The Mob is Rome, by Chris Bones and Paul L. Mathews

The Mob is Rome, by Chris Bones and Paul L. Mathews

Marcus Scribonius Furius stood upon the rostra, gazing upon the crowd as they gathered before him in the Forum. His bald pate burned in the midday sun, brow tickling as sweat gathered on his face and soaked into his toga. Not that the heat is uniquely responsible for my perspiring so heavily, he thought as his nervous gaze flicked back and forth between the nefarious individuals which lurked on the periphery of the crowd.

He recognised them as street enforcers of the Hostilii clan. He bit his lip. How could he not recognise them? Their notoriety proceeded them by miles since they’d so brutally and so brazenly butchered Laelius, And the deeds since attributed to their leader, Hostilius; would they not shame even Orcus and his issue?

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Promises, by Paul L. Mathews

Promises, by Paul L. Mathews

Felix licked his lips and rubbed his earlobe as the stranger unwrapped the gladius. Its blade gleamed even in the darkness of the alleyway, as did the bull’s head motif on the pommel.

“Do you like it?” asked Felix. His eyes widened as he tried to compensate for the gloom of the alleyway, but for nought. All he could see of the stranger—silhouetted by what light crept into the alley—was a bald head, a beard, and a cloak.

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Pub Crawl, by Paul L. Mathews

Pub Crawl, by Paul L. Mathews

“I need new fighters.”

Ajax, startled, almost wet his bed as Celsus shook him awake. Crying out like a child, he grabbed at Celsus’ thick arms.

“What...?” he said, blinking. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m telling you I need new fighters,” said Celsus, stepping away from the bed and scratching his massive belly. “We’ve just lost Dordalus, Labrax and Petrus.”

Ajax frowned. What did he just say?

“What do you mean ‘lost’?” he mumbled, rubbing at his eyes.

“Lost. Dead.” An impatient tone crept into Celsus’ voice. “They were ambushed trying to sell insurance to Hegio…”

“Labrax is dead,” said Ajax. He frowned as he turned the implications over in his head. If Labrax was dead, didn’t that mean—?

“…Which means I’m in charge now,” said Celsus, celebrating with a loud belch and an even louder fart.

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Domina, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Domina, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Flavia Graecina Flacus cast her gaze around the triclinium. This evening’s dinner party—and the smooth running thereof—was of the utmost importance. There were important guests to flatter and impress. Her friend the orator Furius, for example, was bringing some key players, including both the plebeian aedile candidate Titus Aufidius Orestes, and his father, the noble senator Gnaeus Aufidius Bassus. These were good men. No … great men. Men who could help her turn back the tide. She ground her teeth. Men who could do something to counter the rampant criminality and corruption that continued to drown Roman society.
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Zenobius, Part One, by Chris Bone

Zenobius, Part One, by Chris Bone

His enemies called him “Hamo,” meaning “The Hook”, and they feared him. He was a long way from his natural habitat, the dark blue seas of the Mare Internum. Pompey the Great had supposedly done away with all the pirates many years before, yet many Greek Islands and Cilician coves still hid the sleek vessels of the Brotherhood. Rome still needed its slaves and contraband, and someone, somewhere always wanted to make a profit. In fact, the reason he was here—his reputation as a successful sea captain and pirate being much appreciated and often in demand—was a lucrative business deal with an ambitious dominus.
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Monkey See, Monkey Do, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Monkey See, Monkey Do, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Rufus reached for his gladius as the door creaked open and a large shape stood silhouetted against the flames from the brazier outside. A dagger flew towards Rufus’ chest and he barely managed to dive to one side, the knife thudding into the wall. The silhouetted assailant stepped forward, a knotted club raised above its head, ready to smash down on Rufus as he attempted to rise from the floor…
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Tabula Rasa, by Chris Bone

Tabula Rasa, by Chris Bone

Murdering the son of a senator is never wise. Fearing for her life she fled from the Capitoline Hill and lost herself in the maze of streets of the Subura. Nobody would find her there. Once more using her ‘skills’ to survive, she came to the notice of Creon and his gang. She joined them, rapidly earning respect for her natural talent with the javelin, hitting the mark every time.
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Fur Gerlind! by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Fur Gerlind! by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

He would never forget Gerlind. She was three summers old when the Romans had come to his village deep in the forests of Germania. They destroyed it all. He could still remember the screams and the flames, and his mother pinned naked to an oak by Roman spears. He could still remember his father surrounded and stabbed by Roman pilums as he flailed with his axe, cursing them for dogs and snarling like a hound. He could still remember Gerlind being picked up by a soldier and swung by her tiny legs against the trunk of a pine tree. He remembered her skull cracking like an egg and its contents running down the trunk to mingle with the damp earth.
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A Lucky Man, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

A Lucky Man, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

People thought Lucius indestructible, a man revered by Saturn and feared by the underworld, but he knew better. I owe my longevity to my doves, he thought as he cradled one such bird in a hand burnt by fire and missing its middle finger. Blowing gently on the white dove’s head, he stroked its neck to calm it. His left knee—the one Bolgios the Gaul had smashed—cracked as he knelt before the small shrine he’d built in his sleeping quarters. He encircled the dove’s neck with his other hand and made a swift rotation with his wrist, uttering a small prayer as he did so. He then kissed the limp feathered corpse and placed it reverently upon the shrine.
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Mementos, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Mementos, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

“Good work, Cato,” Erebus had once said, voice raised over the screech of a bleeding debtor, who, writhing, lay with one hand clamped firmly over the other to staunch the bleeding from his severed finger. “And now, methinks we shall remove something lower—What’s that? Speak up! Aaah, so you do have the money after all?” Erebus laughed as the debtor pointed toward a simple amphora with his savaged, dripping hand. “See Cato,” he then said as he slapped the youth on the shoulder. “They always find the denarii from somewhere. Always.”
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Little Monkey, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Little Monkey, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Aemillia swore under her breath as she warmed up, flexing and lunging as she prepared for her morning routine. Did they, she thought, focus on her skill with a knife? Rarely. What about her consummate aim with a sling? Sometimes. Her poise under pressure, perhaps? Or her courage in combat? Never. Instead they lauded her ability to find footholds in the sheer, and her gift for scaling the vertical. And what cognomen did this ability earn her? The Phantom? Maybe the Night’s Stalker? Or how about Diana’s Wrath? No, instead they called her Little Monkey.
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Insula, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Insula, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Hegio’s experience as a civil engineer varied depending on who one asked. Some maintained he’d built the Colosseum single-handedly, others the entirety of the Palatine. The more fanciful stories would have it he’d helped Romulus build Rome itself. Whatever the truth, this was just another day for the old man, with just another building.
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