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Hadrians Wall, Northumberland, England 1

Hadrians Wall, Northumberland, England

At first, he took walks. Octavian wasn’t satisfied with Marcus Lucius’s efforts and found it too strenuously to exercise so soon with fresh wounds. However, he accompanied Marcus Lucius who was determined to start exercising. Together, they walked towards the woods, then they went along the line of trees. Finally, they reached the moors in Southern North. They changed direction and went some hundred meters towards the West and came back to the villa from the North-Western side. They were followed by three or four of Cornelius’s legionnaires, even though they kept their distance.

At first the walk took the whole day due to many pauses. In the first days they walked for almost twenty to twenty five kilometres. Octavian niggled every time they left the mansion and it was rather a sign of care than complaining about exertions. For him, the walks were rather a nice diversion or supplement to the normal trainings. Nerva, if he was in the villa, took it more easy and with humour. Therefore, Marcus Lucius preferred to go out with Nerva. They could talk every now and then, but mostly, they just savoured the silence of woods and the green, wet nature around them.

Later, Marcus Lucius wanted to discuss this and that with Octavian. There were so many possibilities to talk about so many things. But instead, they kept silent and Octavian breathed heavily, because he was slightly offended by the fact that Marcus Lucius didn’t listen to anyone. Marcus Lucius’s wounds could break open easily after too much exercise. At the beginning his breath was regular but started being irregular when they reached the tenth kilometre. His hands weren’t sweaty, but his back was wet and he could get easily cold or catch a fever or chest symptoms. However, pneumonia was regarded as “the captain of the men of death” by William Osler in the 19th century only. In Roman times, it wasn’t known that infectious agents include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. There was no antibiotic therapy that radically improved the survival of infections. There were undefined, invisible, moody gods, who decided spontaneously who would survive and who would die. It was like in today’s third world that pneumonia remained a leading cause of death no matter of the age. Octavian didn’t raise the topic of death rates and more care about the own health, because it wasn’t supportive to Marcus Lucius. Therefore, Octavian was totally unsatisfied about the trips they made.

Normally, he would appreciate the walks through woods, because it was indeed relaxing and kept him in shape. He didn’t like to be involved in the first line of attack on the battlefield. He rather stayed at the back and waited for the last offenders, who would break the lines of defence. It wasn’t easy to stay calm and look powerful when the soldiers you knew were fighting. He was seen as the last man standing.

Then, he didn’t like the Britannia. He preferred the warm lands of the Roman Empire. There, he could sleep during the nights without needing a blanket. There, he could eat meat the way he loved it. Britannia was just good for two reasons. One, he appreciated the trust of Appius. This mission was the best proof that Octavian was the solid, reliable man, he always wanted to be. Two, he was close to Julia. He was entranced by her from the very first moment he saw her. She was Appius’s guest, who practically hosted an old friend and new husband in one person. Octavian heard some stories about Maxentius’s miserable army career. There was a story that Maxentius held a sword like a girl. There was another story that Maxentius was scared to death when he was supposed to go to his first battle. When Octavian saw Maxentius for the very first time, he noticed the extremely tender, but wrinkled skin of a man, who dabbled with battles, but had enough power to beat a weak and defenceless being. Octavian had already seen beaten women, while they rested as a team in different places. He noticed women visiting their man, soldiers, who were stationed in camps, and overreacting after days or weeks of broken contact to their families. Octavian observed how much these women suffered in silence, how their eyes became dashed off and how their moves lost the vigorous dynamic. The same symptoms, he noticed with Julia. She still had a kind of fire, but it wasn’t a fire that could burn for ages. Instinctively, he wanted to protect her. His first reflex was to kill the man, who was supposed to watch over his own wife. Affected by unexpected emotions, Octavian got shaky hands. He noticed that Appius registered the tension, but not the reason behind it. Sending Octavian as the leader of the convoy to Britannia could have two different explanations. Either Appius knew what really happened in Octavian’s mind and wanted to him to learn a lesson or Appius knew that of all soldiers, Octavian would fulfil his task with the strongest motivation. Either way, it showed Appius’s trust in Octavian.

After a month, the walk took just the half the time and Marcus Lucius started his first trainings in the back yard, when he came back to villa after noon. The signs of autumn were already present outside and it wasn’t clever to leave the villa for a longer while, if it wasn’t necessary. The days became shorter and the amount of water in the air increased. It was too unpleasant outside. The danger of slipping combined with the probability of the wounds getting worse was too high. For that reason, Marcus Lucius shortened the march distance and spent more time in the inner yard, where he trained at least three hours a day. Octavian welcomed it.