Gaius had been kept busy on the road to Campania. He was beginning to wonder if he would ever make it. The Appian Way was teeming with travelers and thieves. In fact, he had taken care of many problems, but he had not yet reached the coast. Upon reaching the coast, he would be slightly less than half way through his journey.
He had planned to be gone a month, and he was well behind schedule. Not to mention that every time he had hoped to begin to make up time, something occurred. It would be a struggle to catch up. Gaius was planning on riding hard to make the coast on this day. He arose early, and made it to the first way point by midmorning.
At this stop, his horse was tired and needed some water, so he would have to rest a while. He sat underneath an olive tree while his ride recovered from the morning's ride. He was about to rise and leave when someone approached him.
"I have been following you for quite some time," stated the young stranger.
"Is that so," replied Gaius.
"You make it easy," the stranger added. "There has been a trail of dead bodies for miles."
"What makes you think I am responsible for those deaths?"
"I know!" the young stranger replied confidently. "They have slowed you down enough for me to catch up."
"And you are?"
"My name is Nonus Iuventius Mordanticus. Now, prepare to die."
"Ha ha ha!" laughed Gaius as he continued to sit. "I have no argument with you young one. Now be gone while you still can still walk."
"You have met your match in me Ferrarius!"
"So, you do know me. Well, test your metal somewhere else! You are working in a hotter fire than you realize."
"I have been training my whole life for this moment. I know what I am doing."
"Clearly you do not know enough, or you would not challenge me. For the record, I have not trained since before you were born."
"I am good enough to defeat you!"
"I very much doubt that. You see, every move you know or could ever hope to know, I know how to counter it. Now, if you are fast enough, and strong enough, and you do not make any mistakes, then any fight between you and I could last up to seven moves. I will be impressed if that is the case, which I doubt."
"It will not last that long because you will be dead in three."
"Obviously, you have never killed a man or you would not speak so -- boldly."
"I may have never killed anyone, but I am a match for you."
"Listen," replied Gaius with a very serious look on his face. "I have killed many people, and everyone earned their deaths. Not one of them treated death as cavalierly as you. There are no time outs and no second chances. If you make one mistake against a competent foe, your insides are exposed for all to see."
"I am not afraid."
"You see, that is part of the problem. You should be afraid. You are confident about your own skills; however, you know very little of mine. You do not know how easy or difficult the fights along this trail have been. I am confident that my skills can withstand anything you have to offer. Yet, I am still afraid."
"Stand up and fight!"
"You are not listening. I do not fight -- just to fight. All my fights have purpose. Fighting you will serve no purpose."
"It will serve the purpose of telling people who I am."
"If you went around telling people I am the one who killed Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius, most would ask who?"
"Your reputation is well known."
"You would think so, yet people still try to fight me."
"I can defeat you."
"Even if that were true, it would not help your reputation. Those who had heard of me would speak of how old and tired I was. You would not strike fear into them. Respect has to be earned. The road to respect is long and arduous. There are no shortcuts."
"Get up and fight! Let me worry about the after effects."
"You still do not understand. If we fight, only one will walk away. If you think that I will let you live to challenge me again in the future, you think very lowly of me. If we fight, there is only death. Your death would serve no purpose. Thus, I will not fight you."
"You are a coward."
"Go ahead and spread that around. I will not mind. In fact, it could help me out a bit."
"Is there nothing I can do to make you fight me?"
"Become corrupt and take advantage of average people and the fates may allow us to meet in battle. However, they will likely take you down in some other way, so I do not recommend going down that path."
"If you will not fight, then perhaps you would let me study under you."
"I am not a teacher. Further, at some point you will feel the urge to test yourself against me. That can only end poorly. No, it is best that you join the army. They will teach you what you need to know. Further, your chance of survival -- is by no means assured -- but it is better."
"Very well Ferrarius -- fare well. Perhaps we shall meet again."
"Let us hope that is not the case."
The young Mordanticus walked away as Gaius watched. Cautiously, Gaius got up and mounted his horse and rode off. He hoped that he would not be forced to fight the young man because he saw a bit of himself in the young warrior. However, he would kill him if he had to.
Gaius made it to the second way point without incident. After a brief rest, he pushed on. After a few more hours ride, he made it to the coast. His journey was nearly half over, and he wondered how many more encounters there would be. He was sure he had enough.Posted by deg at June 28, 2009 5:43 PM