Celebrating Freedom Prompt

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This is the prompt I ran across the other day. You just know I had to answer it. Without further ado, I give you “Celebrating Freedom”.

Roman Feast

He’s dead. We are finally rid of the tyrant known as Caligula and are free. His little boots no longer crush us in fear. No more do we have to fear for our lives or our wives. The Praetorian Guard took care of the tyrant and his family over the evening. They may have been a bit zealous when it came to his infant daughter, but no chance can be taken that his family will try to avenge his sadistic lifestyle. What he did to our wives and children was deplorable; but threatening to name a horse as his council – that is a dignity that no man should have to face.

 
Looking at the revelers around me, I can clearly see how afraid they were. This much wine didn’t even cross my lips when I married. Though I cared greatly for my wife, on that day I was fearful. What if the emperor wanted her or the dowry she carried? What if he felt we were trying to assassinate him? Though we weren’t at the time, those are the thoughts that ran rampantly through my head.

 
I remember the day Caligula was crowned, we were excited for the hope that he brought our country. The spring sun was hot that day. It seemed as though Sol himself were blessing the day at Jupiter’s command. Such divine signs were not to be ignored – and that was something the Romans had never done.

 
At first, his reign was healthy and energetic. That slowly turned to madness after the fever took him.

 
The day he was crowned was truly a splendorous sight that the Ancient City hadn’t seen in years. He freed wrongfully imprisoned citizens and abolished the imperial tax. He filled the stadiums with chariot races and gladiator games. The populace was happy. Until the fever.

 
That’s when we realized that maybe we should have listened to the rumors of his youth on the Island of Capri. Long had we heard the gossip of incest with his sister and joyfully watching executions. We had even heard of his love of torture. Still we thought some of his father’s good sense would stick with Caligula. Never would we have believed such heretic words.

 
No descendant of Caesar or Augustus should be so cruel. Then again, spending so much time in Tiberius’ company couldn’t have been good for him. That man was as sour and lecherous as they come.

 
When Caligula contracted brain fever as Jupiter commanded the seasons to turn we mourned. Our great hope was at Mors’ doors. We prayed to the Gods that we wouldn’t lose our greatest hope.

 
Looking back, I clearly see how bitterly the Gods answered our prayers. Caligula was not the same when he came back to us. No longer was he jovial and understanding. He had become bitter, cruel, and twisted.

 
When Caligula was well again he instituted a food tax. He resurrected treason trials and through his rank around as he thinned out the senate. Those horrendous trials replenished our treasury after his extravagant spending; so did his extortion when a senator fell asleep at an auction. Thirteen gladiators never cost a man so much.
Upon his sister, Drusilla’s death, he had her deified; he even had the nerve to commission coins in her image, beautiful though she was, Drusilla should never have been on a coin. That is an act that will not hold out the year; coins will be melted and deification revoked. The senate will use Damnatio Memorae to wipe Caligula’s cruelty from our history.

 
Worst of all he declared himself a living God. The powers of the divine are something no mortal should pretend to have. The temples and statues he erected in the Eternal City are being destroyed as this banquet takes place.

 
I have not seen such celebrations since Caligula was crowned; unlike that day though, the weather is far colder. This merriment is sure to last a generation as no man wants to take his liberty for granted any more.

 
One can only hope, that come morning the senate will have even better news for us to celebrate – after all, it isn’t every day that they will be able to choose a new emperor and a new hope. Until then we will celebrate the demise of the tyrant.

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Fall From Grace – Chapter 9

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I have been working slowly but surely on Fall From Grace. The amount of research that I have already put into this is staggering – and to think, I’m still not done. One thing I have found is a new sympathy for the Puritans.

Other things I have noticed are the severe inaccuracies that we are taught in school. There are quite a few of those. A fascinating fact is that  the colonies were known as the land that spawned grandparents. Less industry in the so-called new world meant people could live longer and for the first time, parents were seeing their grandchildren being born.

Another fact is that contrary to popular belief, Puritans married for love. The median male age for marriage was 26, while the females tended to marry at 23.

Before I continue on the amazing and wondrous facts that I have learned, I give you Chapter 9 in Fall From Grace.

As always feel free to share your thoughts and Happy Reading!

The three prisoners stayed up well into the night as there was no way for them to get comfortable. The full moon lit up the little cell illuminating the haggard looking prisoners.

Though thunder rolled through the sky promising to let loose a downpour that could flood the crops – and their cell, there wasn’t a cloud in sight.

“What happened to Mrs. Good,” Grace whispered.

“She was sent to Ipswich Jail on account of her being with child. They’ll probably try to charge her newborn with witchcraft as well. Lord above knows that they charged her four-year-old with it,” Mrs. Osbourne bitterly informed.

Grace sighed and managed to look angry rather humiliated. With her neck bent, the moonlight made the lice in her hair sparkle and crawl at the same time. “They’re charging children,” Grace exclaimed in horror.

“That has been our way since the beginning. You know well how children are expected to act, Grace,” Mrs. Osbourne sternly reminded.

“I realize they are held to adult standards but, at four a child’s mind is filled with whimsy and imagination. Young Dorothy Good wouldn’t be able to speak intelligently enough to answer the interrogators,” Grace confirmed with muffled tones.

“What they’re doing’s not right, Miss Grace. They even sent Miss Dorothy to Ipswich with her mother,” Tituba whispered.

“Why do they have the right to hold a child in shackles,” Grace asked plaintively.

“Those are the rules. Besides, she claimed that a snake spoke to her,” Mrs. Osbourne insisted.

“Rules or not, they aren’t right. A talking snake is nothing more than her own imagination. There aren’t many ways for a girl to occupy her time. It’s not like we could go out and learn a trade,” Grace insisted with her bent head.

“We shouldn’t be here accused of crimes that weren’t committed, Grace,” Mrs. Osbourne stated to a flash of lightning and roll of thunder.

Rain poured from the sky in bucket loads obscuring the once bright moon. The fire in the hearth across on the other side of the jail did nothing to warm the cell as rain leaked through the window above them.

***

The mid-day sun was turning the cell into a sauna. Bodily waste baked in the scorching heat of the sun. Water from last night’s down pour had long since evaporated. An incessant clanking of metal on metal reverberated around the room.

It wasn’t long before long the clanking stopped and the women gave a sigh of relief as their shoulders sagged. Their semi-relaxed air was not to last as stomping feet made their way closer to the cell.

The women gazed at the cell bars from the floor. Tattered and stained clothes only enhanced the bruises and lacerations that adorned their faces. A short, thin man stopped in front of the cell. The thick blue haze of tobacco smoke that surrounded the man smelt vaguely nutty.

His leather boots were worn in such a way to blend in with the drab wooden floor. He was bald except for a white ring of hair around the base of his skull. He looked upon the prisoners with enough disgust to wither a crop field. He shook his head and sharply stated,

“I hadn’t thought to believe that the daughter of a baker would stoop so low as to sell her soul to the devil’s fiery furnace.”

Grace tried to look up to glare at the man only to find herself staring at her soiled skirt. “I will tell you like I have told the interrogators, Grandfather. I am no witch; nor would God allow me to sign the Devil’s Book,” Grace snapped.

“I told your mother she was marrying the wrong man. She was of age and wouldn’t listen to me though. She could have had a wealthier suitor and more comfortable life, but she chose your father. Now look what she has to deal with. A daughter that would dare go against all that is holy,” Grandfather spat.

“At least she has love. Unlike you she didn’t dishonor herself and God,” Grace venomously spat back.

“Instead, she gets a daughter whose neck won’t bend from stubborn pride,” he shot back.

“I am not guilty of turning my back to God. If my faith costs me my life, than so be it; but I’ll not confess to something that I didn’t do,” Grace forcefully stated.

“And break your mother’s heart while your at it, no doubt,” Grandfather sneered.

“Man breaks my mother’s heart for bearing false witness,” Grace snapped from her bound position.

“You are naught to my family. The next time I will see you is the day you swing on Gallows Hill for your treachery,” Grandfather fumed as he stormed away from the cell.
Grace took a calming breath as her grandfather arrogantly strode away from the cell and implored, “Pardon the disgraceful scene, ladies; unfortunately, grandfather has always been a bitter man.”

“I’m no lady Miss Grace, but to me that sounds like ones dirty laundry blowing in the breeze – and were always taught that God frowns on that,” Tituba said dismissing Grace’s apology.

“Bah, child. No need to apologize for someone else,” Mrs. Osbourne firmly informed as she began to cough.

Tituba tried to reach around Grace to comfort Mrs. Osbourne as hacking coughs racked her body. The only comfort that she could give was to hold the older woman’s hand.