Last words echoing through history

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As one rises to fame and glory, one is bound to attract jealousy and envy. The light in some grows shadows in others…

 

The morning had been painful. His wife had woken up in fury, yelling about nightmares and dark omens haunting her sleeping night. That happened more and more as of late. Women were clearly too soft and sensitive for this kind of pressure. Something would have to be done.

 

And the brighter you shine, the more resentment you inspire. To climb up, you have to step on some things. To succeed, you have to make sacrifices, and a few enemies…

 

He tried to appease her torments and bring her to reason, but talking did not appease her. It was the second time this week. It was starting to get irritating. He had to get out of the house, this was the last meeting before his departure, a lot of affairs needed his attention. Since there was no calming her, he conceded to consult the omens.

 

So it makes sense, if you’ve build something grander than anything else before, to also attract more thunder than ever before. Leading a nation is an impressive thing, but bringing it to the level of gods is a whole other…

 

Of course, as luck would have it, omens were bad, or unreadable. There were talks of bad spirits and evil intents. But he would be damned if he let superstitious nonsense rule his life. He got everything he had thanks to his courage and his wits. As his right hand man noted, that’s all the omens he needed.

 

At the beginning, the country was not much. A bunch of disorganized territories just lying around the sea. It may have been impressive compared to what it was in the past, but it was nothing compared to where vision and leadership could bring it…

 

There had been rumors of plots, of course there had. There always were. But these were just idle gossip. He would not let them affect him like it had his wife. He had humored their annoying concern long enough, there was work to be done. He disregarded the warnings, and with an iron determination, started walking swiftly on the white marble.

 

That’s why he had to take matter into his own hands. Nobody else could do it. The early death of his father had thrown him onto the political scene. As the ambitious young head of a strong family, he rose to power at an impressive pace. He made good progress on the path of priesthood before it was denied to him…

 

This was just one of these days when things did not go your way. People nagging him, getting in his path. He hurried across the gardens. Duty awaited, the politicians were gathered and already waiting for him. When he opened the gates of the senate, everything seemed as usual…

 

But this setback was only a gateway to bigger things. It was the start of his military career. He started to make a name for himself with his achievements. He was first elected military tribune, then quaestor. There was no stopping his political successes. But nowhere did he excel as impressively as the battlefields. His ecstatic soldiers would shower him with praise…

 

Tillius Cimber reached out to lay a hand on his toga. The insolence! Sure, it was well meant, a sign of prosternation in apology, but he was having none of that. He dismissed it with a hiss and turned towards the assembly. That’s when the senators started to move.

 

He soon earned the honorary title of imperator. The fame from his spotless military victories brought him to a long awaited consulship. He was finally in a position to take matters to a new level, to aim higher than anyone else dared to conceive. He turned the wrath of his mighty legion towards Gaul. It was a fierce campaign, but it seemed like nothing could stand in the way of his ambition and strategical genius…

 

There was nothing he could do. Surrounded on all side, at the mercy of the crowd. They were pushing him around like a vulgar bundle of straw. Him! The one who lead Rome to a glory never before imagined. Them! His trusted fellows and advisors.

 

So Gaul fell, and other followed. But his travels and battles did not sever him from the political scene in the capital, thanks to a powerful network of influential advisors. He was simultaneously leading the country on the inside, and pushing its boundaries further than conceivable. Nothing would not bend to his iron strength. The clamor of his victories in Egypt, Pharnaces or Hispania resonated within all of Europe, and brought Rome tremendous glory…

 

Thus ended the greatest empire ever achieved by man. In the midst of its grandeur, right before yet another accomplishment. The disbelief that they would turn against Rome’s glory rendered him speechless. He did not even yell from the pain of his many wounds. His face was frozen in shock.

 

Faced with such an incredible success, what could the Senate do but bestow upon him honors after honors? But none seemed enough to satiate his thirst. He would not rest as long as the shine of Rome was tainted by its internal disorganisation. To counter the chaos and mess that the republic had become, the only option was a strong leadership. He proposed to become dictator of a better organized empire. Not only did they allow it, they supported it. They welcomed it. They acclaimed it…

 

And in the sea of familiar faces, he saw the most familiar of all. Somehow his blow occulted all the other ones and chilled him to the bottom of his soul. His most trusted lieutenant, his close friend and protege… He barely managed to exhale the words ‘Et tu?’ before his body fell lifeless in a puddle of hot blood. As his eyes closed, his vision was engulfed in a sea of light.

 

As the light faded, so did the consciousness and the memories. It was amazing how it all came back so swiftly to the previously saved configuration. Jack reached down his neck, took out the electrodes, and stepped away from the virtual reality machine. “How did I do?” he asked his friends who were watching over his shoulder. “Overconfident, but not too shabby” was the reply. The final score was still being computed. On the screens were blinking the words “aftermath simulation in progress”…

One thought on “Last words echoing through history

  1. Pingback: Short stories index | AMadManWithABlog

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