The Roman fortress, Deva Victrix, erected upon the heights of a low sandstone ridge, overlooked the wide estuary of the silt-heavy river Dee to its west, where small, single-sail craft docked next to a sandstone quay at the head of the Dee’s navigable waters. Across the river lay untamed, heavily-forested green hills and valleys, beautiful, but dangerous, inhabited by a conquered, yet still hostile indigenous British tribe, the Ordovices. These fair-skinned, long-haired barbarians occupied this land to the westernmost beaches of the Hibernicum Sea. All Roman roads ended at the fortress, the tip of the spear to the Britons, the end of civilization to their conquerors.
Gnaeus Felix, fifty-two, the camp prefect, wore a scarlet woolen tunic, belted at his waist, a bone-hilted dagger at his left hip. He crossed the colonnaded courtyard of the legion’s headquarters, located at the center of the fort, where his commander, Legate Gaius Claudius Amantius waited.
“Welcome,” Amantius motioned with his right hand to a bench. He was twenty years younger than Felix. He wore his brown hair cut short, trimmed above his ears. He had a gaunt face with a thin, bony nose that ended with an asymmetrical twist. He was a Roman senator, appointed by Emperor Diocletian to command the Twentieth Legion two years earlier.
“The courier said it was urgent.” Felix rested on the seat.
The legate leaned back into his chair. His thin lips stretched tight. “I’ve got a job for you. Something unusual. Do you know Centurion Cassius Primus?”
I'm looking forward to reading the rest on the 27th!
I found the story historically interesting, but skipped over some paragraphs that didn't move the story along fast enough for me. The ending had a great and unexpected twist. But I skipped over a lot because it just didn't hold my attention.
Brilliant! I solved it with the clues!
Well written, and convincing in terms of historical details. I liked the business about the horse's hoof. Thanks for a fine read.