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The Centurion - 23. Chapter 23

Chapter Ten:

Bread from the Rooftops

Unfortunately the city was still consumed by chaos the next day. Once the rioting had died down a period of mourning was declared, placing the entire city under curfew during which all forms of trade were forbidden. With the markets closed, it was not long before the rioting Centurions were replaced by desperate Famulus who had long depended on using their  wages to purchase food on a day by day basis. The sounds of their begging fell on the deaf ears of the Centurions and Legatio both.

Philip, required as an officer to keep a large store of food in his house, had yet to suffer the pains of hunger. Nothing seemed amiss, therefore when Philip woke late near the middle of the first week of mourning to the smell of baking bread. Thinking his mother was busy making breakfast, he went down to the kitchen to find it filled with stacks and stacks of rolls, with more baking in the large brick oven.

“What is going on?” Philip demanded to an otherwise empty room. The only sound he could hear were the begging pleas of the mob. But there was something different today. Mixed with the wails of sadness were shouts of joy. Perturbed, Philip went to the roof to see what was happening.

One special feature of Philip’s home was that the western side of it was part of the wall protecting the Centurion quarter. It was, therefore, to his disappointed surprise that he found his mother and Jason throwing loaves of bread down to the hungry Famulus below. Alex was also there but did not participate. Instead he had a worried look on his face.

“You better stop them,” Alex said to his brother as Philip approached.

“What are they doing? Philip demanded.

“Torturing those poor people. There is no way we have enough food to feed them all,” Philip’s brother replied.

“Jason... Jason!” Philip shouted as he ran over to the young king.

“Yes, Philip.” Jason smiled, looking totally innocent.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Philip demanded.

“I’m trying to help them. They are starving down there,” Jason said as if it were that obvious and simple. He grabbed another half dozen rolls and threw them off the roof.

“Why are you throwing the food over my walls?”

“I tried to take the bread through the gates but the guards wouldn’t let me”

Right on cue Philip heard a loud banging on his gates. It seemed that the guards had noticed what Jason was doing and were not happy about it.

“I’ll be right back... and not another roll off my wall!” Philip shouted as he ran back down to the courtyard.

As soon as he opened the gate to his house, a platoon of soldiers marched in, spears in hand... at the end of the line stormed in Field Marshal Lukas, walking with the help of a cane. “What do I hear that you are feeding those traitors?” the Field Marshal demanded coldly.

Going down on one knee, Philip replied; “I am sorry, Field Marshal, my charge did this without my knowing.”

“The son of Agamemnon?” Lukas asked.

“Yes, Field Marshal.”

“You will inform the son of Agamemnon that he will...” Lukas stopped when he saw the offending youth climbing down the stairs with an empty basket. “Arrest him!”

“Field Marshal!” Philip said panicked.

“Arrest everyone else as well,” the Field Marshal fumed.

“On what charges?” Philip demanded as two guards grabbed him.

            “Consorting with the enemy... misuse of military supplies... and insubordination. Is that enough for you, commander?” Lukas said as he turned and left. Soon all five of them were in custody and marched to the main

square. There, instead of being taken to the Grand Hall, they were taken to an adjoining building and lead down several flights of steps. They were separated and put into small, dark, dank cells. They would not be let out or fed until the end of the period of mourning.

“I feel so cold...have I died? Did my mother kill me and all I have experienced was heaven? But now that they know I am a bad person, maybe they sent me to hell. I want Melissa... Melissa would tell me what to do... Why has Philip not come back for me? Does he love me? Do I love him? Do I love me?” 

                           Jason: an internal debate while in the dark void of his prison cell.“Interesting... interesting.” Perils smiled as he read the report one of his spies gave him.

 

“What is it?” Xavier demanded. Yesterday he had been flogged in front of his men and was still sore from it. Even with his quick healing, his back was now a mass of scars.

“Field Marshal Lukas... who should have died, mind you... has arrested Commander Philip and his whole household, including the boy in his charge, Jason.”

“Good, so the boy will be out of your way sooner than you hoped.”

“You idiot... I need that boy if I am going to get the army to invade the Eastern Confederacy. This story that he was arrested for feeding our slaves opens a new field of opportunity, however. Not only is he very popular with the Eastern Army, but he is becoming a hero among the Famulus as well... all for a few silvers worth of bread. A profitable investment I should say.”

“So how do you plan to take advantage of all this?” Xavier asked as he took a seat.

“Simple... I am going to get the charges against him dismissed.” Perils grinned.

“And how will you do that? Lukas did not die. I don’t control the Council of Marshals.”

“No, you just control one vote.” Perils nodded. He then handed the Field Marshal a large glass of Huron wine, laced with anima. “What happens when there is a split decision?”

“I don’t know. I have always assumed that there have always been three.” Xavier replied before sipping on the sweet liquid.

“Not always. Twice in our history we have been short one Field Marshal. When that happened and there was a split vote, it was the Senate that would break the tie.”

“You truly are a Legatio if you know all that history.” Xavier laughed

“I was a junior senator back when it last happened,” Perils corrected as he swirled his wine goblet.

“So Lukas will vote for punishment, I will oppose it, and the Senate will break the tie by getting Jason off the hook.” Xavier grinned, playing the scenario in his mind.

“Yes... Jason’s status as a hero among the Famulus will rise, we Legatio will be praised for our leniency, and you will have put Lukas in his place... making him irrelevant. It will just be a shame when we have to kill the boy eventually.”

“Speaking of High Command... who do you want to replace Gorr?”

“It might surprise you, but the person I want is General Darius.”

“Darius... but he knows nothing about our plans!”

“No, but he is the only General with a major victory under his belt. He is also very popular, but most importantly he has an attachment to the son of Agamemnon. When Jason dies, I want a Field Marshal who will be so enraged that he will go to war over it,” Perils explained.

“So you think Field Marshal Lukas will agree to the posting?”

“Put a war hero on the Council? He will be thrilled, but more importantly he won’t be suspicious.”

“But what if...” Xavier was about to say.

“Darius and Lukas form an alliance. I very much doubt that. If you have not noticed, the attempt on his life has made Field Marshal Lukas a little unbalanced. He sees enemies everywhere now. I have already taken steps for evidence to show that the Federation Kingdom of Jadoor arranged the assassination attempt. Soon I expect Field Marshal Lukas to order the Western Army to punish them by invading.

“The Federation will be a strong opponent. They are made up of islands. We have never been strong on the sea.”

“Yes, but all we need to do to defeat them is to land an army on their shores. Their ground forces are nothing to fear.” Perils smiled.

“Except for the Kingdom of Jadoor.”

“The Kingdom of Jadoor is made up of barbarians. They don’t even bathe.”

“Still, they succeeded in conquering that not so small island of theirs.”

“Barbarians defeating barbarians... they have never had to face a Centurion army.” Perils smirked.

“Nor us them,” Xavier warned before draining his glass, his lusting eyes falling on one of Peril’s young Famulus servants.

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