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Steam Legion 2 – Snippet

Steam Legion Cover

 

Emperor’s Palace, Rome

 

 

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus looked out over his domain, the palatial complex he had ordered built from the ashes of the great fire, the greatest city in the world, and the world itself beyond. It was all his, either now or in the future, as was everything that existed under the auspices of the Gods.

That did not mean that he had everything his way, of course. There were challenges, even to the Gods, after all… what would life be without them?

The latest challenge he had to deal with was the new cult of Judea that had begun to make itself known. They worshipped their messiah, supposedly the son of the Jewish God, and that was fine and within their rights as citizens of the Empire. However they refused to pay homage to the Faith of the Empire as all citizens were required, and that was a problem.

He had tried to be reasonable, let no man claim otherwise. He’d offered them the same bargain as had been offered to the Jewish people, but if anything these new cultists were even more militant and unreasonable than their parent cult. With the empire in revolt to the East, Jerusalem itself still under siege even as another siege was building at Masada, he could not afford to let the rot sink into the Capital as well.

There were times when Nero felt that the whole world was turning against him, but he knew that it was merely his challenge. The task set before him so that he could prove himself worth of Godhood, of joining the Pantheon as was his destiny. The greater the challenge, the higher the ascension, that was what he had come to believe.

And surely no one else has had challenges so great as mine, Nero thought as he looked over the reports from the field.

The situation in Judea was now contained, a governor had arrived and the rule of the province was once more solidly in Roman hands, at least until they could locate a suitable ‘king’ who could be trusted to see to Roman interests while appeasing the populace. It was really quite a straightforward situation, so he had every confidence in his field generals to handle it.

No, it was the developing situation in Egypt that concerned him the most.

This woman, this Spartan woman, was gaining a concerning level of popularity among the citizens. Some were already referring to her as Egypt’s new Cleopatra, which was not to be tolerated. Egypt was his, and no others. That nation was, in many ways, second only to Rome and it was the Emperor’s personal domain. The very thought of some nobody scholar from the library, of all places, rising up to eclipse him in his own domain…

Well, it was intolerable, wasn’t it?

She’s too popular now to arrest, mustn’t spark an uprising there yet. Not while we’re dealing with the problems in Judea, at least. Nero sighed, it was all so incredibly dull and pedantic really.

His advisors were so boring now, he rather missed his mother. She had such a devious mind, it was so much fun to watch her work. Too bad that she would have turned it against him eventually, if only to preserve her own power. No, it was better the way things were. Less complications.

Ghalba now, he is showing some signs of being interesting. The Senator’s advice was simple and, really quite elegant. Nero was almost jealous of not having thought of it first, but then it would have come to him shortly as well, no doubt.

He sat down at a writing desk and scratched out a decree and a formal letter to match.

He couldn’t arrest this woman, this Dyna of Sparta. No, that would be too forward, especially for a hero of the Empire.

Arresting her was right out, but rewarding  her, that was perfectly fine.

Of course, she’d have to come to Rome. Hero or not, the Emperor didn’t go to a mere mortal, they came before him in supplication.

Once this hero was within Rome, perhaps she’d be of some use in the library here. It was easily the match of the one at Alexandria, after all, and her brilliance was spoken of in whispers. Nero rather fancied a look at her weapons of war, and the new techniques she had perfected.

And, if something should happen to her whilst she was away from Alexandria… lost at sea, perhaps, on her way home… well, that was just a tragic footnote in the history of the Empire.

Tragic indeed.

Nero smiled as he folded up the papyrus and sealed it with wax.

“Slave,” He gestured, calling forth one of his child messengers. “Take this to the first available ship master making landfall in Egypt.”

The child, all of perhaps seven, bowed and accepted the message without comment. He knew better than to speak in the presence of his God unless a response was demanded. Nero watched him run out, mind already jumping to other thoughts.

He was rather looking forward to the party of the night, he’d invited so many dear friends. It would be such a joy to play with them until he ordered the doors unlocked come morning.

It was good to be a God among men.

*****

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