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Roman statue of Flora:Chloris found in the HermitageRoman statue of Flora: Chloris found in the Hermitage

He came back as she asked. She wanted to share her blanket with him, but he refused politely. He covered himself with a cape. Her head landed on his shoulder and he hugged her automatically. It was the very first night he spent with a women without any sexual context. As the morning came, Nerva stood up attentively again and minded not to wake her up. He took from her the ring and sighed heavily. He left the room and searched after Philo. It didn’t take long. Nerva knew the building. He spent here two or three nights already.

-Philo, go and bring her a breakfast. And don’t touch her. If she tells me that she felt offended in any way…

-We agreed yesterday about it. – The satyr smiled sleepy. – And I am no baby-sitter.

-Just do it. You can sleep there, in the entrance. If she asks where I am, tell here I explain everything, when I come back. If I won’t come back until the evening comes, give her a horse and sent her to Eboracum. Give her a companion, who brings the reward back to you. You’ll get what you ask.

-Is she really so important? – Philo stunned. – Is it your girl?

-Don’t ask. Just do it, please. And don’t say a word about it to anyone. – Nerva wasn’t in a good mood. Something bothered him and the heavy load made him standing rather less upright. His back was curved a bit. Maybe it was due to the fact that Philo was much shorter than Nerva.

-You’ve changed Nerva. She taught you good manners. Go and don’t worry. We’ll see us later.

He slapped Nerva on the shoulder and Nerva vanished. He went to Cornelius and reported that he searched for Julia the entire night. He lost her during the celebration and he was full of shame. She simply disappeared. Nerva said that he met Pompeius and shared his worry with the governor. Cornelius looked rather sleepy than worried. Nerva didn’t show his negative attitude. Instead, Nerva suggested that he would go to Pompeius and asks whether he found Julia. Cornelius agreed and went back to bed. Apparently, he didn’t care about Julia. It was strange. Nerva didn’t comment it and saluted. Then, he went, as suggested, to Pompeius. He was sure that he already spent all his luck already. The visit at Pompeius couldn’t be any easygoing track. Nerva was right.

By showing the massive ring, he was brought directly in front of Pompeius, in the lion’s den. The plenty of soldiers stood and made organized impression. Nerva didn’t show how insecure he was. He was prepared to be killed. Pompeius waited for him with a snaky look in his eyes. He smiled as if he would like to jeer Nerva. Nerva took it with dignity and saluted properly. Pompeius smiled and squinted.

-Here you are. And where is Julia from the Fabii family? – Pompeius asked.

-She’s in a safe place. She won’t come here until we won’t be sure that you’re on our side.

-You’re too unimportant to drive a hard bargain. – Pompeius said coldly. – You probably don’t know who am I.

-I know exactly who you are. – Nerva answered and squinted his eyes, too.

-Whether you’re brave and also adventurous, or a stupid man. Don’t play with fire. Where is she?

-Not here with me. Why do you want to have her?

-Why do you want to hide her?

-Yesterday, a man tried to kidnap her. You followed her. You said that Cornelius could be involved in the conspiracy. There are many reasons for why I do it that way. So, why do you want to have her? – Nerva repeated his question.

-I want to help you.

-Very generous. Why?

-Don’t be rude. – Pompeius smiled unfriendly.

-Why do you want to have her?

-You’re Appius’s soldier. You should help to protect people. Appius won’t approve your insubordination towards me.

-You’re right. I am Appius’s soldier. I will perform any order he gives me. I didn’t get any order to obey you.

-So, you’re acting on his command?

-I am acting for the well-being of Julia from the Fabii family. In what matter do you act?

-Senātus Populusque Rōmānus. That’s what I serve for.

Nerva didn’t answer. The soldiers standing in the room took off their swords and saw prepared for attacking him. The operation readiness didn’t change Nerva’s attitude. He knew that he had to be the last man standing and was ready to fight, even if the domination of Pompeius’s soldiers was outstanding. He stayed calm, because he knew that Julia would come back to Eboracum with Philo’s man. As long as her matter was clear, he was ready to die.

-So, you’re not under command of Cornelius?

-No, I’m not. – Nerva was nerved, but he tried to stay calm. He didn’t like talks. He used to be a messenger, not a politician, to slide between the words.

-If I promise to help you with protection over Julia of the Fabii family will you come under my command?

-No, as you already said, I am Appius’s soldier. – Nerva answered quickly.

-And if I kill you? You won’t say a word where the girl is and she will die somewhere alone, unprotected. Will you come under my command, if I promise you to save your life then?

-With all due respect – Nerva said with clinching teeth – I am Appius’s soldier.

-I understand. That’s the Appius’s school…

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