~ Italy, Pyrrhus, Carthage (x3), Macedon (x2), Antiochus ~
It's a big module and the lectures are going to be held in one of the bigger classrooms; not a lecture theatre, it's not that big, but in one of long, high-ceilinged rooms under the debating chamber. This is one of the oldest parts of the university and the light streams in through lead-latticed windows, honey-coloured stone arching up overhead. There's an interactive whiteboard and disabled access and the carpets are institutionalised, not to mention the narrow plasticky desks, but next door is the "Gentleman's Cloakroom" and the stone steps are worn in the middle from the climbing of uncounted feet.
At the front stands Professor Plum, gesturing. He's a youngish man, ruddy and plump and possessed of a receding hairline; he arrived short of breath and he's short of breath now, having launched into his lecture like a lengthy jog. "... about war," he's saying, and huffs, "extraordinary conquest... a democratic city... Italy and beyond... about corruption and the seeds of downfall... but the focus of this course is on war."
He surveys the classroom. Yeah. That sounded good.
There's a young woman smiling from the middle of the room, surrounded by a blank sea of baby-faced second-years; must be a postgrad, thinks Professor Plum, and is sure he knows her from somewhere, although he can't remember her name. She's sitting in a sunbeam and her hair bleeds copper. Her smile is scarlet.
"War," says Professor Plum again, rolling the word in his mouth. There's something oddly intoxicating about it. "Expansion. Conquest. Pure, naked imperialism..."
The sun lights the girl's eyes on fire. From this angle, Professor Plum can see the spike of her heels, her legs stretching out under the narrow desk.
He huffs again. "Naked... war..."
(And War awash with sunlight remembers how much pleasure she takes in male intellectuals: how easily she devours them with a burning love for her, how helplessly they dedicate their dusty lives to her, how worshipfully they follow every flash of an ankle, every swirl of a skirt... how many boys they've given up to her alight with that same fire... how delicious they are, every one, when they fall.)