It's AD 178, and barbarian tribes once again threaten the borders of the Roman Empire. To make matters worse, Lucius' promotion in his auxiliary cohort has been denied, and instead the governor has appointed a moody, mean-tempered Roman to become the new centurion of the Septem Gallorum — and, incidentally, to trample all over Lucius' ambitions.
Tall and burly, Centurion Caius Florius Corvus might be way too good-looking for Lucius' peace of mind, but the man has also made it abundantly clear that he doesn't trust Lucius as his second in command. Yet as they are swept into war and each has to shoulder his responsibilities, a reluctant respect begins to grow between them, which soon grows into friendship — and, perhaps, more?
Lucius got his first glimpse of the new centurion when the Cohors Septem Gallorum assembled in the hall of the principia, their headquarters building. The prefect stood on the dais, and right next to him was their new second centurion. He was a tall, burly man, built like an ox, with massive shoulders and chest, strong thighs, dark hair.
He didn’t look like a man who would go down on his knees for anybody. Nor bend over, for that matter.
One of those peculiarities of the Romans, who filled their cities with stone cocks and whose heroes had small dicks: you could fuck a man, but the Gods forbid you were the one who was being fucked! That inevitably meant giving yourself up to ridicule.
So, no. A man like the new centurion most certainly wouldn’t bend over for anybody.
Or perhaps not. For given the massive scowl the fellow was wearing, a man might rather try to pet Cerberus than attempt to dally with Centurion Caius Florius Corvus—however fuckable he might look.
Lucius bit his lip to suppress a snicker. The prefect wouldn’t appreciate any of his men entertaining any lascivious or insubordinate thoughts about the new centurion—especially not said centurion’s optio. Only a few days ago, Avitus had called Lucius into his office in the principia. He had glanced up from the tablets on his desk, his grey, bushy brows furrowed. “There you are, Satrius. I’m going to keep this short. I expect the new man will arrive any day now, and I expect that you’ll be able to keep the centuria in order. With this new war looming above us, I cannot have any dissent now among the cohort.” Avitus’ cool eyes had born into Lucius. “Do I make myself clear?”
“Absolutely, sir,” Lucius had said, his face blank. “There will be no problems.” Since Centurion Rava’s death, he had held the command of the centuria, and it would be his responsibility to make the transition to the new command as smooth as possible.
Avitus had sighed and rubbed his hand over his forehead. “Listen, Satrius. I know the men aren’t particularly happy about the situation, and I know you yourself had some hopes…”
“It doesn’t signify,” Lucius had said, his tone fairly expressionless. Of course, he had already heard the news: that the governor was sending them some guy from a bigwig Roman military family. The kind whose sons didn’t have to rise through the military ranks, but got a place in the centuriate straight away.
Avitus made a sharp movement with his hand. “It does signify, and no doubt you would have been a good man on the job. But Centurion Florius comes with the highest recommendations from the governor of Noricum, and it’s our governor’s explicit wish that he should get the job.”
Lucius thought of this conversation as he now looked at Avitus and the new centurion on the dais. After Rava’s death—the plague on those damned Marcomanni and Quadi and the rest of those blasted Germanic tribes across the river Danuvius!—many in the cohort had indeed hoped one of their numbers would rise to the position, and Lucius himself had been one of the favored candidates for the job. But instead, the governor had sent them this: a Roman.
Though of course, Roman could mean many things.
This man here came from an auxiliary in Noricum, and if the rumors were correct, he had been stationed in Raetia before that, and before that in Britannia.
All positions in auxiliaries. Damn peculiar that. After all, you’d think a Roman would stick to the Eagles. This was what men with Roman citizenship normally did if they fancied military service: they served in the legions. By contrast, men like Lucius, men who came from one of the provinces of the Roman Empire and didn’t have Roman citizenship, ended up in the auxiliary forces, where the service was longer and the pay less. So yes, you’d think a Roman would stick to the legions.
But apparently, not this one.
No, this one had waded in with his big feet and had taken the position that would have been the pinnacle of Lucius’ own ambitions.
Damn the Roman.