Alea Iacta Est


Pelusium, Egypt, 48 B.C.E.

"Oh! How horrid!"

A familiar voice made its way to the dock where Quintus and Philip knelt. Quintus' dark eyebrows leapt up at the sight of the boy who had refused to talk to him throughout their entire journey to Egypt. Sextus daintily made his way barefoot through the grass, looking down carefully as he hurried to the dock. "Philip!" he called as he reached the two of them. "What on Earth compelled you to do this? Here? Uch! You know my father would not appreciate being… tended to in such a way." The boy looked into the sky as he spoke, careful not to catch a glimpse of his father's disgusting corpse.

"I simply thought he should be honored, dominus," Philip answered politely, addressing Sextus with the word for master.

The boy frowned. "I suppose." He glanced over at Quintus and accidently caught his eye. "Eh—er—and—what are you doing here, exactly?" he asked, finally breaking his long silence with the man.

Quintus stood. "It must be difficult for you," he said, momentarily empathizing with the boy. "Two losses so close together."

Sextus folded his arms. "If my first loss was your friend… Lor-ens, then you are incorrect. I felt nothing for him."

Quintus smirked, trying to stifle his laughter. "I didn't ask if you had feelings for my friend, Sextus. I merely pointed out that you must be going through a difficult time."

"Right," the boy replied, tilting his head with annoyance. "That was exactly what I came to see you about. Philip, leave us," he commanded. As the slave stood to leave the fowl smelling corpse, Sextus quickly changed his mind. "On second thought, we'll leave you."

The boy lead Quintus straight in to the town of Pelusium which was winding down as the sky began to darken. After a few moments of thoughtful silence, Sextus informed him, "You don't quite realize the truth behind your earlier statement about my 'two losses', do you?"

"What do you mean?"

"When I came into town today, I decided to check the Forum for the news. On one side of the bulletin was the news of Caesar's return to Rome. But I wasn't interested in that , of course. I immediately hurried to the other side and found the news I had been looking for. The obituaries. Your friend… he was in there."

"What did it say?" Quintus asked, swallowing nervously.

"It said that two slaves who had been sent to the Roman prison from the battlefield at Pharsalus had been executed." The boy hung his head worriedly.

"That is generally what they do with prisoners," Quintus informed him.

"Yes—I—well, I know that, you see—I… was just hoping…"

Somewhat reluctantly, Quintus placed an arm around him as they continued walking. "I'm sorry, boy," he said, forcing a smile.

"No," Sextus informed him blatantly, looking Quintus in the eye. "You're not. But perhaps you can make up for it by doing me a favor."

Quintus' eyebrows furrowed. "Okay…"

"I want you, please," he insisted. "To tell me everything you know about your friend."

"That might be a little difficult…" Quintus laughed.

"I don't care," Sextus pleaded seriously. "I have to know. You and your little slave girl are the only ones who really knew him. Right?"

"She's not my little slave girl, her name is Decima," Quintus said sternly. He thought for a moment about how he could even begin to tell "everything he knew" about a man he had only known for a week. Not only that, but a man who spent the majority of his life in the 21st century.

The aristocrat had paused for too long. "Please," Sextus asked again.

"Why don't you talk to Decima?" Quintus suggested.

"She scares me," Sextus said simply. "You Britons certainly have different standards for how women should behave." He watched as Quintus shook his head at him. "Now," the boy demanded. "Are you going to continue avoiding the question, or are you going to give me an answer? Tell me everything you know about your friend."

Quintus quickly sighed. Lorentz had been far from a friend, but he forced himself to at least try for the boy. "Alright, then," he began. "Lorentz was an… interesting man…"

Sextus glanced up at the aristocrat with satisfaction as he began his story. Returning Quintus' kind gesture of a hand around the shoulder, he prepared himself for the time traveler's eulogy.

Thank you to all of those who read and reviewed! I truly hope you enjoyed the story!