Apart from the times when weasels are very young, they live solitary and fend for themselves in the wild.
Weasels are territorial animals and usually defend their home ranges when invaded.
(Ancient Book of Nature)
The attacks on the distant villages stopped as suddenly as they had started, yet it didn’t improve the province’s disposition, which Cassius had to bring to the Empire. Once coming to a rebellious mood, people kept gathering on the streets but immediately broke off their conversations when they saw the approaching Imperian guards. The situation was getting tenser and tenser, and something Cassius didn’t know yet how to overcome.
His local deputies, Bryden and Halen, kept relentlessly searching for any information on the mysterious Weasel, who they believed to be responsible for organizing the villages’ recent slaughtering. A copy of the Weasels’ half-burnt scroll was placed on every boundary post. All in vain. No one seemed to have seen anything or could point them in the right direction.
No one… Apart from their commander. Cassius Aelius shrugged the thought of what both Gaul deputies would think if they only suspected he withheld the truth. The revolt would be immediate, and he even knew who would lead it – Bryden and Halen.
Trying to separate himself from his anxious thoughts, Cassius Aelius remembered how he first met the Weasel. Yes, it was winter… The end of winter. Just like now.
It was one of the sporadic days of freedom for Cassius Aelius, the 15-year-old boy back then. His uncle left to visit the Emperor’s palace, the most persistent of Cassius’s overseers, who had been spying on him day and night after his little “investigation” had been revealed, abandoned the estate following their master. Cassius barely managed to wait until the last horseman disappeared before rushing outside. Finally! Alone! The whole day!
It was still early morning, and the huge silver fir trees were hiding the darkness under their thick branches. Cassius didn’t care about it. He made his way to a hunting hut that he once found during his previous excursions through the forest. The hut was in a bad state, but Cassius had put lots of effort into making sure the ceiling wouldn’t fall on his head. Still, it had a roof, walls, a fireplace, and the sense that people hadn’t visited the place for ages. It was the ideal hideout to think in silence and to keep notes that he made about his mother’s death.
Only when he came really close, he saw the footprints and, what’s worse, a light in the only tiny window of what he believed was “his” place. The boy stopped. Someone was in there!
Caught by surprise, Cassius couldn’t decide what to do next. Should he go inside? But what if there is a band of robbers? Then no one would ever find out where he had gone. Despite disconcerting thoughts, Cassius involuntarily smirked. That would mean the end of his uncle’s career. No one would believe that his uncle had anything to do with Cassius’ disappearance.
That was the boy’s last thought before someone put a dark bag over his head while tying his hands behind his back with rope. Then, someone quite harshly pulled him into the hut.
When the bag was finally taken off, and Cassius was able to see again, he gasped. All of Cassius’ notes were carelessly thrown on the table, and a small, slender animal was comfortably sitting on them. The weasel.
[TO BE CONTINUED]