IC-Ep 1-Introduction(Everyone may read)

Story and his companions arrive in Rome in 44 BC, the day before the Ides of March. They encounter a very unusual soothsayer who delivers a warning to Julius Caesar and soon find themselves embroiled in intrigue.

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IC-Ep 1-Introduction(Everyone may read)

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Alexandria, Egypt
September 29, 48 BC

Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus sat in the small boat as it made its way from his trireme to the shore at Alexandria's harbor, watching the figures waiting on the pier with nervous tension. A handful of his loyal supporters sat with him, but like him they did not speak a word. It could be a trap, he thought. They invite me ashore, then betray me as soon as I set foot on land. The Egyptians promised me refuge, but can their word be trusted? Perhaps I'll get a better view of the situation as we get closer to shore. We can always put back out to sea if anything looks suspicious. He sighed, unease rippling throughout his body. Gods, I'm tired of all of this running. I've fled from Caesar every step of the way. One way or the other, I think my flight ends here.

As the boat approached the shoreline, the figures became more distinct. One was shrouded in a hooded cloak, but the form was unmistakably female. Whoever she is, she does not wish her identity known, he thought. He peered at the Egyptians, shading his eyes by placing a hand horizontally against his forehead. Several of the figures were Egyptian soldiers. The one in the fancy armor is Achillas, the leader of King Ptolemy's troops. A good man to have on your side. A bad man to have as an enemy. Then he saw two men who were obviously Roman officers, and all of his worries and doubts washed away. Lucius Septimius, my old friend! I know I'm in good hands now. The tribune had fought alongside Pompey in multiple campaigns. That centurion with him is Salvius.

Reassured, Pompey rowed faster, and soon the boat bumped up against the wooden pier. Pompey stood, the boat rocking gently beneath his feet, as Septimius approached and extended a hand. "Hail, Pompeius Magnus!" the tribune said as Pompey clasped it and stepped onto the dock.

"To your health, Lucius Septimius!" replied Pompey. The tribune fell in behind him and to one side.

Before Pompey had taken two steps, he felt a stabbing pain in his chest. He looked down in shock to see the tip of a gladius sticking out of it between his ribs, his lifeblood dripping from the blade. Salvius and Achillas surged forward, their own swords drawn. The Egyptian soldiers ran after them closely, with the woman bringing up the rear at a more sedate pace. Salvius and Achillas began stabbing Pompey, who dropped to his knees, and the rest of the troops slaughtered the men in the boat. Pompey looked back and upwards into the grim face of Septimius, who had stabbed him in the back. "Why?" he croaked.

"I have cast in my lot with Caesar," said Septimius.

"Caesar...would never approve..." Pompey coughed up blood, fighting to stay alive a moment longer. "I...am his daughter's husband...He will have your head..."

"Perhaps, but he shall have yours first."

The woman arrived and looked down at Pompey. "Caesar has a great destiny," she said. "But for Caesar to rise, Pompey must fall." There was something off about the quality of her voice, but Pompey had more pressing things on his mind. Then she raised her hood and he saw her face - her horrible face! His eyes goggled, and he prayed for Pluto to claim him. She nodded to Septimius, who drew back his gladius and lopped off Pompey's head with a single stroke. It bounced and rolled to a halt at her feet. The last thing he felt was gratitude that he was looking not at her, but at his betrayer and his own headless torso. The last thing he heard was her dreadful voice. "It is done. Our destiny is assured."
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