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.
In his mind, he just couldn't process what was being said. A plot against Ceasar, Fortuna already casting judgment against the general who had led Rome's army to greatness? He continued to listen and to observe, if there was something that could be done to save the leader of Rome, then he would help.
Caelia has been thinking about the ramifications. "Well, we know when it might happen and it may just happen whatever we do to try to prevent it. But, we can at least be on hand to catch the perpetrators red handed if we can't stop it, and - shouldn't the Queen be warned? I don't know - who would step into Caesar's sandals if he were killed? Or, another question, who ought to take his place for the good of Rome? We can also warn or help them too."
She looks at Spurius, "My man here is very trustworthy and capable, Adelphus. I could spare him if you need him."
And then turns to Story, "Who says things should happen in a certain way or else? If we were to save Caesar then of course it would change the future but what makes one future worse or better than another one? We don't know which future is the one to choose; we can only do what we think is best at this moment in time. And unfortunately, I've been so busy with my studies that I'm not up with the latest in the politics at the moment so I can't hope to guess what would happen should Caesar die tomorrow."
"Thank you for the offer, kind lady," Adelphus told Caelia. "I will be safe enough in the palace. I dare not show my face in Rome today regardless...though perhaps I could wear another..."
"I have informed the Queen of what I know already, which is regrettably little," said Nefertiri. "All we have is the vision of Adelphus. Caesar's rightful heir is his son Caesarion, whose mother is none other than Queen Cleopatra, who should naturally act as his regent until he comes of age."
"Indeed," said Adelphus, "though the Romans may not see things that way. Many would see it as Egyptian rule, and Roman pride cannot stomach that. They will look towards one of their own. Perhaps his nephew, Octavian."
"An untried and callow youth. No, more likely they would support Marcus Antonius, Caesar's right hand and fellow consul. They want a military hero, one with victories under his belt. How many triumphs has Octavian had?"
Caelia Alba,[b]Caelia[/b] knew that under Roman law, [b]Caesarion[/b], being at best a bastard child, was not eligible to be [b]Caesar[/b]'s heir even if the toddler was indeed his son - and there was plenty of doubt about that. [b]Antony[/b] was certainly popular, and could potentially be a successor to [b]Caesar[/b]. [b]Octavian[/b] wasn't even in Rome at present, being educated and trained in military matters in Appolonia, but should he return, he could perhaps garner support as well. Another faction to consider would be the plotters themselves. Did they intend to rule Rome after they disposed of [b]Caesar[/b]?
Artemis' mind continued to grapple with the ramifications of what was being discussed. Caesar could be assassinated and Rome would be in chaos. What could be behind such a horrific effort, he asked himself.
"I suppose, on the face of it, Marcus Antonius would be the most popular here in Rome. I heard recently though that Octavian has support out in the provinces though, maybe enough to cause trouble. But these people who plan to assassinate Caesar; why would they, unless they plan on putting their own man in Caesar's place? I wonder who it could be. Is Anthony above suspicion?" Caelia sighs, it looks like a lot of blood shed ahead.
"I am meeting the Queen," Artemis whispered to himself with a level of amazement in his voice. Hesitantly, he followed along with those that proceeded into the audience chamber. However, the earlier conversation weighed heavily upon his mind and heart for what it implied surely spelt chaos for the City and the Republic.
Lucius nodded and followed Brook and Elizabeth, and after him Story passed through the double doors. Last of all came Nefertiri, and then the herald closed the doors behind them, remaining inside Queen Cleopatra's audience chamber. This room was even grander and more lavish than the antechamber through which they had passed to get here. Cleopatra herself sat upon a majestic throne made of white marble. While she looked great, she wasn't as physically attractive as the stories said, but nonetheless she had an impressive presence about her. She carried herself with an air of majesty and dignity, of someone who was used to getting her way. A red silk carpet led all the way up to the throne. Brook recalled the tale of how she was smuggled into Julius Caesar's presence in Egypt rolled up in a carpet, and she couldn't help but wonder if that was the one. The chamber was also decorated with various tapestries and statues, with gold and jewels in abundance.
"Behold the great and powerful Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, ruler of Egypt, and friend of Rome!" boomed the herald in his deep resounding voice, which was perhaps why he was chosen for his job. "Bow in her presence, honored guests!"