Radea did not intend I should be kept waiting. His aide passed me through into the Primus's office the moment I entered the principia.
Radea glanced up. "Ah, Aquilla."
He set one stack of papers aside and moved another in front of him. When I saluted him, he waved me to a seat. I slumped down, unbuckled my plume, and sat with it in my lap.
Despite his wiry frame, he impressed me as being too large for his office, and as meaning to burst out of it the moment he had the chance, like a butterfly escaping the chrysalis.
Together with him, his office had captured the morning heat, and the camp's smells were encapsulated, too, along with those peculiar to administration. The lingering scent of melted wax that always evoked my early childhood. Papers so tinder-dry they smelt scorched. The brooding anxiety of the men brought before the Twelfth's Primus Pilus.
He peered at me across his paper mountain range. “Aquilla of Numidia.”
“Aquilla, It has been brought to my attention that, ah--” He coughed. His uneasiness belied my initial impression of him. “That’s . . . That’s a rather impressive plume, centurion.”
I held it up. “I like 'em big.”
“It is big, yes. And colorful. But we do have standards, you know.”
“Yes, Primus.” I put the plume back in my lap.
“Speaking of standards, you just became Eagle bearer.”
“Usually the Eagle is carried aloft on a pole, not strung about the neck on a gold chain.”
“It’s my blingus.”
“Aquilla is my slave name. The boys call me Quinquaginta Denarius.”
“And about your new marching song.” He looked down at a paper and began to read. “Yo Britain, Yo Gaul; The Roman homeys takes it all; Don't dis us, our God is Marsz; And we’sz comin’ now ta put a pilum in yo asz.”
“I wrote it myself. Do you dig it?”
Radea sniffed and slowly nodded. “Fo shizzle ma nizzleum.”
Opening: BuffySquirrel.....Continuation: ril