From Book 3. By gods, it’s super hard to find non-spoilery bits at this point! Gaius & Allerix.Here’s another nugget from the Emperor’s party at the palace. Unedited and subject to change, as always.
Hope to see some of you at Europride Con in Amsterdam!
Everyone munched on the delicious offerings as the Greek sang the ancient, ominous verse of war and death and meddling gods. Gaius offered Alle a sip of wine but the lad refused the nectar. Allerix’s eyes grew dark as they darted from one couch to the next as if he were assessing each one of the reclining guests in the hall. Marcus seemed to fascinate him most of all, not surprisingly. Emperor Trajan was a sight to behold, but Alle’s palpable anxiety chafed Gaius’s already aggravated nerves.
Gaius leaned down and murmured sternly against Alle’s hair, “Calm your temper, Alexandros.”
A rote response from a distracted mind, but Allerix obeyed, dropping his chin before releasing a long breath. Gaius decided to toss prudence aside.
“Alexandros, take a drink of wine. You need to relax for your performance.”
After Alle hesitantly gulped down two swallows of the Spanish nectar, he confessed, “My apologies, sir. I’m very nervous.”
Gaius replied, “I can feign a repulsive digestive condition, you know. The Emperor might consider a sour stomach reasonable excuse for us to leave.” Gaius ducked his head lower and whispered, “I can force a fart as loud as a war bugle. But perhaps I should belch first, hmm?”
Gaius spied a reluctant smile.
“That seems rather ignoble, sir.”
“Yes, well—you’re correct. It’s certainly not proper behavior for an heir to the throne. Should we try to suffer nobly through this fucking event together?”
“We should, sir.”
“Take another sip of wine, Alexandros. This will all be over soon.”
Something about Alle’s tone sounded off, but Gaius ignored it, assuming the strange bite to Alle’s words was due to anxiety. He rearranged a pillow and settled back, and listened to the actor recount an episode featuring Troy’s greatest warrior. Virtuous and foolhardy Hector—betrayed by Apollo, abandoned by Zeus.
Another hero disgraced by the gods.