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Marcus, the Roman Slave: Vignettes

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Rain was rolling down Marcus’ body in small rivulets. He was shivering, and his bound hands and cramping leg gave him no comfort. Esca sat a short distance away, warming himself by a fire kindled beneath the protection of an overhanging branch. He had not given Marcus so much as a glance since their meeting with the Seal People, and for the first time since they set out on this wild goose chase Marcus was feeling fear in the pit of his stomach.

Esca, that traitorous bastard. Uncle Aquila was right, and Marcus had been a fool to trust him; no doubt he would now pay for his mistake with his life. Marcus smiled bitterly to himself, but his musings were cut short when a tribesman suddenly cuffed him, hard, on the head. He fell face-first to the ground and struggled to rise. He heard a peal of cruel laughter from the group of men, and anger flared within him at the sound.

Later, much later, Esca came and handed him a burnt piece of unleavened bread. Marcus glared at him without taking it; Esca just looked down stonily and placed the piece within easy reach of his bound hands. “What’s happening?” Marcus spat out, struggling to keep his teeth from chattering as he spoke. “What have you done, Esca?”

Esca just smiled at him coldly and went back to sit by his place by the fireside. His nonchalance made Marcus feel inexplicably colder.