|This is a featured alternate history!
|Ante Ætas Briani||Ætas ab Brian||Go forth, to Eternity!|
General Crvvxivs Tiberivs Carico of the Ivlii came to me, Caivs Decimvs in DCCL AVC in late Sextilvs (month of August) with a proposition for me. This was just two weeks after Hierosolyma (Jerusalem) and the surrounding Ivdæa was conquered, splitting the remnants of the Ptolemaic Kingdom in half and thereby crippling it indefinitely.
The General’s proposition was a rather over exaggerated request: I was to follow his son around, day and night, recording every minute action the boy took for the rest of his or my life (whichever ended first). I was to relinquish any desire of a personal or private life and stay tacked on as one of this child’s first retainers. I, in my sixteenth year and still so imprudent as an apprenticing scribe all but refused the command. Why the General hadn’t had me imprisoned at that moment I can only attribute to his unparalleled kindness. Unfortunately though for me, Carico was a good friend of our Princep Avgvstvs and quite easily channeled the power of the Princep into convincing me in a peaceful manner to obey.
The General’s son was in fact adopted, rescued from a barn in one of the outlying villages of Hierosolyma at the time of the siege’s success. His true father had undoubtedly been conscripted into the army of Ægyptvs in their futile attempt to resist the might of Roma. His mother had been found, dead and unattended from childbirth and the boy was found by the General himself while surveying the countryside. Many questioned the logic of adopting a native of a land so recently taken but Carico did as he pleased it seemed, without regard for popular opinion. General Carico named the child “Ieff Brian”. An odd name in the least. So short and uncommon it was, I was certain it had been abbreviated or I had misheard and misread it but it was not. Ieff Brian was indeed his full name. The infant was unpeculiar for his heritage –aside from his perpetually cold feet, the desert sands could not warm them it seemed. His name always occupied my mind but I never discovered what its intended meaning was or why Ieff had been given it. Evidently, Ieff Brian would never learn of its meaning either.
This record of Ieff Brian’s life was to be chronicled in a text to be called Ætas ab Brian. Each month, a binding of that month would be sent back to the greatest scribes of Roma who would then copy my script verbatim in good Latin and Greek.
Ieff, although unremarkable at first, soon began to develop mentally and physically quite fast. At only eight months he spoke as well as a four year old. A month later, he was running on his own. Taking after his father’s disregard for popular opinion, he would leave his hair unkempt and rarely wear the robes of a citizen.
At three years old (753 AUC) Carico, taking notice of Ieff’s exceptional attributes, brought him to Athenae, Corinthvs, and other highly regarded Hellenic cities where he was to learn the best of science, social and environmental studies, economics, and history. Some scholars turned a queer eye to the prospect of teaching such a young child:
“He is but a baby still, he cannot possibly have learned the art of the latrine so soon let alone be capable of learning mathematics in its simplest form!”
One was heard to remark.
Social and Environmental studies in my personal opinion seemed a poor substitute for philosophy, they frequently focused too much on the physical world with causes and effects and so on. One thing that alarmed me was the total lack of Arcula (Rhetorical) lessons. The General waived this severe lacking in his son’s education thusly:
“Rhetoric is meant for fools who cannot speak with substance, and for laymen who are too lazy to respond in the first place.”
Sufficed to say, this comment provoked some discontent in the Scholasticvs (Rhetorical community).
Ignoring the many unpopular characteristics of Carico, the Princep’s trust and friendship with him was astronomical to permit the General’s next action. In DCCLIV AVC, less than a year after the fall of Alexandria, Carico had the whole of the Alexandrivs Bibliotheca loaded onto ships and transported to Venetia, a city being built with the intent that it would become the new centre of learning for the Mediterranean. Although by ship the move was saved possibly years of travel, it was a horrible risk for those scrolls to be put on the waves. If the unease of Romans at the news was considered appropriate, the occupied lands of the Nile immediately revolted and rioted, thousands of Denarii worth of damage done to the cities, and it would take the better part of thirty years to settle the people from their rightful uproar.
The scrolls of the Bibliotheca would land at Locri’s ports in Italia where they would be loaded onto the much safer Vaposcvrr Carico (the moniker'd Appian Express, officially called the Carican Steam-Wheel) and continue on to Venetia where Ætas ab Brian would be stored. By Ieff’s tenth year, his frantic development finally began to slow to a reasonable level. In my late twenties then, since the academicians spent more than five minutes on a subject I already had enough knowledge of, I began to find his classes dull. Once during a break Ieff had surprised me immensely by stating the same thing. Throughout his life, he had taken my presence as a constant and never paid any particular attention to me. But with his age making him more self-conscious, he started trying to find a place for me as a friend, like so many others he had amassed during his schooling. I found Ieff a worthy comrade in many respects and we also became friends. My chronicles of him then became semi-autobiographical since I now participated directly in some of Ieff’s actions. Initially I feared retribution from the General, now even higher in the trust of the Princep but he appeared to take it as a regular activity so my fears were allayed.
This was the first friendship I had had for ten years and it brought a revitalization to my work and I found myself working harder and more diligently than ever on it.
By Ieff’s twelfth birthday the General noticed his complete lack of interest in his current studies. Instead of invoking any kind of disapproval, Carico sent Ieff to Lacedaemon (Sparta) where he began a military training. Ieff met this with hopefulness, I thought it was about time he learned the arts of war. This was another fascinating point in my observations of Ieff. During training, where boys would be periodically injured from jabs, scrapes and blows, I noticed that whenever Ieff faced off with another boy, neither of them would receive any kind of injury. That is not to say they went easy on each other, not in the least, Ieff was just as rough as the burliest ones, delivering punches and kicks looking painful enough to break bones. But. Neither would get scrapes from the floor, nor cuts from the wooden weapons. The trainers at first saw this as weakness and urged them to fight harder until deadly running kicks and head butts occurred, still not harming a one of either Ieff or those he fought. Once the other boys tried these attacks on another one though, full wounds were affected. The trainers were baffled, just as I was. Also by this time, the journey of the Alexandrivs Bibliotheca to Venetia had been completed and the city became one of the greatest learning centres in the Imperivm, to rival even Athenae.
Ieff was not all that long at the training camps before a simple inevitability had come to be realized. The great Princep Avgvstvs had died at seventy-three years old (December 4th 763). His adopted son, Tiberivs Cæsar Avgvstvs was in line for the title of Princep, but on the Cæsar’s deathbed, he demanded Carico’s ascension to Princep. Tiberivs had publicly admitted that the Princep title did not entice him. Princep Avgvstvs had changed his successor just so that Tiberivs wouldn’t be burdened by the job but the other Ivlivs-Clavdianvs pactricians were much more ambitious than Tiberivs. They convinced the disowned Tiberivs to lead a Bella Civis in the spring of 764AVC. Ieff Brian was left in Lacedaemon where he would be under greater protection from elements of the war. The recently formed Cohortes Vrbanae legions- the strongest and greatest disciplined soldiers at the time- sided with the Princep, he after all, had brought the technology and tactics needed to crush the defences of the Great Ptolemaic Kingdom whereas Tiberivs merely fought barbarians and the Daciorvm (Rumanian ancestors) in the north. Carico’s ideas had allowed many more noble men of Roma to return home, living heroes, to enjoy a freer life, rather than to be buried in the sands of a foreign land. Ieff's opinion of the war as he understood it, was that although Princep Avgvstvs' wishes should be kept, he thought that his father and Tiberivs had been too glad to fight one another when they could have worked together.
Carico's victory however would become a certainty in 769AVC with Ieff becoming a general under Carico and playing a pivotal role in defeating Tiberivs' armies in Noricvm and Rhætia. With Tiberivs' legions in Aqvitania soon destroyed by Carico, his last armies surrendered the next year. In another peculiar act of kindness, The Princep spared Tiberivs’ life since he was manipulated into this indiscretion and gave him house arrest inside his own palace back in Roma. The surviving family members however, were not given so lenient a judgment. Ieff approved greatly at least of his father’s forgiveness to Tiberivs and his confidence in Princep Carico was high.
At the conclusion of this war, the Imperivm was brought a great Pax (if one were to ignore the continued unrest in Ægyptvs). The Princep at this time then brought about reforms to help keep the Imperivm safe from more Bella Civis and social degradation. The Public outcry of some reforms almost did the opposite of what Carico had hoped, but after some manoeuvring he found a way to ease in the reforms throughout his reign.
Still a general, Ieff was sent by Carico to Ægyptvs in 773 where he was given the order to silence the uprisings for ever. With Carico now Princep, Ægyptvs had been opened up to Roman interests, reversing Cæsar Avgvstvs' previous policy. Ieff assumed the role of Cæsarian governor of Ægyptvs and for nine wearing years he brought the Egyptians under control.
In 782 Ieff declared his task complete. He wrote to the Princep declaring his retirement and naming a suitable replacement. Not awaiting a reply, Ieff travelled to Ivdæa on a Vector Alesalitis, a rickety and in my opinion dangerous vehicle travelling on tenuous airs. When the Alesalitis landed outside Hierosolyma, the other retainers and I followed Ieff to where he was born. At the centre of the town of Bethlehem he asked for the other retainers to wait behind, for him and I would return later. When we arrived at the still abandoned barn he stood thoughtful for a time. His brown, still unkempt hair being carried in the wind, he asked me why he was chosen by his father. There were many orphans from the siege of Hierosolyma, there were many of any siege- Ieff had seen them himself. “Why had that particular Ivlii and his legions milled about in this land for so long, expressing such interest an in this place?” What was so important about Ieff? He did not even know if his mother had lived long enough to give him a name. As a friend with no answers, I was merely silent. Ieff smiled and thanked me for my patience and we returned to the others. We began our return and stayed at the palace of Ivdæa's governor on the shores of the Exanimvm Adlvo (Dead Sea). It was here I found another special feature of Ieff. Again alone near the Adlvo (still the Dead Sea) shore and private beach, Ieff told that he had to search for his past and for who he was. He said he always had dreams about Hierosolyma. He said he always had visions about three old men his parents knew and that he must find them to find inner peace about his past. There was a truth about his past that he needed to be clear, and with the Imperivm now in a state most safe, he sought this time to leave us. I watched him turn back to the desert and walk into it until he walked on waves of heat and was blurred to become no more distinguishable than the distant sands.
It has been twenty years since Ieff left. The Ætas ab Brian lay incomplete in Ieff’s thirty-second year, fourth month and twenty-seventh day in the Venetia Bibliotheca. Princep Carico died eight years ago, aged eighty-seven, I myself now seventy-seven. His reforms have brought the Imperivm together and the future is bright. He chose another successor of equally great administrative abilities as well as kindness and imagination. Even after I returned to Roma to tell The Princep myself that his son had left, he was not angry, he only told me to wait for his return to continue his story.
To this day, I have no doubt that Ieff Brian will return, and until then, I, Caivs Decimvs, live here in Hierosolyma, awaiting my friend.
|Ante Ætas Briani||Ætas ab Brian||Go forth, to Eternity!|