George grinned for a moment and then knitted his brows and pounded down the hill to the well. He could feel Marcus behind him close and pushed even harder. It was all or nothing. The two ran at breakneck speed downhill, the dust kicking up behind them. The others had slowed down to a jog and a walk, watching the action. It was an amazing sight but at that speed something had to give. A decade of legionnaires were sitting half way and began clapping and cheering the two as they ran past at breakneck speed. The well was within sight, only a few hundred metres now. George gritted his teeth, his breath was almost out, his limbs were on fire, his lungs raw and then the rock cracked into his head and he stumbled. At this pace, his feet were unable to find themselves again interrupted as they were and he crashed to the dust and slid a few feet. The boy who had thrown the rock, Cassius looked at him impassionately. George looked back, his focus entirely on the boy while Marcus reached the well and gave a whoop of victory.
George stood on trembling legs and watched Cassius. He did not feel the pain in his head, nor did he care why Cassius had thrown the rock, nor even that Marcus had won the race. A terrible and cold anger burned in his chest and it was all focussed on Cassius.
“You ran well George, you will be a great athlete when you are bigger.” Marcus slapped him on the back and then leant on his own knees as he drew in gulping breaths.
George said nothing. His fists clenched until they were white and he stood rock still. Marcus stood and walked back to the others. “I’m the Emperor and you are all mine to command.” he laughed. The others drew round him, they loved him. After some time they wandered off playing games and leaving George alone by the well. Eventually huge sobs racked his chest but he did not cry, they were dry heaving sobs of raw emotion that had to find a way our of him somehow.
“That was one hell of a throw though.”
George turned, he thought he had been alone and tried to control his emotional outburst but with little success. A legionnaire sat on the well watching George through bright blue eyes.
“How old are you kid?”
George said nothing. The legionnaire levered himself up off the well with a cat like grace and walked casually over to George. He moved like an animal and George had the feeling that this man, soldier or no, was deadly. The man stood opposite him for a moment and then touched his chest with his fist.
“My name is Secundus Flavius.”
George was silent, observing this strange man.
The man called Secundus paused a moment and then continued. “That anger you have in you, it sometimes feels like you are going to burst and there is nowhere to put it. It scares you with its power and you don’t want to give in to it in case it takes over and something terrible happens. Whatever you may think now, this is a good sign. If you ever want to learn a way to direct this, to channel it and maybe even change it, come and find me.” Secondus nodded once and then turned and walked back to the town. He had gone a few feet and then paused and half turned. “It was one hell of a throw, I did not lie, and you ran one hell of a race.” Then he turned and without a backward glance walked away.
George wanted to say something but the moment had passed. He decided to find Secundus again when the moment was right. He felt like a huge weight had lifted off his chest and his mind returned, he had to get home to help his mother.
Copyright Faramond Frie © 2016