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Chapter 1 Part I

Marcus Longinus

By Tomos JacksonPublished 3 years ago Updated 2 years ago 5 min read
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"Some stew master?"

Tribunus Marcus Longinus Longinus stirred from his half-sleep state at the sound of his servants voice.

"Ah Certus, there you are at last. I was beginning to think you were preparing a feast with the time it was taking you to make lunch."

Marcus's servant Certus stood over him with a bowl of stew as Marcus lay beneath the shade of a tree in the warm summer of the Pleiades peninsular. He could see a few paces off as the rest of his men helped themselves to the pot of stew that Certus had prepared. They were patrol of 20 Alea cavalry riders, still clad in their shoulder to knee length mail, long kite shields planted in the ground besides their lances while their steel caps with cheek and neck guards were strapped to their horses saddles besides their long spatha swords that served as a secondary weapon. Hardly the greatest cavalry in Esgarond but they were a formidable force nonetheless.

Certus a mock sorrow in his still youthful face, "Forgive me master, it required all my skill and attention to both cook and fight off the rest of the soldiers from tasting the pot. You should have seen it. Truly it was a stand as worthy as that of Laetorius's defense of Tonisiam!"

Marcus answered his mock sorrow with a look of stoic fortitude, "And the casualties for this brave defiance?"

Certus lowered his head as if in guilt, "I regret to inform the tribune of the loss of several chunks of meat and a few vegetables, but their loss was not in vain and so now I bring you the fruits of my efforts." Again he presented the bowl head still lowered in supplication.

Marcus laughed and too the bowl, while Certus grinned and sat beside his master, producing his own bowl of stew he had been holding behind his back and started eating it ravenously.

Marcus bit into his food, "Mmmm. You have truly outdone yourself this time Certus. This is delicious."

"Thank you tribunus, it is but one of the many ways in which I single handedly hold the legion together."

"Indeed," Marcus responded between bites, "were it not for patrols like these and the occasional battle, I would be out of a job and forced to crawl back to my father for a place worthy of my patrician status."

Certus remained silent after this. The two were close friends more than master and servant and Marcus often had to remind Certus of his place when his mouth ran away with itself, but jokes that involved Marcus's family were a place that even Certus knew not to venture.

Indeed even as the words left his mouth Marcus felt the sadness that often came with reminders of his father's disappointment for him. The two sat in awkward silence for a few moments before Certus spoke to turn Marcus from his thoughts.

"Master why are we on this patrol? Aren't you in charge of the IV legion? Shouldn't you be doing more important duties than a standard patrol?"

This was pushing a little too far for a servant, but Marcus was glad for the distraction and change of topic and so opted to answer. Besides Certus and he had been friends for years before Certus was made his personal servant, so Marcus allowed more leeway for him than was generally seen as proper.

"Usually you would be correct, but the senate has been attempting to tighten its direct control on both the military and the Church in recent years and so I was recently saddled with a bunch of administrators who now see to the day to day maintenance of Castra."

Marcus took another bite of his stew.

Pleiades and its neighbors

"This means that, aside from making sure these administrators do their job, most of the work I have to do is leading and fighting. And what with the Elvecanoi in another succession crisis, the Poenician Confederacy having yet another war with the rebels in Argentia Superior and the Ogodai tribes to our North in Campania fighting each other, we are entering into an unusually quite period for our people. Hence my need for something to keep me occupied and our presence here."

"So you were bored?" Certus asked.

"Basically yes." Marcus replied taking yet another mouthful of Certus's stew.

After another brief silence, Certus spoke again.

"So do the senate not think you were doing a good enough job as de-facto commander of the IV legion? Why did they think you need help?"

"Why do you care about the why's and wherefores of the senate?" Marcus queried. "Its not exactly like you have a stake in its decisions."

Certus shrugged. "I don't know if you've noticed, but when big changes happen to you, they happen to me as well. I'm just curious as to where we're going."

"That's true I suppose. But you are my servant. Its none of your business to ask about things that concern me."

Certus just nodded and waited expectantly for Marcus's reply.

Marcus sighed, "Alright," he said finally putting his now empty bowl on the ground and turning to address Certus. "You remember the Noble Uprising a decade ago?"

Certus nodded, they had both been young then, but they remembered the fear around the capital as reports of strong patrician families rallying their personal legions to themselves against the senate flew through the city.

"Essentially the senate is afraid that will happen again, so they are trying to draw the reliance of the legion away from the families that pay and supply them back to the senate by giving administrators that answer to them more control in the army thus preventing legions from turning on the senate at the word of their legates. It divides a legion's reliance so as to not allow them to turn on the senate without losing a vital part of its functionality."

Certus nodded his understanding. "I see why the senate is doing this. But why are the families allowing it?"

"Because," Marcus answered, "the bulk of the powerful families are those that supported the senate against the rebels in the uprising. Plus the senate making Sertorius Marius the Magister Militum gives them a say in the running of all the Atlan legions."

"So making him Magister Militum wasn't just a reward for defeating the rebels then? It was a power move as well?"

"That's right. By creating an overall commander of the legions who is voted in by the senate they have direct control over the whole army by choosing who runs it. It served both as a reward for Sertorius who has already proved his loyalty to them and a security measure against further rebellion."

Certus shook his head sadly. "And here I was thinking we were all on the same side. There seems to be so much positioning for power over each other."

"Aye, it appears there can be no peace without someone having their boot on everyone else's necks." Marcus agreed sadly.


About the Creator

Tomos Jackson

Stories have always been a source of inspiration. I aim to reproduce that in my own writing. Developing ideas of one's potential by reading it in the lives of others can be a powerful force to encourage bettering ourselves in the real world

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