Sorrows To the Stones
It's been years since I've written a fanfic. But I'm back, and I plan to write more. All my old "Gargoyles" fanfics are still canon, of course. But now I'm writing in a shared universe with Algernon84 and Gryphinwyrm7. Check out their fics, and keep checking mine. We all hope to bring you all something special.
Brazil, 850 A.D.
Flames briefly lit up the sky as Brooklyn and Fu-Dog fell from the sky... the brick-red gargoyle grabbing the beast as he spread his wings and soared through the air.
"I wonder where we are this time," Brooklyn pondered. Fu-Dog began growling. "I'm not asking 'when we are', boy. Even I got tired of that cliche." They continued to glide over what seemed like miles of lush green forest, as Fu-Dog began to whimper.
"Okay, boy. We'll land in that clearing over there and try to figure out where the phoenix dropped us this time."
Brooklyn veered to the left, and began his descent... when suddenly a sharp, searing pain emanated from his leg. "What the hell?" he cried out... and then he noticed, a volley of arrows flying towards him. "Oh crap."
Holding onto Fu-Dog with everything he had, he aimed for the ground and came to a rough landing. "That may have been as graceful as Wolf after he had ten beers, but at least we're still alive."
Fu-Dog began to howl as a batallion of soldiers emerged from the trees and trained their spears and arrows on the two time travelers.
Brooklyn slowy rose to his feet, eyes glowing white. "Okay, boy. We're not going out without a..." he paused, studying the armor. "Romans?"
A large, bearded Roman soldier, wearing a red cloak and armor more ornate than the rest, stepped forward. "Surrender, goth!" he shouted. "Or we will skin your queen."
"My queen?" he asked. "What are you talking about?"
A soldier flanking the general cried out: "bring forth the Queen of the Goths!" A few moments passed and two soldiers emerged from the battalion, and between them was a female gargoyle.
Brooklyn's breath was caught in his throat as he took in the sight of her. Her gray skin was bruised and battered. Unkempt black hair flowed down towards her hips. She was clad in torn rags and animal skins, and iron chains binding her hands, legs, and wings. But, despite looking like she had been beat to hell and back, she was beautiful. Stunning. Tall. Curves in all the right places, and he could not tell when was the last time he had seen a gargoyle with a chest like that. "Okay, Brook." He said to himself, "focus." Next to him, Fu-Dog's growling grew even more ferocious.
"Wait... what? Didn't I just leave Rome? Didn't I just fight a Goth sorcerer? What just happened? Where am I? What the heck?" He unsheathed his sword, and pointed it straight at the Roman general. "Let her go. Now!"
"Drop your blade," the general ordered before unsheathing his spatha and grabbing onto the female. "Or I will drop her wings on the ground before you."
Brooklyn growled. "You win," he said, dropping his sword. Half a dozen soldiers slowly approached, weapons drawn. Fu-Dog started roaring. "Now now, boy."
"How very wise, goth." the general then ordered his men to "bind them!" The soldiers did just that while one picked up Brooklyn's sword.
Quickly, their limbs were shackled and the two of them were let towards the female, who watched him, silently.
"Hi, I'm Brooklyn," he said... trying to play it cool. "I'd shake your hand, but..."
"Be silent, goth!" the soldier flanking him ordered.
They were ushered back towards three other gargoyles, all male, and all probably one rookery generation younger than the female. The first was dark green with one horn. The second was gold, if gold could be a dark shade, he was missing an eye. The third was sapphire blue, and he sported a stump in place of a right hand.
"General Titus," the soldier guarding Brooklyn cried. "The goths are secure."
"Forward," Titus ordered.
And so began a long march, the four local gargoyles walked on in complete silence, a cloud of misery hanging over them. Brooklyn, meanwhile, was taking in the surroundings. The scenery didn't match any European country he had visited in his travels. And when he wasn't looking at the scenery, he was checking out the female... a fact that was not lost on her.
"You have a name?" she whispered.
"Yeah," he replied. "Everyone in my clan does."
"And where is your clan," she asked.
"Very far away," he said. "Right now, it's just Fu-Dog and me." He continued to check her out, as they marched through the forest in single-file. Her tail was lovely, his eyes followed it up towards where it connected with her... "and where's your clan?"
She chuckled, very bitterly. "If you would turn around and not look at only me, you would see all that is left."
"No talking!" one of the soldiers barked.
"Halt!" Titus, shouted. His army obeyed, and he sauntered his way back towards the gargoyles, and glared directly at the queen. "I thought slaughtering your tribe would instill you with respect. But, very well," he sneered a terrible smile. "If you won't respect me, then you will show respect to the gods."
Four soldiers ran to Titus' side. "Father, what is this?" one of them asked.
"Quintus, chain one of them to that tree," he pointed at towards a rotted husk of a plant.
"Yes, father." Quintus nodded. "Which one?"
"I don't care," Titus shrugged. "The one without a hand."
Quintus immedietely grabbed the chain around One-Hand's neck, but the gargoyles began to struggle, eyes glowing.
"Martius, Mutius, help your brother," Titus ordered.
Brooklyn watched in horror as the three soldiers dragged One-Hand over towards the tree, wrapping the chain around it, and back around his wings. He glanced towards the female, who's eyes began to burn red.
Titus drew his spatha and approached One-Hand, placing the blade to the gargoyle's throat, he began to pray. "Oh mighty Jupiter, ruler of the Heavens and the Earth, we commit this beast to you."
"Stop!" the female gargoyle cried out. She tried to move closer, struggling with her chains, and fell face first into the mud. "General Titus, I beg of you. My clan is dead, you saw to it. Please spare him!"
Titus looked her straight in the eye. "You beg me?" He asked. "You spent seven years killing my men, and you dare to beg me?"
Brooklyn stepped forward, "you've already won. What do you hope to accomplish by killing a defeated gargoyle?"
"I got to watch the mighty Queen of the Goths beg," Titus laughed. "That alone was a gift from Jupiter."
The raven-haired female slowly stood back up, trying with all of her will not to crack. "Please," she begged. "Spare him."
"Beg Jupiter," Titus said before turning his back on her and slitting One-Hand's throat.
"No," she said... all her grief coming out in a pained whisper.
Brooklyn desperately wanted to go to her, to hold her, to comfort her. He growled at General Titus, but the human merely sneered.
"Back in line, goths."
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
They marched the rest of the night, the army stopping at sunrise as the gargoyles slept. At sunset they continued again. They marched and marched, and the forest began to clear, slowly being replaced with the scent of the ocean. The scent was soon joined by the sound of waves... followed by a familar sight. Out in the bay was a mountain Brooklyn recalled seeing in a picture book, but he couldn't quite place it.
A city soon appeared before them, and they marched towards the opening gates. The dirt road beneath their feet soon replaced with cobblestones as they approached what could only be an imperial palace.
Dozens of guards and dignitaries emerged from the palace to meet them. General Titus removed his helmet and approached two men who, in turn, were surrounded by Praetorian guard.
"Saturninus, Bassianus," Titus bowed his head as he addressed the two princes. "Tell your father that after seven years," he gestured towards his men and Brooklyn watched in horror as they grabbed the female gargoyle and brought her towards the dais. "I have brought him his prize. The Queen of the Goths!"
While Brooklyn stared at the trembling female, a third dignitary approached Titus, "Unfortunately, brother, you return to ill news."
"Marcus," Titus laughed as he embraced his younger brother. "It has been too long."
"I wish the circumstances were happier ones," Marcus sighed. "But one week ago, the emperor fell ill and died."
"What of the succession?" Titus asked. His eyes wandered over to Saturninus and Bassianus, and he wondered which of these men was now his emperor.
"The people heard of your victory," Marcus spoke. "After seven long years, you have destroyed the goths and brought their queen back as a prize for Roma Nova."
"Why do they keep calling us goths?" Brooklyn whispered to the one-horned gargoyle.
Marcus continued, "the people have made their will known to us. They have chosen you to be the new emperor."
For the first time since Brooklyn laid eyes on him, Titus looked shocked. The human stepped up towards the dais, motioning for his guards to keep watch over the gargoyle he called the 'queen of the goths'. Brooklyn's gaze returned to her, too. She was still trembling. But as near as he could tell, her grief seemed to give way to something else, but whatever her emotions she was feeling now, he was unable to read.
As Titus stood up on the dais, he turned to address the crowd of people that approached the palace. "I have served Roma Nova all of my life. Served my emperor and will serve the next emperor before him." He paused, considering his next words very carefully. "I am not fit to rule; but I will support the claim of Saturninus... the emperor's eldest son."
The crowd erupted in sound and applause, and some fury from a few corners. "Then, as tribunal of Roma Nova," Marcus declared. "Saturninus shall be elected our new emperor."
Saturninus climbed up onto the dais, and approached Titus, embracing his general and basking in the adulation of the crowd. "Thank you, my friend." He said. "You have always been Roma Nova's greatest servant, Titus." The crowd continued its thunderous applause. "And I would welcome you into my family. As my first act, I will marry your daughter, Lavinia!" Lust in his eyes, Saturninus pointed into the crowd, his finger finding her with no trouble.
Brooklyn continued to watch, a sudden sense of familiarity rushing into his mind. He looked towards Saturninus' brother, Bassianus, and saw hints of panic.
Lavinia was brought out onto the dais, where she embraced her father, and knelt before Saturninus and politely kissed the ring on his hand. "I am honored, your excellency," she said. "But I cannot marry you."
"Surely you jest," Saturninus said, forcing a laugh before addressing the people. "Our new empress has an impeccable sense of humor."
"I apologize, my emperor," Lavinia continued... almost pleading. "But I am already betrothed, to your brother."
Bassianus quickly ran over and embraced her. "My brother, my liege. Lavinia and I love each other; you now have the throne, please, grant me my love."
Saturninus glared daggers at them, then whispered to Titus. "Your daughter is yours to command, perhaps you could order her to..."
"Bassianus is in the right under the law," Titus said. "My liege, I have given you the throne, I cannot give you my daughter."
"Yes," Saturninus said as he forced a smile. "I suppose you have. And I suppose I have another prize."
The female gargoyle was shoved towards Saturninus, and Titus' guards forced her to bow before him. She looked the young emperor straight in the eye, without flinching.
"I understand that you were able to hold Roma Nova's greatest warrior at bay for seven years," he said... sounding quite impressed. "Tell me, 'Queen of the Goths'. How did you manage such a feat when your kind turn to stone at sunrise?"
"It was actually quite simple," the gargoyle replied. "I made sure we killed and wounded enough of your soldiers at night so they would have no choice but to lick their wounds during the day. Your soldiers were far from the first to try to take our land."
"But we were the last," Titus barked. "Your goths are now dead, and you will join them as soon as the emperor commands it."
"That command shall not come for a very long time," Saturninus cut him off. "Release her!" he ordered. "Release all of them." Titus was shocked, his soldiers hesitated, before he nodded and they obeyed their emperor's commands. The gargoyles were soon unchained.
The two rookery brothers bounded towards the dais and warmly embraced their leader. Brooklyn and Fu-Dog soon followed.
"I pardon her!" Saturninus cried. "I pardon all of them; and I would request that they be my guests of honor at my coronation feast!"
The crowd paused, and whispered among themselves. Before slowly starting to clap.
"What do you know," Brooklyn whispered to the female. "Maybe there will be a happy ending to all this after all."
"They're eating out of the palm of your hand," the one-eyed gargoyle said, speaking for the first time in front of Brooklyn.
"Kind of like that queen from the play," Brooklyn said. "Tamora."
"I apologize, my friend," the female said. "What did you just say?"
"Tamora," Brooklyn repeated.
"I like that," she said. She placed a warm hand on his shoulder. "And please, join me at this feast."
In what could only be a case of mood-whiplash, Brooklyn's unease gave way to being on the gargoyles equivilent of cloud nine. "It's a date."
The female smiled, before her hand was taken by Saturninus.
"My dear, goth. I believe it's time for a new voice in Roma Nova, and I would like that voice to be yours. What is your name?"
"Then I will accept the position, with great honor," she said. "And my name is," she smiled at Brooklyn, "Tamora."
Saturninus once more addressed the crowd. "Through me, the gods have spoken, and we decree that Tamora," he gestured towards her, "shall no longer be sneered at as 'Queen of the Goths'. We name her: Consul of Roma Nova!"
The crowd continued to cheer. Brooklyn watched, and couldn't help but feel uneasy at what just transpired. But Tamora placed a hand on his shoulder and drew him into a warm embrace. "Come," she said. "We need to get better acquanted."
Try as he might, Brooklyn couldn't stop himself from blushing. His heart beating fast. "Wild horses couldn't keep me away."
Fu-Dog's eyes started to glow and he began to growl. Brooklyn kneeled down and began to pet him. "It's okay, boy. They freed us."
The emperor's royal guard approached. "Silence the beast at once."
"Oh, it's no trouble," Saturninus said as he entwined his arm with Tamora's. "I don't mean to intrude, but I insist that you not attend my coronation dressed like that." He motioned towards three handmaidens. "They will take care of you." He turned his attention towards Fu-Dog, and then Brooklyn. "You should feed your pet, I imagine he is starving."
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
"You ask a lot of questions for a goth," Bassianus said as Brooklyn followed him through the banquet hall. All over the place, people were feasting, women were dancing, and musicians were performing.
"I've read up on Ancient... er, old Rome," Brooklyn said, as he took a sip of water a servant offered him. "And, I'm curious. Where exactly are we and where did Roma Nova come from?"
"Our ancestors settled here over eight centuries ago," Bassianus replied. "Caesar Augustus sent three ships out into the great sea. Not the Mediterranean, but the great sea... beyond the Pillars of Hercules. After several months, those that survived landed here, in what can only be described as a new world. We built this city and began our expansion."
"That's where I recognized the mountain in the bay," Brooklyn said to himself. "The Sugarloaf, I'm in Brazil." He recalled Benuthet mentioning the expedition.
"Hold your tongue," Bassianus ordered, "You're in Roma Nova."
"Right, sure... Roma Nova, got it." Brooklyn said. "So, why are you calling us goths, aren't they humans? Like you?"
Bassianus laughed. "My friend," he said. "If I may call you that. All non-Romans are goths in Nova Roman eyes. Yes, I read our history, and I know of the original goths."
"So it's a slur, got it." Brooklyn quickly tried to change the subject. "Say, have you seen..."
The doors to the great hall opened, and Tamora entered, followed by the three handmaidens. Gone were the rags and animal skins she had worn. Now she was wearing an emerald, tunic-like outfit with gold trimmings. Gold wrapped around both her biceps, as well as two gold bracelets and two gold anklets. A tiara of pearls wrapped around her head, clasped by gold with an emerald in its center, and a golden headress atop her long, black hair. Finally, an emerald encrusted dagger at her belt, and a long, flowing emerald-colored skirt, with gold trimmings that matched the top.
Brooklyn's mouth hung open at the sight of her, all he could do was tell himself not to drool. Bassianus grinned at the gargoyle. "Good luck, my friend." He said as he left him to join Lavinia at a nearby table.
Saturninus stood up and strode over to her. "My dear Consul, you look beautiful."
"Thank you, my emperor," she said. "This gown... it's an honor."
"It's been in our family for generations," he said. "A gift from the Persians before my ancestors left Rome. I wanted you to have it."
"Then I will treasure it forever," she said. Saturninus kissed the knuckles of her hand before returning to his seat at the table. Tamora then eyed Brooklyn, smiled and sauntered to his side, taking his arm. "Come sit with me," she said. "I'd like to know all about you."
"Cool," he said... before mentally kicking himself. "I mean, that sounds great. I'd like to get to know you better, also." Brooklyn willed himself to not sound like a hatchling with a crush. "So, where are the other two?"
"I dismissed my companions for the evening," she said. "Saturninus gifted us a home on the palace grounds, and I told them to get some rest while I attend this feast. But, in truth," she smiled. "I wanted to spend some time with you."
They sat together and spoke, as servants brought food and drink. "So we protect our island and the people that live there," Brooklyn told Tamora, as she sat there listening to every word. "You know the saying, a gargoyle can no more stop protecting the castle than breathing the air."
"Poetic," she said. "I like that."
"And what about you, Tamora?" he bit into the macaw leg. "What did your clan protect? You know, before all of this?"
"We protect balance, Brooklyn." Tamora stressed the present tense of the word 'protect'. "If something goes wrong, we correct it. We right it."
"For example, if someone knocks down a tree, you plant a new one?" Brooklyn asked... remembering what he had been told by Goliath of the Mayan Clan.
"I suppose that's one way to describe it," Tamora answered. "Papaya?"
"Don't mind if I do," Brooklyn took the fruit that was offered, unable to stop looking into her beautiful eyes."
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
The banquet had long since died down, and Tamora and Brooklyn walked alone in the moonlight together, towards the lodgings.
"So, do you... did you have a mate?" he asked... afraid of what the answer might be.
"No," she responded. "I never took one."
"Oh," he monotoned. "Why? I'm sure you had your pick of the clan."
She smiled. "I did. But I chose to focus on leading them through Titus's siege. I had little time for love. And now..." her smile faded, she was fighting back the tears, and barely succeeding.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"To be perfectly honest," Tamora continued, "I doubt I would have taken a mate from my clan, even had the siege never taken place. They were all fierce and brave warriors, but they lacked a gentleness to them. Friends, yes. But there wasn't a mate for me among them."
"Oh," Brooklyn said forcing himself not to beam in delight.
"What about you, do you have a mate back on this Manhattan Island?"
"No," he said. "We're a very small clan. Only one female, and she's mated with my rookery brother. And probably for the best," he sighed. "He's making her very happy."
Tamora placed her hand on his and leaned into his arms, caressing her horns to his. "Well, here's to new beginnings." She said just before the sun rose, and froze them in stone.
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
The sun dipped beyond the horizon, as the last rays vanished, Brooklyn and Tamora awoke; Brooklyn with his yawning roar, while Tamora was simply quiet as she stretched, and then brushed some remaining bits of stone skin from her dress.
Brooklyn watched every movement, enraptured by her beauty, but also thinking back to the kindness she displayed last night. She then approached him and placed her hands on his chest. "That female you mentioned that chose your brother," she said smiling. "The loss is her's."
Brooklyn didn't quite know how to respond, or how to stop his goofy smile from taking over his beak. "No," he said, once again looking into her eyes. "I don't think anyone lost out."
She cupped his cheek as the doors opened and Bassianus entered, accompined by a guard. "Consul," he said. "The Emperor requires your presense at the palace."
"I'm sorry," she said to Brooklyn. She turned and began to follow the Romas before pausing and addressing Bassianus. "Could my friend accompany me?"
Bassianus stopped. "You are the Consul of Roma Nova," he said. "Unless the Emperor overrides it, your orders are absolute."
"Thank you," she said. She grinned at Brooklyn and motioned him to follow.
"One moment," Bassianus briefly interuppted. He produced Brooklyn's sword and handed it to him. "The Consul insisted that we return your weapon."
Brooklyn took hold of the sword, and inspected it. It had been cleaned and polished. "Thanks," he said as he placed it in its scabbard.
Minutes later, they were seated at a long table, Tamora at Saturninus' right-hand, Bassianus at his left. Brooklyn stood back and observed, and while he still had trouble taking his eyes off Tamora, he refused to let General Titus out of his sight. He knew that look of disdain all too well.
"It is Roma Nova's destiny to rule the world," Saturninus declared as they looked over maps. "I must civilize every man, woman, and child in the land. And to do that, the Incans must fall."
"Your majesty," Bassianus interupted. "The Incans are too powerful. If we attempt to expand into their borders, then Roma Nova will fall... and swiftly."
"Thank you, brother," Saturninus snarked. "I will take that under advisement." He then smirked at Titus before turning towards his right-hand. "Consul, what do you suggest?"
"There are other gargoyle clans, and none have any love for the Incans," she said. "I could speak with them, bring them to your side. They would gladly join your army."
Brooklyn listened, impressed. The last time he witnessed an alliance like that was when his old clan at Wyvern allied with the Three Brothers against the usurping King Cullen. If she could truly pull this off, then he wanted to help. "There is a clan in the Mayan kingdom. I know that's thousands of miles away, but perhaps they could help."
"We could spread our borders that far," Saturninus looked like a kid in a candy store. "Wonderful... wonderful!"
"Thank you, my friend." Tamora smiled.
Brooklyn smiled before suddenly feeling more than a little stupid. He knew time was immutable, but he shouldn't mess around with it either. All he knew was that he was currently present in a kingdom of Romans, located in Brazil, that was lost to history. Did his advice just doom them? His attention returned to Tamora. Did his advice just doom her?
"Your majesty," Titus shouted, as he stood up and began walking towards Tamora. "Why are you humoring these goths? We do not need them or any more of their monstrous kin." Every instinct Brooklyn had told him to place himself between her and this Hakon-wannabe, but he had to trust her and her new allies to handle it. "I crushed her tribe..." he spat. "And I apologize to you for my daughter's choice; you've made your point, majesty. You've had your little joke. Now I ask you to allow me to finish her and her monstrous companions."
Brooklyn growled, and his eyes glowed. Tamora merely sat there, a satisfied smirk on her face, listening to Titus rant.
"Brother," Bassianus said. "We have done Tamora and her kind enough damage. Titus has served faithfully but perhaps a new direction is needed. She is now our consul, due to your wisdom. I will follow her commands as I would yours."
"You speak the truth, Bassianus," Saturninus took a sip of his wine and glared at Titus. "You have served faithfully, so I will pardon this outrage once and only once. Apologize," he ordered. "Make peace."
Tamora stood up from her seat and extended her arm. Titus hesitated, before finally they grasped each other's forearms, and shook. "You were a worthy adversary, Titus." Tamora said as they let go. "Let's find out what we can do on the same side."
Titus didn't say a word as he returned to his seat, but Brooklyn glared at him in anger and mistrust. He didn't know what his presence might be causing, or what would happen to Roma Nova. But he knew one thing, he wouldn't let anything happen to Tamora; especially at the hands of Titus. "I'll be watching you," he whispered under his breath.
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
These Romans certainly knew how to party. After the war meeting, Tamora excused herself and Brooklyn to dine with One-Eye and One-Horn, as she had no interest in the orgy Saturninus was about to host. Neither did Bassianus, as he withdrew to spend time with his Lavinia. But Brooklyn, all he was interested in was protecting Tamora.
The four gargoyles sat and ate. Tamora regaled One-Horn and One-Eye with the details of the meeting. When she told them about the altercation with Titus, they laughed. "You should have taken his eye," One-Eye snorted. "Would have begun to tip the scales."
"Hush," Tamora ordered. "I may be Consul now, but we are guests. We will behave like guests. Titus knows his place."
"Don't worry, boys," Brooklyn said. "I was there. Tamora's got this. No problem."
"You charm me too much," she smiled. "Would you join me for a drink?"
"I'd love to," Brooklyn said. "But right now, I should go feed Fu-Dog."
"Take your time," she said. "I noticed the bond between you and your beast. You haven't had time to give him any attention since you arrived."
"Thanks," he said. "I'll be back soon." He grabbed a large piece of meat and nodded at her as she raised her glass, then strode outside where he found Fu-Dog in the yard growling and barking.
Brooklyn rushed to his companion's side. "What's wrong, boy?" He took a battle stance and and stared out into the woods, looking for any sign of intruders. "Titus probably has guys watching us right now."
He relaxed and offered Fu-Dog his dinner. "The Emperor's guards watch us during the day, but that's hardly piece of mind." Fu-Dog chomped down on his meal. "We have to protect her, boy." His heart started beating faster in his chest, "I have to protect her."
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
Boredom. That's what Brooklyn felt. He and Fu-Dog sat on a rock watching a bunch of Roman douchebags hunt. More of Saturninus's self-congratulatory partying. But it wasn't all bad, he watched as Tamora chatted with the emperor, unable to take his eyes off of her... except when Titus was about, watching him give her the evil eye filled him with contempt. "I never thought I'd wish Demona was around, even for a moment, but she can have this human."
"Lost in your thoughts, my friend?" Brooklyn looked over and saw Bassianus astride a horse, with Lavinia seated in front of him?"
"My love, do we have to speak with this goth?" she said. "My father doesn't trust them."
"Your father is a good man," Bassianus said. "But on this matter, he is mistaken."
Brooklyn bit is tongue. Bassianus was a good man, he liked him; but Titus was by no means a good man. Still, make your friends where you can find them, kindred spirits. Just as Goliath had said.
"Thanks, but I don't want waste your time," Brooklyn said. He looked at Tamora, and then back at them. "You two are young and in love. Go and make the most of it."
Bassianus smiled and nodded, he kissed Lavinia on the cheek and the horse galloped off. Brooklyn gave him a thumbs up, and then all thought of them escaped him as Tamora landed beside him, Fu-Dog started growling and Brooklyn apologized. "I'm sorry, I guess being this close to Titus is driving him a little nuts."
"I'm going to find my friends," she said. "Would you come with me?"
"Thanks, Tam," he said as he stood up and accepted her hug. "But I'm going to stay here and keep an eye on Titus."
"I don't fear Titus," she said. Then added: "Not anymore."
"People like Titus don't give up," he said. "Not until they've killed our kind. I've seen it too many times before."
She ran her fingers through his hair, and whispered "my protector" into his ear. "Keep your vigilence, but you owe me."
Brooklyn hesitated, his nerves trying to stop him. But he pushed passed them and ran a hand through her thick, black hair. "I can't wait." Tamora soared off into the sky. He watched her go and then turned his attention back to Titus. Fu-Dog stopped growling and did the same.
An hour seemed to pass, and in boredom an hour felt like half the evening. But suddenly the mood changed, a horn sounded. Guards rode to Saturninus, and then several soldiers on horseback rode out of the woods... Brooklyn turned away from Titus and saw what they were carrying. A body, with muliple stab wounds... it was Bassianus.
"Your majesty!" they cried out.
Saturninus dropped to the ground from his horse and ran over to his brother's broken body, and cried out in anguish. "Who did this?!" he screamed.
Tamora soared back into the clearing and landed beside Brooklyn. "They got bored and went back the house and..." she stopped and surveyed the scene, "what's happening."
Brooklyn took her by the hand and they ran down to the emperor. "Someone murdered Bassianus."
"Titus?" she asked, whispering into his ear.
"No, he was here all along." he said.
"Give me one moment," she said as her eyes glowed red. Brooklyn let go of her hand, and she slipped away.
Brooklyn looked down at what remained of the one human who had gone out of his way to befriend him since they arrived. The emperor continued to cry over his brother's body, and Brooklyn thought back to his own brothers. They may have fought over Angela as Saturninus and Bassianus fought over Lavinia, but that did not get in the way of their love and affection for each other. He never missed them more than he did at this moment.
Tamora soon returned, carrying a small sack and a scroll and knelt by Saturninus' side. "My liege," she whispered. "I am sorry for your loss. Bassianus was a good man, who spoke out for me, and my companions."
"I don't need your tears, Tamora," the emperor said. "I demand justice."
"Then you need not wait," she said as she produced the scroll and handed him the sack. The emperor opened the sack and six gold coins fell from the sack on to the cold, dirt of the ground. Saturninus then opened the scroll, and as he read it, his grief turned to anger.
"Where did you find this?" he demanded to know.
"My liege, I..." she hesitated. "I found it by the horses of Titus' sons," she answered. "What does it say?" She asked. "I apologize, but I have yet to learn to read such scrolls."
Saturninus climbed back on to his horse. "The traitors Quintus, Martius, and Mutius are to be arrested!"
Brooklyn watched in horror and then satisfaction as Saturninus' guards surrounded Titus and his four sons.
"Your majesty, this is an outrage!" Titus screamed.
"The only outrage is how much Roma Nova has given your family," the emperor screamed back. "Your sons murdered my brother," he gestured to the gold on the ground. "They hired Incan mercenaries and that was to be their payment."
"Bassianus spoke out for me," Tamora said. A tear streamed down her face. "He wanted to be a friend to my kind." She glared at Titus' sons as the guards shackled them. "Why?" She asked. "You should have just killed me instead of this good man." Her tears were replaced by a cold anger, and her eyes glowed red. "He was your sister's betrothed. He was to be your family... and you treat him as you treated mine."
Brooklyn nodded in agreement, taking smug satisfaction in watching Tamora dress Titus' disgusting kids down. "Atta girl," he said. Fu-Dog, now at his side, continued to growl.
"Take them back to the palace to await my judgement!" Saturninus commanded, and Quintus, Martius, and Mutius were loaded into the back of a waiting wagon and carted off. Saturninus and his entourage soon followed.
The gargoyles began to take to the air, Brooklyn carrying a very angry Fu-Dog. As they soared through the skies, Brooklyn called to Tamora "I'm going to turn around and go keep an eye on Titus."
"Very good," she called back. "I'll see you back home."
Brooklyn turned around and landed in the woods, not too far from where Titus stood, still in shock. He made sure not to be heard, but he could feel the anger radiating from Titus.
Another hour passed, and Brooklyn whispered to Fu-Dog "I don't think anything is going to happen, we should get back." But before they could turn to leave, they heard the sounds of two humans approaching. From the woods, Titus' eldest son, Lucius, emerged... and with him, a woman wrapped in a thick blanket.
Titus turned towards them, and then dropped to his knees in anguish that mirrored Saturninus' earlier.
Brooklyn moved a little closer, trying to get a better look at what was happening, and gasped in horror as Lucius removed the blanket from Lavinia.
She looked like a completely different human being. Her dress was torn and ripped, blood spilled out of her mouth, and where her hands once once were now were bloodied cloth wrapped around stumps. The sounds that came out of her mouth were little more than pained noises not even approaching human speech, as more blood came out of her mouth.
"Father," Lucius said, as he cried in pain. "This was your daughter... my sister."
"He that wounded her has hurt me more than had he killed me dead." Titus took what remained of Lavinia into his arms and held her tight.
Brooklyn just sat there with Fu-Dog and watched as what remained of this family cried their sorrows.
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
"What do you want me to do?" Tamora asked.
"You didn't see them," Brooklyn replied. "I did. They cut off her hands; they cut out her tongue."
"You think Titus' sons are innocent?" She asked again.
"I didn't say that," Brooklyn said. "I just don't think we have the full story. Conduct an investigation," he suggested. "Find out the whole story, and then administer justice."
"Titus is our enemy," she failed to hide her annoyance. "You are asking me for a very large favor, Brooklyn."
"Shouldn't we know what happened?" He said. "If the threat against the kingdom, and quite frankly you... us... is larger than we thought, we need to know what we're up against."
She considered his words for a moment. "You are very wise, my friend," she said. "I will speak to the emperor at once. But I can't promise anything... his word is law, I can only advise."
"That's all I ask, Tam," he said.
Tamora smiled at him, "You make me a better person, Brooklyn." She said as she walked out of the house and headed for the palace.
Hours passed and a storm rolled in, the rain poured down outside as Brooklyn sat in silence with Fu-Dog while One-Eye and One-Horn ate and drank, celebrating what befell Titus. He understood their hatred, he understood their joy at what befell a horrible human being. But he couldn't share in it. He'd celebrate once justice was done.
Eventually, Tamora returned, soaking wet but she approached Brooklyn and sat beside him. "I tried, Brooklyn," she said. "I really did."
"What happened?" he asked.
"The emperor would hear none of it," she said. "I did beg for their pardon, even if only for the moment. He agreed to return Titus's sons to him if Titus sent him is own hand."
"The hell," Brooklyn cursed. "Did he?"
Tamora nodded. "To save his sons, Titus severed his own hand, and sent it to the emperor," she said. She laid her head on his shoulder and leaned against him. "But Saturninus was crazed with grief and vengeance."
"What happened," Brooklyn asked.
"Against my advise," she said sollemnly. "He returned their heads. Only their heads."
Brooklyn sighed in disgust. "Then we need to remain vigilent." he said as he got up and poured two glasses of wine.
Tamora took her glass and raised it. "To Bassianus," she said.
"To Bassianus," Brooklyn repeated. Seated at the table, One-Eye and One-Horn quietely raised their own glasses.
"To justice," Brooklyn said, as he began to drink.
"To balance," Tamora added as she sipped her's.
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
Brooklyn sat a top the roof looking out over the ocean, he scratched Fu-Dog's ear. "I don't know, boy. I miss home but I think I could settle here."
Fu-Dog looked up at him as he continued. "Tamora is a dream. Beautiful. Kind. Smart. And she actually likes me," he smiled. "And I think that I..." he was cut-off when Fu-Dog growled.
"You think that you what?"
Brooklyn turned his head and there was Tamora, smiling down at him. Fu-Dog got to his feet and began growling directly at her.
"Down boy," Brooklyn said, before turning back to Tamora. "I'm sorry, Tam but I don't think he ever warmed up to this place."
Tamora looked at the beast and then back at Brooklyn, "Give him time," she said. "Roma Nova is alien to all of us."
"I suppose," Brooklyn said. "So, um..."
Tamora hugged him and stroked his hair. "Come with me." She took to the air, catching a strong current. Brooklyn quickly followed. As they soared through the air, she called back to him "and when we land, I want to hear more about how I am a dream."
Brooklyn grinned and within a few minutes, they came to a landing atop the Sugarloaf. "Well," Brooklyn began. "You're a dream because I never thought I'd find anyone as amazing as you who also seems to like me."
Tamora stroked his beak, "Why would I not like you? You're brave, you make me laugh, and you're kind. The soul of a poet."
"You should meet Goliath some time," he said. "He's the real poet."
"Perhaps some day, I will." She said.
"Tamora," Brooklyn hesitated. "I... don't just like you, I love you."
"Brooklyn," she whispered running her fingers through his hair again. "It's only been a few weeks, but it feels like it's already been a life time." She drew him into a tight embrace. "I love you, too."
"Wow," Brooklyn said as he held her tightly. Eventually they both pulled back. "Tamora, my... love. I want to tell you everything."
"I want to know everything about you," she said. "And I want you to know everything about me."
"I know this will sound crazy," he began. "How do I start... well, I'm from the future. Hundreds of years in the future. Maybe over a thousand, I'm not sure. I have spent the last few years traveling through time and space, thanks to the phoenix."
She stared into his eyes... then asked "What is the phoenix?"
"And here it gets crazier," he replied. "It's a giant bird of flame. I'm not entirely sure what it's deal is or why it's been dragging me through time, but I never spend too much time in one place." He continued staring into her, terrified he would scare her off. "But, I think I want to stay. Here. With you."
"If what you are telling me is true," she said as she placed two fingers on his lips. "Perhaps I want to leave here with you."
"Wait," he said. "Really? You believe me?"
"I know when I am being lied to, love." She said. "Most of my clan is dead, and inspite of my new position, Roma Nova will never truly be my home."
"Well, it might take a long time til we get back to my home."
"Being with you is all the home I need," she said.
Brooklyn pulled her back into his arms, the two gargoyles began to nuzzle brows and stroke each other's hair. She wrapped her legs around his waist and their tails entwined. Their hands moving about, stroking each other in more and more intimate places.
She unwrapped herself from him, and her hands drop down to his belt, slowly unbuckling it, and then letting it and his loincloth fall to the ground. She then stepped backwards and unfastened her green top, allowing it to slowly fall to the ground, revealing her large breasts.
"Damn," Brooklyn whispered under his breath, as she undid her own belt and let the flowing green skirt drop to the ground. He took in every inch of her beautiful body, and she did the same, before they embraced once more, this time their hands and tails finding the most intimate of places. His tongue circled around her wide, dark areolas, flicking across her nipples as her hand wrapped around his shaft, stroking him to full mast.
She slowly laid back on the ground, pulling Brooklyn on top of her. Finally poised to enter, he was about to thrust into her when...
"Tamora!" a voice called out. Brooklyn and Tamora looked up, as One-Eye and One-Horn came in for a landing.
"Perfect timing," Brooklyn muttered.
"I'm sorry, Brooklyn." Tamora said as she gently pushed him aside. "This should only take a minute."
She stood up and strode over towards her two subordinates. "This had better be important," she practically hissed.
"Apologies, leader," One-Horn said. "But we've finally heard about Titus."
"They say he's gone mad," One-Eye spoke with glee.
"I suppose losing his sons and his hand have driven him to despair," Tamora smiled. "The scales will soon be evened out."
"That girl of his was just the start," One-Horn laughed.
Brooklyn's eyes went wide as he heard this and he got to his feet. "Tamora? What are they talking about?"
Tamora looked back at Brooklyn, then at her subordinates. "Go to his home," she ordered. "Give him something to think about." The two male gargoyles bowed their heads in respect, before leaping off the side of the mountain and gliding back towards Roma Nova.
Brooklyn was in shock, still trying to process what he had just heard. Tamora seductively sauntered back towards him, wrapping her arms around her neck, pressing her bare breasts against his chest, and then stroking his member with her opening. She began to rub her brow against his again, but he pulled away.
"Sorry, Tamora," he reached for his loincloth. "I'm no longer in the mood."
"What's wrong?" She seemed genuinely surprised.
"Did they kill Bassianus?" he asked as he buckled his belt. "Did they mutilate that girl?"
"Oh," Tamora said. "Brooklyn, you have to understand. My clan has protected balance for as long as we've existed. It it our tradition. It is who we are."
"Define balance," Brooklyn said, hoping she wasn't about to say what he feared he was going to hear.
"Titus destroyed my clan, burned our home to ashes, and mutilated the survivors," she said, as she began pacing in circles around him. "I sued for my friend's life, you were there. Titus made me kneel in the mud, and beg for grace in vain."
"Define balance, Tamora!"
"You asked me if a tree is destroyed, if we plant a new tree. The answer is yes," she stopped pacing and looked him straight in the eyes. "And if someone destroys our clan..."
"You destroy theirs," he finished. "That's why you had Titus sever his own hand. That's why you beheaded his sons. It wasn't Saturninus's idea, it was yours. And I'm betting in his grief he was only too eager to go along with it. Am I right?"
"That hand murdered my family, Brooklyn." She said... and he was creeped out at how calm and collected she appeared to be. "Those sons killed my clan."
"What did his daughter do?" He stopped, she had a name. "What did Lavinia do?"
"What did our friends do?" she said. "Look at them, one is missing an eye, the other a horn. They did to her what had been done to them."
"Funny, I noticed they can still have their hands and are capable of speech. What did Bassianus ever do to you," he yelled. "He's not even related to Titus!"
"He's related to the emperor that sent Titus to destroy us," she said. "All of Roma Nova is complicit."
"Lavinia is innocent, so was Bassianus," he was disgusted. "You wrote that scroll, didn't you? You could read and write all along, couldn't you? You want to kill Titus, I understand. He's a monster. But killing innocent people isn't balance. It's murder."
"It will be balance very soon," she said.
"What are you going to do," the sarcasm began dripping from his voice. "Destroy the entire city?"
"I'll find a night to massacre them all," her voice was cold, dispassionate.
Suddenly he was terrified. "There's only three of you, even you can't..."
"Titus sent his only surviving son away," she explained. "No doubt he's gone to warn the Incans of Saturninus's plan to expand his borders."
"You mean the plan you fed him."
"Roma Nova may be strong," she smiled cruelly. "But they cannot stand against the Incans."
"You had this all planned out," he spat. "From the beginning. You're just like Demona."
"Demona?" She said. "That psychotic witch you told me about? Allow me to disagree. I don't hate humans at all. In fact, I'm quite fond of them. There were tribes living within our protectorate, until Titus slaughtered them like animals... with Roma Nova's blessing."
"Tamora, you can't," Brooklyn began, but she cut him off.
"I only hate one human, Brooklyn. Titus of Roma Nova." She declared. "And as for the rest, balance must be protected." Her voiced dropped, and grew cold.
"And what are you going to do once the Incans get here?" He said. "You said they were your enemies. Do you think they'll spare your life? Lucius has probably told them everything by now."
"I love you, Brooklyn," she said. "And I know you love me, you said so yourself." She walked right up to him, and somehow Brooklyn had forgotten that she was nude throughout their entire argument. Only now, it wasn't distracting him. "You wouldn't leave me or our friends to the mercies of the Incans, it's not who you are."
"No," he said. "I don't leave anybody to die if I can help it."
"You need time to sort out your feelings, my love." She said. "Go and get some air, and then come back to me."
"What makes you think I won't tell Saturninus who really killed his brother?" he asked. It wasn't a challenge, it was a genuine question.
"He's a wicked man and everyone knows it," she said. "Even if you didn't already love me, you'd never see a human put me to death."
Brooklyn looked at her for another minute, before he sighed and took off over the cliff into the air. "Goliath," he said to himself. "I never understood why you were so conflicted over Demona until now."
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
The two gargoyles circled over Titus' home. "Come, brother." One-Eye grinned. "Maybe we can take another piece of young Lavinia."
One-Horn laughed as they descended into the courtyard. As they took their steps towards the door leading to Lavinia's chambers, suddenly, from the windows and doors, a dozen Incan soldiers poured from the house and leaped onto the two gargoyles. It all happened so quickly, they were knocked out and shackled.
Minutes later, they awoke, hanging upside down in a vast, empty room. Their arms, legs, and wings were shackled. Their tails shackled as well. Metal gags were chained across their mouths. Titus stood in the middle of the room, alone. In his one hand, he held a large knife.
"Lavinia identified you as her attackers weeks ago. She used her stumps and her teeth to write the truth in the sand with a stick," he said... coldly. Almost amused. "I wonder if Tamora is aware of just how stupid you both truly are."
Titus approached them with his blade, and muffled screams of fear emanated through their iron gags. "What? Are you scared?" He asked. "Do you want to know what I'm going to do to you?"
Titus laughed, "I'm going to return you to Tamora." He slashed One-Eye's throat, and One-Horn watched in horror as it spilled to the ground.
"We're going to have a party," Titus whispered into One-Horn's ear. "And we're going to laugh, and laugh," he slashed One-Horn's throat next, "and laugh..."
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
Brooklyn sat outside with Fu-Dog, lost in disappointment. Suddenly the beast started growling. Brooklyn didn't need to look over his shoulder to know who was standing behind him.
"Hello, Tamora," he said. He knew that she wanted to sit with him, to place a hand on his shoulder, to comfort him. And he wanted to accept it, more than he would ever admit. But he could only continue with a snide: "Fu-Dog doesn't like you; and I can't even begin to imagine why."
"Brooklyn," she said.
"What do you want?" he asked curtly.
"Saturninus has been invited to a banquet in Titus' home, and he insisted I come" she replied. "Apparantly Titus wants to make peace, and bond with us in friendship."
"Then go," he said. "Have a good time. Eat some humble pie, maybe take a look at Lavinia and learn what guilt feels like."
"Would you come with me," she asked. "Please?"
"Where are Jackal and Hyena?" he asked, sarcastically.
"I do not understand your references from the future," she replied, a little annoyed. "My companions are off elsewhere."
"Probably pulling wings off flies," Brooklyn snapped.
"Brooklyn," she was almost pleading. "I meant it when I said I loved you," she paused. "I still do, and I think you still care about me."
"Don't think I'm not kicking myself for that," he said. "This entire experience has been Hell on Earth."
"Is your phoenix coming," she asked.
"Sooner or later," he said. "Knowing my luck, it will be later."
"When it comes, can I go with you?" she asked.
"I'd be crazy to say yes," he said. But he really, really wanted to.
"Once we leave this awful place... this awful time behind, we can start over." She sounded sincere. "No more of this, I swear it."
He wanted to say yes, he really did. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," he said. She smiled and gave him a great big hug, he hesitated and then slowly hugged her back.
"I still don't trust Titus," he said. "I'll come to dinner, Tamora; but I'm still angry with you. It's going to take a lot before I can even begin to move beyond this."
"Ever my protector," she said, stroking his hair one more time.
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
They arrived at Titus' home shortly, and Saturninus and his entourage were already there, awaiting them. They exchanged greetings as the they entered and took their seats at the banquet table. Saturninus at the head, Tamora at his right hand, and Brooklyn next to her... and still trying to keep his distance. Fu-Dog sat in the corner, keeping watch on his master.
Other guests and dignitaries arrived. Brooklyn's attention on Tamora was briefly broken as he saw a human male in a green-hooded cloak arrive and take a seat. Something about him seemed familiar, but he couldn't quite place him.
"Tamora," he asked. "Who is that?"
She looked at the green cloaked human for a moment and responded. "Probably one of Roma Nova's many wealthy merchants," she said. "Pay him no mind."
Titus emerged from the kitchen. "Your majesty, and our most beloved Consul," he greeted.
"Titus," Saturninus spoke. "I do hope your invitation was sincere. It's divided the kingdom to have our greatest general at odds with the crown."
"I see sincerity in his eyes," Tamora spoke. "We've all paid in blood over these last few weeks; and once more I will offer my friendship," she smirked. Brooklyn looked into her eyes and saw not one iota of sincerity. But if he spoke up, they would both die, as would Fu-Dog.
"I accept your friendship," he said. "And in the spirit of friendship, I have prepared the feast, myself."
Brooklyn slightly gasped, "it could be poisoned." he whispered.
"It's not," she whispered back. "I made sure to have his kitchens inspected, and Saturninus' guards watched as he prepared the meal. Trust me, my love" her lips got closer to his ear and licked it, "I am in complete control."
Titus' servants brought out plates and placed them in front of the assembled guests. Brooklyn watched as Titus approached with a plate, was briefly patted down by Saturninus's guards, before proceeding and placing the hot plate in front of the emperor. Saturninus took a whif of the meal's scent and nodded in approval before beginning to eat.
Titus backed off and picked up one more plate and placed it in front of Tamora, "to friendship," he said. "Enjoy these meat pies."
Brooklyn looked down at the meal a servant placed in front of him but couldn't find his appetite. Saturninus ate as if he had never seen food before, heartily enjoying every bite. Tamora looked at her pie and slowly took a bite, as she chewed, she nodded in approval and took another bite.
Brooklyn watched as Titus stared at her, his smile turning to a grin as she took bite after bite. He had never seen this man smile before, and it frightened him.
"Lavinia," Titus called. "Come and curtsey the emperor."
Brooklyn looked up as Lavinia entered the great hall. She had been cleaned up since he last saw her, and despite the lack of hands, she looked radient... the woman his friend, Bassianus had fallen in love with.
Saturninus looked up at Lavinia and his heart sank. "Titus, what has happened to her?" he asked... genuinely distraught at the sight of the woman he once lusted for.
"You don't know?" he said. "You were never told?"
Tamora put her food down and scowled. Brooklyn slowly began reaching for his sword, and he whispered to her. "The moment he spills the beans, we have to make a break for it."
"My dearest Lavinia was attacked during the hunt," Titus said, as he ran his remaining hand through her hair. "They took both her hands, and her tongue... to silence her." He then began to laugh, "but the bandits didn't think their cunning plan through. Lavinia has since identified her attackers."
Tamora's eyes began to glow red, Brooklyn was getting ready to bolt. Even Fu-Dog was now alert.
"Give me names!" Saturninus ordered. "I will see her attackers punished!"
"They have no names," Titus smiled. "They were the one-eyed and one-horned goths... our dear Consul's companions."
Tamora stood up, "your majesty, that is a lie!" she shouted.
"Then bring them forth and let them respond to these charges," Saturninus ordered.
"They are already here," Titus laughed. "I killed them and baked them into those pies!" he shouted as he pointed at Tamora's plate.
Tamora violently shoved the plate away, and began to cough up the contents of what she had just eaten. Brooklyn looked away in disgust... and wasn't prepared, when Titus grabbed the emerald hilted dagger at Tamora's belt, and stabbed her in the gut with it.
Brooklyn bolted to his feet, but somehow Saturninus was even faster, and drew his gladius, running it through Titus' back... Titus smiled as he fell to the ground, dead.
The doors exploded open, and Incan warriors led by Titus' eldest son, Lucius, stormed the house. "Leave none alive!" Lucius ordered.
Saturnius' guards grabbed their weapons and attempted to defend their emperor... but in vain, as Lucius ran his dagger through Saturninus' heart, leaving the emperor dead.
Brooklyn fought off Incan and Roman guards alike, Fu-Dog at his side. "I think it's time to go, boy." he said.
He looked to the east wall and saw Lavinia on the ground, as a Roman soldier approached, spear in hand. Then he looked down next to him, Tamora writhing on the ground, in pain... the meat of her two clan-mates partially coughed up while she was bleeding out all over the floor. She stared up at him, begging for help with her eyes.
Brooklyn began to reach for her, but then looked back at Lavinia. A true innocent that deserved none of this. A tear ran down his face as he realized he could only save one of them, and the horrible choice he had to make.
"I'm sorry," he said. Tamora's eyes widened in shock and disappointment, as Brooklyn rushed over to Lavinia, shoved the Roman soldier aside, and grabbed the girl, lifting her into his arms, and bolting for the door. Fu-Dog like a living battering ram in front of him, as they broke through the wall of Incan guards, and made their way to the courtyard.
Lavinia glared into Brooklyn's eyes, pure hatred and contempt written all over her face. "I'm sorry," he whispered as they continued to fight their way through the garrison. "I'm sorry for everything."
Eventually they made their way up a hill and looked out over Roma Nova. It was hardly just Titus' home, the Incans had invaded the entire city, and were already in the process of razing it to the ground. Just as Tamora said had been done to her clan and her home. Lavinia looked down in horror, too. As everything she knew was being destroyed.
"Congratulations, Tamora," Brooklyn spoke bitterly. "You got what you wanted. Balance. Roma Nova being erased from history."
Suddenly, the sky exploded with fire, Brooklyn looked up and Fu-Dog howled at the sight of the phoenix. "You couldn't have shown up a week ago?" he grumbled. Before he could put Lavinia down, the phoenix flew at them, taking beast, gargoyle and human out of time. Out of this era. Out of this life.
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
Brooklyn, held Lavinia tight as they fell out of the sky and landed on... steel. A rooftop. Fu-Dog landed beside him. "So," Brooklyn said as he looked into Lavinia's horrified eyes. "I guess I have some explaining to do."
They looked out over had to be Manhattan.
"Finally!" Brooklyn cried out in joy, before taking a closer look. The Eyrie Building was where it was supposed to be, but it had changed... it was now surrounded by a gigantic glass and steel pyramid.
"I'll explain as soon as I figure out what's going on," he said. Lavinia struggled not to pass out.
~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~ : ~
Slowly, the world came back to life around her. Her eyes opened. Slowly. She was in a moving wagon, nude, covered only by a thick quilt, and a warm liquid from a cup was being forced down her throat. She was not alone. A human in a green cloak knealt beside her; a hood obsuring his face.
"Finally," he said, as he pulled the cup away from her lips.. His voice a gentle whisper. "You're awake."
Slowly she sat up, she reached for her side; the dagger was gone and she felt no trace of any scars or wounds.
"I should be dead," she said... clutching the blanket. "Did you..."
"Yes," he said.
"How," she was stunned; not sure if she should be grateful or terrified. "Stone sleep couldn't have saved me."
"All in good time," he pointed towards a chest. "Your dagger and jewels are inside; and I will see to it that your gown is cleaned and mended. I would hate to see something so beautiful go to waste."
Her eyes began to glow. "I know you," she began to growl as she recognized the strange human that Brooklyn was suspicious of earlier. "You were at the banquet."
"I did not eat the main course," he said. "And I am truly sorry for your loss."
"What do you want from me," she asked. "My clan is dead, and Saturninus with them."
"And Roma Nova has fallen..." he said. "As it was meant to... as you willed it. Even now, the Incans are wiping it from history" He reached into a satchel and offered her an apple. She took it as he continued. "You are an extraordinary individual, Tamora. A gargoyle, the leader of a dead clan, but you managed to conquer a kingdom through sheer cunning. You bent an emperor to your will."
"Balance had to be protected," she began to eat.
"I think you are capable of great things on a much larger stage, perhaps..."
Tamora cut him off. "I don't wish to sound ungrateful, human. But you are beginning to bore me. So please, tell me; what do you want?"
The wagon came to a stop, and he pulled back the curtain. No longer were they near Roma Nova. They weren't even in the surrounding jungle, or anywhere she recognized. They had arrived in a fortress of stone and wood. A banner hung from the main keep, depicting a pyramid with one eye imposed over the summit.
He pulled back his hood, revealing a bald head and a grim face. The only distinguishing feature being his black, bushy eyebrows. "My name is Valiant, and we want the same thing you do; to make things right. Balance. We have a proposal."
Tamora smirked. "I'm interested."
Never the End
Featuring the voice talents of:
Dee Bradley Baker – Fu-Dog
Jeff Bennett – Brooklyn
Steve Blum – One-Eye
Jason Carter - Bassianus
Jerry Doyle – Marcus, Lucius
Stana Katic – Tamora the Goth
Christel Khalil - Lavinia
Phil LaMarr – One-Hand
Joshua LeBarr - One-Horn
Loren Lester – Quintis
Eddie Marsan - Valiant
Richard Moll – Titus Andronicus
Mitchell Whitfield - Saturninus