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“This is… indeed a very unorthodox vision.” Appius’ voice said weakly. “I would need to look at this more closely. It doesn’t seem like a workable solution, though, but I would need to re-check.” He hated himself for that response. To his surprise, though, Kora smiled even more broadly.

“You talk exactly like my teacher!” she replied. “I still remember how he always looked at me with the same puzzled expression. But, Kora, you break the very laws of logic, you know! ” She imitated the squeaking voice of someone. “I need to re-check to see where you’ve made a mistake.” Kora laughed. Appius looked at her in disbelief. The woman was beautiful! It was in those radiant green eyes you could see her true soul, her passion for creation, for knowledge, the hunger to learn more. Her love for the work she did made her into an entirely different person. At this exact moment this plain peasant woman excelled in her beauty the infamous vestal virgin, whose kiss brought the architect all this trouble in the first place.

The architect turned his eyes trying to get rid of this image and noticed the stern look, that the Old Vulture gave him from his seated position. Plinus Lacer had this disturbing ability to tell when his grandnephew was lying. Even though Appius didn’t lie to him directly, he knew that the Old Vulture could see beyond his skin and bone.

“When will you be ready to give your answer?” his granduncle said, looking straight into Appius’ face. “News from the north is already disturbing. Half of Hibernia has fallen under the battering of the best Roman cohorts. In a matter of weeks, they will be here. What Kora is offering can allow us to keep a larger force for defense without creating a huge amount of pressure on the citizens.”

Blunt as always, Appius thought. “Tomorrow,” he said, taking the scrolls and putting them into his bag. “I will give you your answer tomorrow.” His voice quivered as he spoke, making Marcus look at him with suspicion. Appius didn’t care all that much, though.

[TO BE CONTINUED…]

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