Sunday Serial – Dying to be Roman XXIV

Dying to be Roman by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook is a whodunit set in a modern day Britain where the Roman Empire still rules. If you missed previous episodes you can start reading from the beginning.

Julia came half-conscious, to the realisation she was most definitely not floating in water any more. She seemed to be being carried  quite roughly over the shoulder of a medium-sized man. She also seemed to be encased in some sort of bag. Faex, she thought; I’ve gone and got myself abducted. She forced her woolly brain into some sort of order and came to the conclusion that there was only thing she could profitably do. She carefully urinated very slowly and grimaced as the warm fluid ran down her bare leg. It took some moments before the man carrying her became aware of the wetness.
Moecha pudita,” he said bitterly, “she’s only gone and pissed herself.”
“Golden showers? Happens. Some ‘ud pay for that,” another rough voice crowed. “You insisted on carrying her. Give her here and wring your tunic out if it’s that bad.”
“Naa it’s just a trickle.”
They rounded a sharp corner and Julia’s head rapped smartly against a stone coyn.

Perhaps, left to himself, Dai might have not informed the Tribune immediately and would have taken more opportunity to try and start the investigation unhampered. But the presence of the two praetorians left him with no choice. It was either he did it, or they would – if they had not already. Which was why he found himself in the very unfunny position of standing in as close an approximation to attention as he had ever achieved, with Tribune Decimus Lucius Didero in a towering rage less than an arm’s reach away.

 The Tribune did anger cold and his face was a mask that scarcely shifted even as he spoke. It seemed this was something that could get beneath the facade of his expected gravitas. But then perhaps, Dai realised, it was too close to reliving the nightmare of Julia’s previous abduction.
“So I trust you with my foster-sister and you let her get kidnapped?”
“She was in the women’s bath, I -”
The Tribune’s head lifted sharply and his eyes bored into Dai from above his finely chiselled aquiline nose.
“I promise you Llewellyn, if anything happens to her you will be the one I hold personally responsible. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, dominus.”
“I have checks on all exists and my men combing the city from here out, they are not going to be gentle. If I have to rip this dungheap city apart building by building to find Julia, I will do so. Whoever took her will not have got far.”
“Dominus, Please, this is my city. Let me -’
“I think you have done enough, don’t you? You are deprived of rank and under arrest, Llewellyn and be glad I am not laying any accusation of complicity in this crime at your door – yet.”
Dai felt a sick moment of helplessness, then his own anger flared.
“It just might be I could find her, dominus. Are you willing to pass up that chance, no matter how slim in your view it might be?”
For a moment, he thought the Tribune was going to strike him and his muscles tensed reflexively. Then the other man seemed to consciously relax and after a moment he gave a slight upwards nod.
“Find her, Llewellyn. Find her before my men do or make sure you get yourself very lost.”

Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook

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