Some days ago I tried to translate into English a fragment of my very loooooong fan-fic (based in the times of the Roman Emperor Trajan). The result was… embarrassing, I have to admit it. A very dear friend has been so kind to translate it into decent English, so, here it is. This is the second appearance of a character I have created inspired by-you-can-easily-guess-who.
Although there were only a couple of hours left to sunrise, Cneus Cornelius Gracchus was still working in his study, writing letters. A slave informed him that the man he was waiting for had arrived. Although he heard him entering the room he did not lift his head from the paper, and kept on writing. The only sound in the room was coming from the sharp goose feather faintly scratching the papyrus; suddenly, another sound hit senator’s ears, the metallic whoosh of a dagger ripping through the air. It nailed the paper to his desk, just half an inch from his fingers.
– “I don’t like your games, senator. You’ve called me, tell me what you want”.
Gracchus raised his eyes. There stood a strongly built, dark haired man in front of him, tall and with piercing blue eyes. He wore an immaculate travelling gown and was armed with a gladius and the dagger he was tearing out from the table.
– “Where were you last night? You were not with your men” – said the senator.
– “I’m not stupid. I didn’t want to get my throat cut. Chances were nobody would survive, and nobody did”.
– “You have another mission”.
– “The price has risen, Gracchus”.
The senator crossed his arms over his prominent belly.
– “Don’t you want to know what is it about?”
– “The price has risen. If you agree, I will”.
– “Tell me” – answered Gracchus.
– “I want the same deal you have with Osroes” – answered the man putting the dagger back in its sheath, watching the bewildered expression on the senator’s face.
– “What deal? I don’t have any agreement with the king of the Parthians”.
– “You don’t fool me, Gracchus. You are not like us; Trajan or myself, we are cut from a different cloth. Your business is not war, you enjoy the good life and comfort too much to bother with visiting the frontiers or pretending to be interested in the expansion of the empire. You are not fond of battlefields, you prefer machinations and plots. Sitting down comfortably while your empire prospers surrounded by neutral kingdoms” – the man didn’t take his eyes away from the senator while he spoke, with a deep voice.
– “I think I’ve missed something… you aren’t the king of anything, Furius Vipsanius. Or do you prefer me calling you Drachir?”
– “In Rome you can call me Furius Vipsanius. In Britannia I’m Drachir and I will be the first king of the Britons. I will unite all the tribes of the island: brigantes, picts, cornovii, caledons, parisii… Boudica united just a few tribes and made you tremble, all the tribes of Britannia united can get rid of Roman hegemony”.
– “And do you expect me, the future emperor, to help you throw out the romans from the island?” – answered Gracchus opening his arms, with an expression of incredulity on his face.
– “Britannia will continue to be a province. To Rome I will be the governor, to the Britons I will be their king. We need more roads, water pipes, to build cities from stone and marble, not mud huts. I want my people to thrive under Rome’s protective wing”.
– “And afterwards? What will prevent you from rebellion?”
Drachir searched the room. He saw a polished bronze tray on a little table, bright as the sun. He took it and threw it to the senator’s table.
– “Gracchus, watch yourself. How old are you? How many more years do you think that you have left? When Britannia is ready it won’t be your business anymore”.
The senator took the tray and set it away, he knew perfectly well how he looked and that the man who stared defiantly at him was twenty years younger.
– “So be it, then. Governor of Britannia and the king of your numerous and loyal subjects. Your island will flourish caressed by the sun… I mean, by the fog and the rain, more precisely”.
Drachir smiled; he had always detested senator Gracchus, but he had to admit he enjoyed that subtle irony he was so fond of.
– “So, what’s the mission about?” – asked the senator.
– “You must go to Antioch, as soon as possible. And kill a woman”.
– “What?!?” – Drachir laughed out loudly – “Anybody can do that! You don’t need me for this”.
– “It must be taken care of by someone I trust, Furius Vipsanius. Moreover, this morning the commander of the praetorian guard, following an order from consul Sura, has sent his best man to protect that woman”.
The senator moved several papyrus and wax tablets he had on the table until he found what he was looking for.
– “A certain Quintus Terencius” – continued the senator with pretended indifference.
– “Quintus Terencius? The one who served in the Ninth Legion in Eburacum*?” – replied Drachir with a spark in his eyes.
Gracchus read the table again.
– “Yes, the same”.
Drachir laughed again, and clasped his hands.
– “Give me the details, I will leave immediately”.
Gracchus handed him a roll, sealed with the image of the god Janus. Drachir left the room without uttering a word.
– “You will not live forever neither, Briton” – said Gracchus in a low voice while getting up from his chair to rest for a couple of hours.
* Eburacum = current York