The Ides of March: Part 2
The house they brought me to was smaller than I expected. It sat slanting and shuttered in a part of town full of leaning houses and leering strangers.
Truthfully I did not know what to expect. Certainly I didn't imagine that Caesar lived in the ass-end of Rome, but I knew little about him beyond the statues that littered my streets. A few of his had been changed to this or that permissible Catholic saint, but they were all Caesar, in the end. His history was all stone and myth to me.
This house was small, and dim in the gathering twilight. Candles nestled on every shelf alongside carvings of household gods.
And there he sat before me in the flesh. His face had a look of faint and constant anger, like a restless sea. And his dark green eyes speared into mine as if he meant to hold me there and pick me apart until he found whatever he was looking for.
Caesar seemed surprisingly normal. Plain-faced and wearied, his stress grooved in deep lines in his forehead. But his eyes betrayed his unrest.
"Gratias tibi ago," he murmured to the guard. The guard raised his arm, fingers turned downward, and left the room. He stared me down as he left.
"Num Latinam dicis?"
I snapped my attention back to Caesar. My blank stare must answer his question, because he smiled at me like I was a delightful child.
"Mihi dice, Adriane." He leans toward me. His breath reeks. Sharp fruit of wine. "Qua tua patria est?"
There was enough there for me to shamble a meaning together: speak and your country.
"Italy," I told him, my voice croaky.
He chuckled and offered me a cup of wine which tasted bitter and new. "Italia," he said. "Hm."
Caesar gestured for me to empty my pockets. He held out his palms. Huge and creased with scars.
I deposited everything I had left into his hands. The emperor set it upon his lap and murmured to me, "Hunc domum meae familiae sit scisne?"
Our shadows danced and mingled on the cool stone wall. I swallowed the lump in my throat. "I don't understand," I told him, stammering.
He processed this for a moment. Scowled at me as if he no longer found my joke funny.
Then Caesar began testing my things one by one. My pen, first. Just a cheap Bic. He marveled at the little plastic body, tapping it against his chair as if trying to figure out what it was made of. He uncapped it, tested the tip against his skin. Stared at me in fascination.
"Quid hoc est?"
"A pen," I told him.
Julius Caesar thumbed through my wallet card by card. He sat for a long while staring at my license, rubbing his thumb over the tiny square of my face.
Finally he murmured, "Quam pictus es?"
The cognate caught. Relief swelled within me, as if every shared language root was another life raft keeping me afloat in this conversation. "It's not a drawing. It's a photograph."
"Photograph," Caesar repeated, dubiously. He scoffed.
He admired my pocketknife with something like a little boy's jealousy, but he set it down beside my wallet instead of tucking it into his own pocket.
And finally, he held my phone. Turned it over and over in his palms until he found the button and pressed it.
I buried my face in my hands. Watched his reaction through my fingers.
Rome's new lifelong dictator marveled at the glow of the LCD. He slid his finger along the arrow and cupped his hands over his mouth as the screen came alive under his touch.
Caesar began murmuring too rapidly for me to understand. I caught fragments, stray words that my mind grappled at for meaning: impossible, time, skillfully built. Before I could think of how to respond, the emperor snapped his stare back onto mine.
He held out the phone to me, questioningly.
I showed Caesar how to play stupid shitty mobile games. He was surprisingly good at them and would have killed my battery doing it if his curiosity didn't get the best of him.
He tossed my phone aside onto the table with the rest of my things.
"Deis tu missus es." He rubbed his forehead, hard. Murmured something else I couldn't hear. I caught only: ex futuris.
Out of the future.
Anxiety needled and quaked in my belly. I hoped I wouldn't have to nervously puke in Caesar's kitchen basin.
The next question out of his mouth was impossible to misunderstand and impossible to answer:
I guess I'm writing three parts! I'm trying to write this so you can understand this with or without knowing exactly what Caesar is saying. The translations should be... fine. My Latin is dusty.
"Gratias tibi ago" = Thank you
"Num Latinam dicis?" = "You don't speak Latin, do you?"
"Mihi dice, Adriane. Qua tua patria est?" = "Tell me, Adrian. What is your country?"
"Hunc domum meae familiae sit scisne?" = "Did you know this is my family's home?"
"Quid hoc est?" = "What is this?"
"Quam hoc pictus es?" = "How did you draw this?"
"Deis tu missus es." = "You were sent by the gods."
ex futuris = out of future things
"Quam moriar?" = "How will I die?"
I slurped chicken noodle soup loudly as I eyed the group of deities. Sitting around the dinner table was only the most powerful Gods known to man.
"Well then, let's cut to the chase," said Jack, who's soul housed Satan. He stared at me with his deep crimson eyes, my soul trembled.
"Why the hurry Jack?" Loki, the god of mischief, scooped some mash potatoes with gravy into his mouth. "Got somewhere to be?" his mouth full, he smiled mischievously.
Evil miasma emanated visibly from Jack who was annoyed. "No, of course not. Only a few billion tormented souls that I have to tend to," not a hint of sarcasm in Jack's voice.
Loki laughed. "Right, we can't have that can we."
"I, 1st tier archangel Uriel of the Lord second that notion." She glared at Jack defiantly.
A heavy silence fell on the on the dining room of my humble abode as Jack and Uriel began their staring contest.
"Rest assured," the god of time, Chronos stood up with a pocket watch in hand. "I have created a time dilated reality bubble around the permeter of this house. Time has been virtually stopped," he snapped his pocket watch closed.
Great, I thought. An eternity of supper with the gods in my house, which was liable to turn into a warzone.
I drank some of the wine that Dionysus brought, hoping it would calm my rattling nerves. The world turned pink, as I felt a rush of confidence and charisma.
"Right, let's cut to the chase. Let's discuss the fact that my existence was accidentally forgotten, unaccounted and left to wander in the Void for an eternity," I said with my hands clasped in front of me.
"Hmm, that's not exactly correct," said Chronos. "It wasn't an eternity, but more precisely 3.39125 eons."
"Wow, that must have sucked," remarked Loki seriously.
Uriel cleared her throat loudly, "You guys aren't exactly helping..." She turned to face me. "Human-"
"The name's Nick," I corrected her.
"My apologies, Nick. We were not aware that you were left in the void, we sincerely apologize for that mistake," Uriel turned to glare at everyone.
"We are sorry Nick," the gods apologized in unison.
"Although you were left in the Void for eons, it was only a moment for the rest of the universe," said Jack. "I'm sure not much has changed for you in regards to your family and assets. So you really haven't lost anything in reality."
"Are you crazy, you diabolical demon?!" Loki spoke up, defending me. "This man spent eons in nothingness. Drifting and wandering through the Void while permanently conscious for all that time. Try to imagine how fucked up your mind would be after all that."
"Hmm, I don't quite understand. There are billions of souls in hell right now, suffering their worst nightmares on a perpetual loop, what your saying doesn't seem that bad," said Jack.
Uriel palmed her face, then looked at me with concern, "Nick, what can we offer you as compensation?"
"I want free reign over the realm of the Gods," I said bluntly.
The expression on their faces pleased me, as they twisted in surprise and shock.
"T-that's not possible, you would have to be a God first," Uriel said, as she shifted in her seat uncomfortably.
"My my, I can only wonder what eons in the Void has done to your mind," said Chronos.
"Hahaha, I like this man," said Loki.
"How foolish," said Satan.
I stood up with my hands clasped behind my back. "I guessed you guys didn't know yet, but spending an eternity in the Void has indeed changed me." I walked around the Gods as I spoke. "After spending eons speaking to the Void, the Void eventually spoke back. And it has named me God of the Void."
"Princess, I understand you're upset but..." Began our Hero, shifting uncomfortably back and forth.
"No, NO, I will not hear it, it is stated in the prophesy and that is the end of it." Replied the princess, pacing to and fro, marking the imaginary chalkboard that engulfed her mind. "I will make the arrangements and the wedding will be at the spring equinox, as has been foretold in the-"
"Princess, I love Hilna!" Said our Hero, slamming his boot heel to the cobblestone floor.
The princess paused her frantic pacing to regard his outburst. She then continued on unperturbed mumbling plans to herself and occasionally barking orders at her attendants.
"Princess, I know this is hard to understand. I admit there were times along our adventure where my emotions got the better of me and some of my actions may have been, eh, misconstrued. The simple truth is that I don't see you like that." Offered our Hero sympathetically.
The Princess halted in her tracks and locked eyes with our hero. She slithered towards him and constricted her face. "Listen you rat," she hissed, "I don't give two goblin teeth who you do or do not love. For the past month I have been held prisoner in a dark kings dungeon. Speaking generally, that causes the population to lose faith in their ruler being able to protect them. Which leads to rebellions. Are you seeing my issue here, hero? I need to look strong and stable. And what better way to do that than to marry up with the man who slaughtered the evil king?" She finished cheerily.
Our Hero strained his neck backwards, away from the Princess. He coughed slightly and began to back towards the door. Two guards quickly locked halberds across the oaken door sealing him with his self appointed lover.
"Princess, I advise you reconsider. The people love you, the inhabitants are happy." Our hero tried vainly to placate the witch.
"Yes, yes the rubes in the fields will follow whatever half-baked theology I get men in white robes to spew at them. Speaking of, they will be the ones to arrange out matrimony ceremony. Some babble about light and forces."
"Princess, I beg you! I did not emancipate you to be promptly thrust into the very nightmare I have just liberated you from!" Sputtered our Hero, watching the guards slowly encroach upon him.
"Do you truly believe that was the last enemy that will attempt to intrude upon my kingdom? Nay, my enemies are numerous and eclectic. They see weakness miles away. They wait, perched upon my parapets, concealed within my courts. You shall be my protection from that, or rather the idea of you will. Mighty hero willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save his queen, all foretold in prophecy. No one would be foolish enough to stop me." She finished proudly, staring at her prisoner through a row of armed guards.
"You've gone mad!" Said our hero, crashing against the guards barring his way. Their numbers proved too many and our hero could not prevent his own capture. Subdued, our hero was brought in shackles to face the princess.
The princess clucked her tongue and wagged her finger. "Throw him in the keep for a week. That will show the brute manners."
"Hilna, where are you going dear?"
"I don't know Grandma. I had a bad dream and I think my Hero needs me."
"Very well my child, but take this." She said handing Hilna a small sword wrapped in rose silk. "It will let you decide your fate."
Hilna's jaw was clenched and the fires of passion burned through her eyes. She nodded once and went into the tempestuous night.
This was incredible, is there any chance of more?
My name is HA097367. Today I am meeting my partner. Her name is HG085563. She is from the Hotel Golf district and is a bit older, probably around 30. I’m 23. The Governor controls everything on my planet. I’ve heard stories of how things used to be. They used to call this place Earth. People used to fall in love naturally I’ve heard. They would be at a park and meet their soulmate there. Love is still possible. My parents are in love. I think they are “soulmates.” I hope I will fall in love.
I received a letter two days ago in the mail alerting me that I had been selected to receive a partner. You must show your worth to society and your loyalty to the Governor before you can receive a partner. My new partner must have some shortcomings if it’s taken her this long. I hear that on our sister planet, Mars, they don’t allow partners anymore. Partners created for teams of resistors against the King.
I wonder what my partner’s position is. I wonder if she’ll respect mine. I am a medic in The Grand Army of the Galaxy. My father was in the infantry and my grandfather was a medic. My great great grandfather was in the Army of the United States. I’ve only heard stories about him and his battles. I don’t believe most of them though. The United States of America used to be a country on this planet. It was a powerful country, but they apparently couldn’t resist the The Monarchy. The Monarchy was to unite the galactic system once humans began living on planets across the galaxy. Now the Monarchy is more of a dictatorship if you ask me. Anyway, I do take great pride in being a member of The Grand Army of the Galaxy and I hope my partner can respect that. I don’t want to show it, but I am very excited to meet her!
My work day finishes at 1700. It’s 1600 now and I’m plotting my route to the Trans Terra Firma (TTF), the land shuttle on my planet. TTF security always takes forever after the work day, so I gotta be quick gettin out of here. Once I get home, I’m gonna put on a new suit I bought, go buy some flowers, and then hop back onto the TTF to travel to the Hotel Golf district. The Hotel Golf district is so beautiful. It’s essentially a giant metropolis with a perfectly functioning land craft system. Being in the Army, I get to travel there a lot to do joint operations between our districts. My district is just a bunch of houses and a highway. The TTF goes to every district on the continent, and then you need to ride connecting TTF trains within a district to travel around. So it’ll be about a 45 minute ride for me to get to her place.
Well it’s now 1915, I’m making alright time. I’m on the TTF to Hotel Golf. The building lights are so pretty at night. When I look out the cold glass window, I see land crafts traveling faster than the TTF as they coast along Hotel Golf’s beltway. I have my partner’s flowers in my hands. Three blue flowers, three green flowers, and three red flowers. One of those has to be her favorite color, right? It’s a busy Friday night here. I’m surprised I’m still making good time. Hotel Golf used to be the capitol of the United States of America; now it’s just a big city. I think I’m gonna take a taxi once I get into the city; I’m sick of riding the public trains.
Alright, so it’s now 1950 and I’m almost to her place. I’m in a taxi land craft and we are passing what used to be a bunch of monuments to great heroes of the United States of America. My hands are getting sweaty because I’m about to meet my wife and I know this taxi driver better than I know her. I’m breathing heavy and kind of dizzy too. I need to calm down.
Awww man, it's all building up! I can't wait :D
A very good start! Is there a chance of any more?
I awoke early in the morning with a chipper attitude. It had been a long time since I had woken up so early and so excited. When I opened my eyes, my new and and now very active HUD showed my health and mana fill back up from the rest. A little triangle in the top left of my vision blinked with some numbers beside it 0/10. So I set my self to work making breakfast using my new skill whenever possible. It started with the fork I conjured to beat the eggs.
FIRST STEPS: Items - 1/10
Then it was the spatula for cooking those eggs and the knife to spread the butter on my toast. After having eaten I conjured up another toothbrush and brushed my teeth and used some fancy new floss that I made myself.
FIRST STEPS: Items - 5/10
I got dressed and headed for the door. As I shut the door I remembered that I left my keys inside. Ah I thought, I'll just conjure those up too. No more needing to remember things anymore! So I did, and I locked the door and went to my car.
FIRST STEPS: Items - 6/10
I got in and went to conjure car keys so I could head to work, but it didn't work. Something was wrong, once I got it the first time, conjuration came easily. It was then I realized I had not been paying attention to my mana bar. My blood ran cold as I slowly looked down and saw my fear realized. It was empty.
I jumped out of my car and went to the door, not to worry, I'll just get my real car keys. I grabbed the door handle and pulled.
This door is locked from the inside
The message appeared just above my health bar on the bottom of my vision. I left my keys inside, and then locked them in there. I was positively screwed. The worst part? I had no idea how to get more mana other than sleeping, and I couldn't do that, I had to get to work. So I thought quickly and began to walk down my road until I got to one of the main streets where I managed to flag down a taxi. I was about to ask him to drive me to work, but I realized that would be no good as that would not solve my predicament. Then I had a dark thought, I wonder.
So I told the driver to take me to the nearest liquor store. It can't be, I thought as I told the driver to wait for me. I went in and bought the first bottle of vodka I could find. As I exited the store I heard a woman scream, it sounded like it was coming from behind the store.
ASSISTANCE: Blink three time to track side quest.
A side quest? I didn't have time for that I muttered and climbed back in the taxi and told him to take me to my work. As he drove off I cracked open the bottle and took a swig. My eyes widened, shit I thought. My mana bar went up a bit. Knowing I only had about 10 minutes, I went to work on the bottle trying to get as much of my mana back as possible. I got to work, absolutely hammered.
I paid the driver and strode into work avoiding many people as to not let on to my current state. I was less than productive at work considering I was still drinking, and maybe even worse at conjuration. Although I did manage to make 4 pathetic pens over the course of the day. While pathetic, they still counted and I complete my quest as the work day came to an end.
NEW SKILL POINT AVAILABLE
QUEST COMPLETE - FIRST STEPS
I was quite pleased at how my day had ended. I took another taxi home and this time having near full mana, conjured up my car keys and put them in the door. It took a minute in my slightly drunken state but I soon realized that I needed my house keys. So I conjured them and made my way inside. As I sat down on the couch I closed my eyes for a few seconds, sort of a long blink. But as I opened them, I realized I was in my skill tree. Right, I have to pick a new skill, this time I settled on "Novice Persuasion". I realized I had forgotten to track my new quest, but it wasn't a problem as it was waiting for me in the top left of my vision. I blinked three times
Objective: Successfully trick 3 people using Persuasion - 0/3
I laughed to myself and thought that this could really get interesting. I thought about getting ready for bed but that didn't last long because I passed out due to exhaustion and simply being drunk all day.
I would like to thank everyone for their overwhelming support! Due to recommendation, I have created a subreddit to continue the story. I will post part 3 here and on my subreddit, but after that it will only be on there.
You can join me over at /r/xXGARR377Xx
This is brilliant, I really enjoyed it and look for to any more if you're feeling up to it :)
It sounds like you’re second guessing your notes and pitch which causes the song to sound fluctuated.
Your annunciation could use some work, your words don’t sound formal or passionate enough for a solo opera song like Stars. An old trick for annunciation that’s commonly taught in choir classes is to sing it like you have an “English accent”.
You have potential, everyone does. If you’re passionate about singing, study and analyze Javerts like Philip Quast and Norm Lewis. Your vocal range fits the Javert role, it just needs refining.
Cool, thanks for your advice, I think you're pretty much spot on with all of that. I'll keep working on it and maybe post an update when I feel confident enough. Thanks again for your help :)
Did it all work out in the end though?
Not yet. I couldn't go in and my husband didn't or couldn't explain it to her. He claims to have enough to last him a few days, but honestly, why should I have to make a special trip to fix it? Just so frustrating. If I didn't know better I'd believe her too probably, and I'd be chasing my tail trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist. I guess I have to go by between jobs next week. Joy.
Dang, that's annoying, you'll just have head over and teach her how to do her own job