Book One of The Eternal City Chronicles
During the reign of the Emperor Nero, the Roman Empire is overtaken by wizards. The wizards elevate Rome’s artists status to appease the intellectuals so they won’t cause an uprising among Rome’s citizens. They also need the artists to entertain them as this is something they can’t do with their magic.
At first the artists are overwhelmed by the lavish gifts bestowed upon them by the wizards. That is until they find what the wizards are really up to.
A playwright named Prelore takes it upon himself to lead a group of artists against the wizards. The artists find they will have to learn magic if they are to lead a successful revolution against the wizards. Some of the artists are seduced by the power of magic and they become corrupted themselves.
Coming February 28th, 2016 from Kellan Publishing!
Cover Art by Jamie Noble
February 28th, 2016
During the reign of the Emperor Nero, the Roman Empire is overtaken by Wizards. The Wizards elevate Rome’s artists status to appease and entertain them. At first the artists are overwhelmed by the lavish gifts bestowed upon them by the Wizards. That is until they find what the Wizards are really up to.
It is left to the writer Prelore to lead a group of artists in revolution against the Wizards. The only way the artists can defeat the wizards is to learn to, use magic themselves.
Artists use the content of their character to bring an end to the rigid class system. Intellect and creativity are used to overpower magic. The artists refuse to stop rebuilding Rome until things are right. Artists find themselves fighting against their bad sides and the wizards find themselves fighting against their good sides.
The Wizard’s Roman Revolution
The Wizards’ Roman Revolution
Wayward Wizards Enter Rome
It was in the early hours, on one of the summers sunniest days of 63 A.D. when a large group wizards rode into Rome. Their piercing, luminescent eyes transfixed anyone who beheld them. Anyone who spoke derogatorily to a wizard or even gave a wizard a contemptuous look would immediately start convulsing, let out a hideous cry and became a pile of smoking ashes.
They were all on white horses, except for the wizard in the lead. His mount was a black horse, armored in an intricate array of bronze shielding adorned with runes that none of the citizens had seen before. The glimmer from the bronze was almost blinding at the right angle from the suns inflection.
Most of Rome’s citizens had never glimpsed a wizard before, so the magical miscreants were a sight to behold as the only people the citizens of Rome were use to seeing with beards were philosophers, who wore them much shorter. None of the Rome’s many citizens, who were out of doors, could have guessed the degree to which these wizards would change their empire.
“The wonders we can work with an empire such as this,” bemused the wizard on the black horse, apparently without regard to who could overhear him.
“Yes indeed, this empire looks like it has even more to offer than China did,” said the wizard Zafor, smiling at a beautiful working lady in a blond wig.
Another wizard let out a crazed version of a war cry. “The empire is ours for the talking.”
Later, on that very same day the wizards strolled into Rome, they didn’t waste any time letting Rome’s citizens know that they considered themselves accountable to no one, and above every last citizen of Rome, including the emperor. The men of magic broke into groups and made their way around Rome’s popinas, transfixing the citizens with their tales of war faring triumphs all around the world. There were also many fantastical displays of magic, once the wizards had a few goblets of wine in them. The most appreciated of these tricks, by the men folk anyways, was making women’s clothes disappear.
The wizards wore brightly colored cloaks of the finest linen, ornamented by precious stones. The stones weren’t merely ornaments though, they were stones that had been charged with energy and magic. Some stones were to increase psychic abilities and all the wizards wore many quartz stones for power. The wizards’ large leather boots were a stark contrast to the citizens’ and slaves’ sandals. Rome’s citizens were warned that if they wore similar cloaks to impersonate wizards, they would be arrested, humiliated in a public square and then killed for dressing out of their station.
The wizards had sought to keep power at first by paying off and corrupting the emperor and his senators. When that didn’t work the threat of death was used. But word came that the emperor and his senate were unwilling to give up the power they had fought so hard for. Nero, after all had no compunction about killing his mother and brother to keep the throne.
It wasn’t long before the wizards had confiscated the imperial residences on Palatine Hill, with its beautiful vistas. It was done in a violent overthrowing, involving the deaths of many of Rome’s elite. A few of the senators were whipped almost to death and then hung in the market place as a warning not to speak out in regard to the merchant abode appropriation. The wizards put some custom touches on the villas, including turrets and flags to denote their magical lineage. Black flags were the most prestigious, showing that the wizard had a magical lineage greater than twenty generations, gold flags denoted a magical lineage of greater than ten, silver flags denoted a magical lineage of greater than five. All of the flags contained the wizards coat of arms; two unicorns on their hind legs and a shield covered with a multitude of the wizard’s symbols.
Every last senator, and even the Emperor Nero, had been unceremoniously evicted from their abodes on Palatine Hill. A few senators tried to put up a fight and were set ablaze by the wizard’s wands. The wizards didn’t waste any time confiscating the villas of wealthy merchants. Next to be confiscated were the penthouses of apartment complexes. The penthouses were on the bottom floor so the wealthy owners didn’t have to walk up the stairs and so they were able to have running water.
It wasn’t long before the wizard grand masters got to excessive wine drinking. The alcohol and lead in the wine did an extreme disservice to the wizards magical abilities. The increasingly crazed and arrogant fools didn’t even have the humility to dilute their wine with water, as was the custom among Rome’s more respectable citizens. The drunken wizards set Nero free, apparently a game of theirs to see what he would do.
That’s when the wizards began their campaign of magical terror. At first the emperor had tried to rally his citizens, after so many of his soldiers had fallen, but it was unfruitful. The citizens were thoroughly fed up with their oppressed lives.
It wasn’t long before stories of the wizards treacherous and arrogant ways made their way through the social structure of Rome, first to the popinas, public bathes and marketplaces and eventually to the excommunicated Nero himself. And the Emperor Nero, always wanting to crush the ambition of his citizens, set forth his army out to capture every last wizard. That was when things got outrageous. Reports of legion after legion of the finest Roman soldiers being captured and forced to swear allegiance to the wizards or being obliterated for all to see, made their way back to Nero, who was now in hiding in Athens. The soldiers had only been able to kill two wizards, a couple of the more creative soldiers found that fire was the only way to kill the wizards without using magic.
Rome’s citizens were being seduced into a new age by the wizards, and were anxious to see the emperor and his senators pay for their corrupt and oppressive ways. The emperor and his senators had sent out messages, to the furthest reaches of the empire, in hopes of rallying old allies to help them thwart the wizards, but their requests fell on deaf ears, for their arrogance and heavy taxation had made their old allies contemptuous toward them.
After the wizards had established complete control over Rome they had began living a reclusive life for a while, perhaps to do some planning, perhaps to let things settle with the citizens for a while, perhaps they just wanted to rest. But now they were coming back with an even greater ferocity, they wanted fame, respect, and to regulate. But above all else they wanted to fill their coffers. As it was money that bought them palpable power, the wizards took over all of Rome’s apothecary shops and forced the apothecaries to make magical potions and only make medical potions when time permitted. It was money that bought the supplies to make the potions, which in turn was how they kept their mastery over the masses.
The unexpected event of the wizards taking over gave the citizens of Rome a renewed vigor, put an extra bounce in their sandals steps. Now they would now have the time and money, as the wizards promised to reduce taxes and to reduce the workweek to four days, so the citizens could enjoy the grandiose empire that was Rome.
The Wizard Grand Masters began forcing the apprenticing wizards, when they didn’t agree with their ideology, along with the slaves and criminals to fight lions, dragons and pretty much any other violent creature they could get their hands on, in the Amphitheatre of Statilus Taurus.
The slaves, criminals, artists and regular citizen class were forced to wear very different fashions and drank in different public houses. Little did they know that in a short time to come they would have to come together in a common cause. To rid the Roman Empire, therefore the entire known world of the wizard’s oppression.
The young playwright Prelore was wise enough not to heed to politics as a habit, as he knew it was beneficial to save his finite intellectual energies for his play writing. But, non the less, some exposure to the filth of politics was unavoidable.
After his dinner Prelore made his way to a local popina, The Sword Smith and Shield Master. The establishment was on the upscale side of things and mostly frequented by artists as the owner allowed them to sell their wares there. His long, curly blond hair and perceptive blue eyes garnered him many flirtatious looks from young ladies long the journey. Upon approaching the popina he saw a public servant out front of the popina nailing up a large wooden decree. Its very length and formal frame more than hinted at a rendering of human rights.
“What news do you bring?” asked Prelore.
“It’s the wizards decree, they want all of Rome’s citizens to know that they have overthrown the emperor and his senators. From now on Rome’s rules and regulations will be set forth by them only. They want everyone to come to the Amphitheatre of Statilus Taurus this Friday, for a collective celebration. They’re going to give out grants for artists then. They also want to present their plans for the new Rome, which includes decreasing taxes for everyone in Rome and increasing the taxes for everyone outside the city limits. Taxes for artists are to be abolished,” said the public servant, with a tone of apprehension.
“Wow, I had heard that the wizards were planning to take over the whole of Rome, but I never thought they would be able to pull it off,” said Prelore, his countenance not hiding his astonishment.
“I don’t think anyone did, but it has come to pass,” declared the public servant, with a smile and gleam in his eyes.
“They can’t do a worse job of running things than Nero and his senators have done.”
“Right you are. Good evening to you sir,” replied the public servant, acknowledging Prelore’s fine, artist garb with a deep bow.
Prelore made his way into the popina and found that his friends Trecor, Maxis and their girlfriends, Octavia, Gwendolyn and Prelore’s girlfriend Tanest had thoughtfully secured table by the fire.
“Well Prelore, you finally managed to take some time away from your writing to join us,” jested Maxis.
“Being a wordsmith takes up more time to fill the coffers than being a painter. But, I’m not going to let that bring me down, soon my plays will be shown in all of Rome’s amphitheatres and I’ll have an abundance of free time. Have you received any new painting commissions?” asked Prelore.
“Indeed, I just received a commission to paint the daughter of one of the new wizard senators. She has agreed to a sitting next Wednesday. She said she is willing to do a nude, but I told her I had something else in mind. The last thing I need is a pissed off wizard waving a wand at me with sheer malice in his eyes or plain old barking up my tree for that matter. He has promised a payment of a thousand gold coins and has given me ten gold coins upfront. But what import does money serve, it is but a servant to disingenuous means. It so often becomes an unyielding yearning, a burden that enslaves us into a life robbed of true joy. A joy that revives the countenance and refines sustenance,” said Maxis, trying to look unperturbed.
“The meads on you tonight then,” laughed Octavia.
“Sure, I can manage that. My credit is always good here,” assured Maxis.
“It’s hard to believe it took centuries to build Rome up to its present state and it just took the wizards a mere week to take it over. That my friends is true power,” said Trecor.
“They are a bit stifling if you ask me, my play at the Lions End this Friday will be cancelled because of the meeting the wizards have called. I take it you’re all going to the meeting?” asked Prelore.
“Sure, we’re all going. Our futures have been promised to be wide open and we want the details,” said Maxis.
“Especially about abolishing taxes on artists!” exclaimed Trecor.
They all laughed and clinked their goblets together in merry solidarity.
“Here’s to us delving into our new lifestyles,” called out the giddy Gwendolyn.
“Yes indeed, the wizards have promised to make artists even more senior members of society just when we thought we were doomed to be puppets of Nero’s regime,” said Maxis.
“And we’ll all have our own reserved seats in all of Rome’s amphitheaters,” chimed in Gwendolyn.
“With the wizards grants we’ll be able to achieve so much, without having to venture out into the workaday world,” said Prelore.
“Things will never be the same again. That’s for sure. Have any of you guys met any of these wizards yet?” asked Trecor.
“Maxis met one in a popina and the wizard went back to his place to see his paintings and bought one on the spot,” said Octavia.
“I heard the wizards have promised all artists villas,” offered Prelore.
“Yes, indeed they have, but not all artists, only the ones that have already achieved a measure of success,” retorted Trecor.
“We should all get villas by the amphitheatre, they have the most lively popinas, and living within walking distance to the amphitheatre would be amazing. Gwendolyn and I went looking at some today, they have running water and everything,” declared Octavia.
“Are you going to sell your villa in the country and get one in Rome, Maxis?” asked Prelore.
Maxis shook his head. “I haven’t actually decided yet, I like the country remoteness of Varisci at times. But if I can get a really choice villa by the amphitheatre at a reasonable price, I’d be all for it.”
“There’s a villa that I think would be perfect for us. Shall I book an appointment with a broker to show it to you?” asked Tanest, Prelore’s headstrong girlfriend.
“Sure, let’s do it,” Prelore said.
“You don’t seem very enthusiastic Maxis. What gives?” asked Octavia.
Maxis rolled his eyes. “Well it wouldn’t be the first time we had an assembly of pompous elders made promises they didn’t keep. And wizards acting as senators nonetheless, seeing is believing as they say.”
“What’s the head wizards name again? It’s so out of the ordinary and awkward to remember?” asked Tanest.
“Zenicorus,” said Maxis and then he leaned forward and then lowered his voice to a half whisper, although the fracas in the popina didn’t require it. “He’s the one that led the wizards to a victory over Rome’s finest soldiers. I heard that for entertainment they turned the soldiers they captured into wolves, lions and hideous dragons and then made them fight each other to the death. These wizards are some seriously disturbed individuals. We have to keep our wits about us and not let the wool be pulled over our eyes.”
“On a more cheerful note, I have an announcement to make,” declared Tanest, hitting her empty mead goblet on the table to gather everyone's attention. “I have been asked to sing at the wizards opening ceremony.”
“That’s great, my lady,” said Prelore. “How did the wizards come to know of you?”
“The letter, that arrived this morning said that a wizard named Zafor, saw me perform at The Lamenting Lion and was transfixed by my voice. They said I can choose four songs of my choice. But they did say that hopeful songs of vigor and triumph would be preferable. Rome’s citizens have lived in doldrums for long enough, he wants to ensure everyone that things are going to change dramatically for the better.”
The next day Prelore and Tanest met a broker at the Sword Smith and Shield Master mead house. The broker that wore an elegant stolla pushed eight pages of parchment across the table. Each had an artists sketch of the dwelling and its grounds as well as specification particulars.
“Which one is closest to the Amphitheatre of Statilus Taurus?” asked Tanest.
“This one, on Theatre Lane. It’s also the largest,” said the broker.
“Let’s start with that one then,” suggested Prelore.
When they finished their mead they made the twenty minute walk through the markets and then the residential areas.
“This villa comes with around the day security, as you can see. I’m afraid thieves favor these upscale abodes, but not to worry, you’ll be safe under the guards watch,” said the broker.
The Roman guard was hard not to notice, dressed in full uniform, including a centurion helmet. The broker proffered her broker’s medallion necklace.
“You are expected my lady,” said the guard to the broker. He bowed and stepped away from the entranceway to let them in, glad he wouldn’t have to fight Prelore who had the muscular physic of a man that had spent many hours going through gladiator training.
“The villa has running water in both the kitchen and the bathroom,” informed the broker. “It also has the finest white marble flooring available and a marble bath as well. It’s very spacious with five bedrooms and we still have yet to see the villa’s most prominent feature.”
With that they made their way to the backyard. They were met by the most fabulous garden either of them had seen. It had a vast variety of flowers. At the center of the garden was a cobbled patio with a fountain, shaped like a lion spouting water into a pool in the middle of the courtyard.
“This garden courtyard is perfect for entertaining large groups of people,” said the broker, keenly observing the look of wonder in the young couples eyes. “It also has a vegetable and herb garden at the back of the yard there.”
“This place would be adequate. It must get noisy at times though, being so close to the amphitheatre. But we could get use to it, I suppose,” said Tanest, trying not to seem like a motivated buyer. She then talked Prelore into putting a down payment on the property to secure it from other prospective buyers.
Later that day Tanest met Octavia at the marketplace by the amphitheatre and found out that she and Maxis had also put a down payment on a villa on Theatre Lane. Within a week they both had secured the villa they wanted on Theatre Lane.
“Our broker said we could move in as soon as we want,” said Maxis.
“So did ours,” said Tanest.
“We should move in on the same day, that way we can share a rental cart to move our belongings,” said Prelore.
“We should have a look soon or all the villas on Theatre Lane will be bought up,” said Gwendolyn to Trecor.
“Don’t you think we should wait and see what the artists grants amount to first?” asked Trecor.
“I heard they will be ten thousand gold denarius,” said Maxis.
“That will be enough to pay the bills, even for a mere actor,” said Trecor, who truth be told, felt demeaned by being an actor in Prelore’s plays.
“We should go shopping for some clothes for the big night tomorrow,” offered up Tanest, to the girls.
“Sure, I could use a new stola and I don’t have any engagements tomorrow,” said Gwendolyn.
“Me neither,” said Octavia. “You gents better not wait till the last minute.”
“Right you are. What do you gents say to Thursday?” asked Prelore.
“Sounds good to me,” said Maxis, “and I’m feeling generous with the money I’ve made from my painting, so I’ll rent us a carriage for us gents and the ladies to do our shopping.”
“Well that’s very thoughtful of you,” said Gwendolyn. “And we all know how Trecor hates to spend money.”
Everyone laughed, except for Trecor whose face had turned deep red.
When the artists were shopping for clothes they noticed some of the marketplace shopkeepers had begun selling books on magic. The wizards moved quick to have this practice banned, as magic was the only power the wizards had over Rome’s citizens. The shopkeepers that were selling the books shops were shut down and the shopkeepers themselves were never seen again. Luckily Prelore had managed to buy some of the books, before they were confiscated and banned.