Lady of the Light

By Donna Gillespie

Auriane, warrior maiden of the Chattian tribe, used to be sworn to take away the cursed Romans from the lands of the Rhine. Then destiny intervened: she was once captured, dropped at Rome in chains, and proficient to struggle within the arenas as a gladiator - simply to fall in love with a Roman aristocrat, Marcus Arrius Julianus, and turn into his wife.

Marcus and Auriane have lived in tranquility for years yet, with no his wisdom, Auriane is a traitor to Rome. Plundering her husband's coffers for almost a decade, Auriane has supplied her individuals with sufficient wealth to arm themselves. Now, Auriane's betrayal has been stumbled on, and if her duplicity reaches the Roman experts, her existence - and the lives of her family members - should be forfeit.

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Emerging from the hill now used to be a labyrinthian, multitiered glory of pillared porches and ascending porticoes that would have made Romulus believe he’d been snatched off to a couple shining otherworld. This current condominium for Roman kings featured octagonal reception rooms with ethereally painted partitions that haunted the attention, peristyle courts with waterfalls rippling down stairs into swimming pools of gold-glass mosaic, banqueting rooms sheathed in polychrome marbles emerging to ceilings fretted with ivory, and crowning all of it, a complexity of gables and domes, the gilded roof tiles developing an impact that a few divine hand lavished liquid gold over the total. In a such a lot inside room of the Domus Augustana, youths of the Imperial Pantomime Troupe searched approximately within the gloom for a terra-cotta lamp. The windowless chamber was once a garage room for the troupe’s costumes. The elder of the 2, a tender guy referred to as Pylades, discovered the lamp, lit it, and knelt upon the ground. His torso was once encased in a smooth-fitting tunic of rose-colored wool, revealing a tapered shape sinuous as a slim urn. He used to be flushed and damp from a costume practice session and his artfully curved lips nonetheless bore lines of beauty cinnabar’s harsh orange-red—he’d simply danced the a part of Achilles disguised as a maiden. His silken, honey-gold locks and blond brows contrasted oddly with eyes of soppy slate; it seemed as if a band of mysterious shadow performed around his eyes, a notable impression that had labored its quiet sorcery on an Emperor. Pylades used to be recognized from the Circus stalls to the Palatine Hill because the present boy-favorite of the Emperor Trajan. Rome counted the younger pantomime actor one of many forgivable vices of the “Iron Soldier,” as Trajan used to be normally referred to as. the opposite, a keenness for downing stultifying amounts of wine, he had bought within the marching camps and partook of overtly. The Emperor’s trysts with Pylades have been conducted with such secrecy that his discretion introduced him common compliment. “Zeus could be cautious of his beautiful Ganymede whilst Trajan is about,” was once the worst that whisperers might say of him. The lamp flame flared and the chamber glittered, alive with fragile iridescence. Butterflies of sunshine winked in the course of the gloom because the fireglow performed off crowns for kings, gossamer wings of thinnest silk, silverine chitons, and brazen breastplates for heroes. Pylades got rid of a skinny oblong tile from the chamber’s flooring. via an aperture the size of a man’s foot yet no wider than a finger, the boy may well see down into the chamber less than. He leaned shut and observed a piece of travertine flooring, a scattering of cross-legged ivory chairs, the polished best of an vintage Egyptian writing desk. This was once the non-public council chamber of the Emperor Trajan. The youths had a moment career: They have been spies within the pay of Marcus Arrius Julianus. The boy kneeling subsequent to Pylades was once Apion, a amateur within the pantomime troupe yet to not the listening boys’ alternate; Apion had pressed an ear to the wall for his grasp in view that he was once 9.

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