Disclaimer: I don't own "Rome" or any of its characters. The TV series is the property of HBO and the BBC. So there is no copyright infringement intended, nor do I intend to tick anyone off – so please don't sue me, I'm poor enough already! If you do sue all you end up with is a rust bucket car, and a load of rescued pets with attitude problems that make Pullo look like a teddy bear. But I do own the story itself and the characters of Afia, Decimus and other non-"Rome" types. :O)
The Arverni's were a very powerful tribe inhabiting what is now the region of Lyon in France, and gave their name to the area Auvergne. They were violently opposed to Roman rule and the most famous of them, Vercingetorix, led the revolt that Julius Caesar put down in 46BC. It is to his tribe that Afia belongs.
This is my first "Rome" fanfic; it is based on the 2005 TV series. I do not intend to rip off any other writer (but as there doesn't appear to be any stories logged yet, I'm hoping I haven't). But if I digress from the series a little, don't shoot me as I'm old and the brain (what little I have) is not what it used to be. Plus I might also change things to fit the story a little better –sorry; but that is what artistic license is all about! LOL!
I finally managed to watch the end of the series recently, and decided I didn't want to wait until 2007 to find out what happened next. So here's my take on what followed after the final credits rolled on the last episode. My story is concerned more with Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus, rather than all the historical elements that take place as well in the series (though they will be mentioned and such characters might appear); it's going to be dramatic, romantic as well as fairly funny…in places anyway….. It is nothing but fluff, so if you don't like romance and stuff please don't read it!
All reviews, and constructive criticism, gratefully received – but no flaming please; and I will try to update regularly.
Anyway…on with the show!
Chapter One – The Roman and the Gaul
The woman trotted her horse along in the fading twilight, but heard the raucous laughter of men; she knew enough to know that sound did not bode well. She slipped from her horse and, leaving it tied to a tree, edged closer to the clearing where the sounds emanated from.
She was dressed almost as a man, but the warrior was actually a freed Gallic slave; still, she was deadly even though it had been a while since she had had a fight.
She saw two of them raping a young woman, who barely moved let alone struggled; whilst two others repeatedly beat a large man lying on the ground. Both looked dead.
She sighed, common sense told her to go on her way – but the Arverni in her hated the injustice of the fight, no enemy can fight fair whilst trussed up like a pig, and so it over-rode her logic and she went in blades already pulled and deadly.
The men leapt up off the girl, the others spun round and all four grinned evilly "Fresh meat lads!" the leader leered.
She stared at them placidly and, as they fanned out to surround her, rolled her eyes. As one rushed her she thrust one blade into him, and the other into a second on her right. She pulled her blades loose and, dropping to one knee, flicked one before her and one aft, stabbing the other two.
Once again she pulled her blades free and quickly went and finished all four, making sure each was dead she then went to the other prone figures; all the time keeping her eyes flicking around the clearing.
She checked the girl for breath and a heartbeat, both were terribly shallow. She cut both figures loose, and found both had fevers. The man was fighting, the girl was not.
"Eirene..." he whispered.
The woman sighed and petted his head, then moved to the girl. She checked her breathing and heartbeat once more and found them shallower than before. She pulled a dagger and spoke for the first time "find your freedom little bird, for this cage holds your spirit no longer. Go forward to peace."
She drove the blade deep into the still form's heart just as the man opened his eyes "NAY! Eirene! Nay!"
Dark eyes flashed at him and she held the bloodied blade to his throat "Hush, do you wish to bring every bandit forth!" she sat lightly on his chest, causing him to gasp as broken and fractured ribs flexed "Stop it! She was dying, what would you have me do! I am no torturer – I could not aid her live, so I helped her die! She is free and at peace; if you wish to mourn, mourn for yourself for you are the one left here to suffer! Now be quiet, or I will send you forward with her!"
He lay still, but his eyes blazed as he hissed "I hate you!"
"Aye, well, you will not be the first and doubtful the last; so forgive me if I do not fall apart with grief." She glanced at the dead girl "I will go and bury her as best I can."
He nodded already overcome with tiredness from his brief outburst; she sighed and rolled her eyes 'by the Goddess, what possessed me to bother?'
She buried the young woman as well as she could rocks and stones and then went back and dragged the other corpses out into the wood. The animals could do what they would with the men's carcasses, scum like that were of no consequence to her.
She tended the sick man for three days, knowing it would be pointless to try and remove such a giant as this by herself. Finally he regained consciousness again "Eirene?"
"She is dead; what is your name? Where do you hail from?"
"You killed her."
"Nay, she was already dying – I merely hastened her end to save her suffering. I cannot believe you would have had her die slowly if you cared so much for her?"
He hesitated but finally agreed "Nay, I would not."
"So, what is your name, where do you come from?"
"Titus Pullo, and I come from Rome."
"You are a roman?"
"Aye, what of it?"
"Naught, we all have our crosses to bear – being roman is yours." She shrugged.
He could not help the smile; she arched an eyebrow at him "Careful Titus Pullo, your smile is showing."
He took in her attire "you look like a man."
"Nay, I merely fight like one – I am all woman everywhere else."
"What is your name and where do you hail from?"
"Afia of the Arverni."
"You are a Gaul!"
"Aye, I am a freed slave – but my old master was a good man; there is trouble in Rome since Caesar was murdered, and I wish to go help him escape the city."
Pullo tried to rise, but fell back with a groan "Caesar cannot be dead! My best friend guards him! He would not abandon his post; unlike me, he is an honourable man!"
"None the less Caesar is dead and Rome is in chaos." She thought for a moment "Mayhap your friend is dead."
"You say that like it is a good thing!"
"It is if he died in battle."
"I forgot you Gauls are always so concerned with honour."
"Oh and of course you were not defending his but a moment ago?"
"Shut up woman."
"Ah definitely a Roman, when losing an argument bark an order."
Pullo rolled his eyes "Typical Gallic wench – when meeting a real man they feel threatened."
"Really? Well, when I meet a real man I will bear that in mind."
Pullo couldn't help it – as much as he missed Eirene – he laughed out loud. "Help me up; I need to aid Vorenus, if he lives he will need this old warhorse."
"Stay where you are, this old warhorse cannot move for another day at least."
"He will have need of me!"
"If you insist I believe you; however you will be of no use to anyone if you perish before you reach him."
He shut his eyes with a groan muttering about bossy Gallic wenches.
The next day, as promised, she helped him mount her horse before hauling herself before him and they began the journey back to Rome. She did not appear to fear it as some women would; but then with her hair shorter than the norm and her mode of dress, she could easily pass for a male unless you looked closely and saw her ample breasts only just disguised by her loose fitting clothes and rough armour.
However, bristling with weapons as she was (2 daggers, 2 swords and a bow) he doubted anyone would get close enough for such an inspection. Naught like his Eirene, who was soft and pliable and good; who did not have it in her to kill, not even one such as he that had killed her betrothed, and instead had forgiven him. He sighed as he thought about the now vain hope that she might one day have to come think much of him.
"What are you thinking?"
"What?" she sparked him out of his reverie.
"I hear the waterwheel that is your brain creaking – you must be thinking; a rare feat for any Roman, but especially a Roman soldier."
He almost spluttered with outrage "woman you press your jest too far!"
"Ah, mayhap you forget that I am healthy and armed to the teeth, and you are sick and without weapons?"
"I can fight with my fists well enough; I have killed with my bare hands!"
She glanced down at the large hands that rested loosely at her waist "I do not doubt that Titus Pullo; but I am still smaller, fleeter of foot and better armed and I too can fistfight – having four brothers taught me well."
"Four brothers? Where are they now?"
"Dead, along with my village; but that is the will of Rome for you." she shrugged, but he heard the dull tone to her voice.
"You miss them."
"Aye, but much good may it do me – mourning does not bring the dead back; it merely makes it harder on the living."
There was a pause "I miss Eirene."
"I am sorry that she died, I see she meant much to you. But it was better to finish her suffering quickly than to let her linger on in pain."
"Was there really naught you could do to save her, or were you just concerned she would slow you down?" he did not mean it to sound as harsh as it did; but he realised he had said too much when she suddenly dropped from the horse and yanked him off too, before rounding on him as he hissed at the pain his ribs still gave him.
"If I had been so worried Roman, I would have sent you forward also! Instead I wasted four days tending your stupid hide; and even now still bother with you, when my poor nag would fair fly forward without your hulking great carcass weighing him down!
I spared the girl suffering, she was still dying and there was naught I could do to spare her life; indeed she had given up the fight to live, if there was even such fight there in the first place! She was not Arverni, she was not Gaul, she was not any race that has fought to survive, she was only a female!" she fair spat the words "and I will not listen to you continue to bleat on about her!" with that she punched him so hard in the face he saw stars and his nose started to bleed. "Now get on the damn horse and shut up!"
He got back on, with her help, before she once more she mounted in front of him and they rode in silence.
By nightfall he was fair driven mad by her silent treatment but had refused to crack first.
She had gathered firewood and set the fire whilst tending her horse, herself and finally him – in that order. She checked his wounds and injuries, applied some foul smelling salve to various points and then retreated to the fire. She had spoken not a word to him nor looked at him when he tried to gain her gaze.
She suddenly disappeared for half an hour, to the point where he was about to try and rise to seek her out; feeling stupid for not wishing to be alone – but then she came back with two dead rabbits; still she did not speak to him as she skinned, gutted and cleaned them before putting them on the fire.
In the end he was almost grinding his teeth in frustration "You know, ignoring me is not very clever."
"I am sorry Roman, did you speak or did my horse just fart?" she arched an eyebrow at him.
"I was just saying ignoring me is not very clever, I…."
"Oh but I am not very clever am I? I am just stupid a stupid Gallic wench – a murderess even, for I did not waste time and energy prolonging the agony of a young girl you say you cared for."
"I do not say it, I did!" he was getting angry now "I did care for her very much!"
"Yet you wished me to keep her alive a little longer! For mark me Roman, she was dying, there was naught could be done for her – they had all but raped her to death! She had long given up the fight to live; I only set her spirit free." She sighed in irritation and tossed him some rabbit "shut up and eat; leave me alone."
She shuffled away and over to the far side of the little fire. He sighed and ate the rabbit, hearing Vorenus berate him in his mind "Pullo you fool! You look a gift horse in the mouth! The wench saves your life and here you are making an enemy of her and you hardly able to stand, let alone protect yourself!"
He smiled, he missed Vorenus – he hoped he was not dead. He hoped this rumour the Gaul was acting on was all talk – he knew his friend would not desert his post like that; whatever happened the one constant he knew was that Lucius Vorenus was a truly honourable man. He sighed again, he would not let such a friend down – he would do right…..for once he would do as Vorenus would do. "I am sorry Afia; I did not mean any offence."
"Again a typical Roman, you offend without even bloody trying!" but he sensed the jest in her tone and smiled.
"Aye, and like a typical bloody Gaul you take offence at every word!"
"Shut up Pullo." She tossed him some more rabbit and grinned.
He returned the smile – so it was Pullo again, then he was forgiven.
Back in Rome the husk of the man that had once been Lucius Vorenus, wept in his bed – oblivious to all about him as he mourned Niobe.