Title: The battle for Rome.
Author: Ubabuko Tito.
In the second year of the reign of Emperor Cornelius as Caesar of the Roman Empire, his subjects had suffered a great deal. Corruption swept through every province, reflecting his cruelty and larcenous acts. Emperor Cornelius was not the rightful heir to the throne. He was only a general and uncle to his nephew Agenor, who was also a general of Rome; who was to be the crowned Emperor of Rome. Cornelius was the one responsible for the death of the Caesar, his brother and proclaimed himself emperor; killing anyone who opposed his reign. To secure his place on the throne, killing Agenor and his entire house hold was the only option. He eventually succeeded in killing his wife Andromeda and beggared their son Augustus as spoils of war, to be killed in due time, but Agenor was protected by his loyal regiment. He fled to the island of Crete for fear of his life and hoped to return to Rome to regain that which was rightfully his. Emperor Cornelius had spies placed in every sphere of life in the empire who reported traitors to him; his most loyal ally was Mantius, whom was regarded as “His right arm”. He was a senator of Rome, who was backed up by many who opposed the rulings which would not favour the Emperor and themselves. The house of senate was divided in three parties: those who supported the Emperor, those who opposed him, and those who thought it wise to wear silence as a garment. Daedalus, Jarius and Augustine were three senators who seeked justice in the empire. They had meetings at secret locations and planned to dethrone Emperor Augustus as ruler of Rome, but first, they had to find Agenor who was now lost in the belly of Crete. A coup was planned by these three men against the Emperor, for the sake of Rome and her people. They loathed Mantius and his followers. They sent out words, searching for their true leader. Agenor was soon found but his demeaned status in the Cretan island caused sadness. They had to bring him back home, but first, his consent had to be inquired.
The island of Crete was a neutral state which could easily hide a foreigner. It was north from Libya, west from Syria, east from Sicily and south from Macedonia. It was engulfed by the Mediterranean Sea, which made fishing the most practiced occupation on the island. Among these fisher men stood their General Agenor Claudius and heir to the throne.
Agenor was always prepared for an ambush from his enemies. He always had a dagger hidden beneath his cloak. He had kept his beard and hair unshaved for as long as he could remember, to disguise his identity. He dwelt in a town called phoenix, on the island and was cryptical to the villagers. His home was at the top of a hill. It was cavernous in shape; built out of woods and palms. Some of the people said he was a mad man tormented by the deeds of his past, while others called him a prophet. He had no friends on the island, no family, no love. He stood at a cliff and watched the stars in the sky as they clustered around the moon. He prayed to the Greek god “Zeus”, for guidance. The thought of his dead wife loomed in his heart, leaving him poignant of how he missed her so much; blaming himself for being the cause of her death. Agenor also remembered his son and wept bitterly. Two years had gone by since he last saw his seven years old son, he pondered if he was still alive and imagined what he suffered at the hands of his uncle Cornelius, or maybe he was in Tartarus with Hades- dead. Agenor was a powerful general who was prodigious with handling the sword. He was well known and loved by all of Rome. His regiment had conquered many cities in the name of his majesty. Among his regiment were the finest soldiers in all of Rome, some laid down their lives for him the day he was to be assassinated, while those who survived went on exile. Though he looked unkept and fluttered when he walked, they were all part of his scheme to stay unnoticed in the multitude. In the midst of his mourning for his down fall and loss of his family, he noticed the movements of shadows in the woods and the sounds of breaking branches. Within seconds he disappeared out of sight like a ghost. Moving stealthily in the wood, he knocked one of the men unconscious. He had traps being laid in the woods to capture approaching enemies, and it worked perfectly as one of the men was caught in it. He rushed furiously to slice open the throat of this enemy, but was stunned to realize it was Agrippa; a member of a battalion in his regiment. A loyal and brave soldier who was also at the fight in Rome to save his life and that of his family.
“General, General, General, it’s me, Captain Agrippa!!!!!!” he screamed.
“Thank Zeus you are alive brother!!! I thought you died at the Battle?” said Agenor as he cut the counter weights to release the Captain from the trap.
He took them back to his cavernous hut, and attended to the wounds of the man he had hit on the head with a club. They mourned with him about the loss of his wife and how his son was beggared from him. They also discussed the downfall of the Roman Empire and how much the people suffered. All his father had built had been destroyed by his uncle in just two years, and his son was now nine years of age. They urged him to join the movement in Philippi a state in Macedonia, where they rallied for a coup to place him back in power. But Agenor seemed impervious for the quest of power and the loss of more lives for his sake. They deliberated for hours on the issue but it was to no avail. They told him of the torture his son faced at the palace and what his father would think of him from the depths of Hades. But he proved adamant to their persuasion.
“Do not give up hope. You alone can save your son and bring Cornelius to justice for the death of your father and Andromeda. You are Caesar”, said Agrippa as they left him disconcerted.
Agenor felt poignant as the night grew darker. They were right in everything they said; he was only being a coward. He fell to the ground on his knees and dipped his hands into the dirt of the earth. Tears of vengeance clouded his eyes. An apparition of his wife appeared before him in the form of a mist. He stood and walked towards it with his hands stretched out before him, as if he could touch it. But it went right through him; accelerating a few meters away from him, the mist illuminated behind him. The apparition became abjectly clear. It was his wife; she glittered like a goddess and smiled at him. She suspended in the air, defying the laws of gravity.
“Andromeda, What can I do? For I am lost in fear of the unknown”, said Agenor.
“Return home Agenor. Free our son and the people of Rome for the time is now”, her voice echoed in the ambience of the serene night, as she faded away with the velocity of the wind.
His strength was now found in her reassurance. He dug up his amour and sword from where he had buried them. He shaved and cut his hair; preparing himself all night till he heard the cock’s first crow and headed out for the safe harbor where he would sail the Mediterranean Sea for Athens in Achaia. He journeyed for two days till he finally got to Philippi in Macedonia where the soldiers camped. These were his soldiers who had sent themselves on exile due to fear of Cornelius. He walked into the camp wearing a cloak to hide his panoply and weapons; using the hood as cover for his face. The soldiers thought he was an intruder; they quickly surrounded him demanding he revealed his identity. He gently raised the hood and they all bowed before him chanting, “Hail Caesar!!!” The following day, senator Daedalus and senator Jarius both arrived at the camp to behold the true Emperor of Rome, and also to strategize their plans on the attack. They planned on gaining access into the city as traders and farmers, and then regroup at the secret passage into the palace which was located at the rare fence. This passage was only known to the house hold of the late Emperor, Claudius Aurelius. It could only be opened from within. They were also joined by mercenaries from Galatia, Cilicia, Egypt, Pontus and Sparta. On the fourth day in camp, Senator Augustine arrived with good tiding. Some Tetrarchs and Consuls had pledged their alliance to the movement and would order their soldiers to join the fight. He had also gotten in touch with korrina a palace maid, who would help in getting the secret passage opened to them. The seizure of Rome was within their grasp.
On the sixth day, they took all they needed from the camp and headed for Rome. They journeyed for three days and nights, battling the elements until they finally got to the Roman Empire. They shared themselves in groups under disguise as traders and farmers to pass through the gate. A messenger bird was released with a message to alert their allies in the city of their arrival at the secret passage. Korrina was already there waiting patiently as planned, she was advised to leave the city for her own safety. Stealthily they moved through the palace, killing the guards who thwarted their way, but in moments they were spotted. The bell on the castle was rung to signal soldiers all over Rome about the intrusion. Agenor’s men quickly marched to the gates to barricade the Roman soldiers from getting through it; Rome was at war. While they battled with the soldiers, he advanced into the colossal palace with fifty of his men. Roman soldiers emerged from every part of the castle attacking them fiercely, but retreating was never an option. They rallied the dungeon in search of his son, but Augustus was he was nowhere to be found. He looked at his soldiers who had now reduced to thirty in number. Many of them suffered injuries from the battle, among them was Captain Agrippa who had now lost an arm, but was still willing to fight. At this moment they knew there was no giving up, only the death of Cornelius would end this fight. Charging their way deeper into the heart of the castle where Cornelius dwelt, the roman archers fired arrows at them. Captain Agrippa prevented an arrow from hitting General Agenor by placing himself in its part. The injury was severe, but he still held his ground and could swing his sword. The roman soldiers seemed to have used ladders to climb over the fence. They kept swarming into the palace like bees. Agrippa along with nineteen of the remaining soldiers decided to prevent the soldiers from getting through the only passage which led to the royal hall.
“For Rome!!!!!!!” He roared, not minding his missing arm and pierced lungs. He fought till the death.
Agenor advanced with ten soldiers at his side to where his uncle dwelt. They broke the door and there was Cornelius. He was guarded by fifteen soldiers and stood at the far end of the hall holding a sword to Augustus’ neck. These soldiers were different from the rest; their panoply was different from that of the other regular roman soldiers. They were specially trained to defend the Caesar. Swords clashed in the ambience of the palace. The screaming sounds of dying men could be heard all through the compound and in the palace. Agenor panted from the exhaustion of the battle and realized he and three of the guards were left standing; all his men were dead. The guard prowled around him, anticipating his next movement.
“Kill him now and be rewarded; once and for all”, Cornelius yelled at the soldiers.
One of the soldiers launched himself towards Agenor with his sword aiming at his chest accompanied by another from behind, aiming at his head. Agenor was now slow in his movements. He had suffered minor injuries and the loss of blood had taken its toll on him, but the sight of his son gave him strength. He quickly stepped to the side and countered the attack. The soldier who aimed for his chest ended up piercing his sword into the chest of the other soldier who attacked from behind. Before he could pull out his sword and regain his stamina; Agenor sliced his throat open. He turned around to defeat the last soldier, but was amazed to see him already before him. Agenor shrilled as he could not bear the insurmountable pain he felt from the blade piercing through his thorax. He jolted the soldier and killed him by stabbing him in the neck. Agenor bled profusely and staggered in pain as Cornelius celebrated his victory over the coup.
“Finally, I get to rule in peace. Son and father shall die this day at my hands, and your bodies feed to the beasts of the wilderness”, said Cornelius as he raised the sword to strike Augustus dead. But the young boy bit him on the hand and set himself free; running towards his father. Cornelius eyes bulged in fear seeing Agenor pull out the sword which was pierced through him by the soldier. He threw the sword at Cornelius which went through his stomach. He fell to the ground moaning and gasping for air as Agenor walked towards him. He laid on the ground helpless, and saw his death before his eyes. Without words of victory, Agenor dismembered Cornelius’ head. He fluttered out of the palace holding his son at his right hand, and held the head in his left hand. All of Rome was in shambles. The war was still on as he made his way through the palace. Soldiers immediately ceased fighting from the moment they saw the head of Cornelius in his hand. He looked at the dead soldiers on the ground and recognized Captain Agrippa amongst them. He stood at the entrance of the palace raising the head so all could see that Cornelius was dead, this signaled the end of the war. Agenor fell to the ground due to his injuries and smiled as he took his last breath. He had avenged his family and rescued his son from Cornelius. Joining his wife in Hades would be his reward as he closed his eyes to open them in the world of the dead. All the soldiers of Rome knelt before Augustus and chanted, “Hail Caesar!!!”
A new dawn for the Roman Empire started that day. Peace and order was brought back to Rome. Senator Mantius and all who propagated evil were sentenced to execution, while those who escaped being executed went on exile.