprising in Belgica. During the battle, druids emerged with their hair and robes on fire, tossing incendiaries that let off a foul smoke that incapacitated many foot soldiers on the front lines. Vitus rides out and beheads the man, and other druids scatter except for one—whom Vitus thinks is his family. After discovering hundreds of Britons among the dead, Caesar returns to Britannia for a second invasion.
Scipio (skip-ee-oh) and Vitus map a way toward the Thamesis, and while his father draws, Scipio finds a waterfall-fed pool and swims. Naked, he glances up to see a painted Briton clad in an owl cowl watching him from the high rocks. Instead of attacking, the young man takes out his penis and begins masturbating. An amused Scipio opens his mouth seductively, sticking out his tongue. The young man ejaculates and grins back at him before noticing Scipio’s armor and helmet on the tree. He raises his spear, and Scipio holds up his hands. A noise in the brush catches their attention, but when Scipio glances back, the Briton is gone.
Scipio redresses and finds his father cowering in a ravine. A group of native warriors led by a Druid priestess frees their horses and burns their tents. The painted man from the waterfall appears; the woman calls him Aedan (ay-dawn) before maternally fussing over him. She asks if he’s seen anyone; he shakes his curly black head and tells her he hasn’t. Vitus and Scipio retreat into the woods. Upon sighting the Thamesis, Vitus completes his map. Hours into the night, they find their horses and sleep under the stars. Scipio reveals that the young Briton caught him bathing but said nothing to the woman. Vitus scolds him first for making himself vulnerable, then for never growing out of his attraction to boys. Vitus playfully confesses that his mother, Scipio’s grandmother, remained a notorious lady-lover until her last day.
Miles down the coast from the Roman camp, Britons capture them.
The druid woman, Ciniod (che-nood), separates Scipio from his father. She sits Vitus down alone before her son, Aedan, who speaks Greek. He asks why the Romans have come, and when Vitus doesn’t explain, Aedan says: they’re here to expand the footprint of their empire. They will take our land to live in, uninvited. Ciniod brings in a druid Vitus recognizes from Belgica. His name is Taran (t-ah-r-eh-n), and he collected the man Vitus beheaded from the battlefield. Taran tells his sister what Vitus did before lunging at him. Ciniod holds Taran back as Aedan reminds ‘his brother’ that ‘their father’ will ‘take his blood in the ritual fire.’
They tie Vitus to the same tree as Scipio; Vitus informs him that their abductors are the relatives of that insane burning druid in Belgica. Vitus begins sobbing about Nemesis punishing him for his misdeeds, but a confused Scipio reminds him that actions in war cannot earn retribution.
The druids tightly bind Vitus and Scipio and drag them to a wicker hut on the cliff’s edge. Strung up by their ankles, Vitus fears their captors will butcher them like pigs. He tells Scipio that he loves him and that they’ll see each other on the shores of the River Styx, and through Jove’s good graces, they will be reborn together. Scipio pleads for mercy through the wicker strands. He struggles and turns his body around to see Roman ships through another sliver in the wicker. Scipio tells his father they must swing their bodies to tip the hut over; they can swim once in the sea. Vitus assures him there’s nothing but rocks below, and Scipio declares he’d rather die on the rocks than be butchered like a hog.
Aedan appears, painted head to toe in white and wearing a frightening braided straw mask. He opens the hut door carrying a torch and a knife. Scipio recognizes his thin body and begs for his life; when Aedan hesitates, Ciniod reminds him that Vitus (this Roman pig) beheaded his father. Without a preamble, Aedan cuts Vitus’ throat. Scipio struggles violently, unwilling to cut his throat; Aedan touches the torch to the wicker, setting it ablaze. Scipio chokes on the smoke, swinging his body enough to upset the wicker hut, sending it over the cliff’s edge.
When the Briton tribes unite under King Cassivellaunus, he sends guerilla gangs to pester Roman foraging parties. After many months, finding men to form the units becomes impossible since word of ‘the burned monster’ spreads. Aedan confides in his mother Ciniod his suspicions that the ‘burned monster’ is the Roman man that got away from them; she assures him that the young man fell to his death, as only a God could’ve survived that fall.
The Romans move inland, with Lucius Scipio Servius now an elevated Centurion in the guard after beheading over a hundred Britons. Many men whisper about how handsome Scipio is on one side—burn scars cover the left side of his face, chest, and posterior. Caesar expresses concern for Scipio’s anger, yet the young man’s relentless violence on their march proves beneficial as it scares the Britons enough to stop their nuisance attacks. The Romans reach the Thamesis, and Scipio leads his cohort of archers from a wooden tower on Caesar’s armored elephant. Crossing the river, hundreds of Britons flee to the forests nearby, and Scipio, along with his a select few, gives chase.
They track two Britons to a cave hidden behind a waterfall and, inside, cut down every man they encounter. Scipio and his men enter the lair, where the druid Taran cavorts with his lieutenants and a fully painted Aedan. Enraged at the sight of him, Scipio slaughters Taran while Aedan watches in shock. Suddenly, several women rush the painted druid out of the cave before Scipio can acquire him.
 Scipio presents Caesar with Taran’s head, and Caesar, in turn, takes Scipio to a tent where they’ve imprisoned Ciniod and Aedan. Scipio is permitted to do as he wishes after Caesar departs. First, he runs his sword through Ciniod and whispers that she must pay for his father’s death. Aedan struggles against his holders, shouting in his language. One of the men translates: ‘Vitus killed my father.’ Scipio reminds Aedan that his filthy druid father crossed the sea to wage war, and if the Fates ended his life, then so be it. After the translator explains this, Aedan lashes out at Scipio, trying to kick him while struggling violently against his holders.
Scipio orders the two holding Aedan to let him go, and the druid jumps on Scipio when free, but he’s not strong enough. Scipio gets him onto his stomach, laughing as he rips off the young druid’s clothes. The two soldiers take hold of Ciniod and laugh when Scipio asks for ‘the oil.’ Ciniod cries out, blood spilling over her chin when Scipio takes Aedan by the hair and forces him to his knees. He masturbates the druid before his dying mother, touching his burned face to the crying druid’s cheek. Scipio asks if it feels warm because it still burns every day. Aedan sobs in humiliation when he ejaculates, and Scipio hauls him out of the tent and to a saddle on its holder.
Suddenly, the druid fights anew, kicking free of Scipio until caught. He strikes the druid repeatedly and drapes the punch-drunk man over the saddle. His men drag out Ciniod, who’s now bleeding to death, and the anal rape takes only a few moments, but when Scipio finishes, he cuts off Ciniod’s head with one swing of his sword.
Brought to Caesar’s tent, Scipio receives an advancement to Tribuni Angusticlavii. He will return to Comum and build a small garrison there to aid the fort at Bellagio, a colonial city bursting at the seams with over four-thousand people. Though honored, Scipio asks why he’s being sent back as an administrator after proving himself skilled on the battlefield; Caesar informs Scipio that his father was to take over the colonial garrison—now Scipio must do it. Later, he overhears a Legate discussing his situation: ‘I can’t believe his nerve, pouting before Caesar like a whipped child. Honestly, the man raped a druid on Caesar’s saddle. He’s lucky he’s not digging latrines for the rest of the campaign.’
Scipio departs Britannia as a Tribune at age 30, taking the young druid. He boards a bireme called the Souk for the channel crossing to Portus Itius at Gesoriacum. He journeys with nine others under his administrative command, and the channel is kind as they sit on its top deck, the battered druid sleeping the whole trip with his ankle tied to Scipio’s.
Aedan awakes before sunset, still aboard the Souk. The devastation at Iuliobona horrifies him; hundreds of Celtic bodies rotting on the beach. His Roman captor assures him that this is happening back on the Thamesis. One of the Roman men asks if the ‘the wily beast understands’ him, while another thinks that ‘given the dog’s glare,’ he understands well enough. Scipio leans over and Aedan if he understands Latin, and when the druid spits in his face, Scipio knocks him out with one punch to the head.
Scipio and his men board a merchant freight ship at Burgdigala, where a physician begins treating Scipio’s scars.
Down in the cargo hold, Aedan wakes chained behind a curtained partition. The dark-skinned enslaved peeking in on him scatter when his bandaged captor arrives with salted buttered bread and oysters. Aedan refuses to eat, so the Roman threatens him: if he won’t eat willingly, he’ll have the food chewed up by one of the rotted tooth sailors and then forced down his throat. Aedan calls his bluff, so the man shovels oysters into his mouth, forcing him to swallow.
Scipio and his Eques Legionis split up in Narbo, some taking the road north to Comum. Aboard another bireme bound for Massilia, the doctor continues his treatments on Scipio’s skin, suggesting a good swim for non-treatment days. Scipio balks at this, unwilling to swim; the doctor expresses disappointment as Scipio’s father boasts his son is a good swimmer. Scipio reminds him that growing up on a massive lake like Comum, there’s little else to do except swim.
The filthy druid wakes at Scipio’s feet and, finding himself unchained, jumps overboard. Scipio enters the ocean to get him when it’s clear the druid can swim. A better swimmer, he reaches the skinny man and drags him back to the ship. Furious, he carries the druid below and rapes him before the rowers.
The ship arrives at Genua, where Scipio tosses a tightly bound Aedan into a trunk with holes for the nine-hour ride to Mediolanum. Every hour, Scipio opens the chest and forces water into Aedan.
Aedan is taken from the trunk and into a hospitium in downtown Mediolanum. He’s glad to be free of the box, having relieved himself several times on the journey. Aedan, covered in urine, sweat, and dried blood, gets dropped into a hot bath by his Roman captor, who washes him roughly before masturbating on his face and dunking him. The physician arrives and tends to the man’s burns with a paste and bandages. His Roman captor’s hair has grown since leaving Britannia, and he’s that it’s light. The scarred man ties them together that night with rope, forcing Aedan to sleep on him in the bed. The salve on his captor’s burns smells pleasant, putting Aedan to sleep.
Aedan is woken in the morning by his captor’s arousal. When he refuses to pleasure him orally, the man ties his arms and legs to the bed and then masturbates their members together; Aedan refuses to look at him and is humiliated when he orgasms with the man. Dressed only in a pull-over smock, Aedan is thrown unchained into a horse-drawn carriage that locks from the outside.
Throughout the trip, Aedan peeks out the cracks in the carriage and sees the Roman on horseback, talking to his underlings. All around him are jugs of wine, bins of grain, and reams of fine wool. Suddenly cold, he unfurls one of the reams and finds a long sharp clothing pin. Later, when the carriage opens, Aedan plunges the needle-like pin into the interloper’s neck. The old man’s screams bring the Roman, who breaks Aedan’s fingers while the others laugh.
Aedan wakes atop the carriage, his broken fingers throbbing. On the horizon sits a walled city with an aqueduct running through it. They go uphill as they pass the town, as evidenced by the aqueduct’s arched legs getting smaller. Turning on the hill, they enter an inclined valley covered by a vast orchard of trees. The carriage passes through high stone walls, with a garden, a well, horses, dogs, and robed people.
The door opens to a grand stone villa capped with lidded tiles, but it’s nothing compared to the majestic mountain behind it. His captor whispers for Aedan to commit the peak’s snowy cap to memory; it will be the last thing he sees on this Earth, but not today. Aedan viciously struggles and screams as two underlings drag him into the villa, where a young woman stands, horrified. She demands the men drop ‘that boy this instant,’ but his captor tells them to head toward the kitchen. He kisses the woman hello and informs her ‘that boy’ slit their father’s throat. Without a beat, she tells him that their mother is on her deathbed.
After her mother’s funeral, Vita ventures to the kitchen butchery and finds the druid chained on the tile floor. After he rouses and stares back at her for several moments, she softly thanks him for slitting her father’s throat. She confesses that the man used her like a whore, and her mother did nothing to stop him. The druid reveals his Latin: ‘Your brother now does to me what your father did to you.’
Her brother, Scipio, appears and angrily tells her not to waste time cursing the druid pig; he cannot speak Latin. Vita doesn’t reveal Aedan’s grasp of Latin to Scipio but scolds him for his brutal treatment of the man. Scipio points at his scars and reminds her what the druid did to him.
That night, Vita hears screaming and finds the kitchen matrons cowering in the hall. Her brother anally rapes the druid, who fights him fiercely. Triggered by it all, Vita flees to the atrium and sits in the fountain, crouching under the falling water so she cannot hear. Scipio later finds her and demands to know why she hides under there as she did when a girl. She’s a woman now, and such childish things are beneath her. She steps out from the water and slaps her brother across the face.
 At dinner, Vita demands that Scipio murder the druid and be done with it. Her brother refuses: that filthy beast will serve a hefty sentence before dying. Later, she finds her brother in their father’s office at the front of the house, packing away their father’s things. It will be Scipio’s office now; as Tribune of Caesar, he represents the man’s interests in Comum. Vita glances across the atrium to her father’s map room and asks if Scipio will also take that shop. Scipio won’t touch a thing in that room; he will put their father’s armor within and make it a shrine. She’s indifferent, having suffered man insults in that room for the man.
That night, when the house is quiet, Vita finds the chained druid still naked. She orders the matrons to fetch hot water from the baths and some towels. The druid wakes, and Vita advances with the sponge, soap, and oil and offers to clean him if he cannot. When he fails to react, she says, ‘it doesn’t matter if you smell, if you’re bleeding, or covered in shit—they will still take what they want.’
The druid whispers that he can clean himself and thanks her for her trouble.
The following morning, Vita oversees the slaves clearing her mother’s room, ensuring they scrub the walls and floor tiles. Her brother demands to know why she never tended to their bedridden mother; he cannot imagine what their mother could’ve done to make Vita so hateful. She assures him that their mother did nothing and that it was her crime. Vita then turns the argument around by accusing him of abandoning her. She scolds him for never coming home, not even before their father collected from Mediolanum five years ago and took him west to fight the Gauls. That night she hears her brother raping the druid and flees to the atrium, where a rainstorm drops rain loudly into the pool.
Aedan wakes to find the woman, Vita, standing there. She offers to take him to a proper bed where he can sleep but warns that Scipio is home and will catch him if he runs away. He nods his understanding, and she takes his chain and leads him out of the storeroom and into a small open courtyard. There are many doors and rooms, and slaves work throughout the house. He whispers to his mother when he sees the stone owl in its niche. Vita tells him that the owl is Minerva, a goddess that watches over the house, but the Aedan says the owl is his mother, watching over him.
The room is large yet bare except for the bed, a rug, and curtains on the barred windows. The woman secures his chain to a metal ring on the floor and explains its presence by telling him that the room once housed a mountain lion her father found as a boy. A slave brings in sheets and a rabbit skin blanket. Aedan grabs the fur, something he recognizes, and covers himself. He has no idea what the sheets are for until Vita orders the slave to make the bed. Another slave brings a chair and a toilet bowl; when Vita explains what the bowl is for, Aedan tells her they have piss buckets in Britannia.
Later that night, Scipio ventures to the back of the house and finds the druid is gone. He begins shouting until his manservant, Welle, a Gallic man, informs him that his prisoner sleeps in his sister’s old room. Scipio finds Vita in the courtyard, and she tells him that if he wishes to keep the man alive, he must take care of him—the chill in the butchery would kill anyone faster than anything Scipio’s filthy mind could conjure. She steps into his path when he tries to walk around her and advises that he cannot ‘plow the boy’s ass every night’; it’ll kill him.
Scipio advises her to get married and move out. He enters the room smitten with the sleeping druid. He whispers for Welle to close the door behind them, and as the servant leaves, he mentions that ‘your prisoner has begun to smell;’ of course, Scipio hasn’t properly bathed him since Mediolanum. The druid wakes to find Scipio watching. He pulls the fur tight around him and scowls. Scipio yanks it away and gives the druid a choice; ‘pleasure yourself before me, or I invade your ass.’ The man masturbates for Scipio, and Scipio leaves when he finishes.
Vita is there when Scipio gets word from one of his underlings that Caesar has left Britannia. Four other underlings surround Scipio as he shows them plans for a new garrison fortification there at Comum. At dinner that night, Vita learns that Scipio will be spending time in the walled town of Comum in the valley below, and Welle will tend to the prisoner in his absence. Vita looks horrified and wonders if Welle is up to the task of raping the poor thing. She doesn’t amuse Scipio or Welle with her misinterpretation.
Later that night, she hears her brother rutting in the druid’s room but doesn’t hear the druid whimpering and screaming. She sees Welle in the kitchen, and he tells her that he laced the druid’s water with something to make him sleepy. Hearing her brother’s passionate groaning about how good the druid feels proves awkward. Vita tells Welle that Scipio’s always preferred men. When Welle showed up last year after Rome defeated his tribe, she thought he was for Scipio. Welle curls his lip; given master Scipio’s thick girth, there’s no way he could’ve accommodated.
The following morning, Vita sees Scipio off and then visits the druid. She informs him that Scipio will need to overnight in Comum some days every week—but they must wait out his schedule routine before planning Aedan’s escape.
Scipio maps the growing colony of Novom Comum and learns that the former city architect designed a poorly placed sewer, threatening the lake. The work requires a fix and forces Scipio to procure an apartment in the walled city during weekdays. He orders his Gallic slave, Welle, to watch the druid on nights when he’s away.
Aedan begins planning his escape with the clever Vita in her father’s map library. Fleeing to coastal Genua is risky; road guards take note of unfamiliar travelers passing their checkpoints—watching is a tedious job, so the guards must now observe and report in a log anything new. When Scipio returns, Welle will inform him of Aedan’s escape, and with the road’s watch network, he’d anticipate Aedan’s route and intercept him. Aedan asks about the mountain, and Vita pulls out another map her father made. A few years back, a significant pass belonged to a tribe called the Veragros. When Scipio and her father first left, they fought and won for control of that pass. Vita claims that one of Scipio’s ‘underlings,’ as Aedan calls them, currently rebuilds Octodurus while scattered remnants of the tribe remain exiled in the mountains.
Aedan asks what Vita does when not planning escapes; she explains her role as house mistress keeps her busy until bath time. Their father never employed slaves outside the house, so local men and women work the apple and walnut orchards—those people get paid once a month, and she’s the one who hands out the coin. She also oversees the household, ensuring the living areas are clean, the stores are full, the apple wine is pressed and jarred for the house, work and travel horses are fed and grazed, and the house slaves get proper care so they can work every day. He asks where she learned to do these things, and she hesitantly admits that her mother taught her. Afterward, he spies her talking to the bust of her mother in one of the courtyard niches.
One day, Vita introduces Aedan to the house baths, showing him the hot, medium, and cold pools and instructing him on using a strigil. The hot pool reminds him of washing in the hot springs as a boy. Much to Welle’s chagrin, Vita lets Aedan dine with her in the dining room. Aedan marvels at how much food they have and how they recline when they eat. After much wine, he apologizes for abandoning her, but he must return home. She cheerily assures him she’s used to the loneliness.
Aedan visits the larder and finds the handing meats; He’s fond of prosciutto and, taking it off its hook, cuts off chunks, eating half the slab. Welle catches him and snatches what remains from his grasp. He breaks from his Latin to chastise Aedan in his form of Celtic, some of which Aedan understands: he cannot eat cured meats like this—they must be sliced and enjoyed in moderation. Aedan swallows his fingers to bring up the eaten prosciutto, but Welle stops him, calling him a savage—once it’s inside his gullet, it can stay there. He then angrily tells Aedan that if he plans to escape, he should do it sooner rather than later.
Scipio returns to the estate in the morning and, after a long day in the drafting room, gets a massage from one of the slaves, who lets it slip that Vita has dined with the Druid. Scipio doubts this since Aedan cannot speak Latin. Alone with his slave, Welle, he asks after Vita and his prisoner. Welle reveals that Vita walks with the Druid in the garden and bathes with him after midday. She sups with him at night and treats him as a guest, not a prisoner. Scipio demands to know what they talk about since Aedan cannot speak Latin, and Welle explains that Vita talks constantly, but he’s never heard the Druid speak. Also, the pair have consumed over a dozen wine jugs in three days.
That night, Scipio and Vita dine alone, and she dodges his pointed questions about how lonely she must be without their parents or Scipio around. He notices her drinking to get drunk and asks after it. She doesn’t answer, eventually passing out from the wine. He orders the slaves to take her to her room and barges in on the Druid.
Scipio baits him with cruel words, and the Druid ignores him; he knows no Latin. He sits beside the Druid, and sensing what Scipio wants, the wiry flexible man brings a foot to Scipio’s face. Scipio easily overpowers him during the struggle. As things get more intimate, the Druid loses his composure and snarls at him in Latin, accusing Scipio of being a rapist, just like his father. He tells him what his father did to Vita, and that’s why the woman gets lost in her cups.
Enraged, Scipio nearly chokes the Druid to death.
Afterward, he gathers the older slaves and asks if his father ever hurt his sister. The elder claims she saw nothing, but Welle claims that’s not what she told him when he arrived last year. Master Vitus never believed the girl to be his child, so he had his way with her to punish the Mistress when she became a woman.
Scipio melts down. He wakes Vita, demanding to know why she never told him about their father. He then embraces her and promises that no man will ever hurt her again. She tearfully follows Scipio to their father’s map room and stops him from burning the man’s library. Welle watches the chaotic drama unfold and finds the Druid standing in his doorway, arms folded. He asks the man, are you happy with the storm you’ve created? The Druid retreats to his room, closing the door behind him.
 After seeing her brother off for his next three days in Comum, Vita finds Aedan packing a bag in the horse barn. They embrace, and Aedan thanks her for her kindness; she thanks him for being her first friend.
Vita then finds Welle and distracts him by demanding a massage.
Aedan hikes up the mountain but suffers from elevation sickness. He crosses an owl nesting in a stump and demands to know why it wants him to return. She parts her wings and reveals a chick. He tells her that he has no children and never will.
Vita demands Welle bathes with her before dinner, and since he cannot refuse, he begrudgingly does so. He asks if the Druid made his escape, and Vita is shocked. He tells her there’s no need to continue with her farce of desiring his company—he knows it’s a ruse and doesn’t care. Vita cares and orders him to wash up.
Later she makes him dine with her, something he’s comfortable doing. She asks about his home, and he tells her that it was burned to the ground by his tribe on their retreat north. She asks how he got captured; he and his sister tried to assassinate the legate responsible for invading their town—Vitus Servius. The older man raped his sister and then gave Welle to his son. Before she can inquire if her brother raped him, Welle assures her that Scipio never touched him—he sent him home to be a house slave. Upon her brother’s return, though, Welle is now a manservant.
Aedan stumbles upon Octodurus and, sighting another owl, sleeps in a barn for the night. He leaves before sunrise. Once outside the city, however, two Gallic men attack him. Though some words between them feel familiar, their language is too different for proper communication. They take him to their leader, an obtuse ruffian dressed in fine Roman clothes. The man’s Gallic mother feels the skinny Celt is worthless, but her son says he’s worth a fortune; this Druid whore belongs to Lucius Scipio Servius.
Scipio arrives at the estate with some underlings in tow right as a caravan appears led by Marcus Albus Oppelius. Albus claims he’s got something that belongs to Scipio, who doubts this until Albus produces the Druid in chains. Welle emerges, swearing he was just about to run to Comum to tell him the Druid escaped; Albus delights in finding his old friend Welle is alive and offers Scipio a trade: the druid whore for his childhood friend, Welle.
Scipio and Marcus Albus Oppelius each sit in a chair outside the villa’s gate. Behind him are four former centurions, each with a personal guard; behind Albus stands three overweight Gallic ruffians and a young woman with a Nubian complexion. The girl pours Albus some wine and steps behind him like a good servant—but when Scipio asks where his wine is, the girl quickly produces a cup and fills it. Albus demands to know what she’s doing, and she explains that the Roman asked for wine, and her job is to get wine. He scolds her: her job is to fetch wine for him, not some effete Roman. The Roman’s house has plenty of wine; he doesn’t need to drink Albus’ wine.
Scipio tastes the apple wine and knows it’s from his family’s press.
Albus assures him he bought it legally at the market in Comum—he, too, is a man of means and can afford such delights. Scipio informs him that he’s willing to look the other way regarding his possession of Scipio’s property (the Briton) if he can purchase the Nubian for half the current asking price for a girl her size.
Albus asks if Scipio’s brain also burned in Britannia; the Nubian isn’t for sale, and he acquired the Briton in the mountains outside Octodurus, so he’ll waive the finders when selling him back. Scipio grins and tells one of his underlings to go and retrieve the squad in Comum; they will follow this half-breed swine back to Octodurus and burn his property to the ground.
Vita hears a commotion outside, but before she reaches the atrium, Welle rushes past her, and Scipio barges in with the struggling Druid under his arm. He calls for the servants to tend to visitors and their horses outside, orders the kitchen matrons to prepare a light meal for five, and then orders Vita to mind her new maid-servant. The young woman hugs herself as she stares around the house.
Vita takes the girl’s hand and shows her to the room next to what was once the Druids. She tells the girl to stay put until the screaming stops. Vita then charges after Scipio as he takes the Druid out through the kitchen and to the slaughtering block. He ties the fighting Druid to the cement pad by his wrists and ankles and then grabs the metal-capped club used to kill the animals before slaughter. He takes aim at the Druid’s ankle, determined to cripple him, but Vita throws herself upon the Druid’s feet and tells Scipio he cannot hobble the man; it’s barbaric.
Scipio reminds her that the Druid is serving a life sentence for murdering their father, and as a prisoner who tried to escape, punishment is in order. Vita isn’t surprised he tried to escape the way Scipio fucks his ass every night. She’s shocked the man can still go to the toilet after what her brother did to him. Scipio threatens he’ll whip her instead of hobbling him. She challenges him to try, so Scipio tosses the hammer and grabs her arm. He leads her to a post, ties her to it, and rips open the back of her robes.
Horse switch in hand, Scipio is about to strike until the Druid stands between them. He tells Scipio in Latin that he’s no right beating her after what his father did to her. Scipio grabs his throat and orders him to the bath to get good and clean because he’ll be knocking on his back door later. The Druid does as he’s told in a huff, as Scipio turns to find Welle standing near the concrete pad. Scipio demands to know why Welle freed the Druid, and Welle says that if he wishes to whip someone for the Druid’s escape, let it be him.
In the villa’s study, Scipio demands to know what’s gotten into Welle. His manservant confesses that he doesn’t wish to return to Octodurus or his tribe. He enjoys pouring Scipio’s drinks, laying out his clothes, and shaving and bathing; it’s his calling. Welle has no desire to pick up another sword, get married, pay bills and taxes, or procure sustenance. Scipio asks Welle if he let himself get caught two years ago, but the Gallic says enslavement was never his intention; he’s enjoyed life at the villa. Welle dislikes the Druid, however, as his presence turns the household upside down. Scipio reminds him that the Druid is his master’s whore, and if Welle allows his master’s sister to enable that whore’s escape again, this will hasten Welle’s return to his tribe.
After bathing, the Druid appears in the kitchen and sees Tabira eating at the slave table. Welle takes his silence at being shocked by her dark skin and asks if he’s ever seen a Nubian. The Druid retorts that he’s seen a Kushite before; Tabira smiles at being called a Kushite and thanks him. Scipio enters, hearing this, and asks the Druid where he saw a Kushite in Britannia. The flippant man reminds Scipio that the merchant ship out of Burgdigala contained dozens of Kushite men—all well-endowed and very friendly.
Welle quickly warns Tabira not to be alarmed at what’s about to happen next—but the woman jumps and cowers behind him when Scipio wraps an arm around the Druid’s neck and yanks him from the table. Scipio drags the man kicking and screaming from the kitchen; he leers that it’s high time for his punishment with a gag reflex test. Vita appears, fresh from her bath, and hollers that Scipio has guests waiting for him under the pergola outside.
The lofty Roman drops the Druid, who kicks at him before scurrying away. Welle assures Vita that their meal will commence within the hour.
Tabira marvels at the size of her room and cuddles her furry blankets when a Welle barges in without knocking. Welle demands to know why she’s in his room. Tabira tells him that Lady Vita said this was her room. She follows the angry Gallic to the dining room but hangs back when she sees Albus reclining with other Roman men.
Albus calls Welle by name and asks him if he’s packed his things for the trip home. Lord Scipio informs Albus that Welle is an employee of the villa, not a slave. Albus looks hurt and confused, while Vita is shocked. She thought Welle was going home; her brother says he’s employed, and she needs to add him to ‘the rolls.’ Vita then confesses she gave the new girl Welle’s room, and Scipio decrees that Tabira will share a room with the Druid. He then assures his guests that the girl is safe since the Briton is not interested in women. Laughter erupts around the table as Welle excuses himself and walks Tabira to her ‘new room’ with the Druid.
The room is the same size as Welle’s, and while her bed looks large, it lacks a soft blanket. Alone with the gangly Briton, she tries to make conversation, but he stares at her. Welle returns with the furry blanket and tells her to keep it. She smiles brightly and thanks him. After the Gallic man’s departure, the Druid introduces himself as Aedan. She asks what that means, and he tells her it means ‘small fire.’ He asks what Tabira means, and she tells him she doesn’t know, only that her mother gave her the name; Tabira hasn’t seen her mother since she was 10. She asks after Aedan’s age, and he tells her he’s 22; this excites her since she’s 21. Aedan asks her if she’s hungry since she hasn’t eaten since their morning arrival. She says she’s famished, but the kitchen matrons told her no more food until morning.
The Druid takes her to the kitchen and, ignoring the matrons, sits her at the table. A matron whispers to the other to get Welle as Tabira follows the Druid through the inner court. He brazenly enters the dining hall, climbs onto the couch beside Vita, and grabs a bowl, filling it with fruit and bread. The guests are shocked, and Albus is wide-eyed.
Scipio stands, enraged, as the Druid says he’s hungry. When the gangly man walks off, Scipio lunges until Vita yells that he best not dare get violent in front of their guests. Scipio returns to the table and raises a glass to Vita—the Druid reappears, takes another bowl, and dips it into the wine vat in the corner; he’s thirty too. Vita begs Scipio to remain calm until their guests depart.
Tabira follows the Druid back to the kitchen, where they drink wine and eat the bread and fruit. She then looks solemnly over at Aedan and worries about his inevitable punishment—he tells her his life is a punishment, and no one instance is worse than the constant.
 Tabira braids Lady Vita’s hair, and the woman is so overcome that she offers to take Tabira down to the colony for the day. The city, called Novom Comum, is behind thick walls over 25 feet high. She rides in the carriage with Lady Vita, who’s busy looking over scrolls of paperwork, while Tabira gawks at the double-arched gateway of Porta Pretoria. The carriage stops at a narrow building bearing the Servius name. Vita hands over her scrolls to a man there and walks with Tabira toward the town center.
They come upon a style house with many enslaved Black people working on Roman women’s hair. Vita asks if she wants to meet other Kushites. Tabira explains that not all black women are from Kush; ‘You’re on a land with Gauls to the north and Germans farther north. You’re all the same color but not the same people.’ Vita apologizes for assuming Africa was one big nation, and the business owner overhears and asks rudely if Vita just apologized to a slave. Vita turns cold: ‘Yes, bitch I did. And your attitude better best change if you wish to see my coin.’ Tabira sits down with a braider while Lady Vita pays for it and then tells her to return to the carriage when finished.
Tabira leaves the stylist feeling happy with her new braids; she waits for Lady Vita at the carriage but then enters the building when she spots Albus and his men walking past. Inside, she hears Vita groaning with pleasure and spies her with a man under her robes. He emerges with his face wet; he’s one of Lord Scipio’s friends the last night’s dinner. He professes his affection for her, but she bids him farewell when he mentions marriage. Lady Vita loves Tabira’s new braids, and while they shop for fabric, Vita asks if Tabira would like to have a man for the day. Tabira confesses that she gets pregnant too much. Tabira had two children before her former owner, Lord Albus. She thinks he’s incapable of planting children. Lady Vita believes that sometimes seedless men like that are good to have around.
Back at the villa, she finds Welle in the kitchen, and he tasks her with getting that damned Druid into the house. Aedan’s fond of lying naked under the sun on the large boulder near the chickens. He tells her to fetch him down; no one wants to look at his stringy body or that club between his legs. Tabira teases that the skinny ones always have the elephant trunks between their hips. Welle laughs at this, and Tabira begins to feel at home. Outside, she approaches Aedan and says he’ll burn if he’s not more careful. Roused, he points to some sun-burned slaves; ‘I can’t burn like that, though I wish I could.’ He compliments her braids, saying Lady Vita is generous. Tabira sees his black eye and bruises on his back and wishes Lord Scipio was more like his sister. The Druid shocks her when he says: Now, where’s the fun in that?
Late summer at the villa allows Aedan’s body to rest, with Scipio staying in Novum Comum for an entire month overseeing construction on the new garrison. He accompanies Vita on a tour of the orchard when Albus brings dozens of the slaves to work the harvest. Those employed year-round will oversee the slaves who leave with Albus when the harvest ends. The Gallic-Roman man does not attempt to hide his attraction to Vita, who ignores him while showing Aedan their large honey-bee house, the many crush presses, and the plot of land where they’ll bury thousands of fermenting jars lined with beeswax and honey. They leave the dark yeast shed and enter the sunlight, where Aedan sees rows of apple trees for miles. He after the acres of trees surrounded by a stone wall and learns they’re walnut trees that won’t be harvested until late fall.
Come winter, linen tarps get draped on the wall caps to protect them from frost. The walls also contain water canals that flood the tree beds throughout the growing season. Vita points out the Servius tributary aqueduct, a step-stone waterfall that fills a trough leading onto their property. He wonders why they don’t use the lake. She tells him the Abdua river feeds the lake, and it’s cheaper and easier to tap into waters running downhill than it would be to lug water uphill from the lake.
Colder weather finds the slaves covering the opening over the atrium with leather and furs while another slave scrubs the dry pool tiles. Elsewhere in the house, Tabira finishes braiding Lady Vita’s hair and enters the courtyard, where braziers have replaced the smaller fountains. Tabira removes her sandals to cross the grass strip with her bare feet. She giddily bunches the grass with her toes but then moves alone when the older slave tending to it frowns at her. Approaching her room, she hears Lord Scipio grunting; the door is opened wide enough for her to see the Druid on his stomach with his lower body held up by Lord Scipio. His nose is bloodied, but he’s on furs and eating nuts from a bowl while Lord Scipio rams into him. The Druid crosses his eyes and sticks out his tongue at her when she passes, and she cannot help but giggle on her way to the kitchen.
Welle warms himself by the oven as he plans the menu and warns her that Albus dines with them tonight. She supposes Albus will be around more since Lord Scipio procures slaves from the man for his building in town. Welle asks how she knows about the garrison, and she tells him Lady Vita visits a commander from there who lives in the city. Welle asks her why Lady Vita would do such a thing, and Tabira informs him that Lady Vita likes to have her ‘split’ kissed, and the commander does it best.
Sigillaria arrives, the gift-giving day of the festival of Saturnalia. Scipio, Vita, Welle, and Albus recline in the dining room with their warm spiced wine while the kitchen matrons and the house slaves stand in the kitchen eating their portions. Tabira joins Aedan, who sits cross-legged on the floor while eating. Two servers come in to retrieve more food and scarf their share on the way out. A third server appears and asks after the cake. Aedan marvels at the cake and wonders why he never saw it today; Tabira tells him Welle hid it because Aedan has poor impulse control.
In the dining room, Scipio gifts Vita a doll, like the one she had as a girl before he left. She’s overcome by the gift and kisses her brother. Though she didn’t tell him their father destroyed hers, one of the slaves did, and this doll is a replica of her cherished one.
In the kitchen, Albus’ two lackeys bring in a heavily furred person whose face mask Aedan recognizes as tribal Trinobantes. They carry the fur-wrapped person into the dining room, where Albus announces that his gift to Scipio has arrived. The men remove the furs and reveal a wiry man with his naked body painted in Celtic warpaint. He removes his mask to reveal his handsome yet pretty face, smiles at Scipio, and approaches him seductively. Scipio gropes the man’s backside and smiles as Albus assures him that this Briton won’t fight back. Welle notices Aedan and sits up; everyone follows his uncomfortable gaze until they all see Aaden by the brazier. He takes a swig of wine and spits it into the brazier, causing the flames to expand a few seconds before he turns his back on them and returns to the kitchen. Scipio orders the Briton to his room after they kiss and returns to the table with blue paint on his lips. Vita wonders if he might release the Druid now that he has a replacement; Scipio scoffs at this. The prisoner will stay as he is, and his new toy will reside at his apartments in Novum Comum.
Later that night, passionate sex is heard from Scipio’s room while Albus and Welle speak quietly at the dinner table—Vita has fallen asleep from the wine. Albus cannot understand why Welle would choose to remain a servant. Welle tells him the siblings aren’t like other Romans; they’re good people. Albus reminds him that Scipio is a monster and mentions the druid; Welle agrees that the druid is a weakness, but there’s history that Albus doesn’t understand. He thanks Albus for procuring a new Briton, and Albus thanks him for the idea; he wonders if Welle stays for ‘sleeping beauty’ as Vita begins snoring loudly. Welle assures him that his colors haven’t changed—balls still move him more than breasts.
Tabira lies awake in her bed as Aedan lies in his bed, masturbating. She turns over and begins watching him. Aedan pauses and asks if Tabira wants ‘to fuck,’ She considers it; she just got done bleeding, so it should be safe. She joins him on his bed but apologizes; she cannot strike him like Lord Scipio. Aedan says it’s forgivable so long as she pulls his hair. Tabira wants him to kiss her split—she’s never had that done before. Aedan agrees, saying even ass is edible with a bit of honey.
In the dining room, Vita rouses from her stupor and asks if Welle heard Tabira cry out. Welle heard nothing, but Albus said yes, he heard her. Vita hopes Tabira isn’t in there with ‘her brother and that thing you brought.’ Albus takes offense at his gift being called a thing, telling her the Briton was ‘rather pricey.’ Welle asks how he got him, and Albus grins and says he got him at a brothel in Mediolanum. Welle demands to know if he’s an actual Briton, and Albus knows only that the man offered ‘the Britannia experience’ and looks the part.
Scipio wakes at dawn to find the Briton missing and no one in the house. Outside, he comes upon Welle, Vita, Albus, Tabira, and the slaves huddled over the Briton, dead in the snow and grossly swollen about the face and hands, with a dagger beside him. Scipio asks the groundskeeper what happened; he sees the Briton following the Druid with a knife. Vita tells him the same; she got dressed after the matrons said the Briton and Aaden spoke briefly, and then the Briton grabbed a knife and stalked after him. Scipio and the groundskeeper enter the apiary and find the hive room door still locked. A few bees buzz about, explaining how the Briton got stung. The groundskeeper growls, that damned insatiable Druid. Welle sighs, ‘not again.’ The groundkeeper says no locked door stops ‘that one,’ he crawls in through the awning vent. The door opens to reveal an oblivious Aedan snacking on a honeycomb amidst hibernating bees whose hives are covered in furs for the winter.
Welle drags Aedan out of the apiary and scolds him for eating the honey left for the wintering bees; the Druid sees the dead, swollen man and smirks. Welle demands he loses that disrespectful smirk—a fellow Briton has died. Aedan tells him that no real Briton would give himself to a Roman with a fight. This man was just a whore from who knows where – Scipio turns to Albus, who cowers behind Welle.
 Vita visits Scipio at his apartments in Novum Comum, and she tells him they need to give Tabira her own room; he refuses and assures her the girl is safe. Vita knows Aedan would never hurt her, but Welle’s heard them having sex. Scipio remains uncharacteristically calm, which disturbs Vita more than his angry outbursts.
Later that night, Scipio bursts into the Druid and the Kushite’s room and finds him reading a scroll while she sits on his backside, braiding his hair. She immediately gets up to leave, but Scipio tells her she can stay and join them. The Druid curls his lip, and she assures Scipio that such an invitation is unnecessary before rushing out and closing the door behind her. Scipio demands to know who taught him to read Latin, and the Druid tells him the scroll is Greek and it’s about a Roman lord who fucks a poisonous hole and dies horribly for it. Scipio asks if there are pictures, to wit the flexible Druid’s foot pushes his face roughly away. He demands a kiss without having to strike him for it, and the Druid spits in his face and tells him that will never happen. He slaps the Druid and, forcing him to his knees, orders the man to suck him—and it he feels teeth, then the Druid gets his ass fisted without the benefit of oil or wine. The Druid begrudgingly obliges, glaring at Scipio when his large penis slaps him in the face upon being freed.
Aedan rises early to find the house slaves refilling the pool in the atrium and taking down the leather tarp. Walking to the kitchen, he gives the stone owl his customary morning greeting in its niche—touching his head to it and expressing his love. The Roman appears with Welle on his heels and demands to know what he’s doing. Vita arrives with Tabira as Aedan tells the Roman that the owl is his mother. The Roman smugly informs him that the owl is Minerva and his mother is dead—he still has the bloodied rag he wiped his sword clean with to prove it. Vita gasps at her brother’s cruelty but laughs when Aedan strikes her brother’s face with a closed hand. Welle reminds the Roman that his escorts will arrive soon to take him down to the colony while Albus watches with interest as Scipio lunges at Aedan.
Aedan sprints through the courtyard, grabbing an ashy stick and using it to draw a think charcoal line across the funerary bust of Vitus in its niche. Scipio catches him in the atrium, where the slaves clear out in terror as Aedan splashes through the newly filled pool until he is caught. He struggles with the Roman as his head is held under the water, and he hears Vita screaming and sees Welle’s feet.
Julius Caesar enters without knocking, three legates from the 13th Legion behind as he witnesses the chaos in the atrium. Scipio drowns someone while Vita, now a grown woman, clings to his back, screaming. A chubby slave begs Scipio to stop, inserting himself between the man and his victim, while a robed man sits on the pool’s rim, sipping broth and watching them. The Nubian girl beside him notices the new arrivals and jumps up, smiling. The sitting man tosses his broth cup and bows, declaring the arrival of Caesar.
Scipio stares wide-eyed, the sopping-wet Druid that killed his father tucked securely under his arm. Vita slides off her brother as the Druid’s hand comes up and lands one last slap on Scipio’s head. Scipio drops the Druid and approaches Caesar with arms open, delighted to see him. He introduces Albus, and the stunned slaver takes his hand. Then his freeman, Welle, bows politely before yanking the star-struck Nubian girl after the dripping Druid, who’s sprinted off to the kitchens.
In the kitchen, Welle takes control of the matrons and the butchery slaves: they must fire up the outdoor spits and prepare six chickens—as the Druid passes him, he changes that to 7 chickens. The crabs in the salt-water barrels must be taken out, boiled alive, and then broken, so their meat can be pulled for croquettes. He reminds the matrons to cook the shredded crab in onion, garlic, and butter, not oil—butter. Being Roman, they’re not happy with that, but they silently obey. He oversees the hen plucking, ordering another pair of slaves to crush pepper, lovage, and caraway. He stuffs the naked whole birds’ chest cavities with stones and weighs them down in a vat of wine-soaked broth. He then orders the matron to dust with laserwart and have them roasting on the spits within the hour.
The Druid demands to know what he can do, and Welle sends him to the stores to take down three jars of brined endive and mix a honey and mustard seed sauce—and he must keep his fingers out of the honey—he then tells him to make himself scarce for the rest of the night. The Druid scowls at him and spies Tabira following Vita into the baths.
After sunset, everyone dines in the triclinium. Caesar reclines with Vita between him and Albus on one lectus, his three trusted legates on theirs, and the Gallic freeman, Welle, at one end of a lectus with Scipio at the other. He compliments Welle for the meal, some of the best chicken he’s had in years.
Suddenly, the Druid appears wearing a dark wool toga and a thin silver band on his head. His hair is braided, and his feet are sandaled. He bows and introduces himself as Aedan, son of Chief Fintan and Ciniod the First. Caesar appreciates his respect and kindness, and Aedan reminds him that he is the king who conquered his land and must be respected. Caesar raises his wine, thanks him for his courtesy, and watches as the Druid plops down between Scipio and Welle, uninvited, and begins eating.
Welle whispers his demand to know what the Druid thinks he’s doing, and the Druid declares that since Scipio uses him like a wife, he will dine beside him like one. Scipio’s nostrils flare, and he grips his wine cup, white-knuckled. Vita defuses the situation with talk of Scipio’s new cistern design for the city. Scipio enthusiastically discusses the new drainage system, and since he tends to speak with his hands moving, the Druid expertly takes the wine cup before he spills.
Later, Caesar expresses his pleasure that Scipio’s shed his murderous nature since arriving home and finding a purpose other than war—so it’s with a heavy heart that he asks Scipio to ride with him and the 13th to Rome. Vita nervously asks if Caesar can take a legion into Rome since he’s Governor of Gaul. Albus asks why he can’t, and Vita answers that any Governor taking his army past the Rubio River violates the constitution.
Vita’s knowledge impresses him—but he’s shocked when the Druid huffs that Pompey violated the constitution by taking control of Rome with troops after Crassus died. Scipio readily declares, ‘that’s right,’ and thinks Pompey’s demand that Caesar gives up his governorship is ludicrous. Scipio eagerly agrees that he and Albus will march with him to Rome. Shocked, the slaver wonders why he’s going, and Scipio informs him that Welle cannot go because he’s not a soldier. Albus reminds Scipio that he cannot go because he’s a businessman and hasn’t picked up a sword in years. Scipio reminds Albus that if he wishes to continue profiting from the growth of Novum Comum, he’ll be suited and ready for the march by morning. Caesar laughs, telling Scipio they’ll visit Sulpicus Rufus first, where friends Sallust, Hirtius, Oppius, and Lucius Balbus await him. Scipio is pleased, having not seen Balbus since he was a boy.
After dinner, Welle, Vita, and a tipsy Caesar sit under the pergola, watching Albus and his men depart. Suddenly, the Druid sprints through the outer court and jumps the wall, a half-naked Scipio on his heels. Vita explains that her brother will chase him through the walnut grove. Welle chimes in and states that Lord Scipio typically catches his prisoner near the water wheel. It’s clear to Caesar that the pair haven’t ceased ‘the carnal skirmishes’ that began in Britannia. Welle looks shocked, and Vita marvels: it’s been going on that long? Caesar unexpectedly talks of her mother and how honorable it was for Vitus to raise Vita, knowing she wasn’t his daughter.
Vita is stunned but doesn’t show it, not even when he gives her a paternal kiss on the head and says she looks very much like his sister.
–The rest is written out in my notebook.
49 BC Scipio and his garrison march with Caesar to Rome.
+Aedan walks the orchard and finds Welle in the granary. He asks about the female statue above the thresher. Her name is Proserpina, and she was abducted by the god of death, Pluto. Pluto raped her and dragged her to his world, and her mother, Ceres, searched the world to find her, turning the world into a wasteland within which nothing could grow. The King of the Gods, Jupiter, intervened and asked Pluto to give Proserpina back. Aedan asks if Pluto gave her back–but Welle tells him that Pluto raped her and she was no longer a princess of light but a queen of death. Ceres sees her daughter for half of the year when Spring and Summer come.
++Albus loses control of his clan to his older brother, Clausius, who moves into Scipio’s apartments in town, spending the Servius coin and using their slaves.
+++Hearing rumors of Scipio’s death, Clausius and his thugs converge on the estate. Welle compels Vita to run away before harm comes to her. He seduces two of Clausius’ men to ensure Vita gets away from the villa safely.
++++Aedan is forced to have sex with Tabira to entertain Clausius and his men, and when he’s done with her, he orders the old landscaper slave to hide her in the walnut grove.
+++++Vita reaches Rome and visits the Julian family, who agree to host her, but will not intercede on behalf to rid her villa of Clausius.
++++++Unable to find Tabira in the walnut grove, Clausius tries punishing Aedan, but Welle gets in the way and is killed. Overcome with fury and grief, Aedan decides he’s had enough of Clausius.
+++++++Scipio and Albus arrive with cohorts as frightened ruffians flee the villa, some of them wounded. He enters to find Aedan in his father’s bronze helmet, its red crest on fire. The painted man plunges a sword into the wounded Clausius near the atrium. Scipio disarms him gently, tosses the helmet into the pool, and listens as Aedan whispers that he cannot go home, for he is now a queen of death.
48 BC – Albus and Vita; Scipio rejoins the Legions
+Rita finds Albus much changed. After coming together and giving Welle a citizen’s burial, she begins a romantic relationship with the man. She convinces Albus to sell his slavery interests back to his family.
++Scipio questions the pregnant Tabira alone about how many men had her during the reign of terror at the estate. She says only Aedan, who hid her afterward. He asks her when she last bled before that night, and she tells him she hadn’t bled since last winter.
+++Scipio leaves for Rome and takes Albus, leaving Vita to care for the house and business. He tells her the Druid won’t leave because the Nubian slave is pregnant with his baby.
++++Tabira gives birth to a girl, and Aedan loves the infant deeply.
47 – Scipio and Albus return after the Battle of Thapsus
+Albus arrives home before Scipio, and Vita is happy to see him and shocked to find him flush with coin. On behalf of Scipio, he offers Tabira her freedom, a monthly stipend, and a place in Mediolanum, but only if she leaves her newborn behind. The girl readily accepts.
++Scipio returns much wealthier than when he left. Vita tells him that Tabira went missing, but he informs her that he’s freed her. He also promises that he’ll stop raping Aedan.
+++Scipio calls Aedan into his room and informs him that they will be lovers for the remainder of his life. Aedan asks if he’s lost his mind; Scipio tells him that he freed Tabira, who cared so little for the child she signed over to Scipio. He promises that Aedan’s daughter will grow up a good Roman citizen with a life of privilege, and in return, Aedan will accept Scipio’s affections AND return them. If he refuses, Scipio will put his daughter on the auction block.
++++The infant is named Regina Rione Servia and officially logged as Albus and Vita’s daughter, despite her light brown skin. Albus takes Scipio’s old room beside Vita’s. Welle’s large room is given to Rione, while Scipio and Aedan move into a new cottage on the property.
Just a heads up – there’s no happy ending here, despite the physical comedy and the dry humor. You can’t rape a man repeatedly and expect a happily ever after, no matter how much you’ve fallen in love with him.
+Rione grows and marries a man at age fifteen before moving with him to town. Vita and Albus procure a city apartment in town to be closer to her, leaving Scipio and Aedan alone.
+Aedan, now confident his daughter is free, cuts Scipio’s throat one morning after a long night of sex. As he opens the door to flee the cottage, a sword enters his back and appears out of his chest. Holding his bloodied throat, Scipio rose and delivered Aedan’s death. Scipio falls to the floor, taking the sword with him – and before Aedan’s legs give way, the snowy mountaintop is the last thing he sees before bleeding out beside Scipio.
I have no time to write this…