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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Morituri Te Salutant, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Morituri Te Salutant, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Philo stared as Attillus stamped his foot and lunged at the nearest attacker, impaling the hapless girl upon his gladius. In a fluid movement, he caught another assailant on the backswing as he withdrew his weapon from the lifeless Suburan. This second ganger dropped to his knees, a crimson fountain erupting from his neck and onto the dock’s paving stones.
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Blood and Wine, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Blood and Wine, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Sipping the wine, Prudentius monitored The Fields of Elysium. Sure enough, Celsus and two of his men hoved into view within minutes … just as Prudentius’ intelligence had suggested. They approached the brothel, no doubt eager for a little entertainment after a busy night’s work. Prudentius’ eyes captured every detail. One leg streaked with fresh blood, Celsus sported a slight limp. Perhaps, Prudentius thought, the Aventine’s work had not gone as smoothly as normal. The clumsy Thracian, Meglos, followed Celsus, struggling to conceal a small shield under his cloak. Khala, the gigantic Nubian, remained positively brazen as he carried his heavy pilum openly and without shame. He laughed at Meglos as the Thracian dropped his shield.
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Little Friends, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Little Friends, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

With the midday sun burning their necks as it rose above the Porticus Octaviae, the three men walked through the congested Vicus Bellonae. Porcius and his oldest friend Vinicius moved like sharks in water as, all grace of movement and keenness of eye. Between them walked Rufinus. Oblivious to his surroundings, the wiry redhead ambled along the street as he cradled his beloved basket, crooning to whatever he kept hidden under its lid.
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Beware of the Dog, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

Beware of the Dog, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

The remaining Palatine, Seneca, backed away slowly, smiling at the Aventini. He pushed two fingers into his mouth and gave a sharp wolf whistle. Immediately a massive, dark shape the size of a pony appeared from a nearby shop doorway. It moved with a slow, almost bored grace that belied its bulk, and leapt at Erebus. Slavering jaws clamped around Erebus’ exposed throat like a mantrap. The Aventine fell, blood pumping from his neck as the beast shook him like a rat.
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The Daughters of Sappho, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

The Daughters of Sappho, by Chris Bone and Paul L. Mathews

“Well, if it isn’t the lovely ladies of the Subura,” said Albinus. He gazed across the piazza and at the three slender figures draped around the drinking fountain.

“You wouldn’t be calling them lovely if you knew them,” whispered his Aventine companion, Nereus.

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