The Adventures of Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius
The Marcus Villius Sextus Incident -- Part One
By Douglas E. Gogerty
It was a dark and stormy night, and Marcus Villius Sextus was sound asleep in his bed. Even the occasional clap of thunder did not wake him. However, he did awaken with a start when a tall stranger sat on his chest. A small oil lamp allowed the slightest amount of light into the room. In the very dim light, Marcus could see the stranger's thin muscular frame as he was stripped to the waist. After a crack of thunder, Marcus smelled the unmistakable odor of blood, and he noticed a shimmer from the crimson color covering the stranger's torso.
"Help!" cried Marcus. "Guards help!"
"Scream all you want," the stranger said in a calm and softly menacing voice.
Marcus stuggled to free himself from under the stranger, but was trapped. "Who are you? What do you want?" he asked.
"You sleep soundly -- like a man without anything on his conscience."
"I have done nothing wrong. Why should I not sleep soundly?"
"Does the name Aemilia mean anything to you?"
"Aemilia? I was acquitted of that."
"Ha ha ha," the stranger laughed menacingly. "While your generosity towards the jurors was satisfactory to them, the gods were not sufficiently swayed."
"From that curved sword over your shoulder, you are clearly not a Roman," replied Marcus. "What would a barbarian like you know of our gods?"
"Do not Romans fight with the non-Romans regularly? Would this not make these so-called barbarians tools of Mars -- the god of war?"
"That is a well rehearsed speech whoever you are," Marcus replied as he briefly increased his struggling.
"The name is Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius," replied the stranger in a whisper.
"Ferrarius? You were never a blacksmith!"
"I let my steel speak for itself," replied the stranger raising his dagger.
"Wait! Wait!" cried the pinned man struggling to get free. "If you spare me -- I can make it worth your while."
"The messenger of the fates will not be swayed by your bribery."
"Then... Then... I will improve my sacrifice to the gods! I can pay! I have resources!"
"Attempting to bargain after your lot is cast will get you nowhere as well."
Another clap of thunder erupted as Marcus attempted to avoid the drawn dagger. He struggled as hard as he could but was completely pinned under the stranger.
"Is there nothing that I can do?" Marcus begged.
"Your hubris brought you to this point," replied the stranger. "Only someone with great hubris would believe that you can bargain with the fates. I assure you that you cannot. Your best bet would have been to humbly accept your fate."
"Wait! Wait!" screamed Marcus. "You are not some god made flesh. You are just a tool of the fickle fates. I must warn you that I am under the protection of Marcus Licinius Crassus. He is a very powerful man, and he will avenge me!"
"Do you think this action was not cleared with him first?"
"Help! Help! Help!" Marcus cried as he writhed to avoid his fate.
The dagger plunged into the throat of his victim, and Gaius said quietly, "The fates are satisfied."
When the assassin was certain that Marcus was dead, he climbed off of him. Gaius took a deep breath and gave a heavy sigh. With this, he picked up the lifeless body and walked into the atrium of the house. As he emerged from the Cubiculum, he noticed a house servant standing there.
The servant asked, "What is to become of me?"
"Your master is dead. In all likelihood, you are now a freedman. You may choose to do whatever you wish."
"Free? That is exciting," the freed slave said in an unsure voice.
Gaius continue to carry the lifeless body towards the entrance at the front of the house. Getting in the way and pointing at the scabbard over Gaius's shoulder the freed slave asked "What kind of sword is that?"
"It is a shamshir. It is the sword of my people," Gaius replied as he continued to attempt to get past.
"It is not straight like a Roman sword. It is curved."
"A straight blade limits length when it comes to drawing the sword. The arm can go only so far away from the body. A curved blade reduces this problem. It still can be long and still quickly drawn."
"Interesting... So, when you killed the guards," the slave asked continuing to get between the stranger and the door. "Why did you not kill me?"
"I had no quarrel with you," replied Gaius with a glare in his eye. "The fates only asked only your master to pay -- and those that would assist him."
"Oh! Say, you are covered in blood -- are you all right?" the slave asked continuing to obstruct the exit.
"The blood is not mine."
"What will you do now?" asked the slave breaking eye contact and looking over the stranger's shoulder.
Gaius threw the body of Marcus Villius Sextus at the slave, turned while drawing his scimitar, and opened up the belling of an armed individual attempting to kill him from behind. The second slave dropped his short sword and attempted to contain his internal organs. Another slash from the scimitar opened up his neck and he fell to the ground dead.
The first slave collapsed under the weight of his former master's body, and was pinned underneath. He struggled to free himself, but was unable.
"I am sorry!" cried the pinned slave. "He talked me into it."
"You were free to choose your path after the death of your master," replied Gaius. "You chose poorly."
"So did you," replied the pinned slave.
The stranger wiped the bloody scimitar on the pinned slave's tunic and returned it to its sheath. Coolly, he pulled out his dagger, and peered over the dead man at the trapped slave.
"I am not a freedman," he responded with a quick thrust to the throat to the slave.
The stranger removed all of the bodies from the house. He laid them out side by side and exposed them to the elements. In this way, the scavengers and insects would have easy access to the dead flesh. Further, anyone passing by would know that a vendetta was served.
Once the bodies were outside, the stranger cleaned himself off with the water in the impluvium. He grabbed his lamp, and did a quick search of the house to make sure his task was complete. When he was satisfied, he grabbed his tunic and returned to his home.