Happy first Sunday of February! A short morsel from Book 3, raw and unedited. 😀
Clouds of dust rose from the plain, enveloping the imperial dais as the next group of riders paraded by the viewing platform. Gaius squeezed his eyes shut until the clip-clop clatter of the horses’ martial maneuvers faded away and the dry dirt settled.
Neither mattered. He could barely see the damn horsemen through the haze as it was. His aging eyes were growing weaker by the season.
The Lion of the Lucky Fourth was ripening into a blind, powerless war hero. Forever second in fucking command.
“How do you assess these new recruits, Commander Fabius?”
What a load of horseshit. Marcus didn’t want to know his bloody appraisal of the latest foppish additions to the horsemen of the Imperial Guard. The only opinions Rome’s emperor desired to hear uttered from Gaius’s lips were the truths the stubborn codger had already decided were true. He swore to himself that if by some bloody miracle he did become emperor when dear Marcus died, Gaius would surround himself with wise, brave councilors. Men of substance. Men with steel spines. Trusted advisors without fear or scorn.
Gaius slowly turned his head and grumbled, “Do you wish a candid opinion, my esteemed Emperor?”
“You know that I rely on your courage and your honesty, Gaius.”
“Very well. The third group requires more training, sir.”
“Indeed they do. And the fourth, don’t you think?”
Gaius chuckled. “And the sixth.”
The Emperor patted him hard on the back before barking at the servant standing just behind his elbow to fetch them a jug of fresh water.
At least Marcus wasn’t a fool. He cared about the troops and the people and the welfare of the Empire. And the bastard had proven to be just and fair and everything else Gaius had thought he’d never be. Men who hurt helpless abandoned children weren’t supposed to act like decent, benevolent kings.