(this is where you write your contribution to vignette 18.. welcome vignette 18 writers!) ------- your moderator is Beth aka 'sigh-.-Ptobeornottobe9'
**this is the assignment for vignette 18:
""Write from the perspective of a newcomer to Pompeii in the days before the eruption. What do they think of this city built at the base of a volcano? Do they want to stay?""
kudos to those who found their way here.
https://www.penflip.com/Grammarly/grammowrimo-novel/discussions/20 *(here's a link back to 'discussions' of vignette 18)
Hi Beth! I found my way here :)
-Ann at Grammarly
...be sure & save what you write: the save button is the 'disk button' to your right.
******start story HERE:
He wiped the sweat from his brow as he reached the ridge. He had originally planned to enter Pompeii through the port gate, but he had been worried that there would be someone who would recognize him still up, or just getting up. His former master had sent him to the port often enough that many of the fisherman would recognize him. Many of them knew that he had been sold to a nobleman in Stabiae. That had been where he’d started his journey.
Normally the journey from Stabiae was a short one, but as it was well after dark when he’d started the journey, he’d actually gotten lost. Once he’d found his way back to the road, there had been a few other people also on the road. Not wanting to be seen, he’d stayed away from the road. Once he’d decided that the port gate wasn’t going to work, he’d had to think about which gate might actually be a good place to enter the city. He’d decided that even if there were people out, they would be less likely to know him at the gate closest to the mountain. He’d rarely been in that area of Pompeii.
Tertius estimated that he was close enough to the city. He would wait to slip in at first light. There would be many people coming into Pompeii tomorrow for the festival of Ludi Consualia, no one would notice him amongst the crowds. Tertius settled down on the grassy slope, it was far more comfortable than many of the stone floors he had slept upon. He pulled his cloak tighter around him.
As a matter of habit, he went through his plan again. There was no need really, he had thought about nothing else for months. And now finally it was a reality. He could actually taste the anticipation in his mouth. By sundown tomorrow it would be done, either that or he would be dead.
Tertius felt the ground beneath him reverberating; hoof beats! Were they already after him? He pulled himself into a sitting position and scanned the horizon. Although there was no visible moon, the sky was illuminated by a red glow.
The riderless horses thundered past him, so close that Tertius had to roll out of their path. They didn’t even notice him, they appeared to be in a state of panic. They galloped past, nostrils flaring and whinnying. Some of them had saddles on; these were not wild horses. In a few seconds they were gone. Tertius blinked and shook his head.
Tertius lay down again, and closed his eyes. He pushed the mystery of the horses out of his mind as he went over his plan again. There was a deep cavernous rumbling from the ground, and this time it wasn’t from horses.
Tertius awoke in the morning. and ate some figs. he thought about his entry to the city. he knew about an opening into the city, that was not a gate. it was a small opening near, the dye and weavers booth on the mountain edge of the city. he decided to head that direction, and while on the mountain side, grab a few grapes from the vineyard.
he awoke to a clear normal day. the rumblings of last night almost a forgotten dream. time to get a move on. if he hurried he could get to his entrance to the city at a time when no one would probably notice him emerge through the small hole by the weavers stall.
grapes. ah, grapes. that one looked ripe enough. he managed to gleen a handful of grapes. and not much futher on he found the entrance he was looking for. a bit over grown. a good sign. no one else was bothering to use the entrance. he slipped through, pausing and listening, and carefully peering through before he stepped out into the open, and sure enough he was by the weavers stall, and the dyemaker's booth. he noted a few grey smudges on some cloth and wool drying in the wind. it was curious to him. freshly made cloth and newly dyed wool, with grey smudges here and there. he new it wasn't dust. he had just dusted himself off, after emerging from the small hole he had crawled through. . he did not mention it to the workers at the stall. who were busy chatting about laying bets as to what the oracle would say about last night's rumbling. (they laughed: would it be a good omen or a bad omen? they had suspicions that the oracle made statements to merely favor the next on coming feast day)
*later the merchants would of course notice the greying of their cloth, who could miss ash falling from the sky at 6 inches an hour, (but this is not part of our story) let's follow Tertius as he makes his way through this day, his first at the city.
Tertrius chose the cobbled path closest to him. It would take him on a longer route to his destination, but was easiest to slip into without being noticed by anyone in the stalls. He could simply slide behind the stalls and casually saunter into the path. He had but put one step forward when someone called out.
He froze. He dared not look behind. His head was covered under the cloak and was certain he was well covered. He took one small step, trying to ignore the caller.
"You there. Can you help me with this bundle? I need it loaded on my cart. I'll pay ."
Some money was always a plus. Tertrius turned around slowly, trying to catch a glimpse of his caller before the caller saw him. The caller's accent was different. He didn't seem to belong around here. To his relief it wasn't someone he knew. And he was anyway busy bending over the bundle.
Tertrius walked briskly and bent over, keeping his face as hidden as possible. The bundle loaded, he grabbed the coins off the merchant's palm and hurried back on his way. That was close. Had it been someone he knew, everything would have gone awry. He ambled up the steep path that led uphill before going down again. As expected it was deserted except for a couple of urchins he passed by. This alley was mostly taken by slaves. The affluent citizens avoided it. Yet, he stayed close to the backs of the houses, in the shadows. The houses were mostly in shambles on this side of the city. And the rooftops were covered in a thick layer of gray. A sudden gust of wind blew some of the dust from the street onto his face. He screwed his face in disgust as his tried to cover himself with his palms. When the gust had settled, he dusted himself again. He brushed his lush hair that was terribly matted by now, trapping that dust close to his skull. He didn't recall so much dust here from his last sojourn. He picked up a little dust from his shoes and felt it. It wasn't just a fine poweder. It felt more like ... like...
"Tertrius... focus," his mind rebuked him, "You're not here to analyze the cleanliness of the city. Remember your purpose."
Shaking himself, he stood straight for a moment, then resumed his walk along the alley. Few steps ahead the alley approached a bend and began its journey downhill. He stood there looking down at the city. Streets lined with large villas. One of which was his destination today. Beyond the villas were orchards and meadows. Flowers and fruits. Strangely no animals were grazing in the meadows that day. They were usually always crowded with sheep and horses. Anyway, that wasn't his concern. Beyond the city limits was the azure blue sea. Wisps of clouds dotted the skyline that met the sea at eternity. How he had imagined his life sailing those seas, living his adventure. But everything had gone wrong. And all because of that one man living comfortably in that villa. Tetrius clenched his teeth and balled his palms into a fist. He felt the dagger hidden securely under his cloak.
The ground trembled beneath his feet, but Tertius was becoming used to the movements--they gave him comfort. It felt as if the gods were walking with him. A warmth filled his chest, urging him forward. Tertius grinned. If the gods wanted him to complete this mission, how could he possibly refuse? He stepped into the path leading downhill. He still had to figure out which of those villas to enter. That was a daunting task. Especially with the celebrations going on, there was a lot of movement. He needed a day atleast to stake out the area and make his final plans. There could be guards he would need to avoid. There would be fences. There could even be dogs. He didn't want to enter the wrong house and then get caught without his task accomplished. Once he was done, he didn't mind anything - not the flogging, not the gallows. Not even being flung to the lions.
Another minor tremble shook the pebbles free from the path below him and they rolled off downwards. Some came under his feet, making him slip. He fell down and skidded few feet before managing to stop himself. Scraped and bruised, he brushed off more dust from his body. What was all this? He turned around and gaped at the mountain rising above everything else. Smoke seemed to be rising through its top. He wasn't entirely sure what that was. A fire in the woods? The towering mountain cast a huge shadow over the town below. He had seen it even from afar when out in the sea. That time it had mesmerized him. It looked like a protective father and the citizens its children. This time however, he Ignored it, and turned forward. The trembling had stopped. It was easier to walk now, though the loose pebbles were still causing his leather sandals to skid.
Tertius sat down at the edge of the path. He expected his target to be out enjoying the festival of Ludi Consualia, and he intended to stay where he was and wait for the man to return to his villa. A hour or two later Tertius was rewarded for his patience. A man was walking down the path toward him. Tertius recognized his stiff gait, and, when he got a little closer, the scar on his left cheek. Tertius had given him that scar, many years ago. His target had arrived at last. He pulled his hood farther down over his face and watched as the man turned onto the path that lead up to his villa. The forth villa down, Tertius noted.
Once the man had gone inside, Tertius stood up and brushed himself off. A thick layer of flaky gray dust fluttered from his clothing to the ground. Tertius looked around and noticed that all the things around him, the rooftops, the streets, even the people walking were covered by a film of gray powder. Tertius knew that it hadn't been as bad as this a few hours ago. He looked up at the mountain that earlier had been surrounded by smoke. It was now a very different scene.
The cloud of gray smoke rising from the mountain was unusally larger than it appeared a short while ago and seemed to be spreading sideways. This gargantuan cloud of smoke had now cast a pall of deep darkness all over Pompeii making it harder for Tertius to see. By now, it was evident to Tertius that the gray powder which he noticed all along his journey was ash falling from this cloud. The ash was now falling at a much rapid rate, covering up the ground around him quickly. People were running in panic all around him. They all seemed to be headed towards the port, in hope to escape this impending doom. Some of them were holding pillows and thick quilts over their heads as a protection from the falling ash and stone.
Tertius realized that if he stood there any longer it would be impossible for him to move, let alone accomplish his task. He knew that the chances of people identifying and capturing him amidst this chaos was very bleak. There was some light in the alley from the torches that people were carrying to navigate their way towards the port and Tertius started running towards the entrance to his target's villa. While expressions of terror spread across the faces of people around him, a wicked smile spread across Tertius's face. "Vengeance will be sweet", he tought, as he came closer the villa. The gaurds near the entrance, were nowhere to be seen. They seemed to have panicked and escaped too. Hoping that his target Lucius hadn't made his way out already, Tertius drew the dagger out from under his cloak and boldly entered the villa.
He had only taken a few steps when he saw five people rush out of the villa carrying pillows over their heads. It was Lucius, with his wife and his three kids. Lucius and his wife were both carrying torches, and Tertius's dagger gleamed brightly in the light. They all stopped in their tracks. Lucius's wife took a few steps back and drew the kids closer. They all seemed pale and frightened. "Who are you? What do you want? Are you here to rob us?", Lucius asked, in an anxious tone. Tertius stayed quiet. The ash was coming down more rapidly than ever. "No", he replied. Lucius didn't seem to have heard what Tertius said. "Please take whatever you want. Don't hurt my family", he pleaded. Tertius was more perplexed. Lucius didn't seem to recognize him at all. Was it because of all this chaos? or does he really have no recollection of me?, Tertius wondered.
Tertius was fifteen years old when his world fell apart. Lucius had taken away from him, his father Antonio, the most important man in his life. Antonio was working as a slave under Lucius, when he was falsely accused of robbery and executed. Although Tertius was only a young boy at the time, he was exceptionally strong and smart. He stalked Lucius and made a failed attempt at attacking him at the market when Lucius was out doing some business, giving him a deep gash on his left cheek. Lucuis's men tried to catch Tertius, but Tertius had managed to escape. Even after all these years the wound of his father's death had never healed and Tertius was able to escape from his owner's sight to come to Pompeii to exact revenge.
Lucius and his family stood there petrified, partly by the sudden encounter with a strange dagger yeilding man, but mostly by the terror of the rising ash cloud behind them. The ground around them was now covered in about ten inches of ash. Time was running out and Tertius realized that he had to quickly make a decision if revenge was more important than his own life. Tertius took two steps towards Lucius and looked straight into his eyes. "You killed my innocent father and I wanted to kill you in revenge. But, if I do that I will leave your kids with the same pain that I went through. I'm a better man than you are, so today I will let you live. God will punish you one day for all your sins", he said and put the dagger back in his cloak and ran back out into the alley, blending with the rest of Pompeiians headed towards the sea.
.... In Pompeii, ash blocked the sun by 1 p.m. and the people tried to clear heavy ash from rooftops as it fell at a rate of about 6 inches (15 centimeters) an hour.
*As the earthquakes become more violent, perhaps Tertius questions whether the gods are with or against him
who else was traveling on the road to pompeii? was anyone arriving for the next festival?
where merchants coming and going? between Naples & pompeii? the port & pompeii?