Sunday, January 3, 2016


This story is finally coming out spring 2016.
Here's the rough draft of the Prologue.



Hidden behind the bushes, Janus Vettius Crispus saw the yellow hare protecting something, he wasn’t sure what. The march of his legion to the Rhine border had been hard, and he was ready to eat something fresh. He had come to take care of some bodily functions away from camp, hearing the little furry creature as he finished.

Janus was ready to throw his dagger and get that much-needed fresh meat when a large brown eagle swept into the small clearing and caught the hare.


But before the eagle soared too high, it let the hare fall. The chunky yellow thing landed sideways, sprang (cocking its head left and right and sniffing the air), and then scurried away.

Good-bye, nice stew.

Well, Janus would have had to share it, and that wouldn’t have left that much for him anyway. Still, after a moment, as he headed back to camp, he felt that what he’d just witnessed was more than the Circle of Life. Why would an eagle drop a perfectly good meal? Something in his gut told him that this wasn’t mere Nature; it was some kind of omen. He didn’t know which god to ask for wisdom though, and the calls of his brothers in arms quickly made him forget about the incident.

Two days later, as they razed a village that had been abetting the Legions supporting Vespasian, Janus entered a hut, bloodied and in a carnage frenzy. He found a blond boy (not a boy, he was young, but surely a man by the standards of the Romans and his own people) folded, pounding and yelling, over the body of a dead woman. This gave pause to Janus.

The young man lifted his head and, seeing Janus, pointed his finger at him. “Murderers!”

“You speak our language?” It was a really odd thing to say to someone screaming at you. Amid the sounds of fire and death outside the hut, Janus couldn’t think of a good reason for such a silly question.

Nevertheless, the question also stopped the accuser. He cocked his head sideways, a fleeting look of surprise on his face. That motion brought the image of the yellow hare back to Janus. Then, the blond answered. “Yes. I was the interpreter between my people and the legionnaires who were here before you.”

“How old are you?”

They were in the middle of a fucking battle, and still Janus was asking the kind of questions you used in a friendly meeting. He must have gone insane before entering the hut.

“I am fifteen winters old.” Blond eyebrows knitted together. “Why are you asking me these questions if you’re going to kill me?” Eyes that had been full of rage and hatred were now wide with confusion and another thing Janus couldn’t quite name.

And it suddenly hit Janus with the force of one of those cudgels these barbarians loved so much; he was the eagle and this boy the yellow hare. He couldn’t kill him— orders be damned. The will of the gods was above the will of his centurion. “What? No! I’m not going to kill you, but others might. Run! Run for your life and don’t look back!” He waved his bloodied sword and shield. “Go!”

“No! I won’t leave my mother!”

“She’s dead! Don’t you think she’d want you to live and be able to avenge her later?” There he went again, saying something completely stupid, taking into consideration that this boy’s vengeance would be against the Romans, Janus’s people.

Shaking his head in disbelief, the blond stared at Janus agape. Five heartbeats later, he seemed to come to a resolution and nodded. He took a long dagger from between the folds of his mother’s dress and stood up.

For a moment that appeared frozen in time, Janus and the blond had their eyes locked, both with their weapons raised. The stupidity of his actions slapped Janus in the face. The boy looked like he was about to pounce, but then he did an about-face to jump over a window. With one leg over the sill, he turned and gazed at Janus. “Thank you. May my gods protect you.” He was swiftly gone.

Janus took many lives that day, but the only things haunting him that night (and many others after that) were the gray, stormy eyes of the young barbarian interpreter.