The Adventures of Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius

The Marcus Villius Sextus Incident -- Part Two

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Since Rome does not allow wagon traffic during the daylight hours, the streets of Rome were bustling. There was no solitary slinking away in the cover of night for this assassin. Thus, Gaius had to dodge the wagons and carts making deliveries on his way home from Marcus Villius Sextus's villa. On the other hand, it was not unusual for someone to be out and in the streets at that late hour. Thus, his presence did not raise any suspicions.

He made it back to the blacksmith shop with little difficulty. Waiting for him when he arrived home was a teamster with a load of wood. His crew arose and unloaded the wood after Gaius paid the man.

With this transaction out of the way, Gaius headed up to his apartment on the third floor. He had a very strenuous night. He eagerly made his way to his bed chamber, and disrobed. Wearily he climbed into his bed and quickly fell asleep.

However, his rest was short lived because just after first light he had a visitor. Titus Aemilius Mancinus anxiously entered the blacksmith shop. One of Gaius's servants awoke him, and he met Titus in the main room of his apartment..

"Is it done?" asked Titus.

"There are plenty of other resources to determine this besides disturbing my sleep," replied Gaius grumpily.

"I know," responded Titus apologetically. "I was -- am -- just too anxious."

"Marcus Villius Sextus is dead," replied Gaius.

"And -- his family?"

"The fates smiled upon them."

"What does that mean?"

"They were not at home -- and were spared."

"I want them dead! Dead do you hear me!"

"What would you have me do? Travel the four corners of the earth to chase them down?"

"Yes! I want them dead!"

"You could never afford such an adventure. Further, it was not part of the agreement."

"But..."

"No!" Gaius said with a raised voice. He took a deep breath and continued in a calmer voice, "If the fates return them to Rome for their own revenge for this incident, I will take care of them. However, I will not go against the wishes of the gods."

"The gods be damned!"

"Watch yourself citizen Mancinus."

"I apologize," replied Titus.

"No need to apologize to me. The fates were kind to you in allowing for the elimination of Marcus Villius Sextus. I suggest you apologize to them and double your offer of thanks."

"You want to be paid double?"

"You misunderstand," replied Gaius in a calming voice. "My fee remains the same; however, you should make a sacrifice to the gods. If you had no thought of giving such thanks, you should make it a big offering or the fates may come after you."

"Are you threatening me?"

"Sextus did not have the resources to protect himself from the fates. Do you?"

"So..."

"That is all I am saying on the subject. You may leave the remainder of your owed payment on the table and leave me."

"I will not be swayed by your threats!"

"As you wish," replied Gaius returning to his bed chamber.

Gaius did not bother seeing Titus out. Further, he did not bother removing his clothes. He just fell back into bed. However, Gaius did not sleep for long before another visitor came looking for him. Once again he met the visitor in his main room.

"You should not leave such large sums sitting around," began the messenger pointing to several coins on his table.

"Thank you," replied Gaius. "It was payment for a recent business transaction. While we do not often have this kind of money around, it is a part of the business."

"Very good," replied the messenger. "I represent Senator Marcus Licinius Crassus."

"Please send my regards to the Senator. It is an honor." asked Gaius.

"I will see to it. He has a proposition for you."

"He can speak to one of my guildsman for smith work. He does not need to consult with me."

"It is not about smithing."

"I see. What does the senator wish from me?"

"Tragic events occurred during the night at Marcus Villiaus Sextus's villa."

"Tragedy can strike any of us at any time," replied Gaius.

"This was a well directed tragedy."

"As you say."

"A vendetta was carried out on a person under the Senator's protection."

"Sometimes the fates will not be denied."

"Be that as it may, Senator Crassus was greatly impressed by these events."

"What does this have to do with me -- a humble blacksmith?"

"Can I be frank?"

"Of course!"

"The senator is a man of much influence, and he knows things."

"Even men without influence know things."

"That is true. In any event, there is fine villa that is now unoccupied," stated the messenger.

"That is a tragedy," replied Gaius.

"My master is willing to offer this villa for certain jobs to be undertaken."

"What does any of this have to do with me?"

"I do not wish to be indelicate. Do I have to spell it out?"

"Obviously, you do."

"My master informs me of certain facts. He believes he knows how you supplement your income from the guild of smiths in your service. For instance, where this pile comes from. In fact, I am aware that your skills are much admired in certain circles. My master wishes to take advantage of these skills. In exchange, he offers you the villa of Sextus for simply accepting his offer. In the future, he will jobs for you to do. He wishes to assure you that it will be very lucrative business for you."

"Why would someone with these admirable skills wish to work for the Senator?"

"Do you not know who he is?"

"Of course I do. Who does not know the wealthiest man in Rome."

"His wealth and influence come with many advantages."

"If I were the one you seek, and I am not saying that I am, what kind of advantages could the Senator possibly offer?"

"I have been authorized to offer you whatever you wish. What advantages are you looking for?"

"Again, hypothetically, would the Senator offer the advantage of not doing a job if this person does not wish to?"

"I suppose within reason that could be arranged, but it would come with limits."

"If this alleged person decided to join you, would you give him the advantage of informing innocents that they should leave so they do not get hurt?"

"I would assume that would not be part of the bargain."

"For such a dangerous undertaking, the only advantage you offer -- this person you are seeking -- is material wealth."

"I suppose that is true."

"Do you suspect Senator Crassus is attempting to be in competition with the fates?"

"You are declining the offer?"

"I am not the person the Senator is looking for."

"You are not the person the Senator is looking for?"

"You can go back to his villa now."

"I will go back to his villa now."

Gaius declined the offer from a very powerful man in Rome. This would have to have influence in the life of Gaius. However, Gaius had been owned once, and he said he would never allow that to happen again. Thus, he showed the messenger every courtesy he could as he showed the messenger the door. It had been a busy day already, and he wanted to see if he could get some more sleep.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on March 8, 2009 6:20 PM.

Experience the wrath! was the previous entry in this blog.

"Kalluunle" - III is the next entry in this blog.

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