Chapter 843: Stolos Frustration
Davos expressed his gratitude to each of the legion soldiers who came to the stage. However, when it was Olivos, the legatus of the Fourth Legion's turn, he glanced down at the silver sceptre and noticed its different shape and length from the previous one. So he remarked playfully, “Your Majesty, with the drought placing strain on our treasury, I half expected us to receive no rewards at this Triumphant Return.”
Davos replied solemnly, “Rome has enough treasure here as well as excellent craftsmen. Naturally, if you care so much about the treasury, you can donate your reward to the Ministry of Finance!”
“The Ministry of Finance doesn't care about such a small piece of silver,” Olivos said with a smile while tightly clenching the sceptre.
Sextus experienced a mix of excitement and nervousness as he stood on the stage alongside the legates and listened to the resounding cheers of both soldiers and the audience below.
Davos approached him and smilingly said as he handed him the silver sceptre, “Sextus, I would like to express my gratitude for your contribution to the Kingdom of Theonia! I am pleased the kingdom will now have such an excellent citizen as you!”
“Thank you, Your Majesty!” Sextus exclaimed with excitement, expressing his gratitude. He then carefully accepted the sceptre and examined it repeatedly, developing a fond attachment to it.
“I look forward to the day we will hold a Triumphant Return just for you!” Davos encourage him.
Davos' words, coupled with the scene before him, further bolstered Sextus' determination. Copying the other legates, he positioned his feet together, received the sceptre in his right hand, and struck his left chest in the traditional Theonian military salute.
“Your Majesty!” The last one to climb the stage saluted Davos first.
When Davos saw him, a hint of apology appeared on his face, “Izam, you should've received this sceptre long ago!”
Izam, on the other hand, bluntly said, “As long as Your Majesty continues to think of our Mountain Reconnaissance Brigade in the future, it will be enough to compensate for any past neglect.”
Davos laughed and handed him the sceptre.
Izam waved his sceptre towards where the soldiers of the Mountain Reconnaissance Brigade were standing and saw them cheering. He then said to Davos, “This honour belongs to the soldiers of our Mountain Reconnaissance Brigade. However, I think Phryntor is more suitable to sit on the chariot than me.”
Davos calmly reassured, “There is no need for you to be concerned about Phryntor, as I have duly taken note of all his accomplishments.”
After the generals and soldiers received cheers from the audience, Davos proceeded towards the front of the stage. Accompanying him were ten of the twenty Latin individuals tasked with echoing his words, all of whom were proficient Greek speakers.
Davos loudly said, “Whether you are soldiers of the Theonian legions or Roman soldiers who have joined Theonia, it is because of your bravery in battles and victories after victories that we are holding today's Triumphant Return! So I represent the kingdom in expressing our gratitude to you, O valiant citizens of Theonia!”
“Hurrah!!! Hurrah!!! Hurrah!!!…” The crowds' continuous cheering filled the Roman Forum.
“We have travelled a long way to reach Latium and fought a bloody battle, mainly to make this place like other regions in Theonia where every citizen can own land, have equal rights, and lead a better life with their family! To reach this goal, we made great sacrifices. However, this war is far from over, and we will have to make more sacrifices in the future! Citizens of Theonia, are you afraid?! Are you going to retreat?!”
“Never!!! Never!!! Never!!!…”
Davos nodded and shouted emotionally, “As long as we work together, we will never fear any challenges, and we will crush any enemy! We will surely make Rome as peaceful and wealthy as Southern Italia! At that time, your achievements will be engraved on stone monuments and written in history books for people to admire! And the kingdom will also award you with the richest rewards!”
Finally, Davos shouted, “All hail to the warriors of Theonia!”
The excited soldiers immediately responded with continuous cheers, and even many Roman plebeian soldiers shouted, “All hail, the kingdom of Theonia!!!…”
“All Hail His Majesty King Davos!!!…”
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
As the cheers resonated through the city of Rome, a shadow was cast over innumerable noble families. This scene also left Stolo standing by the window with a cane and gazing at the Roman Forum, looking grave.
At this moment, his wife, Konya, came over and hugged him tightly.
Feeling her body trembling, Stolo knew that his wife was afraid: These past few days, she was worried that Stolo would be like the other Roman noblemen and be taken onto a ship by the Theonian soldiers and escorted to a strange place, leaving her alone in this city full of hostility…
It wasn't just his wife who believed so; even he himself thought that a Theonian soldier might apprehend him and transfer him elsewhere. After all, the Theonians began arresting the rebels one after another following the temple assassination incident. Being one of the planners, he presumed he would face a similar fate. Despite soldiers frequently patrolling near his location, no one had broken into his house.
As Stolo grew more cautious and refrained from interacting with others, he found himself continuously contemplating the reasons behind this situation.
Of course, he wouldn't know it was Davos' considerable interest and respect for him as one of the renowned historical figures.
Instead, he believed the Theonians must have known his particular background and were waiting for him to voluntarily surrender like the other Roman plebeians.
But he will not give in because his father-in-law is still defending Mons Capitolinus while his father is outside of Rome fighting. If he surrenders, what will happen to his relatives?!
“Stolo, there were rumours in the city that they had…defeated our army. Is this true?!” Konya asked in a trembling voice.
Stolo returned to his senses and immediately comforted her, “Our army has seventy thousand soldiers, much more than the Theonian army! And with Dictator Camillus leading it, there wouldn't be too much of an effect on the entire army, even if they lose one or two battles! So that is nothing more than a rumour to shake our confidence and make us surrender…”
“But…” Konya remained worried, “The rumours about their occupation of Veii and Caisra should be true since I saw several people from Veii pass by our door in the past two days.”
“There’s nothing for us to worry about even if the Theonians had really occupied Veii and Caisra.” Stolo continued to comfort his wife, “The Celts had occupied even more towns back then, but didn't we repel them in the end?! As long as our army and Lord Camillus are still here, we can…definitely expel the Theonians!”
After saying that, Stolo quickly changed the topic and said, “What will we have for lunch today? I am a bit hungry.”
“Since those damn Theonians looted our granary and cellar, what else is there to eat?! Every day, we only receive a little flour and a few dry fruits, which they distribute according to the number of people…” Konya spoke loudly, expressing her resentment towards the Theonians.
“Ah, those Theonians brought some river fish early this morning, finally providing us with some meat. However, the river fish have a strong smell and needs proper cooking. So I need to go to the kitchen and instruct the servants…” Konya said and hurriedly walked out of the room.
After his wife left, Stolo's expression turned grave again as he gazed out the window.
With the end of the Triumphant Return, the Romans began to disperse from the Roman Forum and return to their new homes in groups. Collis Caelius is where most Roman plebeians have resettled, so when they started fiercely discussing the Triumphant Return they have just watched, their voice was so loud that even Stolo, who lives on the hillside, could hear it clearly. Whether it's about the debate about the differences between the two Triumphant Returns, their vexation of Sextus and Valerius becoming one of the main characters of the Triumphant Return, or discussing the speech of the King of Theonia…Stolo could tell the excitement from their words.
In contrast to the Theonians' occupation of Rome and the defeat of the Roman army, he was most worried about the Roman plebeians identifying themselves with the Kingdom of Theonia.
“To make Rome a fair, wealthy and peaceful city?!…” Stolo muttered these words as those were the goals he had set himself as an adult, and he knew how hard it was to achieve them. Yet, now the enemies of Rome were using these to win over the Roman plebeians in a way that the barbaric Celts could never have imagined! ‘O esteemed senators, do you know the things you have been trying to prevent are now becoming a sharp weapon to stab you in your chest?!’
Stolo gazed at the outline of Mons Capitolinus in the far southeast direction and then punched the windowsill in frustration.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Meanwhile, the Roman senators, like Stolo, are looking at the Roman Forum from Mons Capitolinus. Since Mons Capitolinus was the highest place in the city and not too far from the Roman Forum, they had a much clearer view and could even faintly see the priests, statues, bands, generals in chariots, soldiers marching in a column…
Although they couldn't hear anything, the Roman senators who knew more about the Kingdom of Theonia understood what the Theonians were doing: They were holding a Triumphant Return in Rome!
But what made them even more furious was that among the soldiers participating in the Triumphant Return were a general in Roman armour and quite a few Roman soldiers. Furthermore, they could also hear cheering mixed with Latin, so before the ceremony on the Roman Forum could conclude, many senators had silently left the cliff top.
The only stroke of fortune for the senators lay in the fact that they had already dispatched soldiers to seal off the area where the Roman Forum was most prominently visible, preventing anyone from entering.