[READ EPISODE 5]

To weasel into
– to get into a place or situation by being dishonest, by persuading someone in a clever way.
For example: “He weaseled his way into the palace by bribing a servant.”
(Ancient Glossary)

 

Weasel disappeared as silently as he once appeared in Cassius’s life. The messages just stopped coming and the boy eventually cut off his visits to the old hunting hut, which felt too empty and too abandoned without the old assassin. At first, the boy greatly missed his weird acquaintance, but his uncle’s assignments soon distracted him from these uneasy thoughts. Gnaeus Aelius suddenly realized that his nephew had grown up. The fact that the boy appeared to stop investigating his mother’s death warmed their relations, so Gnaeus entrusted Cassius with a whole set of new duties regarding the family estate and political ambitions. Being too young and too focused on his own affairs, Cassius never realized before what a complex game his uncle had been playing.

Being a commander of elite praetorian cohorts, Gnaeus Aelius was one of the key figures in maintaining the stability of the whole Roman Empire. And in those times, Rome needed stability more than ever! The old emperor died last year, leaving the throne to his grandson. Unfortunately, the grandson didn’t inherit the old emperor’s wisdom and spent most of the time, and gold, on impressive feasts. This habit eventually led to increasing taxes to cover new unexpected needs. To make things worse, the distant provinces raised their heads again, building cities and gathering their own forces with obvious intentions. The recent invention of watchtowers added new tactics to the wars between neighbors. Gnaeus Aelius sent his nephew, now a 26-year-old man, into one of those rioting provinces with a simple order. He was to do anything in his power to prevent its separation from the Roman Empire. One more lost territory would have meant civil war.

This order was easier said than done. Initially, things went rather smoothly. Cassius assigned two local commanders to be his deputies and granted a few of the most well-developed villages city privileges to boost their development; this appeased the people for a while. That was until the news of the burnt villages reached their settlement and all of Cassius’s efforts were thwarted.

Worst of all, Cassius still failed to see the forest behind the trees. What did the old assassin have to do with the burnt villages? Did he know that Cassius was here? Who was behind the riot that was obviously being prepared, and why? He had no answers to any of these questions.

The bang on the door announced that Bryden and Halen – the hill and harsh waters – were here. No knocking. As usual. Cassius raised his eyes and met the icy-cold gaze of the pathfinder. Bryden stood a couple of steps behind his partner, giving space to the clear leader of the two. He avoided looking at the commander. “What happened again?”

“We caught the Weasel, commander,” Halen said finally. “And guess what? He wants to talk only to you. Care to explain?” Cassius’s heart sank.

[TO BE CONTINUED…]

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