ROMAN IDENTITY: Shadow of the Legend
~Lost and Found~
"Where am I? Where is everyone?" I muttered brushing the sand off me. I was surrounded by seagulls!
"Go!" I shouted as I chased the seagulls away. I was a long way from home. It had dawned on me that I was left behind. Panic began to set in. With my mind still in a daze I desperately tried to find someone I knew. I staggered over to where I believed the bride and groom were staying. I knocked hard on the door. No one answered. I knocked again. Still no answer! Growing impatient I paced back and forth to look through the small windows.
"There not coming," I muttered at last. Then suddenly the door crept open and the doorkeeper peeked out.
"Who is it?"
"This is Troy."
"Does Maxis know you?"
"Why yes, he invited my family to his wedding ceremony. Torn, the doorkeeper looked back as Maxis slowly came forward to the door. Then the doorkeeper whispered to Maxis who was in the background.
"They were not expecting company so soon. There is a dinner party though later on. Would you like to come back later?" He resumed.
"That is okay I need to go home anyways."
"Troy, where is the rest of your family?" Maxis said reappearing with his toga draping over his shoulder.
"I accidentally got left behind," I said trying to make light of the situation.
"And your family does not know you are here?" Maxis said sternly. I nodded no.
"Well you can reside as a guest in my house however long you need to stay." He said at last.
"I hope I am not intruding here."
"Oh no that is fine. You are not the only guest here. Make yourself at home." I walked past the atrium where the bed was still out. As I circled around the small pool and into the left wing of the atrium I saw Priscilla talking to Lydia! She did not notice me as she walked off. Curious I followed her into the colonnaded garden trying to go unnoticed. I watched her from afar gathering some flowers to add to her wreath. She then pulled back her loose black hair as she gathered a drink from the fountain. I should be going I thought she might think I am stalking her. As I made my way to the arched doorway, she called out, "Is that you Maxis?" I stopped in my tracks but with my back to her.
"You are not Maxis. Troy what brings you here?" she asked perplexed.
"I was lost."
"So that is your excuse," she said teasingly.
"No. I fell asleep on the beach. Everyone left me behind. Somehow I stumbled back over here to this place, because it looks familiar, safe, and warm."
"I am so sorry. I wish you could stay, but they must be worried about you. I know they must be looking all over for you." She said.
"Oh I guess." Priscilla gave me a surprised glance.
"Of course they are going to look for you. Anything could have happened to you. You are the third son of the king and anyone could have kidnapped you or something."
"Like they would care." I muttered.
"Every family cares about their own."
"Then how come they did not bother to see where I went, over even bother to look that I was on the beach."
"They probably did not know you would have ventured off their. Who would have been there?"
"Oh I do not know, Barbarius."
"Maybe he just did not see you."
"I assume that is the problem. No one sees me. I am just there." I walked off.
"Breakfast for all," called Felix. He then stopped to stare when he saw me and Priscilla.
"I wonder who you came to see," he said slyly.
After breakfast, I managed to get ready for another day at the Grammaticus. A slave of Maxis offered to escort me to school and afterwards they would see if they could make arrangements to send me home. As I entered in, I got weird stares by some, but I ignored them. After another day of reciting literature, class was dismissed for lunch. To my surprise Romeos approached me.
"We are glad we see you back today." I wrinkled my brow.
"What are you talking about? I am usually here except that day of the wedding."
"We thought you went missing?" he whispered.
"Our father received a letter from your father this morning asking if you were staying with our family."
"Oh I was staying with the bride and groom."
"Oh…how is it?"
"It is okay I suppose."
"Was not there sister staying with them."
"Yes." A smirk lit up Romeos face.
"Are you going to stay there?" He asked.
"My heart tells me I should just stay, but my mind tells me now that I should go back if my family is truly looking for me. By the way how come you are talking to me know. I thought you would just be talking to Julius and Silus?" I said as we walked together.
"They are still my friends. They are just at one of the vendors. I brought my lunch today. But why can I not talk to my friend once awhile. I realized that Silus does not like you but that should not matter anymore."
"I do not know what I did to offend him. What did I do to receive the rebuff?"
"He has the notion that you try to curry favor with the teacher, giving you an unfair advantage."
"I never asked for the attention. I just try to do my best at my studies, but not to come off as more superior-minded. Anyhow I must except that you are friends with Silus."
"We knew each other since childhood Troy. He has been a good friend, but sometimes he does not adjust to new things very well. But I suppose I needed to widen my outlook on who I call a friend and include others in my circle of friends."
I wish I could have stayed for dinner. But it was best I start heading back before it gets too late. The horse was waiting for me with a small chariot attached to it outside the school building.
"We need to hurry ahead, before it gets too dark out," called the slave. I paused to look at the dark storm clouds looming overhead. I jumped inside without a moment to spare.
"I think we will need a tarp over the chariot."
"See what you can find there." I looked down at a piece of cloth.
"We can use this." The slave stopped to tie down the corners of the cloth over the chariot. The tarp barely covered the chariot but it would do. As the chariot rode into the brisk wind, the cloth cover blew loosely. Before we even traveled a mile, the rain came down… harder, and harder, and harder! The cloth which was so fragile, started to tear from the weight of the water. Water started oozing out the small opening as I tried to move away from the opening.
"Are we almost there yet?" I called out in the rain.
"Almost." I wiped my forehead as I still felt raindrops pelting on me. The horse began to slow down as his hooves trudged through the muddy puddles. Then it came to a sudden jolt.
"Move already. Do not stop on us now!" yelled the slave. I realized at the moment, that the wheel was stuck in the gully on the side of the road. The slave had no choice but brave the downpour as he tried to push the wheel out. Nothing!
"I can help you, if we are going to get out of here." I called out. Stepping out the chariot I tried to pull my tunic over my head.
"Try to push the chariot from the back Troy." I nodded as I went towards the back. With all my might I pushed against the chariot. With water, and sweat down my face, I pushed with the chariot budging only a little. The wheel moved a little, with the slave trying to remove the sludge off it.
"I need you to push harder."
"I am trying," I moaned. I once again pushed against the side of the chariot with my might until my hands got sore. The wheel was turning ever slightly. The slave got up from his crouching position to help me push the side of the chariot. The chariot was slowly moving and then the wheel popped off, causing the chariot to lean in on itself.
"I am so sorry," the slave said regretfully. I went inside the chariot to escape the wind and rain. I was drenched from head to foot. I was tired, miserable, sore, and had no idea where I was. As I lay awake in the chariot the slave was on the lookout for any passerby to come help us. An hour passed, and the rain continued on into the evening I wondered if anyone would come and help. Then a chariot came approaching.
"A chariot!" The slave shouted. He waved his hands to and fro. As it came closer, a glimmer of hope entered my eyes.
"We need help; we have no tools to fix the wheel." The chariot kept on going forward.
"Wait!" yelled the slave. A rich man looked out the tarp and simply shook his head no.
"Can you give us a ride, we are stranded. Please." The chariot continued to speed off.
"Where did he go? Is he coming back with help?" I asked. The slave sadly shook his head no. That was it! I felt a sudden anger flash inside me.
"Would he have stopped if he recognized I was the son of the king," I muttered.
"I do not know if anyone is coming out in this storm," the slave said solemnly. I had slumped in the seat, as the rain slowed to a trickle. We were stuck at the crossroads with no other people in site. As I slowly curled up to go to sleep, I heard noises in the background. Was I delusional? Just false hope I assumed. But I heard them again. I heard the hooves get closer, and then it was the barking that followed. I went outside to investigate. Through the soft drizzle I could see the chariot coming closer, and closer from the opposite side.
"Wait," I said wailing my arms in the air. With the slave left behind at the chariot I ran to the approaching chariot.
"Stop! Please." The chariot came to a halt. I bent down panting… hoping… waiting.
"Troy." A voice called out. I then recognized the voice; it was father!
"Get inside quick." As I hopped, inside I saw Shabby in the chariot. I hugged Shabby as he playfully licked me.
"I am so relieved you are alright," father said at last with tired eyes.
"I am now." As the chariot trudged on by, I saw the slave waiting by the chariot.
"Stop the chariot!"
"Why what is wrong?"
"That slave is stranded I rode with him to find you. I cannot leave him." Father sighed.
"Halt," he shouted. I got out the chariot and offered the slave a ride.
"Thanks," said the slave.
"You are welcome." I said.
"Thanks father again for coming for me. It was a long day but you made it at last."
"I did not forget about you. You are still my son; my youngest one. I promised your mother I would always look after you boys. And I will keep my vow. We never meant to leave you. We did not know where you were Troy."
"I had left to go to the beach and then I fell asleep."
"You cannot keep wandering off. It is dangerous. When we left that night, we assumed you were riding with your brothers and they must have assumed you were with us. I was worried something happened to you. As much as it pains me, there is still evil in the world. Please do not wander off without telling anyone."
"I promise I will not." I said.
We had made it home at last. Our chariot driver had agreed to take the slave back to his master. With a blanket draped over my shoulders to keep me warm; I headed straight to the hearth to keep warm.
As I walked through the tablinum and into the atrium, the heart of the house, I stumbled across Alexander. I watched as his jaw drop in surprise.
"You are back Troy; and wet."
"Yes as you can tell," I said with a smirk.
"I will bring you a new set of clothes right away." I merely nodded. In the meanwhile I plopped onto the couch in front of the hearth. As I stretched my sore hands, I could feel the heat emanate from the burning coals. As I slouched on the couch I slowly began to relax and forget about all the anxiety of the day until…
"Barbarius is gone!" Apollus said loudly.
"What is the meaning of this?!" Father said raising his voice.
"He is gone. He is not here. He left this letter in his room."
"What does it say?" Father inquired anxiously.
I will be going away for a little while. Please do not bemoan over me for I am well and safe. I have never had the courage until now to make this bold move. I love you father, even though you pushed me, you saw something in me that I did not think I possessed. I will miss Apollus for your sarcastic humor, and for being my comrade. I will miss you Troy too. You are still my youngest brother and I will hope you always stay pure at heart. For where I am going I cannot quite say. After eighteen years, it is time for me to explore the unknown world beyond Aegean. I need this time to "discover "myself because I do not feel I am quite ready. I know out there are some of the Greek thinkers whom I can study from in the vastness of knowledge held in the libraries from Athens to Alexandria. I do not know when I am coming back. Think of this as part of my training father. Farewell.
"Barbarius" Maximus Acertius
"Can I see that letter Apollus," Father asked. Without a word he handed it to him. Rip!! Father tore the letter in two, crumbled it up and threw it in the fire!
"He got into his head," father muttered as he walked away with a look of disdain. I sat there at the couch in shock, confusion, and something else. Was it sadness? We were so different, and we were never close as children, but somehow I was saddened. Why would he leave so abruptly? What was the reason? Who got inside his mind? What about the diplomat who mysteriously left to according to father. Just when I had arrived home I was bombarded by life-altering news that flipped my world upside down. Grandfather had arrived into the room with a serious face.
"I assume you heard the news," I said.
"Why yes. Your brother will return. Young men usually act irrationally. Your minds are still developing, and you have not quite reached the in-betweens of the scale. In other words I am trying to say; stability. He will make his way just like I did at his age. I believe I have something for you before I leave myself again. I already gave gifts to your brothers including Barbarius before he took off. Here open it." He handed me a small wooden box with a lid on top.
"This is not more of that sleeping medicine. I have had enough of those." I said teasingly. He shook his head no. As I slowly opened the lid I saw a small golden locket. I picked it up and placed it in the palm of my hands. As I examined it curiously I saw Apollus admiring his new bow and arrow and boasting about his new royal garb.
"Is there anything else?" I asked.
"No." What would I do with a small locket?
"Thanks." I said trying not to sound ungrateful. "I know this came from the heart."
"Why yes, but it also came from your mother. It has been a family heirloom for generations."
"Woe. This is so nice of you. How did you…I mean why me? Why not Barbarius or Apollus?"
"Your mother wanted you to have it. It was lost for a long time, but it was retrieved after the cleanup from the earthquake and I kept it safe all these years in the treasury. Now that you are older and will appreciate it, you can have it; as a piece of your mother. As I opened the small locket, it contained a tiny painted picture of mother holding me as a baby. My eyes grew watery as I realized what a treasure this really/was.
"Thank you from the bottom of my heart."
"You are welcome. I hope it gives you strength you need in the coming days when you must face insurmountable challenges."
I had gone through an array of emotions that day. I had felt lower than dirt to feeling special and everything in between. Once I received new clothes I insisted I dress myself. With the locket still buried in my palms, I slipped away into the garden, the same garden my mother tended years ago. The flowers were already in bloom including one that had just bloomed today. It was a small flower, with pinkish-orangey velvety petals. It was a late bloomer, but today it had finally bloomed. With the sun shining down I held the locket up to the sunlight to see the golden chain sparkle. In that moment it changed. The color had changed to a copper color. As I brought it back to my palm it changed back. It was mysterious, nonetheless. Perhaps it is the angle in which the light hit it. But as I held it I felt a sense of serenity take over me. Then I heard the feet of Shabby tap lightly against the tiled walkway. He also looked at eagerly with his tongue hanging out.
"It is not for you Shabby." I smiled. I put it safely in my sling around my neck along where my bulla hung.
"You are safe now. I can rest in peace a little easier. I do not know what the future lays; where I will be a day from now, a week, month, a year, or years away. But I hope I can grow into the person that I was meant to be."
His dark eyes stared out into the clear blue of the sea ahead. In the background you could hear men shouting and tugging on the chains as the boat came to a complete stop on the docks.
"Are you ready to explore the world Barbarius?" called the voice from behind.
"Any last regrets?"
"No. Not yet." He said sternly with his eyes fixed on the misty sea. Barbarius walked up the ramp to the boat. On the boat, two men were playing a game of Roman chess, with one of them being Gaius. It was a game of strategy in which the object of the game is to take out the piece of the opponent by surrounding your pieces between two of your color pieces.
"Gaius it is your move." Gaius scratched his chin in deep thought.
"You know sometimes if you do not get what you want you start small, and then take out the big piece. Either way you still fall in my trap." Gaius moved his piece back and surrounded his piece and knocked it out the way."
"That was a cheap move," the other man said getting angry while fiddling his back sheath where his dagger lay.
"Careful, do not get heated over this. I have more things to get heated over. It is just a game right?" he smiled. The voice from the sailor disrupted the conversation.
"If we catch the trade wind from the south we can get there in no time to catch up to the diplomat. Full speed ahead to Rome!"
Author's note: This is my last chapter. The preview of the sequel will be coming out soon. For all those that took the time to read my story(ies) thanks. I promise it will be better!