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Bread and Circus (Hwæhp u'Chærh)

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It was the final day of the celebrations and Kassus was enjoying his lunch before the Praetorians arrived to escort him out of the city, there was a knock on the door of his accommodation. "Who is it?" he asked the servant.

"Senator Charvanek," was the response. "Liviana," he said to himself, "excellent. I've been expecting her, please let her in," he instructed. The beautiful woman was let into the home and brought to Kassus was finishing his meal on the back patio facing the garden.

"Please," he said, "take a seat," offering her a chair.

She was not happy about being in his presence. "What do you want Morror, you clearly have other things to do than talk to me."

He stopped. "I invited you because I wanted to talk." He pushed the dishes that were in front of him to the center of the table and summoned one of the servants who proceeded to clear it away. Satisfied with their work, he begins just as they left the two on the patio.

"I know what you want," he started, "I could see that the match you decided to put me within the Orventis earlier this week...you are an ambitious woman," he said.

"I don't know what you are talking about..."

He continued, "I believe its quite clear that you have a higher power in mind...the Praetorship..."

"Hardly," she lashed back. "I am a patriot and loyal supporter of the Praetor."

"I don't believe you for a moment. Some of our colleagues would say otherwise."

She sighed. "There are times where I may not agree with the position he takes on policy, but I am not one to suggest getting a new Praetor."

"Again," he said, "you want to be Praetor, the physical embodiment of the Republic."

Liviana thought to herself, "is it possible Morror knows more than what he is saying upfront?" Before she had a chance to react, he issued a veiled threat.

He took the opportunity to reach for an envelope filled with the pictures Kaya had taken weeks earlier when photos first emerged. "This gentlemen look familiar to you?" Morror asked. She looked at the images and didn't say anything. He drummed his fingers on the table. "I am sure your husband would be interested in seeing these..." Liviana required her marriage to maintain her wealth -- she was also aware her father and clan would disown and strip her possessions and make her a member of the plebs.

She was absolutely guilty. She was silent for several seconds and responded. "I...I..."

"You don't have to say anything, just listen to my proposition." She had no choice.

"In exchange for me keeping quiet, you will stop your own pursuit of the Praetorship, bring fifteen of members of the Jaidan to my side, and be ready to support me when the time comes. And if you don't, I'll not hesitate to give those photos to your husband. I am pretty sure they would end your marriage and as they trickle out of the private space and onto the street, it would destroy your name forever." She turned cold.

He continued: "You essentially do not have any choice..." He slid several more photo in his view. "What do you say?" he asked.

Silence fell. Liviana was caught in a quandary. She stared at Morror. Charvanek knew she could not compromise her personal 'indiscretions' nor risk her political power.

She put the photos that were out on the table and put them in an envelope. She would buy herself more time.

"We have an understanding..." She would lie to her now exposed rival and faint acceptance while using the amount of breathing space to quietly maneuver her political situation to be on safer ground.

Morror acknowledged her response but he knew her word was worth nothing. The point of the meeting was to strike a nerve. Mission accomplished.

"Excellent," the servant had stepped onto the patio. "The Praetorians are here." He got up from the table.

"I must return to the war. We'll be in contact again soon...friend..."

"Yes, we will," she responded.

As Kassus began to make his way out of Dartha, he was already beginning to plot out in his mind, what the initial steps would be post-war. The elimination of Enolia was only one step on the road to power. Banners and pictures of him were still hanging on numerous buildings across the capital.

He smiled, deviously.

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The celebrations are over, and the War continues. Please read "In the Shadows" for Act 2...

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