Chapter 36 - Caitir

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A lot will be revealed in this chapter. If there is anything which doesn't add up for you, please let me know. I'll do my best to clarify where needed, and edit if necessary.


"Marcus," Biancus said, walking in his Contuberia's common quarters. They had just finished dinner, which Biancus had missed. It wasn't that uncommon, since Biancus tended to divide his attention over all his trainees. But as Marcus looked up in his friend's round face, and found no more words added to the initial address, he understood they needed to talk in private.

Biancus steered him away from Decius's and Florius's bickering over a letter they'd received from the home front. Marcus had been listening quietly, since there seemed to be some pressure on them to promote up in the ranks. Which was hardly good news. The crease between Biancus's eyebrows indicated that he was not going to have anything more pleasant to offer.

They ended up in the left watch tower, unattended since only the right one was used to look out over the fields surrounding camp. Since the vast forest blocked their view from the left, there was little point supervising it. Marcus suddenly realized, not without a twinge of guilt, that it might have taken the guards longer than he assumed to be alerted of the fire at the coast.

"Raghnall is held responsible for General Drusus's death," Biancus cut to the chase as soon as they had reached the upper floor and walked out on the narrow balcony surrounding the square tower.

They were in plain view, but out of hearing range. Luckily.

"General Drusus died falling off his horse," Marcus replied, almost automatically reciting the official reports he had consulted on the matter. A stupid accident accounted for the death of Emperor Augustus's stepson. In the middle of the crowd, during the annual celebrations at Lugdunum. It was common knowledge. But he was glad there was no one he needed to keep a straight face for, because he knew doubt filled his features. Biancus wouldn't make a statement like this just to rile him up.

Biancus nodded.

"Rumours add to that. Rumours say that during the Concilium Galliarum of that year, there were uproars. Rumours say that British tribes disrupted the festivities, and when General Drusus commanded for them to be arrested, his horse, that had led him faithfully through the Germanic wars, got on its hind legs and bucked him off."

"Why British?" Marcus interrupted. Celtic tribes on both sides of the sea resembled each other. Most Romans couldn't spot the difference at first glance.

"Well they just keep talking about the tattoos. But Marcus, the thing is, Raghnall was present that day. And they hold him responsible for that horse to prance."

Marcus let the words sink in. "Drusus's guard thinks Raghnall is responsible for their General's death?" he repeated at last.

Biancus gave him a long, measuring look.

"What if he is? With the kind of magic you described..." Biancus trailed off. Magic made almost everyone doubt their factual observations. Even his grounded friend. True or not, the rumours alone put Phyllis in danger for allying up with Raghnall. And she had no idea. Marcus couldn't make much sense of any of it, but he she needed to know. She absolutely needed to know this.

"I need to see Caitir. Tonight," he stated.

Caitir had returned yesterday, he had been informed by the patrols skirting the forest outlines around Mesmer, but it was three days before he was allowed to visit there again. Marcus would have thought Caitir's return would loosen up Centurion Quintus's restrictions, but the man hadn't budged an inch.

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