Death and Glory

The prequel to The Greatest Ludus, telling the story of Mamercus Nepos, grandfather of Titus- his rise, his fall, and his return to glory.


4. Risks

The mountains of parchment that required studying did not seem to ease. Day after day, Mamercus set about working out the numbers for his new employer, who seemed quite content work him to the bone. Tiberius, looking ever more haggard, came to see him from time to time, in theory to check on the welfare of his friend, yet Mamercus suspected it was to ensure he was focused on the task at hand, and not abandoning his post to bed the next pretty young thing that walked by.

Mamercus was indeed focused, though half the time his thoughts focused on Rutilia. Their first meeting had been a warm and pleasant affair, even if it had not ended with her shrieking in glee as she rode his cock. She had been an interesting woman of poise and dignity, with a tantalising hint of rebellion.

He found himself wondering how much more there was to her, and desired to learn more. He'd never been so fascinated by a woman before.

Part of him considered asking Tiberius a few questions about her, but he knew his friend would throw a fit if Mamercus was even considering pursuing Rutilia, so speaking to him was a bad idea.

Work continued to bore him. After a few more days he had not seen Rutilia for six days, and his hunger had grown. He considered venturing to one of the whore houses to sate his lust, but when he stepped into the building, the girls, as attractive and willing as they were, did not hold that spark that he saw in Rutilia's eyes. They would satisfy him for but a short time, but none of them were the one he wanted. He left without partaking in anything other than wine, and returned to his duties.

The following morning, as he worked through yet more tax reports for the good Senator Metellus, Mamercus had cause to be pleasantly surprised.

The note that had been discreetly slipped in with his daily work sent a little thrill through his spine. He had a note to leave work as soon as he could.

Unfortunately, the Senator piled on the work, and Mamercus found himself growing inscreasingly despondent with it. Time seemed to crawl, and matters were not helped by the unexpected visit of Metellus' dog, Tiberius.

His friend's blue eyes appeared more exhausted than usual. His chin and neck were unshaven and in need of trimming. His hair was unkempt and his blue robes appeared in need of washing. Mamercus had to wonder when his friend had last slept.

"Good afternoon Tiberius." Mamercus said coolly.

"Good afternoon Mamercus. I come on the orders of Senator Metellus himself. He wishes to speak with you." As ever, Tiberius was deadpan.

Mamercus leaned back. "Has the good Senator offered reason as to why?"

"No, he has not. He wishes to break words with you about a private matter. I trust you have not done anything foolish?"

Mamercus laughed. "Nothing that would concern a senator of Rome." Tiberius did not share in his amusement.

"The Senator does not tolerate those under his employment bringing disrepute to his name!" He hissed. "I have warned you not to make an enemy of him!"

"Oh Tiberius, do you really believe the Senator will give a fuck if I enjoy the occasional cup of wine in my own time?" Mamercus stood and walked around his desk, white robes billowing. "I am a grown man with a life to live. Just as you once were."

Tiberius bristled. "I seek to bring fortune and respect to my name Mamercus. I will not have you or anyone else jepordise that."

Mamercus walked past him toward the exit to the corridors. "And I would seek to enjoy fortune should it come my way, rather than being a shell."

Tiberius said nothing. He shot Mamercus a resentful look, and followed him.

The Senator's office had a beautiful marble floor with a golden eagle pattern emblazoned upon it. A pair of rubies caught the sun from an open portal and gleamed, creating a menacing effect. Stone tablets and parchments sat neatly upon rows of wooden decking along both walls, and the desk had been carved from white stone, then smoothed over meticously to meet the Senator's needs. The walls had been painted white to keep the room bright, and behind the desk sat the Senator himself, currently studying a text. As ever, he did not appear especially dangerous, but despite his attitude toward Tiberious, Mamercus made a point to take his views of Metellus seriously.

Mamercus stood in the doorway, awaiting permission to enter. After a few seconds the Senator looked up. Those keen brown eyes examined the young man for a moment, before he nodded, bidding Mamercus entry.

There was no chair for Mamercus to sit in. No doubt a subtle means of imposing control.

Metellus looked back down at the page he was reading for a moment, before returning his gaze to Mamercus.

"I have been asked to speak with you regarding a potentially serious matter of your character." His speech was completely neutral.

Mamercus was confused- and slightly concerned. "I am uncertain as to what you refer to Senator." He replied carefully.

Metellus sat up. "I am led to believe that a couple of weeks ago, you were present when a brawl broke out at a local drinking establishment. One of the individuals involved has claimed you were involved in instigating the hostilities."

Mamercus remembered the fight. "I had made a generous offer to a crowd I believed to be more dignified than they had actually been. I misjudged their characters, which I accept was a mistake on my part. However, I made no hostile or threatening acts toward anyone."

Metellus fixed his sharp eyes upon him, and despite himself, Mamercus felt his confidence sag a little.

"I am concerned that you were even at such a venue, though a man of your youth and looks would be expected to venture to such places. However, I commend your honesty. Few people are prepared to admit to errors of judgement in my presence. I am also satisfied that you did not start the fight through aggressive behaviour. Another witness informed me thus."

Mamercus suppressed a sigh of relief. It appeared the Senator was testing him.

"That said, there is another matter..." Mamercus was on guard once more. "I am led to understand that you have been courting the daughter of the businessman Sextus Crispinus. I must advise against such a path. Sextus is most protective of his daughter and will exploit any weakness in you, including your connections to me, to see to it she is on proper path."

"I have met with the man's daughter but once, whereaupon we shared wine, enjoyed a pleasant conversation, and parted ways. I will not deny a desire to understand her further, but that has been our only encounter thus far."

Metellus leaned back. "I believe you, but if you are planning further encounters I must warn against it. I am aware of your reputation for being a womaniser Mamercus. Perhaps if I enjoyed your youth I would be the same. However, Sextus is also aware of your... nature. He is also at present embroiled in... proceedings, that give him cause to try and damage this office. I will not give him any leverage to do so."

Mamercus knew what Metellus was asking- ordering- and he also knew what his heart was telling him. He dared not give voice to his thoughts.

He nodded, looking away for a moment. When he looked back, his eyes were resolved- but not the reason the Senator would think.

"I shall not pursue a relationship with Sextus' daughter. I would not wish to cause problems for you sir."

Metellus smiled. "Excellent. It would be a shame to lose you as one of my staff. You have been quite the asset to me."

"Thank you Senator."

Metellus nodded. "Now, return to your duties. Good day, Mamercus."

"Good day, Senator."

Mamercus left the office, keeping in his mind the details of Rutilia's note, and deciding to keep a watch for anyone from the Senator's office who might wish to follow him.

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