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The Centurion - 11. Chapter 11

Chapter Eleven:

The King of Ruin

I loved my husband I just did not love his bed I wanted adventure Not just to knead bread Eleanor, dear Eleanor You swore all these things to me You gave me your bed

You offered the world to me

While no harm was ever done me I loved your son more than I ever loved thee Such cruelty I could not stand So I decided to take him and leave thee You may kill me where I stand But my heart you will never have For poor Jason, sweet and pure

I have given it as a sacrificial calf

So I will die to save my true beloved The son that was never mine but in love

May you find the solace you need As Jason and I flee to the Centurions like a dove In peace...

 

 

 

Melissa’s parting letter to the Queen Regent: In Qul Tos tradition, poems were written to commemorate important events as in the Empire. This was due to how close Qul Tos was to the Domus Empire and the influence from Legatio and Famulus traders                           After he was shaved and his hair cut Jason was stripped down and washed. When done, he felt cleaner than he had in his whole life. His thick brown hair had been like a heavy blanket, causing him to sweat all the time. It was all gone now, his hair bristling short. He could now feel the cool breeze coming from the balcony against his scalp. While his smooth cheeks felt naked, at least they did not itch for the first time in years.

While Philip continued to sleep on Jason’s bed, ever quiet Jonathan had Jason try on some of Philip’s old uniforms. They were large and baggy on Jason’s near-skeleton frame, as 15 years of rations had not allowed the twenty year old to fill out properly. But by the time the Famulus was done altering the clothes, they fit adequately.

Wearing the white wool uniform, Jason felt he was wearing

“proper” clothes for the first time in his life. The dresses his mother had

made him wear had always felt... wrong. The pants and shirt he now wore allowed him to be more himself and that ‘self’, Jason realizing, was a man. Jason liked his clothes so much that he had to wake Philip to show his gratitude.

“Philip, want to see my new clothes?” Jason whispered from his chair.

Philip’s eyes, popping open before Jason even finished saying his name, stood up, noticing how the young man was now dressed and giving him a thorough inspection. “Well, Jason, I have to say you look much improved.” Philip grinned as he played with the young man’s short hair. “What do you think?”

“I feel much better... thank you.” Jason blushed.

            Good... and here comes dinner!” Philip grinned as he watched one of his men arrive with a basket full of food.

“The general is on his way. He too wants to see the son of Agamemnon,” the Centurion said behind his mask as he placed the basket on the table.

“Jason is as ready as I can make him.” Philip grinned, completely unconcerned that he was standing naked in front of one of his men. “If you are heading back, tell the General I would like to discuss the option of guardianship.”

“I think there are several officers already asking for the privilege,

Commander.” “Jason, would you like to come home with me?” Philip asked

his eyes not leaving the officer’s face.

“Can I?” Jason replied excitedly. “Make sure you stress that with the General,” Philip pressed while Jason’s eyes were glued on Philip with adoration. “I will do my best, sir,” the masked man said before saluting and heading out the door.

After the man was gone, Philip took the basket and brought it over to the bed. “Jonathan, can you carry Jason over to the bed for me?”

“Yes sir,” the servant replied, lifting Jason off the chair and putting him down on the bed.

Philip took the basket and brought it to the bed, taking out two loaves of bread, a string of sausages, some cheese, and a wine skin. “Here you go,” Philip grinned as he handed Jason a chunk of bread.

“Thank you.” Jason smiled as he started nibbling on it.

“I see it will take some time but soon we will have you fattened up.” Philip laughed as he watched Jason eat.

As he stared at the boy, Philip was amazed by how much the young man had grown in his heart. He was such a simple person to please, some fresh clothes, a haircut, a little food, and a friendly grin was all it took to make the young man smile. Jason was unlike any Legatio Philip had ever met in his life. That of course just showed how far the Legatio had drifted from their cousins.

 

After eating until his shrunken stomach couldn’t hold anymore,

Jason became tired and fell asleep on the bed. Philip continued to eat, while keeping a close eye on the young man. Philip was coming to realize that Jason, while twenty, was still very much the child he had

been at five. He was in need of the same love and protection such a child

demanded. This view was reinforced by the look of total innocence the

prince had as he slept. Even after all the trials and tribulations the poor

“boy” had gone through, he was still an innocent, and innocence was something the Centurions prized most.

Putting the remaining food away, Philip left the bed to build up the fire for the night. That was when General Darius, still in his armor, stepped in. “How is the boy?” the general asked.

Standing naked, Philip stiffened his back to attention and saluted his superior. “He is a little starved for food, and more so for love, but he will survive.”

Having heard rumors about the boy’s condition, Darius pressed for more information. “His legs are broken?”

“Yes, it looks like it happened recently,” Philip replied.

“Then I will have the Famulus build a litter for him. That will

take no longer than noon tomorrow,” the General decided. “We will be leaving then?”

Darius stared at the burning fire, finding hidden meaning from it. “Yes... we have made our point here. No matter how long it takes, we Centurions always win in the end. The city has been leveled, the surrounding towns burned, and the wells fouled. No one will be living here any time soon, so there is no need for us to remain. After we crown the boy king of this now dead kingdom, we will return to Domus and leave the place in the hands of the Legatio.”

“Home? So Field Marshal Gorr has decided to let us come back?”

“Yes... for a time. It would be good to return home. Time I had a child. I also miss my steward. You know how fussy he can get if I don’t pay attention to him.”

“Yes... all the Famulus are like that.” Philip chuckled. “Except Jason here.”

“Life in Domus will change that,” Darius said knowingly but sadly.

Philip looked back to where Jason was sleeping peacefully. “I hope not... he is pretty innocent for his age. I was the first man he had ever seen face to face, I think. He knows nothing about Centurions or Legatio or even manhood.”

“He will need someone to look out for him then.” Darius smiled, seeing where his commander was leading the conversation.

“I can volunteer,” Philip said in a noncommittal fashion. He did not want to seem too eager.

“Agreed... from now until we return to Domus I leave him in your care but once we reach the capital he will go to the Academy.”

“But is he not a little old for it?” Philip asked. “Usually a child is expected to go to the Academy at age fifteen, not twenty.”

“If he is ever going to fit into our society he will need to be trained in our ways.”

“I understand. I was just hoping...”

“That you could train him by yourself... how old are you, Philip?”

“32...” Philip replied, knowing what the general was hinting at.

“You only have 8 years left. They will be good years but you need to let the boy not face another tragedy so soon.”

“I understand that, General... I do have a brother however.”

“You have several brothers. Your father has been an excellent breeder.” Darius chuckled.

“I have one who is 20 right now, from the same mother. I was thinking of introducing the two of them.”

Darius laughed at that. “Ahhh, looking out for him, are you?”

“Alex is a good student. He already has his marks for the double-bladed sword and quarterstaff. He is just a little shy, but still young.”

“So you are hoping Jason will help him out of his shell?”

“Help him see that there is more to life than just training,” Philip said with a hint of annoyance.

“Oh he is one of those...” Darius grinned.

“Yes... he wants to become the next Agamemnon.”

“Not everyone can be an Agamemnon. He didn’t need anyone in his life other than the troops he commanded. He never took a wife and had only two lovers, one of them sitting right there.” Darius pointed at Jonathan, who was pretending to be asleep. He did have a son, however. We all respected his wish that Jason be raised properly. That was why we were willing to stay here for 15 years. I had just joined the 7th legion when we were sent to claim Jason. None of us suspected that it would turn into such a long conflict.”

“But we won,” Philip pointed out.

“Yes we did, but when do we ever lose? Now it’s time to return home, bask in what glory we can and wait till we are needed again.” Darius sighed.

“The way things are going that won’t be long.” Philip nodded.

Darius remained silent for almost a minute, deep in thought, before speaking again. “Let’s see if I can get you assigned to teach at the Academy. You are now a war veteran. They would be more than glad to have you. That way you will be able to keep an eye on Jason and that shy brother of yours.”

“Thank you sir!” Philip saluted, a wide smile on his face. A position at the Academy was one of the highest honors a person could receive.

“Now I will leave you, commander, to your charge,” Darius said, returning the salute. “He will need a lot of care before we reach Domus.”

“And I will do my best to give it to him,” Philip replied, impatient to prove himself.

After the general left, Philip put on the white, clean, sleeping robe Jonathan had left out for him. He then joined Jason in bed, wrapping his arms around the young man. Before joining the prince in sleep, Philip kissed the back of Jason’s neck.

It turned out Jason needed to be held for he flailed about all during the night, his mind filled with the carnage that had happened that day and the guilt he felt about it. Philip held him tight just to make sure the young man didn’t hurt himself. In the end Philip woke Jonathan and had a potion made to put Jason into a deeper, dreamless, sleep. Only then did Jason calm down enough for Philip to fall asleep as well. Tears of amazement and joy poured from Jonathan’s face... It was the first night and Jason was in the arms of a Centurion, the bonding was already beginning.

This work is the original creation of the writer who holds all rights to it. 2011 All rights reserved.
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