‘Well?’ Aquila asked.
Castor shook his head.
‘My scouts have not returned from Londinium, so put that with the refugee influx and…’
‘Then we have to assume the city has fallen, and the Iceni are now on the way here.’
‘Yes, straight up the Watling Street at full speed most likely. Very nice of us, I think, to provide high speed transport links between their targets,’ Castor paused, ‘we’ve very little time, Sir, no more than a day perhaps?’
‘I know,’ Aquila looked at his old friend,’ you should get out of here now, Castor. Go down South perhaps, towards the coast. I have no doubt that Paulinus will be able to crush this revolt, so it is a matter of staying alive until then.’
‘I’ll stay for now, Sir. I’m very good at hiding. Actually, shouldn’t we make to join with the Governor’s forces? They must be on their way now. I would say that is the safest place to be on this island at the moment.’
‘You’re right Castor. That does make some sense. I just feel that I am not doing my duty leaving the city in the hands of these corrupt incompetents.’
‘Surely it is not that bad, sir?’
‘They underestimate the power and ferocity of their foe. The Iceni are on a roll – to start with it was probably discontent, but after already scoring two major victories their confidence is high. They’ll continue to push on until they are given a bloody nose.’
‘Or the weather gets really bad,’ suggested Castor drily.
‘Ha – yes, true. And what have we got,’ Aquila lifted his hands to lift the blue sky above him,’ and overdose of Apollo’s chariot.’
‘So what do we do?’
‘I will go and try and reason with the idiots again, and if they don’t listen then I will set off towards Wales to brief the Governor. I know the Iceni and how they fight. You can come with me…’
‘If I may, I would like to resolve some other matters first,’ Castor interrupted,’ my curiosity is not yet satisfied.’
‘Not the girl, for the sake of Diana!’
‘Not so much the girl; more that man Miletus. I would like to know the truth.’
‘Well, so would I, but they’re all likely to die soon anyway at this rate… Very well, Castor, do what you must. But I would rather not lose you – good secretaries are very hard to find.’
‘I understand, sir.’
Night was falling as the grizzled man carefully picked his way through the streets towards the bar owned by the two Gauls. He wanted to talk to the boy, as his gut told him that it was possible he knew something about the girl Vita. As he approached the boy came out of the front door, looked around a little furtively and then vanished off behind the tavern into a narrow dark side street.
Fortune smiles on me, Castor thought, making his way through the shadows in pursuit.
He caught sight of the boy stop and look around to see if anyone was watching. Castor stood still and waited to see if he had been spotted. It appeared not, as with a quick movement the boy squatted to pee.
The boy had squatted to pee.
Castor had to use every bit of self control he had not to laugh. She had been hiding under his nose all the time. He was impressed rather than angry. It was a shame really, because he could do with someone young who could do subterfuge that well.
The “boy” finished and relieved began to jog back towards the bar. As she passed him Castor struck, binding her small body with one arm and clamping his other hand over her mouth. His grip was like a vice. To her credit her feet struck out at every possible soft or vulnerable spot. They all missed, however.
‘Quit struggling girl, you’ll only get hurt. You’re dealing with a professional.’
After a few more attempts, Vita finally gave up. Now limp and unresisting Castor carried the girl away into the night.
Focussed on his prize, Castor did not see the figure that watched him from the tavern doorway.
Exuperatus watched the Investigator’s man leave with the girl and sighed. Too bad, he’d almost started to care about the girl.
He slowly went inside and closed the door, slamming the locks firmly in place.
Scenes from a Roman Taverna: Partings
‘Well?’ Aquila asked.