One day, he was longer awake and perceived more of his surrounding than before. He saw a girl, maybe 18, maybe 20 years old, who immediately went away when she noticed his state of mind. When she was sure he fell unconscious again, she washed his wounds very attentively, concentrated and tenderly. She used to quote Homer’s works as far as Marcus Lucius could notice. She claimed the Song of Ilion in Greek telling the story of more than just few weeks in the final year of the Trojan war.
“Take courage. State what your powers tell you.
By Apollo, whom Zeus loves, to whom you, Calchas,
pray in prophesy to the Danaans, I swear this—
while I live to look upon the light of day,
no Achaean will raise violent hands against you,
no, not even if you name Agamemnon,
who claims he’s by far the best Achaean.”
Her lips were moving slowly, barely noticeable. They were full and nicely pink. Her cheeks were faint and noble, but they showed she spent a lot of time outside. Her eyes weren’t watchful, rather concentrated on the pieces of Marcus Lucius’s body that she had to clean again. Her voice was pleasant and enjoyable. It worked like medicine. Her fond touch was desirable.
At first, Marcus Lucius hoped that she was his wife. They looked similarly. Decima had long, dark red, curly hair and sun-bathed skin, too. She wasn’t shy towards sun like the Roman noble ladies, who used to avoid any fresh air and sun rays. Decima liked to stay in the garden and meeting her best friend on one of the markets in Rome. She had a nice, slim, and curvy body and a wonderful, catching smile. The unknown girl was a little bit smaller, more daintily. Her fingers were longer and her look was sadder, but she showed a special kind of patience and power. Her moves were more insecure compared to Decima’s. His wife used to stroke him stronger, more confident. The unknown girl apparently didn’t have much experience with men.
-Who are you? – He asked finally.
She noticed his watchful eyes and her cheeks turned red immediately. She jumped away like a wild, timid animal. Her reserved attitude was shown in her body position, reaction and her eyes. At speed, she was many steps away from him and stared at him with an insecure look. Her breath was faster and her hands trembled. She was visibly nervous.
-Julia. I am the daughter of Julius Fabius. I was Maxentius’s wife. – She answered quickly, but proudly. Her hands still trembled.
It was hard for her to stay secure and without any movement in the wagon, which was in motion. It wiggled and wobbled more or less powerfully.
-Don’t be scared… – He started, but she refused immediately like a cheeky child:
-I’m not scared.
Even when she said so, she didn’t make the impression of feeling comfortable and well. She looked cute. Marcus Lucius wasn’t sure how he was supposed to handle the situation. Decima didn’t oppose or comment his statements. He smiled sadly, while he remembered his dead wife. Then, he thought that Julia wasn’t a slave, who should take care of him. She was a Roman citizen. He remembered briefly having seen Julia sitting on the floor leaning on the wall of the wagon, and sleeping, when she didn’t spend her time with taking care of him. He had some pictures about her leaning above him and touching his wounds. He felt much pain, but he never complained. He didn’t mind the aching. At least, he knew he was alive.
-Forgiveness, why are you here? – He asked after a minute.
-You don’t remember anything? – She was confused.
He had some pieces of memories in his head, but the whole picture was missing.
-My wife is dead. – He said mournfully and he closed his eyes. His breath was deeper, but gloomy.
Julia was moved by his emotions. Even if he didn’t say a word of how he was doing, it was easy to see how affected he was.
-Appius confirmed it already. – Julia said slowly, insecure.
-Appius? – He was immediately present again. – What has Appius to do with it?
Julia watched his spontaneous move attentively. He sat up in the bed and gazed at her with impatience. He needed more information, she seemed to know things he wanted to know.
-With all due respect, you really don’t remember anything? – Her doubts weren’t strong. It was rather a kind of disbelieve. She wondered how he could forget the way he defended her just a few days ago. As she was travelling with her husband, they were attacked by a Barbarian horde. The fight started unexpectedly. Nobody had assumed that the enemy could attack a Roman convoy on the North-Eastern borders of the Pannonia province within the Roman Empire. Julia remembered that she started being worried about her integrity due to perspective of spending her time just with her husband. Maxentius Claudius wasn’t a pleasant man. He was much older than she and she was already almost twenty. Half year ago, she had to marry him due to the request of her father. Julius Fabius gave her away to a man she didn’t respect and didn’t like at all. Julia wondered many times what was more important to her father than her dignity.
Marcus Lucius noticed her absence and his impatience grew exponentially. If his curiousness and impatience would have been shown on a graph, it would have looked like an upward-sloping function which increases faster as the state of nosiness increases above the x-axis. He repeated his last question and ignored the pain in the chest. He knew he shouldn’t have changed his position, because his wound opened itself and blood appeared on the grey pieces of material. His voice was determined and brought Julia back to reality.
-I think I should call Octavian. – She spoke calmly, shyly.
-Fair enough, but please stay here. Stay and tell me what you know. – It didn’t sound like a request, rather like an order.
Julia’s body was tensed and Marcus Lucius wasn’t sure whether she didn’t like talking to him or whether she didn’t like the topic. She seemed to be insecure and feeling unwell. Her muscles on the naked arms and young face were visibly strained. She analysed whether she should go away or stay. As her eyes moved vividly in the short moment of desperation, she noticed that Marcus Lucius started to bleed. Automatically, she stepped forward and took the material from Marcus Lucius’s chest.
-Lay down. – She ordered and enormous strength was noticeable in her voice.
He didn’t react. He defended his position: he wanted to know what happened.
-If you tell me… – He was weak, but he didn’t intend to give up. He could fight for his wish up to the deadly end. Julia noticed it and reacted appropriately.
-I will, if you lay down first. – She was next to him and bowed over his body. She didn’t argue, she offered a compromise. She analysed the disaster he caused to himself. The wound bleed increasingly. She put her hand on his chest and looked Marcus Lucius into the eyes.
-You lay down, I’ll tell you what you want to know.
He calmed down quickly and let her push his body down onto the bed. He followed her moves and let her pull her hand towards his chest. It was extremely painful, but he didn’t lose his senses. He observed how calm she acted. Earlier, she made a chaotic, insecure impression, but in the moment of stress and risk, she didn’t let herself get worked up in any way. He watched as attentively as possible how she took a clean piece of material and put it into a strange substance that smelt totally unpleasant. Then, she rubbed something into his chest and he thought there was a fire set to it. His heart almost jumped out of the body. His forehead was wet with sweat and his arms and legs started to tremble. He didn’t feel good, but he kept focussing at Julia. Her face was calm, in contrast to his condition.
-Hush, hush, and breathe deeply. – She whispered and washed his sweat away from his forehead.
Her voice calmed him down. It was easier to manage the pain when he was focussed on Julia. He didn’t follow her moves, but he stared at her eyes. They were monitoring certain parts of his body. Apparently, she tried to determine how bad were the injuries caused by his latest action. She smiled when she saw that other wounds stayed partially closed. It was a nice, satisfying smile. Still, she wasn’t happy about the state of injury on his chest. She wasn’t a doctor and was not able to treat him properly. All she knew about treating wounds, she learned from Octavian. She repeated everything he showed her and hoped that her actions were appropriate. She washed away the sweat from Marcus Lucius’s chest and head. He was visibly grateful for it. After some minutes of fast, careful actions, Marcus Lucius noticed that her speed started to decrease. No further moves were needed to stabilise his condition. She was relieved, when the bleeding stopped. Marcus Lucius saw it in her eyes. She didn’t respond to his gaze. Her right hand was lying on his chest and kept pressuring a piece of wool material against it. Her eyes were focussed on his chest. Her breath was regular. She spread the kind of coolness he needed. In this moment Marcus Lucius stretched his arm and touched her fingers. She got nervous for a moment and she wanted to take her fingers back, but his grasp was heavy. For some seconds, he looked her in the eyes and she returned the look. Something in his look forced her not to yield. Marcus Lucius’s look wasn’t clear. He was half-dreamy he called her with the name of his dead wife.
-Decima… – He whispered and his grasp became stronger.
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