Flash - Sins of the Father

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Flash - Sins of the Father

Aelia clings to my hand, her face buried in my skirts. We had collected flowers while preparations were made, and that had cheered her a little. She endured the proceedings bravely until Cato lit the body.

She shrieked like a harpy, and I feared the winds would follow her heartbroken cries. It took all my strength to hold her back.

Severus came to my rescue, scooping her up and speaking softly until she calmed. The great, hulking man is a gentle soul. Not what most would expect from a gladiator known for his kills.

“We'll watch out for you, Flavia,” he'd told me, handing Aelia back to me.“You, Aelia, Casius and Cato.”

All I could do was nod. I couldn't tell him of our debts, still looming, unpaid.

Marius had set out save the world with this occupation which is little more than a dance with death. First his parents, then my own; he rescued their failing businesses, saved their homes; all the while, keeping us well fed, content, but not quite secure. There was always another battle, another prize to be won.

I went to each bout and contest I could, sitting paralyzed with fear; the clash of metal as his blade hit a shield, the sounds of the crowd, calling for blood roaring in my ears. I would pray to Victoria, to Fortuna, to Nemesis that my husband might live to see his children grown.

My oldest, Cato, comes to my side. He is strong, like his father, determined in what he believes to be right. He holds Aelia with one hand and hugs me with the other.

“I know the state of our house, mother,” he says in my ear. “I know what you fear.”

I nod again. The wind has changed direction, and I feel the smoke of my dear husband burn in my lungs.

“Do not worry,” he tells me. “I have taken a contract.”

“A contract?” I ask, my voice barely a whisper.

“With the Ludus Magnus.”

My legs fail me, and I drop to my knees, tears falling onto the sand. Yet all I see is blood, drop after drop, pooling beneath me; the blood of my husband, and now of my son.

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