13: The Epilogue.
13. The Epilogue.
Smiling, Faith watched as Marius slaughtered imaginary Gauls with his wooden sword, his father complained that the boy took after his mother too much; why couldn’t he play at counting money or something?
“Marius,” Faith called to her son, “don’t you dare get mud on your clothes.” His mother’s words stopped the five year old for all of a heartbeat before he turned to fight off another horde of blue painted barbarians. “So, Aemilius,” she turned to speak to the old soldier who stood behind the market stall, “how are we doing?”
Not long after marrying Marius, Faith had used her money to set up in a business of her own; ‘diversification’ she’d told her husband. The truth was she didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of living on the profits of slavery, so she’d set up her own arms company. Everyone always needed weapons and Faith thought it might as well be her who supplied them.
“Very good day today, domina,” Aemilius scratched his ear and smiled knowingly, “seems a lot of senators forgot their daggers when they left home this morning, he-he.”
“Ya don’t think there’s gonna be trouble do ya?” Faith cast a worried glance over at the senate house where a crowd of important looking men stood around blocking up the entrance, she pointed, “Isn’t that Caesar?”
“Aye,” nodded the grizzled veteran, “but for how much longer?”
“Whatever,” Faith didn’t interest herself in politics as long as it didn’t interfere with business. “So profits are up?”
“Indeed, indeed,” Aemilius showed her the contents of the strong box chained under the stall, “You have a good product and your name still carry’s weight with them in the business. ‘As used by Fidelia Venetrix’ has become a watch word for good quality.”
Smiling Faith stretched her back, this was her third pregnancy and standing up for long periods was a real pain in every sense.
“Here, domina,” Aemilius pulled over an old wooden box, “sit, rest your back a while.”
Faith had found having children was as easy as falling off a log; and just as painful, even for a slayer. Smiling in thanks at the old man she sat down, next time she must remember not to push quite so hard. The midwife had almost missed poor Marius when he’d popped abruptly into the world and little Fidelia had almost shared the same fate. The sound of shouting came to her ears from the direction of the senate obviously some fine point of law was being debated.
“Marius,” she called just to be on the safe side she had seen riots just happen before now, “stay close to Mama,” she ordered, the boy dragged himself a couple of feet closer to where his mother sat, after all there were just as many Gaul’s there as anywhere else.
“I’ll have the accounts ready for you tomorrow if that’s alright domina?” The old soldier turned to deal with a customer.
Keeping one eye on her son, Faith scanned the market for any familiar faces but saw none, the noise from the senate was getting louder but most people didn’t notice they didn’t have slayer hearing.
“Alms for an old soldier!”
Turning at the sound of the cry, Faith saw a veteran in his late twenties hop by using a crutch; he’d lost his left leg below the knee.
“Hey soldier!” She called, “What legion?”
“Ninth Hispania.” Answered the soldier as he turned to hop over to her.
“Prime Cohort domina.” The soldier answered proudly standing just a little straighter.
“Here,” Faith flipped a silver coin to the soldier who snatched it out of the air, “I give work to wounded veterans if you want it, and you aren’t a thief or a drunkard.”
“Thank you, domina,” the soldier bit down on the coin then hid it away in folds of his tunic, “Thank-you for the offer but I’m just trying to get home…that’ll help me get a fair way.” He patted the coin, “Good fortune be with you, domina, and may you have many strong sons and beautiful daughters.”
“Thank you, soldier,” Faith smiled at the man, “I hope you get home.”0=0=0=0
Jupiter, greatest and best, hobbled across the square until he was out of sight of Fidelia. He sat down on a bench by a fountain and took the coin out of his tunic and held it up to the sun. He could tell real silver when he saw it, after all he was a god. Chuckling to himself he hid the coin under his tunic again.
“I always said that she had a good soul and a kind heart…given the chance.”
“Yes you did.” Juno sat down next to him in the guise of a washer woman, “I distinctly remember you saying.”
“Hmm,” Jupiter straightened his tunic, “well, at least it’s one in the eye for the Powers. They’d have let her die you know?”
“I know.” Juno nodded her head, it was no good arguing with her husband when he was all self-righteous like this, but she had to say something, “so you took her from her world to save this one?”
“Her world was doomed anyway,” replied Jupiter gruffly, “the Powers had seen to that. This world has a chance now she is here. In what, two thousand years time? She’ll be born again and this time the two slayers will be strong enough to stop The First.”
“Bit of a long way round to do it,” observed Juno, “what if her line is wiped out? A lot can happen in two thousand years.”
“Ha!” Jupiter threw his head back and laughed at the sky, “The number of children she’ll have…never!”
The two gods stood up, Juno went about her washing while Jupiter hobbled off to the north. It was hard work this god business.0=0=0=0
Faith got slowly to her feet, “Damn it,” she muttered. She could see men in blood stained togas run from the senate house.
“Aemilius get everything packed up and take it home.” Fidelia gestured to the senate house, “Something bad’s happened, I’ll contact you tomorrow…now where’s that boy? MARIUS!”
The child was instantly at his mother’s side, he knew that tone of voice and he knew that there would be no arguing with it.
“Good boy,” she lay her hand on the child’s head.
“You’ll be alright, domina?” Asked Aemilius as he packed away the remains of his stock and clutched the strong box to his chest.
“What? Fidelia Venetrix worry about a little mob violence?”
Aemilius didn’t look convinced but he did as he was told and headed off towards his home. Faith looked around the rapidly emptying square, if people were running away there should be no trouble.
“Come along now, Marius, hold tight to Mama’s hand and don’t let go, understand?” The boy solemnly nodded his head, “Good boy, now let’s go find your father.”THE END.0=0=0=0
Just like to say a big thanks to everyone who either ‘Recommended’ or ‘Reviewed’ this fic. I must say I’ve been stunned by the good reaction to this story.