Testimony of Praetor Aric

My first post was at Mountain House, where I served as stratiotés under Phylax Gig and then Phylax Robenc.

When Robenc became Praetor of the Guard, he made me his adjutant.

I was off duty at the time, but Praetor Robenc sent word for me to join him at the home of a private citizen.

I was not informed of the citizen's identity, only the location of his residence.

No, it was not a direct order.

A runner dispatched to me by the Praetor.

No, no written order would have been prepared or carried.

No, I do not recall who delivered the message.

The message said I was to join the Praetor at the place specified.

No, I do not recall the exact words of the message.

I cannot tell you what was in the runner's mind, sir.

I assumed nothing, sir. I dressed for duty and went to join the Praetor.

No, sir. I knew how to find the place, but had never been there before.

Not at the time, no: I saw no reason to anticipate danger.

When I arrived at the citizen's residence, I heard a violent disturbance inside. At the same moment I heard men shouting and running toward me up the side street. I did not know what to expect, so I drew my weapon and prepared to defend myself.

It is what we are trained for, sir. First, last, always: do what is necessary to stay alive.

A squad of six men came around the corner with their weapons drawn. Their leader pointed at me and charged. I defended myself.

I did not see his face, sir, only the weapon pointed at me.

When he fell, his helmet came off, and I recognized the Centurion.

No, sir. His head remained attached to his neck.

Yes, sir. He was dead.

Yes, sir, as you say. The others stopped dead themselves.

I believe they recognized me. I was not wearing my helmet.

I was wearing my forage cap, sir.

There was no time, sir. The disturbance inside the house was still going on.

I recognized the Praetor's voice.

No, not his voice alone. But we could not tell how many others were involved.

His voice was raised as if in battle.

The sound is unmistakable, sir.

The door was locked, sir. We were required to break through it.

Praetor Robenc and another man were struggling in the front room.

The man was attacking Praetor Robenc with a knife. Praetor Robenc was unarmed, but was holding the man off as best he could.

At the moment we broke in, he had the man by the throat.

I ordered the men to part them as quickly as possible. I then had the citizen taken to a separate room, while I stayed in the front and tried to ascertain from Praetor Robenc how the disturbance came about.

It was difficult, sir. Praetor Robenc was nearly berserk, and very hard to restrain. The citizen was shrieking, evidently in terror. Neither could be calmed.

The citizen apparently said something about an attempt to assassinate the Golias.

No, sir. I was with Praetor Robenc at the time, and did not hear exactly what the citizen said. The soldier who reported it to me was himself uncertain what the man meant.

Many things were possible, sir. At the time I thought it best to go to the Palace myself in order to warn the Golias if necessary, or to be of assistance in the event that an attack was in progress.

As I said, many things were possible. I used my best judgment. No man could be spared in restraining Praetor Robenc and the other man, and --

I didn't think the word of any of the other men would be taken seriously.

Because they were not officers.

Yes, sir. That was my reason.

I have no knowledge of a rivalry between Praetor Robenc and the Centurion.

As you say, sir. Not my business to know.

I am not familiar with that name, sir. I had heard of an official who was known as the Good Doctor.

No, sir. I never met him.

So I've been told sir, but at the time I had neither met nor seen the man before.

Before I left, I ordered both men arrested for breach of the peace. Praetor Robenc was to be kept under guard at his quarters. The other man was taken to the Keep.

When I arrived at the Palace, I went immediately to speak to the Golias.

Yes, sir. The guards know me, sir.

The Golias sent a platoon to confirm that custody of Praetor Robenc and the other man had been secured. Then he questioned me for about an hour.

I cannot say, sir. I answered his questions as best I could, but I know little of what was in his mind.

No, sir. The Golias did not mention anyone by that name.

Yes, sir. I am acquainted with the name Egderus.

We occupied adjacent beds in the infirmary for a few days.

He had been injured in a fall.

I was recovering from a chill.

We spoke of this and that. There was not much to say between us.

Yes, sir, we had seen each other before.

At Mountain House, where I was stationed before my posting here. He had been a resident in the main house.

As I say, we had seen each other before. We had never spoken.

The brothers in the house had their affairs, and we in the garrison had ours. Our paths rarely crossed.

Yes, sir, he did say that he worked as a scriptor in the Office of Inquiry.

He did not disclose the name of his superior.

It's no secret what kind of work is done in the Office of Inquiry.

I have no opinion on that, sir. My duties are enough to keep my mind busy.

One night, when the fever was upon me, I thought I heard the young man talking in his sleep. He seemed to be dreaming that he was being tortured, or perhaps just threatened. He kept shouting, "No! No! don't do that!" Then he screamed. The matron had to come and give him a potion to make him sleep quietly.

The next morning he apologized for keeping me awake. I said I had heard nothing, but he then burst out with a long lament about his beloved. He went on and on about how beautiful and good this person was, and how heartsick it made him that they could not be together.

He called him My Historian. He did not mention a name.

Calf love, sir. It's not uncommon -- the roughest recruits are not immune to it. But this was a dreamy lad, in love with being in love, if you understand me. You can tell the difference.

Real love is quiet, sir. You don't need to tell everyone about it.

Yes, sir, I've known it. And the loss of it. And it didn't kill me, the way this silly boy said it was killing him.

No, sir. That just fuels the fire.