Aym 8 1333 YS
None of us saw it coming. We’d all assumed that the true murderer or murderers had long fled Domus Tadius. We searched the home for clues that would lead us to Julia Lydia’s true murderer, and thought little of the dangers to ourselves. We found a few clues in Aulus’ Tablinum, and a couple in the bibliotheca (mostly inconsequential, but leading us closer to the murderer, who we now know is Fehid, the gladiator). But when the statue of the Ionian god Apollo came to life and crushed in poor Tertia’s head, we were all caught gape-mouthed in horror.
We had been searching the Balinae, the house baths, for some time. The statue was perfectly normal, and showed no signs that it might have been animate. But as soon as the slave girl Tertia entered, delivering a message to Gerax, the recently promoted major-domo of the domus, the marble Apollo suddenly dropped the statuary baby it had likely held for centuries, and strode off its plinth, across the shallow pool, and attacked the slave girl before any of us could react. Furthermore, its blows were magical, as was the thing itself. Not only did magic utterly fail when used against it, but the wounds it caused would not heal, not even by magical means. Luckily Tinel was powerful enough to eventually allow Ignatius’ spells to overcome the suppressive magic of the statue’s attacks.
Apollo, or at least some artisan’s likeness of him, attacked Gerax next. It was single-mindedly going after him, so we huddled around him, then focussed on the statue until he could duck out of the reach of its massive fists. It wanted to pursue Gerax, but we cornered the thing and it had to deal with us before going after its assigned prey. I say this because later, one the golem (that is what Ian had named it) had been overcome, we found a magical plaque with strange Aegyptian runes engraved in it. Once deciphered, thanks again to our magicians and linguists, it was determined that the plaque was what triggered the statue’s animation, and that it was set to destroy the household servants. We speculated that this was a trap set to eliminate the only two witnesses who knew that Julia Lydia was having an affair with the gladiator. But like Dorak keeps saying: Why would a violent man such as a gladiator need to resort to poison (to slay Lydia), and extreme magic (to eliminate the witnesses). Furthermore, they’d hired a gladiator and three fauns, yes satyrs, to finish what the golem might have failed to do. I think this is bigger than a simple murder. It smacks of a political conspiracy. Oh my… I think Dorak is rubbing off on me.
We easily defeated those others sent to do the mop-up work, and discovered they’d brought with them a bound and unconscious Aulus Tadius Galba. Stuffed into Aulus’ robes, we found several bundles of paper, confirming our suspicions about Fehid. The gladiator was working with the Aegyptian linen merchant who was betrothed to Lydia’s sister, Secunda. Titus Postumius Macer had sent a letter to the master of a gladiator school, Larenth, stating that he should introduce this Fehid to Lydia, to use a relationship as leverage to obtain the linen trade contracts controlled by Lydia’s senator husband. In the meantime, Titus had wormed his way into the graces of Lydia’s sister, both to weasel her family’s riches, and to garner their favor. It seems Lydia and Secunda’s family controls the public officials who assign foreign trade contracts.
We helped Aulus back to consciousness and let him tell his tale (which I pretty much just detailed). We took him and the captives back to the Praetorian Prefect, Magnus. It is now, as I pen this note, an hour past dawn, and we have a very long day ahead of us. We took Tertia’s body to a local shrine of The Church (luckily the Prefect knew where one could be found), for I had bound the slave girl’s soul to her body in hopes of bringing her back to life. The old cleric at the shrine spoke to Tertia’s consciousness, and told us that she preferred not to be raised. It made sense, as their culture does not believe in any kind of resurrection. Sadly, I released her spirit, and sent it on its way to her realm of afterlife. I really wish these people could come to realize the splendor and grace that the Maker has bestowed upon his children.
The old cleric told us that a revolution was imminent, however. Belief in the Lords of Light is actually taking root here, and that is causing no end of political upheaval. The people are being divided even further, as most of the progressive party wants to see a Church built here, atop the high plateau alongside the temples to the Phthyan gods. I am interested in finding out what will happen, but am also glad that we won’t be here to get caught up in the fervor of religious conflict.
I need to wrap this up. We prepare to confront the Aegyptian gladiator Fehid, and his co-conspirators Larenth and Titus. I expect that Larenth will roll over on the other two, but being a gladiator, he may well think to fight his way out of the situation. Fehid is a renowned gladiator, and has that Kuei thing inside him. I have no idea how to combat such a thing, and further do not know how it will aid him. I am not looking forward to this fight. It is doubtful that any of them will come along peacefully.
I will let you know how it goes,