Little bit of an early post today. I get to take an overnight trip to Calgary for my best friend's (or rather, at this point, sister's) 40th, and I won't be here tomorrow to do the post on Friday like I have been. This 'having a blog schedule' thing is something that I'm enjoying, though, so hopefully I'll be able to continue with it. Next week. After celebrating a cool birthday with a very cool lady :)
Fun fact! It's also my birthday this weekend!
Confronted with someone who was actually listening, Adellexia started off with her early life of being orphaned and being taken in by her uncle, continuing to the excitement of her engagement, and then how she’d met Verus – an armorsmith employed by the area’s Legion, but who also made sculptures – last summer after traveling to live at her fiancé’s house for the rest of her engagement. Then the bad treatment of Verus by Calleous and his brother had started growing increasingly worse (Adellexia didn’t know why, although Alex could easily guess). The poor treatment transferred to Adellexia, growing increasingly worse as the months passed and the marriage date drew closer. When she couldn’t stand the abuse anymore, she’d written to her uncle and requested to be taken out of the engagement. Calleous had found out about the letter, and attempted to force a marriage – that had gone poorly and ended with her literally running from the house with just the clothes she was currently wearing, Verus fighting to allow her to escape, with the chase ending in the tomb and Verus having been dragged along for sport.
Adellexia was sobbing by the time she was done, so Alex wrapped her up in a hug and let her cry. Once Adellexia was just sniffling, Alex wrapped her cloak around the girl’s shoulders and walked back down to where Magnus was hovering at overseeing the fresh bodies from being removed from the tomb, as well as waiting for the opportunity to collect his niece and leave.
“Thank you for calming her down, she can be –”
Alex stopped his off-handed respects and gained his suddenly full attention by drawing her jian and stopping the swing of the blade just touching his throat. Per Adellexia, Magnus was a highly ranked patrician, the main contributor to financing the Legion in the area, and extremely influential. He was kind, respectful, excellent at business, and her two oldest cousins were happily married within the governing families of the province with the rest of her cousins all well married to governing families of other provinces. Adellexia was a lowly ranked patrician, but her parents had been lovers instead of just married, so Magnus had graced her life by still taking her in, despite her almost equestrian upbringing prior to living with him.
“If I may speak with you privately?” Alex asked, inviting him by gesture with her free hand to walk with her toward the tomb entrance. He backed away from the blade, swallowing hard.
“I suppose,” he agreed carefully.
“Thank you,” Alex nodded politely and sheathed her jian, confusing the men who’d just noticed that she’d drawn on Magnus as they were still trying to decide if they had to come to the aid of their leader or not. “Verus?” she called over to him, startling him into looking around for who else she could be talking to before he jogged to where she was standing. Alex unclipped the Roman sword from her belt and handed the whole thing to him. “Keep a watch on my girl, will you?”
“Of course,” he replied promptly, handling the sword and scabbard reverently as he bowed acceptance.
As expected, multiple men followed Alex and Magnus into the tomb. Alex simply asked him to explain the branch of the family tree that he was on, and for his actual relation to Adellexia. The torches had been mounted into the hooks on the wall that were intended to hold them, and she and Magnus passed through to the second chamber as they conversed, his guards following close behind. He was well versed in the histories and stories of the family, and Alex found herself actually laughing at the exaggerated legends surrounding her great- and great-great-granddaughters and their exploits as mercenaries.
Alex knew she was taking advantage of the Roman culture of absolute politeness and respect toward strangers by keeping Magnus and his guards talking with her. After the day she’d been having, though, she assumed she was due to have some kindness provided to her.
“Ahh, and this is my favorite,” Magnus stated as they came to the final chamber. He strode across the room to the mosaic and told the tales that each scene depicted, lecturing as though he was a scholar in front of a class and completely lost in the lesson. Alex chuckled at the interpretations of her life, two of the five scenes altered to unrecognizable stories and one of them turned so completely around that he said the tiles represented a tale about the gods. “Something funny?” he asked, offended, when she laughed out loud.
“No,” Alex replied first. “Well, a little, yes,” she conceded, still chuckling.
She stood up from where she’d been sitting on her youngest daughter’s casket and walked over to the wall. She ran her hand over the tiles that depicted herself and her husband at their youngest, suddenly remembering everything about that day. She smiled at Magnus and then recited the memory that was under her palm, sliding her hand from image to image and sharing the moments of her life with someone she’d just met today but who wasn’t a stranger. Her memories weren’t nearly as riveting as the stories about them, but Magnus listened with increasing attention until she was certain he was absorbing the words through his skin rather than just hearing them. She smiled up at herself and Ixor, at their oldest, and then turned to Magnus with tears running down her cheeks as she rested one hand on her husband’s casket.
“I buried my husband this morning, and already the dust is so thick,” she whispered to him, sliding her hand across the stone to show him the layer. She looked at each of the men who were in the chamber in turn. Some stared at her with awe, some with disbelief, a few with simple shock. Alex pointed to her own casket. “Open that,” she ordered.
A weekly blog updating on Saturdays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!