The Eternal City

The Coterie - Part 3
Dinius the Julli

Linus needed a proxy, someone he could ally and ideally influence to sponsor and promote a seat for himself on the Senux. Linus was of noble Roman stock. His Patriarch was a Senator, and ancestor had served as Governor, Linus himself had served as Tribune. His families contributions alone should have afforded a seat on the Senux. But alas his sire was a Greek, and only the Julii were granted seats by birth, all others had to earn by merit. And when you served for centuries then it took a long time to earn by merit.

Dinius was one such privileged personage. He sat in the back of the seats content to let the political play work it’s way out. Lending his support only on matters that affected his personal matters. All others he let it go this way or that as the winds of persuasion played. This uncaring attitude was galling enough but it was the simple background Dinius had that really annoyed the young Daeva.

Dinius traded in flesh, a slave trader of grand influence. He maintained the single largest trade operation in Rome against five other competitors. This was not a recent thing but a profession he held in life having carved out a significant enterprise at an early age. He had many managers but had direct interaction having not obtained the level of success in life that would allow him to disassociate from the profession. In undeath he found he no longer cared and did not bother to make pretense of higher principals.

That is all that is known of his history I am afraid. He never made mention of his human past or of his sire. While few know what it was that caught his sire’s eye, when Dinius rose to speak in the Senux all knew exactly why it was that he was embraced.

Cicero was a pale imitation in the wake of Dinius’ oratory skills. His powers of persuasion could convince the seven hills of Rome to rearrange himself. His darkened Mediterranean skin stood out in the marble white of the Senux, as he forces his will on all in attendance. All were in awe when he choose to lend himself to a cause. By Jupiter, if he had but asked I would have served under him time and time again. But that came later, for now he was patiently letting others do his work.

So crafty he was to this night it is hard to ascertain who was truly the brains behind the coterie. Both Linus and Dinius were skilled political manipulators and it was clear their alliance while hardly noticed at the time sealed the earth shattering events yet to come. Nothing overcame the coterie as long as they stood together. If one fell the coterie would soon follow.

Dinius was fortunate to know Dinius in life and had supplied much of Dinius’ ‘supplies’. The connection proved useful in cementing the alliance and the coterie was finally cemented. Dinius would bring with him a useful Vaticinator, that had officiated over all of his business transactions. Perhaps nothing more than a good luck charm, the man had something useful…true faith.

Titus, Vaticinator of Janus would provide the spiritual guidance of the coterie.

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The Coterie - Part 2
Gaius

Giaus Maximillion was embraced on the fields of Germania. His barbarian sire likely intended for him to be driven by his feral blood to rebel against the Necropolis and it’s Julli masters. Instead a loyal member of the legions was embraced that night. For Gaius was of Italain stock and was loyal to Rome through and through.

His family were landed individuals having inherited their lands during the Punic wars. While not being of great influence they had cultivated many grape fields and had begun to present notable vintages of wine to the citizens of Rome. His father had always stressed simple living and classic Roman virtues. His appointment to Centurion status would provide the finances for the next generation to improve and expand their wine production. So it was that young Giaus found himself in Germania on campaign to push back the Barbarians and conquer more territory for the glory of Rome.

Gaius would fall in within the Legio Mortuum a natural fit for a soldier and sought to in undeath to take on those same duties he had held in life. He was committed to maintain those virtues his father aspired and kept a close eye on his holdings and his family. In those early nights it was by his voice of reason and counsel that would lead the coterie on more moderate and moral actions. He would often advocate mercy and justice over petty revenge.

His was a natural countenance with which Linus could aspire to. A moral compass as it were to guide his actions on his path of ambition. Ensuring that Gaius was in the same squad as Linus, Linus cultivated a friendship and comradery ensuring that the noble Gaius would cover his back for all time.

With his compass in hand, it was time for Linus to work out a path to as seat on the Senux that he felt was his by birthright. Fickle that fate was it was denied to him by the blood of his sire. He would be faced with a long arduous campaign for a seat unless he could ally with a patron that could sponsor his ascent.

He believed he had found such a willing dupe in Dinius…

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The Coterie - Part 1
Linius Scipio

I, Claudius Drusus Germanicus Maximus This-that-and-the-other who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and associates as Drusus the Herald,” am now about to write this tragic history of the fall of the Eternal City starting from the height of Pax Romana when a coterie erupts into the Necropolis and continuing year by year until we reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the end of the siege that we suddenly found ourselves caught in whirlwind of deceit and treachery.

I suppose it began during the 19th year of Marcus Aurelius Antoninnus Augustus. Yet before that I should introduce the cast that shaped events from the Necropolis. A young man of the Scipio family who were not as powerful as his Patriarch would have him and others believe. Oh to be sure they had held a Governor’s position during the days of the Republic and even now the Patriarch was a member of the Senate. Yet to call that position important would be quite laughable. Yet the Patriarch was ambitious and went about solidifying his gains and seeking to purify his lineage. The elder was groomed as was the custom of the day to be a mighty soldier in the XXX Ulpia Legion in northern Germanicus. The Eldest was everything the Patriarch wasn’t; brave, honest, and a good heart. He was a Roman cut from the days of heroes, Julius, Antony, Pompeii, and others. Tragedy that he was born at a time so rife with personal glory and ambition.

The second oldest Linius was sent to join the Navy, a commission as Tribune was secured. This occupation would tan his skin and make of his physique a sinewy hide of a sailor at sea. Yet the navies had not truly been utilized in quite some time so he was relegated to pirate duty and the seizing, cataloging, and shipment of the valuable cargo of conquest; slaves.
Woe onto poor Linius that his striking looks did catch the eye of lascivious Greek. She collected pretty things and Liniuis was certainly pretty. But as quickly as she had collected him she grew bored with him and dumbed unceremoniously in the Legio Mortuum within Rome. He still had his mortal family and now as an honored ancestor he would see to what heights he could gain to usher in his Patriarch’s grand designs.

Before he could make his moves he knew the taint that was his parentage and lacking the support of his elder brother he would need a moral compass to guide his feet. For this reason before he could make any moves for power and glory he would need an ally to watch his back and counsel him so that he would not engage in the kind of cruelty that his Patriarch displayed on a nightly basis. Additionally if he could avoid the callousness of his Sire, that would be useful too.

Fortunately he had such a source in his shield mate, Gaius Maximillian.

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Prologue

Dr. Mary Witherspoon brushed a lock of her chestnut brown hair over her right ear as she peered at the cargo manifest. A team from the National Museum of Rome had discovered a previously undiscovered section of ancient Rome that had been built and paved over the centuries. Several structures were still largely intact and many pieces were discovered that completely overwhelmed the local staff. They had contacted the British Museum for assistance. Forty eight crates with over 300 newly found ancient Roman artifacts had been shipped to the Department of Greece and Rome at the British Museum by Italian authorities to assist with their identification and certification of their authenticity. As one of the chief Professor’s it fell to Witherspoon to log the pieces in and determine which sub departmental teams were best suited to examine the pieces.

She removed her glasses to rub at the bridge of her nose. While she relished the opportunity to be the first to look at the once in a lifetime treasure trove in front of her, by the looks of the manifest it was mostly nick knacks and common items. It certainly would speak to how the ancient people of Rome lived but Witherspoon longed for something unique, something that gave a unique insight a find the likes of Kings Tut’s tomb, or deciphering the Rosetta stone.

“Well, back to work.” She muttered to herself as she removed the top of the nearest crate. Inside were four cases specially designed for the transport of fragile artifacts. The seals also limit the amount of oxygen and erosion from the air after being sealed for so many centuries. Witherspoon took these cases and brought them into the examination room and proceeded to suit up. The manifest listed the items as a box, two vases, and some figurines.

After assembling the pieces along the examination table she marvel at their condition. The vases were still intact and had much of their original artwork visible but it was the box that held her attention. It was made of metal and stone and yet was not terribly heavy. She was able to make out a pair of hinges on one of the longer sides indicating that it was intended to open yet she had yet to figure out how. The tableau of figures suggested to her that they were a collection of the Roman pantheon as if acting as guardians to the contents inside.

“SNAP!” one of her fingers must have triggered something for the lid cracked open just a little bit. She sat the box back down and gingerly opened the lid to peer inside. Sitting on top was a figurine that depicted five individuals. It was of unusual craftsmanship as items this small usually did not have the level of detail of the sculptures and busts that were common of the era, yet this small piece did. However this belonged to knew a very skilled craftsman and likely was quite affluent. Setting the figurine aside she found a medallion with a red cross intersected with a “P” it was laced one both sides by a leather straps and some beads, many of them missing. She knew the symbol was a reference to the early Christians but was unfamiliar with this particular usage of the symbol. Curious, the use of Christian symbols inside a box that had the Roman pantheon on it did not make sense. Who did these belong to? She wondered. Finally the last item she carefully removed from the box.

This was what she had been hoping to find. Several fragile pages were bound together in a folio. The pages were crinkly but seemed to be written on sturdier material then papyrus or paper. The writing was tiny and compact as if for personal use and not for any official capacity. The condition of the material and tiny writing made it difficult to read and would require a linguist expert on ancient Latin. Yet, she wanted an idea of what it was, who wrote it, what was the subject, who was the intended audience? All these questions rattled in her head as she attempted to put together the first sentence.

“I, Claudius Drusus Germanicus Maximus This-that-and-the-other who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and associates as Drusus the Herald,” am now about to write this tragic history of the fall of the Eternal City starting from the height of Pax Romana when a coterie erupts into the Necropolis and continuing year by year until we reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the end of the siege that we suddenly found ourselves caught in whirlwind of deceit and treachery.”

“Dear Lord”, she thought. “It’s a Diary!”

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