A wee bit more from Book 3. Unedited and subject to change. Allerix’s POV.
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“By Hercules’ sweaty bursting balls, I’ve worn this uniform for far too many hours today. Help me out of my armor, Alle.”
Allerix first unbuckled the leather straps on the right side of Gaius’s torso armor before unbuckling the wider strap on his right shoulder connecting the front and back plates. With a grunt—gods, this contraption was heavy—he lifted the bronze shell off Gaius’s shoulders. After Alle unfastened the padded undergarment adorned with studded leather straps at the shoulders and along its bottom hem, Gaius unwound the thick, white wool scarf protecting his neck and peeled off the rest of his uniform until he was wearing only a simple ivory tunic belted with a brown sash.
“Ah, so much fucking better!” Gaius stretched his arms while studying the dark, colorless chamber. “What a shitty hovel we’ve been gifted. But I see you’ve organized my library and lit a lovely fire in the hearth. Is there a jug of decent wine?”
“Yes, Dominus. Sit first and permit me to remove your boots.”
While Alle untied the laces and pulled off one hob-nailed boot, and then the other, Gaius asked, “Despite your cocked up escape attempt and ill-planned knife thievery, I’ve finally brought you back to Dacia. How does it feel to be home?”
Alle glanced up to find Gaius staring down his beaked nose. Tender compassion softened his questioning eyes.
Allerix swallowed the lump in his throat. “I’m a bit disoriented, to be honest. The landscape is nearly unrecognizable, sir.”
Gaius pressed his thin lips together and nodded. “Yes, much of the forest surrounding this camp has been felled. The legion needs cartloads of wood not only for building materials but also to fuel the bath furnaces. Men work and fight harder when they know the reward of a hot bath behind the safety of a strong timber wall awaits them at the end of a long day.”
“We consider forests sacred.”
“So do we, just not yours.”