Friday, October 12, 2007

New Beginning 385

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.”

I nodded.

“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.”

I nodded.

“Usually the Eagle is carried aloft on a pole, not strung about the neck on a gold chain.”

“It’s my blingus.”

“Blingus, Aquilla?”

“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


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

"It's time for your three-sixty, seven sigma review. I see here that you have a dozen soldiers replies and four supervisors. As you know, the papyrus have been summarized by Miss Spumoni, our chief scribe and will be filed in the Pontifex Prefectorius' office." Radea's smile revealed the greasy teeth of sad food they served administrators.
"I understand." Aquilla shifted. His plume rested awkward in his lap.
"You score is 37 out of 45 and three quarters and most comments are well stated and favor you. For instance, 'I kiss the ground he walks on' is balanced by 'Radea is as ass-kissing weasel'. Overall however, this is a good review. It will earn you a bonus at the end of the year."
"Thank you sir."
"Now let's review the questions one by one," Radea sighed.

--Dave F.

"Septimus Maximus tells me that you refused to participate in the sack race this morning," Radea said.

My plume quivered in my lap. The smell of camp, of smores and smoke and Axe body wash, lingered in the office. "I don't like camp, sir," I stammered.

"Are you, perhaps, too big for your britches, Aquilla?"

I was too big for my britches, it was true. That was why my parents sent me to fat camp, to exercise and lose weight. All I wanted to do was play Halo 3.

I slumped down further, hoping to be lost behind the pile of tinder dry papers. As I brooded over my impending fate -- the loss of this evening's brownie ration perhaps -- I could smell the smoke, as if that stack of pulp were even now aflame. Should Radea force me to go on the five mile walk that afternoon, I'd see just how flammable those papers were that night.


"I need your help, Primus. It's my son."


"Yes. The second one."

"I hear the Second Pyrrhus is one of the best pilots in the fleet, popular among his peers..."

"Yes, Primus, but a pilot can do nothing with a boat that is not sea-worthy."

"His vessel is underperforming?"

"It's not just underperforming; the hull's material is completely porous."

"That is a pretty pickle Pyrrhus is in."


"But what can I the Twelfth Primus Pilus do for the popular Pyrrhus pilot and his pretty pickle of a porous predicament?"



Radea cleared his throat and stood up from his desk. “Aquilla, yes. My aide has already briefed me on your situation.”

“Primus, I--”

“Shh. Shh. Aquilla, fear not. I am both your leader and your advisor.” Radea came around behind me and placed his hands on my shoulders. “You are a competent soldier: I have heard no complaint.”


“So let me see.”

I shifted in my seat, ill at ease, and with trepidation removed my plume to the Pilus’s desk. Upon catching sight of what was no longer hidden, Radea coughed without control, and water sprang from his eyes. Perhaps I had impressed him as being too large for my station and as meaning to burst out at any moment, like a constrictor shedding its skin.

“Centurion,” Radea gasped through choking breaths, “I cannot uphold your complaint. It is clear indeed why the other men call you Primus Pilum.”


Evil Editor said...

Twelfth's Primus Pilus: excellent tongue twister. Say it three times fast.

I wasn't crazy about a centurion coming up with a butterfly analogy.

I'd rather he just list the smells without pausing to mention that they always evoked his early childhood.

I'd leave off the "Together with him" at the start of paragraph 5.

Despite his wiry frame, he impressed me as being too large for his office

This leads me to suspect he hasn't previously been summoned to the Primus Pilus's office. If that's true, he might be anxious, and might be thinking about why he's here, rather than the smells. (If it's not true, maybe he should say, ". . . he'd always impressed me as . . ."

Dave Fragments said...

It’s my blingus
Oh, I wish I'd thought of that!

Dave Fragments said...

This is like Chinese food, an hour later and I'm hungry again.
Why is Aquilla in the commander's office?
What event has happened that forces him to face Numero Uno?
The description of the office is good but why is the man there?
The opening line says "did not intend I should be kept waiting" and then the Primus Pilus waves him to a seat as if to say "oh, you're here already." Then he shuffles papers before he speaks. That's keeping him waiting. That opening line implies urgency, nothing else in the opening implies urgency.

I think that P2 should say somthing like "Ah, Aquilla, the Gauls are in Rheinms and the Visigoths are threatening."
Or really insulting: Ah, Aquilla, your soldiers say you refuse to bath and smell like a dead goat."

none said...

I had an "as always" in there, but took it out. Maybe it should go back :).

(where do people come up with these continuations!)

writtenwyrdd said...

OMG, that continuation was about the best ever! Fo' shizzle.

I liked this opening, Author. Lots of nice details. The line about the morning heat distracted me, however. Wasn't sure what, exactly, you meant; although evoking scent is evocative. The scorched smell of old paper lost me a bit, too.

Chris Eldin said...

The continuations were great! Not taking anything away from Ril's, but I loved the alliteration in Paca's. LOL!

I like this Buffy. I have 2 nits.
In the first paragraph, the two sentences seem to be saying the same thing. I'd delete the first one and just say "Radea's aide passed me through..."

The plume was distracting. I kept waiting for it to do something.

Ali said...

Great continuations!

Buffysquirrel, I liked this, especially the smells, the smell of anxiety. The wording of the first sentence was a little misleading, though. It set me up to expect that the protagonist would be kept waiting, against Radea's intentions. But then he was ushered right in. Maybe something like "Radea clearly did not intend I should be kept waiting?"...or along the lines of "It was a relief that at least Radeo did not keep me waiting."

Like Churchlady I was distracted by the plume. I didn't get why he unbuckled it before sitting down, I think of a plume as attached to the helmet but why would he be wearing his helmet inside? So, I wondered if this particular plume was attached to a different part of his anatomy. Which was a little disconcerting.

Dave Fragments said...

It's a Roman house with an inner courtyard and room around the sides. One would be admitted through a portico or covered entrance and then escorted to the center of a courtyard. The portico would have a ceiling high enough to ride a horse into the courtyard.

The office, such as it is, would be a room off the courtyard with a low roof so he would have to take his helmet off his head. All of this might also take place in the courtyard next to a wall.

Removing the helmet might also be a sign of friendship or of familiarity.

These two soldiers might know each other from the Baths. In which case, a plume on his helmet would never be associated with a codpiece under his tunic. Or even on his tunic if he set it on his lap. Romans didn't think that way. We modern goofballs think that way because we don't share baths like the Romans did. Share baths everyday of your lives with thousands of naked men and boys and no one thinks about plumes on helmets as sexual. Also remember, Romans had slaves that plucked their body hair off so that they would have smooth muscles (and yes, that hurt, a lot!). And they had slaves that washed them and cleaned them.

none said...

Yeah, "Radea didn't intend I should be kept waiting by anyone but him" wasn't really implied, was it?

Back to drawing board!