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Ancient Roman sculpture, Ludovisi Gaul and his wife, ca. 220 BC

Ancient Roman sculpture, Ludovisi Gaul and his wife, ca. 220 BC

He didn’t feel the sweat drops on his forehead and his neck. He didn’t feel neither warmth nor coldness anymore. Having lost his senses, he wasn’t aware how Octavian argued with Julia. It was right after the moment Julia noticed Marcus Lucius’s mental absence. She screamed after Octavian, she wanted him to come back into the wagon and “do something” that could help Marcus Lucius to get better. She yelled Octavian’s name, because Appius ordered her to communicate just with Octavian or Nerva. Nerva was the messenger, who brought letters from Appius, quoted Appius’s utterances and Octavian’s statements. Nerva was always on the run, barely to meet. When he caught up with the convoy during the following weeks, the first thing he had to do was take a rest, he never kept the guard in the first night. He was full of sweat drops, but he smiled, somehow friendly. Whenever he saw Julia, he stopped to talk to her and nodded with his head to greet her. He was apparently quite popular, because everyone wanted to talk with him. He had fleeting talks with every soldier on his way. Julia wondered what they were talking about. He was direct and open, the total opposite of Octavian, the leader of the convoy, the one at the side of Julia and Marcus Lucius on the way to Britannia. Octavian was a tall, well-built legionnaire with blond, short hair and no smile on his lips. When he walked into the room, you could feel his cold, impersonal presence. He had deep ice-blue eyes and was of about the age of Marcus Lucius. He used only as many words as needed and didn’t make use of empty phrases nor as magic words like “with all due respect” or “thank you”. He was in charge of the convoy after the Maxentius’s guards were wounded and unable to travel. With an iron hand, he gave orders to stop or to travel on. It was not possible to judge how much he liked the position he got. He talked more with other legionnaires, mostly with soldiers from Appius’s team. The new guards of the convoy were a mix of Maxentius’s soldiers and legionnaires sent by Appius. Therefore, you could see various groups gathering during the evenings in front of a small fire place, who wished to keep watch together. There were more than twenty legionnaires, but just one of them was the direct contact person for Julia.

Between all legionnaires, Octavian and Nerva were the two most trusted persons of Appius. Some of the other legionnaires were from the unit trained by him, but they weren’t involved in the matter and according to the order it should stay this way. The more people were involved, the more probable leaks became. There was no space for misunderstandings and doubts due to the well-informed circle of people involved in the matter. Appius wanted to keep the secret circle closed and therefore, the entire communication should be over predefined persons. Therefore, Julia screamed Octavian’s name as she bowed over unconscious the Marcus Lucius.

Hearing her scream, Octavian stepped into the wagon immediately. Julia wondered how he managed to act so fast, but it didn’t concern her as much as the unconsciousness of Marcus Lucius. Additionally, the wound on his chest started bleeding and the bandages turned dangerously, suspiciously red. Octavian jumped over to Marcus Lucius. He pushed Julia aside, ripped off the bandages and looked briefly at the wounds. They had already been treated by a medico on the way, so Octavian knew that it was the last moment to use the old, reviewed methods.

Within heartfelt minutes, Octavian arranged the entire convoy to stop. Then, he waited until the camp fire was hot enough to heat an iron spear up until it glowed red. Marcus Lucius stayed in his bed and didn’t change his position. Julia stared, opened her mouth shocked to the glowing iron in Octavian’s hands. Behind him, two further soldiers followed. She was scared, but stepped into Octavian’s way and tried to prevent him from what he apparently intended to do.

-Go away. – He ordered strictly and emotionless and pushed her away again. This time he did it rougher and stronger than before. At the same time, he gestured to the soldiers behind and they came closer.

Julia fell to the side, but stood up. Within seconds, she stood directly in front of him again. Her eyes showed determination to step into Octavian’s way as long and as often as necessary to stop him.

-You can’t do this! You can’t harm him!

-Woman, if I won’t do this, his wound won’t heal. Go away. – He repeated his command with the same emotionless attitude. However, he didn’t scream at her. His voice remained cold and calculated as usual. With another wink of his hand, he ordered one of his soldiers to keep Julia away from him.

Julia tried to stop him, she screamed and moved hastily, but Octavian menaced to throw her out of the wagon, if she wouldn’t stay calm. His tensed body language confirmed the serious words coming out of his mouth. Julia wasn’t happy about it, but she stayed calm as ordered held back by a tall, calm legionnaire with an unpleasant smell. She watched how Octavian’s second supporter pressed Marcus Lucius’s body onto the bed with both hands and how Octavian placed the iron on his chest. Marcus Lucius woke up for a moment and yelled in pain. His look was blurry, disorientated, inhuman. Julia suffered with him. She observed that Marcus Lucius was too weak to fight against Octavian and his man. Instead, he let them burn out the wound with the glowing, hot iron piece. Just for looking at the scene, Julia fainted. Her skin was colourless. Her breath was short. Her anger was rising increasingly. She was so furious that she wasn’t able to scream anymore.