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The Centurion - 17. Chapter 17

Chapter Four:

The Legatio

100 by 100 squares

Mark the senate floor,

100 by 100 years

Have stood its ceiling and floors,

100 by 100 laws Have made Domus strong, 100 by 100 Peoples brought into empire’s sun, 100 by 100 Senators Buried under, its tomb hard and cold, 10 by 100 by 100 by 10 Legatio have served us well And will since then

The reading said at each opening of the Senate.

 

               The day finally came when the army arrived at the walled city of Domus, capital of the same-named empire. The walls were over twenty feet high and wide enough to allow chariots run atop them while six stone aqueducts entered the city from six different compass

points. As they approached, Philip pointed out to Jason the features that could be seen from inside the walls: the giant arenas, the long roof of the Grand Hall, the shining gold tiles of the Senate Building. All those things marked it not as the largest, but the wealthiest capital in the world.

Just outside the gates, an escort of white-armored Home Guard and red-robed Legatio waited for them. Jason, who had been walking by the side of the carriage for several days now, strengthening his legs, was taken by Philip to the men in red robes.

“Greetings, son of Agamemnon. May I be the first of your

Legatio brothers to welcome you home?” The man with the gold lining

on his red robes grinned with a wide, but toothless smile.

“Thank you.” Jason bowed.

“Oh, such manners for one so young.” The elderly man laughed. “My own sons run wild and never think to show respect to their elders. Come now, you may call me Perils, son of Godsin. I was chosen by the Senate to greet you.”

“Thank you. I am... I am Jason... son of Daslan.”

“Oh you have so much to learn, my boy.” The senator laughed but keeping his lips almost sealed. “You are Jason, son of Agamemnon of Argot. He was your father and a father worth having, not like that silly and very dead ruler of Qul Tos.”

“...” Jason remained silent, not sure how to respond.

Perils wrapped an arm around the boy’s shoulders, his long fingernails clawing into Jason’s white shirt. “Well, come now. It is time to see to your bath. After such a long journey it will take hours to get the dirt and filth off you.”

“Can Philip come with me?” Jason asked hopefully. Not since the day the Tower fell, had Philip been away from him for an extended period of time.

“I’m afraid not... the Legatio bathhouse permits only those privileged to wear the red to pass through its doors,” the Senator sniffed.

“Don’t worry, Jason. We will see each other soon,” Philip said to cheer Jason up.

Jason nodded, but still felt uncomfortable leaving Philip.

“Alright... but can I bring my staff?”

On hearing this, Perils once homey smile turned sour, not liking how close Jason seemed to be to the Centurion commander. “Your

staff... The reports I read said that your legs had healed.” “My quarterstaff,” Jason grinned, proud of it.

“A weapon... what is a Legatio doing with a weapon?” Perils demanded with great distaste while he glared at Philip. “We should have sent one of us to claim the boy the moment the Qul Tos fell. Leave it to a Centurion commander to confuse the boy. Be confident, Philip son of Helios, that the Senate will hear of this.” Perils then returned his attention to Jason. “No, Jason, you may not bring your... staff. I see you have a lot to learn when it comes to being a Legatio. Now follow me.”

Jason seeing that his request had gotten Philip into trouble gave him a guilty look, but Philip just smiled and pointed to Perils, who was already passing through the city’s gates as if he had expected Jason to automatically follow him without question. “Hurry up, Jason, or you

will be left behind,” Philip warned. Feeling a little reassured, Jason nodded. “Yes Philip.”

“Goodbye.” Philip waved as the boy ran to catch up with the Senator.

 

Past the city gates, thousands of people moved through the wide, clean, brick streets. Perils smiled on seeing Jason mesmerized. He was sure the boy had never seen such chaotic activity or grand a city, black-robed Famulus outside their shops, trying to tempt customers inside, red-robed Legatio sitting outside patio cafés holding intense and lively debates. Centurions, some equipped in the white and gold armor of the Home Guard, patrolled the streets, while others walked around only in plain white tunics, laughing, and drinking.

“Legatio-dogo!” Not just a few of the Centurions spat at Perils as he passed by with his head held high, ignoring them.

“What are they saying?” Jason asked confused. At that moment he wanted nothing more then to be back with Philip, at least with him the people did not seem so angry.

“They are calling me a Legatio... well I would not want to offend your ears with what they said. I know they don’t mean it so do not concern yourself about it.”

“Then why did they say it?”

Perils burst into laughter; “Hahaha... you don’t understand. Centurions like their dogs more than me and my fellow senators. What the Centurions refuse to understand is that the Empire would be stronger if we Legatio were just allowed to do our jobs.”

Leading Jason through the Famulus portion of the city, they passed the main market, where a road divided the city in half by running from wall to wall, stretching for four miles. From there the city opened up into the giant square of the Grand Hall of the Field Marshals and the inner walls separating the Famulus part of the city from the Legatio and Centurion. It was to the gate of the Legatio District that Perils led Jason. It had its own high wall and a single small gate guarded by the ever-present white-armored Centurions.

“Welcome home,” Perils tried to say with his friendliest of smiles, leading him into a maze of mansions, public buildings and parks.

Jason looked at the tall marble buildings gilded in gold with carvings etched into their sides with the shapes of plants and animals. The Legatio city within the capital was more impressive than anything Jason had ever seen.

On seeing the awe struck look on Jason’s face, Perils grinned

slyly. It would only be a matter of time before Jason became like most

Legatio his age, hedonistic, spoiled, and corruptible, making him easier to manipulate, just like any Legatio.

Continuing to lead Jason through the city, Perils finally stopped at a large domed building, clouds of steam and smoke pouring from its chimneys. “This is the public baths... public only in the sense that any Legatio over the age of seventeen can enter. You are older than that?” he asked, noticing Jason’s short frame.

Dazed by all he had seen, Jason did not return Perils’questioning look, instead his eyes stuck on the white clouds of steam coming from the building. “Yes... I’m twenty.”

“Good... I think you will find this new experience very enjoyable”

Perils said as he moved Jason along.

The building was made of white marble; statues of Legatio covered in red robes towered over the stairway leading into the building. Jason could not help but feel as if they were all staring down at him, making him nervous. As soon as Jason entered the building, a fat bald man dressed in black and sitting behind a marble desk jumped up in alarm. “You can’t bring him in here!”

Perils, enjoying the panicked look on the sniveling Famulus’ face almost made Jason’s improper appearance worth all the annoyance it had caused him. “Horace, sit down, he is a Legatio.”

“But he is dressed in white!” the fat man said as he pointed to the altered white Centurion uniform Jason was wearing, keeping his distance, his hand over his mouth as if the young man were diseased.

Putting on a fake smile once again, Perils introduced Jason to the fat man. “Horace, I would like you to meet Jason Argot, son of Agamemnon. Jason this is Horace, Keeper of the Baths here in the Legatio District.”

Horace immediately went down on one knee, his face going pale. “The son of Agamemnon... My pardon sir.”

“Sorry,” Jason blushed, feeling out of place.

Moving in closer, Horace picked at the fringe of Jason’s white shirt. “But your clothes, sir... something must be done. We can’t have you walking through the baths as if you were a Centurion barbarian,” Horace continued.

“What are wrong with my clothes?” Jason said as he cringed away, backing into the taller Peril. Compared to what his mother had him wear, Philip’s old uniforms were princely garments.

Perils saw that Philip had left much out of Jason’s education. “There is nothing wrong with them Jason, they are just the wrong color. Here in Domus we Legatio only wear red. Therefore, if you want to be accepted... you must wear red as well.”

“I’ll go bring the tailors,” Horace offered as he clapped his hand, summoning a fellow black-robed Famulus to him. “Go to the shop on Circuit Street and tell the shop owner that the son of Agamemnon needs fresh clothes.”

“Yes.” The servile man bowed before running off.

“Jason... now show us the manners you learned as a prince and say thank you to the Master of the Baths,” Perils chided.

“Thank you... I want to have friends.” Jason said at a near whisper. Falsehood reeked from both men like the camp latrines Jason used on his journey to Domus. He wanted to be away from these “men” and back with the “real” men: Philip and the Centurions.

“Well, since you are Perils’friend, that makes you mine.” Horace fawned.

On those words Jason shuddered. For while he wanted to be friends with everyone... for some reason he knew that he did not want the Keeper of the Baths as one of them.

Just thinking of Philip made the tears build back up into Jason’s eyes. He did not know why but Perils, even though he was a man, reminded him of his mother... and that frightened him.

With the other Famulus gone to the tailor’s, Horace returned his attention back to Jason. “Now, let’s get the young master to the changing room. There are some nice red robes that I am sure will fit him nicely,” he said with a toothless grin as he led both the Senator and Jason deeper into the chamber.

Horace stood next to Jason like glue as he undressed, increasing

the young man’s nervousness. After he had slipped off the remainder

of his white clothes, Jason quickly wrapped a red towel around his waist to hide his nakedness from the peering Bath Master. But instead of the man looking disappointed, a giant grin grew on Horace’s face as he picked up his discarded clothing by their fringes. “I know where to take these... things,” he said with distaste.

“Where is he taking my clothes?” Jason asked worriedly.

“My guess is the furnace,” Perils chuckled just as he wrapped a towel around his own waist. For a man well into his eighth century he looked no older then a man in his late sixties.

“He is going to burn them?” Jason said panicked.

Putting a reassuring hand on Jason’s shoulder, Perils gave him another one of his closed-lip grins. “Don’t worry, Jason. You will soon have new ones.”

“Alright...” Jason said, but once he saw that Horace was gone, Jason had to ask a question. “Why does Horace not like the Centurions?”

“Well, it might be that Horace’s people were captured and enslaved by them, making them Famulus, but that was generations ago. No... the reason he hates the Centurions is because he gets paid to,” Perils said honestly, seeing no reason to hide the truth from the young man.

That confused Jason more; “I don’t understand. How can you pay someone to hate another?”

“I think you will find that the Centurions are not as popular

as you were made to believe... at least certain ones are not. But don’t

worry about that now. You have plenty of time to learn the difference

between the Home Guard and the killers that make up the Eastern and Western armies.” Perils grinned. Jason did not know how to respond, leaving him stunned. Maybe

his mother was right... the Centurions were monsters. Letting Peril’s

hands guided him to the exercise room. There, one of the Famulus, wrapped in a black towel, led Jason through several exercises with a

series of weights before letting him soak in a large pool filled with cool water. Jason then was given his first lesson in swimming by the same

instructor.

During the lesson, Jason learned that the man’s name was Caleb, that he too was from Qul Tos but had been captured during the war and made a Famulus. He did not have the reek of distrust that Jason found with Horace. The man had hazel eyes and hair that was turning gray while his chest was covered with a trimmed coat of gray and black hair.

While Jason practiced his kicks on the side of the pool, Caleb supported him by his stomach. The feeling of another person’s hands on his body at first made Jason nervous but the longer they were there the more relaxed he became. Once done with his kicks, Jason felt Caleb draw him in closer so that they where now front to back. Caleb’s hands massaging Jason’s neck and shoulders.

“May I pleasure you, master...” Caleb whispered.

“What...?” Jason sighed. He had not been so relaxed since waking up in Philip’s arms that morning.

“Would you like me to make love to you, your majesty?” Caleb replied again.

“I don’t understand...” Jason said even as his manhood was answering for him.

Caleb spun Jason around so they were now face to face, Jason’s back up against the tiled walls. “You have never been loved before your majesty?” Caleb asked as he nuzzled his face against Jason’s.

Jason let out a deep sigh as he felt Caleb’s tongue lick the side of his face. “Love me please.”

At that moment Perils reappeared. “Now don’t work yourself too hard, Jason. You had a long journey,” Perils said with false concern, laughing as he watched the young man jerk away from Caleb’s arms.

Jason blushed as he said, “I’m alright... Philip had me doing exercises during the whole trip.”

“I’m sure he did.” Perils snickered.

            “I see you even have your quarterstaff with you,” Perils laughed on seeing Jason had been excited by the tenderness of the Famulus servant. If the young man was so easily aroused it would not be hard for him to seduce the handsome young man himself.

“The quarterstaff?” Jason said happily, not understanding what

the Senator meant.

Letting out a deep sigh, Perils decided Jason needed a better understanding of reality. “Jason you are new here, you don’t know our ways, but a Legatio must never be seen carrying a weapon or sleeping with a Centurion. It is considered very distasteful.”

“Philip and the other Centurions did not mind,” Jason insisted.

“But they are Centurions, not Legatio. They give my children swords by the age of five. You, on the other hand, are to use the pen and your voice. They are the only weapons you should have need of.”

“But can I still practice?” Jason asked hopefully, his eyes almost taking on a pleading look.

“First rule of being a Legatio... do what makes you happy. I’m sure Philip will see to your training. Just remember that while we Legatio live long lives, our bodies are very fragile. Do not throw your life away on a frivolous hobby when you will one day have to rule over Qul Tos. Now follow me... I think you are ready for the pleasure of a steam bath,” Perils ordered, closing the subject.

Led to a different room, filled with a hot thick mist, Jason

entered apprehensively, only to have his feet burned on touching the

hot tiled floor inside. “Ouch!”

“Sandals, my dear boy... we would not want you to burn your feet now,” Perils laughed. “You must always wear them before walking into a hot room,” Perils said sternly, his own feet already covered by brown leather thongs.

Stepping back into the cooler hallway, Jason found a pair and put them on, but they were too big for his small feet. After trying on three pair to find ones that fit, Jason was finally able to walk into the steam room. Perils then guided Jason to a wooden bench with Caleb in tow.

Caleb’s scrapping of the dirt, oil, and dead skin from Jason’s body with a dull strigil left the king drowsy and relaxed. Seeing this, Perils took advantage of the young Legatio’s state to start asking questions. “What has Philip told you about Domus?”

“That it is a military empire,” Jason replied.

“Yes, but do you know who leads the empire?”

“The three Field Marshals.”

“That is what the Centurions would like you to think. In truth it is the Senate that controls Domus. We write the laws, set the taxes, and own all the land. We are the merchants, bankers, officers of the courts, and the academics. The Centurions might be the sword of the empire but we Legatio are the mind that directs it. Never forget that, Jason.”

“Yes,” Jason replied, with Caleb now scraping away at his lower thighs Jason was too occupied to argue.

Come now, it’s time for your massage.” Perils grinned as he stood up naked, leaving his towel behind.

Jason, keeping his towel tightly wrapped around his body, followed into a room that was warm but not as hot as the steam room. Still tired from the heat, Jason almost leaned against one of the walls.

“Be careful Jason, you don’t want to be burned,” Perils warned.

What!” Jason jumped.

“Let me show you,” Perils said as he pulled off Jason’s towel from his waist. He then placed the damp cloth on the wall. Soon there was a cloud of steam and a sizzling sound.

“The walls are heated?” Jason asked shocked.

The walls and floors both.” Perils laughed.

“How are you able to do that?”

“That is a Domus secret. In your last year at the Academy you will be able to take a class on engineering.”

“What is the Academy?” Jason asked.

“The Academy is the top center of learning in the empire for boys your age.”

“Centurion boys too?” Jason asked hopefully as he was guided to a marble table.

“A few select ones. The Centurions have their own schools, but as their future officers will have more contact to us Legatio than the average Centurion grunt, the most talented Centurion students will be at the Academy with you,” Perils said, annoyed that the boy was still fixated on Centurion culture.

While both he and Jason were massaged with scented oils, Perils took this time to try and put a wedge between the boy and Philip. “Jason, do you know what Centurions are?”

“They are great warriors and my friends,” Jason replied proudly.

Perils, already having a good grasp on Jason’s gentle nature, knew how to progress. “But you know they love killing... it is a part of what they are?”

“Yes...” Jason whispered, not wanting to say the word.

“That is the main difference between Legatio and Centurions... we Legatio do not take part in such blood baths.”

“They only do it because they have to,” Jason replied, coming to Philip’s defense.

“That is what they would like you to think. In truth they enjoy what they do. Show a Centurion an enemy to be killed or a person like you waiting for him in his bed and he will always pick the sword.”

Now upset, Jason stood up from the table. “Why are you telling me this?”

Calmly, Perils stood up and began walking to the exit. “Because when I saw you with Philip I saw love in your eyes. Better for you to clear such thoughts from your mind, for he will never lay down the sword for you, and even if he returned your love, it would be short lived.”

“I don’t understand!” Jason shouted again at Perils’ back.

Stopping, Perils turned and faced the upset boy, a look of surprise on his face. “Why... are you telling me that Commander Philip did not tell you? He will be dead in eight years.”

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

What would the world be without the politics, competing agenda and all that good stuff. lmaosmiley.gif You've set the tone nicely for the events in Domus to unfold.

 

It seems you're still having formating problems. It is a distraction., I must say. Have you asked for help on that? Try Lugh, he's one of the site techs - among other things.

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So Perils is basically a male version of his jasons mother nice :-(

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