This is a sexually explicit story (at times) involving homosexuality. By continuing to read, you affirm under penalties of perjury that you are not a minor or in the company of a minor and are entitled to have access to this story.
The following is a fictitious story with no real basis or credibility. It is solely for the enjoyment of the reader. It's all just fun. It does not imply anything about the sexual preferences or lifestyle of Justin Timberlake or any other celebrity mentioned in the story.
Alberto's head was down, tears running out of his eyes.
"He somehow knew at the last moment that it was a bomb. That she herself placed it there. To kill both of us. To kill him for rejecting her, and to kill me to benefit Fredrick's needs."
Michael rose, looking at everyone.
He saw the tears in all their eyes.
"Forgive me, Michael. Forgive me for not seeing her for what she was."
Michael went to his grandfather, pulling him up gently, wrapping his arms around him.
"There is nothing to forgive, Poppa. You loved your son as you love me. With all your heart."
Alberto sobbed, Michael holding him, Justin now by their sides.
Everyone watched, waiting for the older man to regain control.
He looked towards Michael, his grandson's eyes full of tears.
"Your father's heart and soul always belonged to your mother, Michael. And his love was always meant for you."
Michael smiled, kissing his grandfather's moist cheek.
"I have never doubted that, my dear grandfather."
Alberto nodded, Michael and Justin guiding him slowly over to the couch again, both sitting down beside him.
"Thank you for telling me the truth, Poppa. For my now seeing my father's innocence in all that happened."
Alberto forced a small smile, Michael's own wider.
"I now know what I needed to know, and I now know the rest. It all fits perfectly."
"The rest, Michael?" Justin asked, staring at his lover.
"Yes, Justin. The rest. The tying up of lines of destiny."
Michael stood up, looking out into the darkening sky.
"Fredrick's treachery lay in all of that, Poppa. For he left nothing to chance."
Alberto looked up at his grandson.
"I have learned the truth, Grandfather. Of all the sides of this story. And now you can know all of it."
Michael sat looking at his grandfather.
"What do you mean, Michael? You know all of it?" Justin said, staring at his lover in wonder.
"Yes, Jus. I know more in regards to Felicia and Fredrick. Adrian came to me again, while I lay in the hospital."
Alberto looked surprised, remaining quiet.
"He told me the true story of Aurelia in regards to him. And he also told me the truth of Felicia and her real identity."
"Her real identity?" Lance said, looking at his friend.
"Yes, Lance. Felicia was more than she let on. Yes, she'd been seduced by Fredrick, but only because she loved him, or thought she did. When he began to use her for his personal gain with other wealthy men, she realized the truth. But in essence she was using him as well. For she was after money as well."
Alberto quietly looked at Michael, his weather-worn face showing enthralled wonder.
"Fredrick hired her to keep my father away from the family affairs. He told her to use whatever means she deemed fit. But I believe with all my heart, that she did indeed fall in love with my father. And when he turned away from her, she went back to her original talent."
"Her original talent?" Marco asked, looking at his cousin.
Michael stood up and walked up to his cousin Nico, looking at him.
"There are two sides to every issue. Two versions of right and wrong. Good and evil. Would you say I am correct, Father?"
The priest smiled, nodding.
"Yes, Michael. God gives us our paths to walk upon. It is always our choice whether to stay on the true path or walk off into the unknown."
Michael nodded, looking out, seeing that the sun had set.
"Evil people walk with darkness in their hearts. Some they obtain by chance, some by their own decisions. Some are bred into them, through their family and their birthright."
Michael turned, looking at his grandfather.
"Adrian told me of the Aurelian Order, Grandfather."
Alberto looked stunned, staring at his grandson.
"And he also told me the truth of the Dracarian Order."
Alberto stood up shakily, looking at his grandson.
Paulo and Marco saw the look on their grandfather's face, standing up to go to his aid if need be.
"Felicia Cortez, her father Horace Cortez, and her brother were all members of the Dracarian Order."
Alberto staggered, Paulo at his side, helping him sit down again.
Michael walked up to his grandfather, kneeling down in front of him.
"She was an assassin, Grandfather. Her intent was always to kill you and my father. I don't know what she may have done if my father had indeed loved her, that we shall never know. The past is as it was. She failed in her attempt to kill you. So she left her brother here to do it. But she was unawares that her brother was also in the pay of Fredrick."
"Garrison?" Josh said, looking at Michael.
"Yes, Josh. Garrison was Felicia's brother."
Alberto looked shocked, staring down at Michael.
"They were all around me, I didn't even know it."
"Yes, Grandfather. And the heart of all of it was Fredrick. This may hurt you grandfather, but you need to know it."
Michael stood up, looking with love at his grandfather.
"Fredrick Tavarro is the leader of the Dracarian Order."
Alberto gasped, tears beginning to flow.
"My. . .my own son?"
Michael took his grandfather's hands in his.
"Yes, Poppa. And one person knew of it. And it cost him his life."
Michael stood up, looking around the veranda, and glanced into the house.
Everyone remained seated, staring at Michael.
There was only silence.
"He isn't here. That is good. Matty told us that he's seen Fredrick kill Benny, your stable boy. But he also said he saw Fredrick doing something else. I now know what that was. He saw his older brother being given the Dracarian knives. Little Matty, in his innocent snooping walked into Fredrick's truth. That innocent mistake cost him his young life. His own brother silenced him. The silver-skulled knives which Fredrick, Felicia, Paul and Brad used are all artifacts of that old order. They are their weapon of choice."
Father Nico walked up to Michael, looking into his golden eyes.
"We were infiltrated by that sect? Are there others?"
Michael looked at his grandfather.
"No, Nico. There are no others remaining around us. Garrison was the last of Fredrick's inner spies. But the Dracarians still exist. Fredrick trains and controls new ones. The man who murdered Paul and Brad was one of their assassins."
"Was?" Justin asked, staring at his Mico.
"That man is dead. Fredrick never leaves loose ends. He now has assassins killing assassins."
Everyone looked shocked, hearing of the evilness surrounding them.
"Do not fear. You are all protected by me. No one can come close to any of you. I will not allow that."
"What of Felicia? What happened to her?" Justin asked, Michael feeling his worry.
Michael sat down beside Justin, taking his hand in his.
"Two weeks after my father's and aunt's deaths she went into hiding in America. She'd collected her money from Fredrick, at a great risk. She'd killed his brother, but not his father. Fredrick only paid her half. That infuriated her deeply. And that night she made an attempt of Fredrick's life. It failed, Fredrick only slightly hurt. She left in failure, and that evening she disappeared. She hid in America until Daniel was born. And on the night of Daniel's birth she disappeared again, for fear of her newborn son's life. She felt in her heart that to leave him would protect him most. She didn't know that Fredrick was totally unaware of his existence. He never knew that Felicia had given birth to my father's child."
Justin felt Michael's calmness and inner happiness at the truth of what his father had really done.
"Felicia ran for her life, trying to outrun destiny. But Fredrick's hands reach far. His men caught her in Wyoming. With the help of her own brother. Garrison knew where Felicia was, and turned her over to Fredrick. For money Garrison sealed Felicia's fate. They held her there for two days until Fredrick arrived. And Fredrick himself sent her to Sarcosa, after he'd cut out her heart himself."
Everyone lowered their heads, Alberto still staring at his grandson.
Michael stood up, looking around at everyone.
"Daniel was indeed my brother. From that evilness came a soul of great beauty, as did my sister Christina, from the greater evil. I will never judge them for the actions of their parents. My father's honor lays intact, his love for my mother as solid as the day they swore it to each other."
Michael smiled, Justin standing up, hugging him gently.
"I feel your joy in that truth of your father, Mico."
Michael smiled, kissing him tenderly.
"So who exactly are the Dracarians? And you mentioned Aurelians?" Lynn said, looking at everyone.
Michael looked at his grandfather, Alberto now standing.
"The Dracarians are a sect of assassins. They are centuries old. The Aurelian are the total opposite. They fight the Dracarians, unearthing their nests, destroying them before they can hurt others. And they protect others of importance in the Tavarro dynasty." Alberto said, standing tall and proud.
Michael walked up to his grandfather, smiling at him.
"To be an Aurelian is to be of deep faith in the belief of goodness. To give your life for others is to have faith in saving more lives. I see in your eyes the pride you have in him. I think it's time his brothers and cousins shared that pride."
Alberto looked shaken, staring at the loving golden eyes looking back at him.
"Yes, Poppa. I have known for a while. And I have sensed him following me. I sensed him at the lake, and other times before that. I think it's time I met him."
Alberto nodded, Michael walking to the rail of the veranda.
He looked out into the darkness, his eyes searching.
Michael smiled, seeing what couldn't be seen.
"Come forth, Antonio. Walk again with your family."
Everyone looked at each other, Marco and Nico standing.
Out of the glooming darkness of the garden walked a young man dressed completely in black.
He had a limp, his blond hair blowing gently in the evening breeze.
In his face you could tell that he was Marco's older brother.
Same blond hair and piecing blue eyes.
His face was as handsome as Marco's.
He walked slowly up the steps, Josh and Lance standing in awe.
Marco rushed over to the stairs, his brother smiling at him.
Marco took him in his arms, hugging him tightly.
"Tio!!! It's really you!!" Marco was half sobbing, Antonio hugging him gently.
"Yes, Daredevil. It's me." he said, kissing his little brother's forehead.
Nico walked up to them, the two brothers hugging tightly.
"We knew not where you were, my brother! It is so good to see you again!"
Antonio smiled at Nico, the three brothers arm in arm.
"I was doing God's work, Father."
Nico nodded, looking at Michael.
Antonio's blue eyes were staring at him as well.
Antonio broke the bond with his brothers, walking up to his grandfather.
He knelt in front of him, kissing his hand.
"I return, a follower of her faith."
Alberto was in tears, pulling his grandson up, hugging him tightly.
"Oh, Antonio! My precious child! I was so worried for you! No word for such a long time! Are you injured?" Alberto said, having seen his limp and his now scarred hand.
"I am alright, Poppa." he smiled, then turned looking at Michael.
The two stared at each other, Antonio's eye filling with tears.
He sank to his knees, crying openly.
"Forgive me, Messenger! For not protecting you!"
Michael walked up to him, the man wrapping his arms around Michael's legs, still sobbing.
Michael looked into Father Nico's tearing eyes, then down at his emotional cousin.
"Arise, my cousin. I forgive you nothing. For there is no forgiveness warranted."
Antonio struggled to his feet, Michael helping him stand up, his arms now around Antonio.
The man stared into his golden eyes, seeing the deep love shining there.
"It is the honor of my life to meet you, prophesied one!"
Michael smiled at him, Antonio lost in the beauty of his face.
"My name is Michael. And we are cousins. That's what's most important to me."
Antonio wiped his eyes, Michael seeing the tattoo on his right hand.
"Hello Antonio. It is an immense pleasure to meet you."
Antonio smiled widely, Michael's beautiful smile matching his.
They broke their hug, Michael introducing his cousin to Justin.
The two men smiled at each other, Justin and Antonio staring at the beauty they saw in each other's face.
"It is a pleasure, Justin. I have watched you from afar. And you are more loving in person."
Michael smiled, introducing the young man to everyone.
Antonio bowed to everyone, Michael guiding him to the couch beside Justin.
He sat down between both of them, looking a little nervous.
"Relax, Antonio. You are among family."
Antonio smiled, looking at his brothers.
"You know, I've always liked my friends to walk beside me, not to follow me in secret."
Antonio blushed a bit, looking at his grandfather.
"How did you know I followed you?"
Michael smiled, looking into his blue eyes.
"I have felt your love around me since I opened my eyes in that hospital bed in Chicago months ago. It just took me a while to figure out who you were. For a while I thought a real angel was guarding me. I thank you grandfather for giving me his protection."
Alberto looked shocked, looking at Antonio.
"But I didn't protect you, Michael. I failed in that regard."
"No you did not. Your love protected me, I felt it always. From it, I gained great strength, as from all those who love me. I still feel it."
"When I saw all that you have done, the degree of caring and love you possess, I knew that you were he. He that I could love with all my faith. He that could save my family."
"I am only a man, Antonio. A man of destiny. Shortly, a greater faith will fill your heart."
Antonio smiled, Michael looking at his grandfather.
"You are of the Aurelian Order?" Michael asked Antonio.
"Yes, Michael. I have been since I was twelve."
Marco and Paulo looked shocked.
"And I take by your injuries that you have fought for the edicts of that order?"
"Yes, Michael. On several occasions I have had to fight against them. Some men have died."
Michael nodded, taking Antonio's withered hand in his.
"How did you come by this injury?"
Antonio looked away, Justin seeing the tears in his eyes.
"Fredrick himself did it to you?"
Marco looked on the verge of tears, Emile's arm going around him.
"His men caught me in Amsterdam. He flew in for my punishment. Or what was to be my death."
Michael nodded, smiling at his new cousin.
"I take great faith in God's saving you from that ordeal."
Antonio was in tears, nodding his head.
"It was by the luck of God that I escaped hours before he was to end my life. A moment of true intervention."
Michael smiled, moving towards his cousin.
He pulled a necklace out from under his shirt, everyone seeing the Tavarro pendant.
"This saved you, didn't it?"
Antonio looked at Michael in wonder.
"This I carry for luck and in faith. In a sense my luck saved me, so yes this saved me. Someone unlocked my jail cell that morning early. I snuck out with no problem."
"Fredrick is not the only one who covers all bases. Am I correct, Grandfather?"
Alberto smiled, and then laughed.
"Yes, my son. You are correct."
Antonio looked at his grandfather in confusion.
Alberto stood up, smiling at everyone.
"You are an exceptional man, Michael. Not even I can fool you."
Michael laughed, standing up and walking to his grandfather.
"The sleeping cat isn't always asleep."
Alberto smiled, rubbing his grandson's cheek.
"When did you clue into it?"
"When I found my father's pendant at my home after you left at Christmas."
"I knew it had to be you that had left it for me. For it was my father's and you were the last to see it."
Justin pulled the chain out from under his own shirt, Antonio looking in surprise.
"Yes, Michael. I removed it from my son's resting place, because of what it is."
Michael looked at Alberto, smiling.
"It is a beacon of love. A pendant made with a singular purpose. To keep a man anchored with his family. That is how I always knew where Antonio was, and now you. For you are never far from your Justin."
Michael laughed at his grandfather's subtle humor.
"You are crafty, Poppa. I should have sensed the gifts in you."
Alberto smiled, kissing his grandson's cheek.
"I am, after all, your grandfather. Your gifts come from both sides."
Michael smiled, then laughed.
"Even I can be surprised."
Alberto's smile lit up his whole face. Michael saw in it the former youthful beauty it once possessed.
Alberto looked at Antonio.
"I knew you were in Amsterdam Antonio, and I knew Fredrick had gone there. I put two and two together. I sent a man to free you. It was he who unlocked that cell door that early morning."
Antonio stood up, walking up to his grandfather.
"You saved me, Grandfather?"
"You are my grandson. I always will fight for my own."
The two hugged, Michael smiling at the closeness of the two Tavarros.
Michael sighed, Justin picking up on his tiredness.
Justin patted the empty spot beside him.
Michael smiled, sitting down beside Justin, Justin's arm going around him.
"I think we've had enough revelations for this evening, Mico. I feel your deep tiredness."
Everyone looked at Michael.
"It's okay, Justin. There is one more story that needs to be told."
Alberto sat down in his rocker again, Antonio sitting down beside Marco and Emile.
The two brothers smiled at each other, their arms around each other.
Michael asked for a break, Lonnie going into the house and bringing out glasses of cool ice water for everyone.
Doris and Rachel rejoined them, the kids all asleep, Antonio introduced to them.
Lonnie quietly explained what had happened to the two women, Michael smiling at everyone.
Once everyone felt refreshed, Michael began the story.
"Adrian has told me the story of his life's journey after Rome. I'd like all of you to hear of it. It awed my heart, I'm sure it will for all of you."
Everyone nodded, Michael's rich voice filling the evening air.
"This is the story of Adrian's renewed faith."
Adrian pushed against the tree, his taut muscles bulging.
The tree gave way under his onslaught of power.
It fell over, the roots pulling out of the ground.
Adrian stood up, his naked chest dripping sweat.
He panted, wiping his brow with his arm, looking around his land.
Through his sheer strength and determination he'd built a thriving farm.
He saw his wife Sonia walking toward him through the fields of tomato plants.
He smiled, looking at her slim body as she walked.
They'd made love last night, a slow session of redeeming happiness.
It was almost ten years now since his return from captivity.
And every night and day had been filled with this woman's deep love.
She'd somehow survived on the farm in his two years of absence.
She'd told him that she'd never given up hope in his returning to her.
And when he'd returned, she had instantly seen the change in him.
She'd felt the renewed passion in him, and the deepness of the love that radiated from the man.
The two had fallen in love again.
He'd told her of all that had happened in Judea.
Of meeting the man of faith and his renewing Adrian's soul.
Through Adrian's words she'd found her own faith.
The faith in her husband's soul.
Sonia walked up to him, smiling, carrying a bucket of well water.
"It's finally fallen! My champion has slain the wooded beast."
Adrian laughed, pulling her against him.
"I will destroy all that stand in the way of my love's beautiful garden."
Sonia smiled her beautiful smile, Adrian lost in her golden eyes.
"Take of the cool water, my love. You look parched." she said, dipping a cup into the bucket.
"That I am, my sweet. I thirst for your kisses."
He kissed her moist lips, the two lost in each other's taste.
"Adrian, my sweet. What of the neighbours? And we can be seen from the road from here."
"Let all who are close bask in the beauty of our love."
Sonia laughed, backing up.
"Maria and Ursula stopped by this morning. There is news of strangers in the village. They are looking for someone."
"There are more and more strangers traveling our roads these days. The world is on the move."
Spain had been liberated from the tyranny of Rome's rule a short year and a half ago.
Adrian himself had fought in the campaigns, returning to his old life of soldiering.
He'd quickly gone up the ranks, ending his last campaign as a general.
Those three years had been hard, constant separation from his wife.
But their love never faltered.
And here it was now, over a year since his return, and their passion was unabated.
He'd retired from army life at the tender age of thirty two.
The return to normal life had invigorated his soul.
He knew in his heart that his greatest joy was working with the soil.
He looked around at all their fields.
Life had been good to his family.
He now had four sons, all strapping healthy boys.
Argos the oldest at ten was his father's pride.
He smiled at his wife, downing the cup of cold water.
"Ah refreshing. Just like your smile!"
Sonia laughed, taking her own drink.
"And where are our little soldiers?"
"Argos tends them at home. He's teaching them your stories."
Adrian smiled, looking towards their home.
Villa Tavarro was a small, but roomy seven room house that Adrian had built with his own powerful hands.
It was the beginning of what one day would become the ancestral home.
He thought it the most beautiful spot on earth.
He smiled, hearing the sound of someone on the roads below.
"Looks like travelers. Three carts." Sonia said, following his gaze.
"Yes, well loaded carts. Must be going to Zamorra."
Then they both heard the sound of horse hoofs, a cloud of dust coming from the other direction.
They saw three horses galloping from the direction of Zamorra.
The trio stopped at the carts, the drivers stopping them.
>From Adrian's viewpoint it looked like they all knew each other.
The group seemed to be conferring, the carts then driving off the road as if they were settling down for a wait.
The three horsemen turned and headed up the road towards Adrian's home.
"I do believe we are having visitors." Adrian said, his brow furrowing.
Sonia nodded, looking towards the road.
"Come, let us return to the villa and welcome them." Adrian said, Sonia hearing the concern in his voice.
"Is everything okay, my love?"
"I have a feeling of change. Of change on the wind. This meeting I feel may bode change."
Sonia looked at him as he walked towards their home, Sonia following.
Ten minutes later Adrian stood on the front steps of his home, his clothes changed, seeing the horses walk through his front entrance.
They pulled up in front of him, three people of different contrasts staring down at him.
"Greetings, fellow Spaniard. And faithful general."
Adrian smiled, watching his old friend jump down from the first horse.
"Artanga Rostin? As I live and breathe!! An immense pleasure to see you, my old friend!" Adrian said, hugging the man tightly.
Sonia had walked out of the house watching the arrivals.
The two broke their bond, both smiling at each other.
"Hello, Adrian. My heart fills with joy at seeing you well." he said, a wide smile on his face.
"I am well. I am in the nature of my life." Adrian said, smiling.
"I see that. An immense farm, it looks massive from the road!"
"Three thousand acres. All filled with the life staff of abundance. The ground here is blessed by God."
"God blesses you in all ways, Adrian."
Adrian looked up at the second horse, seeing a woman, of singular beauty.
"That he does, my lady." he said, smiling at her.
"Permit me to introduce you, Adrian." Artanga said, raising his hand, helping the lady dismount the horse.
Once she was standing on level ground, Artanga smiled.
"This is Aurelia Petronilla. A traveler abroad."
Adrian bowed, taking her hand.
He gently kissed it, the woman smiling.
"My home is yours, dear lady. As is my family's hospitality."
The third person on the last horse laughed.
Adrian looked up, seeing a young man, of Roman features.
"This I call not a home. Looks more like a hovel." he said, smirking.
Adrian's features darkened, Artanga by his side.
"Forgive this young man, he knows not the customs of our country." Artanga said, leering at the man.
The young man's face reddened, then he stepped down off his horse.
"My name is Gaius Dracarius. I am an adjutant from Rome."
Adrian looked at the young man, staring at him with surprise.
"What business do you seek of me?" he asked, more directed at the young man.
"I was wondering if we could talk, Adrian?" Aurelia said, Adrian's gaze going to her.
"Of course, dear lady. Please, come into my home and wash away your tiredness. Sonia?"
Sonia stepped off the front veranda, smiling at her husband.
"Yes, dear husband?"
"We have guests. Open the finest wine we have. And check the larder for abundant food."
"Yes, Adrian. Please come in, and welcome to our loving home." Sonia smiled, Aurelia smiling back at her.
Adrian introduced his wife, the others bowing.
Adrian showed them into his home, Sonia busying herself in the kitchen.
Sonia sent her son Argos to the barns with the other kids, he chaperoning them for the afternoon.
She felt their children shouldn't be around the discussions certain to commence.
"Please sit down. A refreshing drink, perhaps?" Adrian said in the gathering room, smiling at his guests.
"Thank you, Adrian." Aurelia said.
He disappeared into the kitchen, returning with glasses and a bottle of red wine which Sonia had opened to breathe.
He gave them each a glass of red wine, Artanga smiling at him.
"A toast if I may?" his old friend said.
Adrian nodded, Sonia now standing beside him.
Artanga raised his glass, bowing.
"Here is to friendship, and renewed love." he smiled, everyone but Gaius raising their glass.
Artanga shot him a stern look, the man reluctantly raising his.
They all drank to the welcoming toast.
Artanga and Adrian exchanged words, bringing each other up to speed on their lives.
Artanga had been Adrian's adjutant in the army.
The two were close, dear friends.
They'd gone through hell and heroics together.
"The army misses you, Adrian. Even now with a tolerable coexistence between Rome and us, your skills are greatly missed."
"I am a man of the land now, Artanga. This is my campaign now."
Artanga nodded, missing his old friend.
"Are all of Spain's generals old farm hands?" Gaius spoke.
"So what brings you to my humble abode?" Adrian said, smiling at Aurelia, and staring at Gaius.
He directed everyone to sit down, Adrian sitting in his familiar patron chair.
"Times are changing, my old friend. The political landscape is not as it once was. Spain needs new blood. I myself have been promoted to Generalissimo of all the northern armies."
Adrian looked shocked, staring at his old friend.
"Remarkable! I always knew you'd make something of yourself. Even if you can't get up early in the morning."
Artanga laughed, smiling at his old friend.
"I am here for a purpose, Adrian." Artanga said, pulling a parchment out of his uniform.
He handed it to Adrian.
Adrian took it, seeing his name upon the seal.
"Read it, my friend."
Adrian unrolled it, scanning the contents.
Sonia quietly watched him, saying nothing.
He folded the parchment back again, looking at his friend.
"No, Artanga. My answer is no."
Artanga looked shocked, staring at him.
"Your reasoning? This is a great moment in history, Adrian. Are you sure?"
Adrian looked at his wife.
"The council of Madrid wishes me to become the Commander of Lisbon."
Sonia looked shocked, putting her hand in his.
"It is a great honor, my husband. The choice is yours alone."
He smiled at her, then looked again at Artanga.
"My friend, I am done with fighting. With ordering and subjugating men. I have found peace of soul and mind in being connected with the land. I seek no glory or praise. That is for younger men. I am almost thirty five, and I have a family of love. There is nothing more I need."
Aurelia smiled at him, Artanga shaking his head.
"You were the first name offered. That is how highly you are thought of. To turn this down would doom you to this life forever. You know this is the first step to an even greater glory? Dare I say, supreme ruler? I only want to see you happy, Adrian." Artanga said, staring at his old friend.
The two men clasped arms, staring into each other's eyes.
"I am happy, Artanga. Happy with my life, my faith, and my family."
Aurelia smiled, Gaius looking up at him.
He stood up, sneering at him.
"You sir, are a fool. To stay in this hovel, with these vermin." Gaius was staring at Sonia.
Adrian had had enough of the rudeness and youthful arrogance of this young man.
"Sir, you are in my home. I shall forgive you for most things, but I will not let you insult my wife."
Adrian was on the man in a flash, his fist finding his face.
The young man was knocked down, laying on the floor.
Artanga shook his head, helping the man up to his feet.
"I am a Roman citizen! You have no authority to hurt me! The council shall here of this!!" the young man said, glaring at him.
"Why have you brought this upstart with you, Artanga? He is nothing more than a spoiled child! Take him back to his mother so he may suckle some more!"
Gaius glared at him, Artanga holding him back.
"He is to be the new assistant to the governor of Madrid. He comes with us to learn the traditions of our people so he may serve them. It is a new edict between Spain and Rome. The blending of minds."
Adrian laughed a loud laugh, his friend smiling.
"First off, he needs to learn of our manners. If this is the best they have, we should have been free years ago."
Artanga held in his laugh, Gaius red with anger.
"Apologize to Señor Tavarro, Gaius. He defends his honor. You need much teaching in the ways of Spain." the soldier said, releasing the young man.
Gaius looked at Adrian and then at Sonia.
"I am sorry to have offended you. I will watch my tongue henceforth."
Adrian stared at him, no sympathy coming from his eyes.
"You are forgiven, sir." Sonia said, wanting to end the tension in the room. She felt this young man could be a dangerous enemy.
Adrian looked at his wife, and then calmly nodded.
"You are welcome to stay here this evening. My home and my hospitality are open to all of you."
"Thank you friend, but I and Master Dracarius have business in town. We were planning on staying at the inn there tonight." Artanga said.
"I will stay here, Adrian. I am honored by your hospitality." Aurelia said, smiling at him.
Gaius looked at them all, then shook his head, walking out of the home.
"Forgive him, Adrian. He shows his Roman arrogance. He foolishly feels you are not his equal."
"For you sake I shall remain civil, Artanga. But I will not put up with his ignorance." Adrian said, looking at his old friend.
Artanga nodded, Adrian putting his hand on his friend's shoulder.
"Be careful, Artanga. I sense this man isn't here by chance. He's here for another reason."
Artanga nodded, bowing to Sonia.
"A pleasure, dear lady. My friend has found sunshine and bottled it in your smile."
Sonia smiled, bowing to the handsome soldier.
"We shall return tomorrow, dear lady. If you need me for anything, Aurelia, Adrian will find me." Artanga said, bowing to Aurelia, both exchanging a smile.
"Until tomorrow, General Rostin."
"I shall send your cart up the hill. We shall take ours into town."
"Thank you, Artanga. It will be good to have my things close."
Artanga smiled, and then quietly left.
Aurelia remained seated, listening as they all heard the two men mount and their horses gallop out of the yard.
Aurelia stood, looking into Adrian's golden eyes.
"God is with you, Adrian. And I am honored to meet the man who cared for our Lord."
Aurelia knelt at his feet, kissing his hand.
Adrian looked surprised, Sonia looked shocked.
"Arise, dear lady. I do not know who you think I am, but I am not him."
She smiled, standing again, Adrian seeing the tears in her eyes.
"You are a man that he has blessed. So says Peter, his apostle. You have seen the Lord Jesus."
Adrian looked surprised hearing the names of Peter and Jesus.
"You know Peter?"
"Yes, I have been his follower since he left to preach for our Lord. And I come on his behalf."
She sat down again, Adrian and Sonia sitting down in silence.
"Peter told me of your helping our Lord carry his burden. You carried his cross upon thy shoulder. You are a man favored for greatness. For a singular greatness."
Adrian looked into her blue eyes, seeing the deep faith laying within.
"You are a child of his faith?"
"I am a follower of Christ. I walk with his love in my heart. Peter saved me from poverty and slavery. He filled my heart with the love of Jesus."
Adrian teared up, as did Sonia.
"Where is Peter? I have heard talk of the movement of Christ spreading across Italy and Gaul. And of the prophets spreading his teachings. No one has come to Spain as of yet. "
Aurelia's face changed, Adrian seeing a sorrow in its beauty.
"Peter has died. He was martyred in Rome. He was crucified for his faith. As our Lord was taken, so was he. But he was crucified upside down as a sign of mockery against our Lord."
Adrian lowered his head.
He remembered the robust man he'd met in Judea.
The life and sheer will that emanated off the man.
He was indeed a faithful servant of God.
"Your news fills my heart with sorrow. He was a kind man. Faith shined in his eyes."
She smiled, looking into Adrian's golden eyes.
"As it does in yours."
Adrian smiled, Aurelia taking something out of her dress.
"Peter, on the night before his execution, charged me with a faithful mission. For he asked me to deliver this. He told me the story of his meeting you. And of your meeting Jesus. I know not what it contains, but I believe in my heart it may be your destiny."
Adrian looked at the letter in Aurelia's extended hand.
He took it from her, looking at it quietly.
"How did you find me?"
She looked at him and his wife.
"I had a vision of your golden eyes. I saw you standing upon the hill of this farm. From your features I took you to be a Spaniard. So to Spain I came. Through luck and the Lord's guidance I met Artanga. He spoke to me of a man named Adrian who'd walked away from battle to live in peace. I knew it had to be you."
Adrian nodded, looking down at the parchment.
"I once met a man who saved me. In all sense of the word. He restored in me a faith in hope and love. He gave me the courage to walk away from bondage, to fight for my life. From him I gained hope, courage and a deep sense of faith. He truly was the Son of God."
Aurelia and Sonia were in tears, hearing the deep love and faith in his solemn words.
Adrian unrolled the parchment, reading the note written therein aloud.
Adrian, friend of Christ
My friend, I write to you on the eve of my going to him.
Tomorrow, I walk into the light of his love.
I have missed him.
His beautiful words and voice.
His smile and tender touch.
I sometimes think of that day of parting, and how I and all of us failed him.
We were alone in our fear, alone in our cowardice.
But he took that fear upon his shoulders and gave himself to his father to show us the love our God gives.
I am blessed to have walked these last years spreading his words.
Showing the masses his faith and his unending love.
I saw in your eyes that fateful day the goodness of his love.
For he entered your heart and he favored you with his kindness.
He chose you that day not for your fierceness or strength, but for the deep faith and love that he found in your heart.
He gave you hope, courage and more.
And I, that day, burned with jealousy in my heart for your closeness to him. He singled you out to give you his tenderness.
And I now learn to give you a greater destiny.
Forgive me for not seeing his plan, or his faith in your greatness.
Our friend has returned to me, Adrian.
He has spoken to me of faith and destiny.
My destiny lies in his eternal kingdom, a just reward to be given me.
Your destiny lies in Spain.
And in guarding something wonderful.
My dearest friend and follower brings this letter to you.
In her, I have great faith.
For she carries with her your destiny. The destiny of your family.
Inside you burns the faith of God.
Your life will be blessed with longevity.
For you have much to teach and to do.
Go forth, first Messenger of God.
The time of his faith is at hand.
Your friend in Christ,
Simon, forever Peter
Adrian closed the letter, his eyes full of tears.
"Even on the edge of death his love for him filled his heart."
Aurelia nodded, wiping her eyes.
"He spoke no words when he was tortured, or when he was laid upon that hill to die. In his heart, he talked to Jesus, of that I am faithfully sure."
Adrian nodded, putting his arm around his wife.
"I see the meaning in his words. I see what my destiny is."
Sonia took her husband's hand in hers.
"I shall follow you on that path, dear husband. His love is in my heart as well."
Aurelia smiled, seeing the love between them.
"I am to spread the word of Christ throughout this land. For he is in my heart and in my mind. His love shall be known to all."
Aurelia took another small package out of her dress, handing it to him.
"I give this to you, Adrian. I once gave it to Peter."
Adrian took the small package, opening it.
Inside a small box lay a golden ring.
"I made it for him. A token of my love for what he'd done for me. How he'd saved me from an agonizing life of pain. He gave it back to me that last night. He told me to give it to the man of destiny. I give it to you so that one day that man shall wear it. And faith and love shall exist that day for all to see."
Adrian smiled, putting the ring on his finger.
"I will wear it as a symbol of your love for him. And through me it shall find its final owner."
She smiled, standing up.
"I am tired, the long journey exhausted me."
"Come, I will show you to your room. Forgive the noise my children shall make soon. They will be in shortly for dinner." Sonia said, smiling.
"A house filled with laughter is indeed a home, my child." she said, smiling.
Sonia smiled, Aurelia wanted to be woken for dinner.
Aurelia settled in, the three adults finding a bond of happiness in each other.
Artanga came each day, staying for hours.
At dinner one evening, he told them of Gaius' irritating all the local leaders.
"The man is insufferable. He walks around as if he's the emperor's son."
Adrian looked at his old friend.
"He's here to kill me."
All three looked at him in shock.
"What do you mean, Adrian?" Sonia said, worry on her face.
"It didn't take me very long to sense who he is."
Aurelia and Artanga exchanged looks.
"His name easily identified him. He is the son of Marius Dracarius. The general who enslaved me. I killed his father to gain my freedom."
Adrian raised his hand, all seeing the scar upon it.
He told them all the story of his imprisonment under the general.
And Jesus' hand in guiding him to his faith.
And of the final battle he fought to gain his freedom.
Artanga stood, looking down at his friend.
"I shall take him back to Madrid and throw him on the first ship sailing. If he ever returns to Spain I shall kill him."
Adrian stood, grasping his old friend's arm.
"No, Artanga. I will not allow you to do that. Destiny has brought him to my door, destiny shall reveal his purpose."
Artanga reluctantly sank back down into his seat.
"I recognized the ring upon his finger, it was worn by his father. He used to hit me with that hand all the time. I'll never forget that red ring."
Aurelia looked at Adrian, sighing.
"It is not you who shall die by his hand, my friend. It is another. So speaks my vision."
Adrian looked at her, sensing her worry.
"It is time. Artanga, bring me my wooden case."
Artanga bowed, walking out of the room.
Adrian and Sonia exchanged looks.
Artanga returned a few minutes later carrying a wooden case, about two feet square.
He sat it down on the table, sitting down again.
"Artanga is more than a soldier, Adrian. Tell him who you are, Artanga?"
Artanga stood, looking at his old friend.
"I am the protector of this wonderful, faithful lady. I am the guard of Aurelia. I have given my heart, and my love to her. We are married in the sight of God."
Adrian and Sonia looked surprised.
Aurelia smiled, the other couple seeing the love exchanged in their eyes.
"I was assigned to Rome for the conference of Madrid. There I met Peter. He introduced me to this vision of love. And she, in turn, showed me the faith of Christ. I am hers–and his–forever."
The two joined hands, Adrian smiling.
"We didn't want Gaius to know, it's better for traveling if we remain discreet."
"Understood." Adrian said, smiling.
"I have come home to Spain for good. I, like you, have declined the posting I have been offered. I will follow Aurelia in her faith. And I will follow you, Adrian."
The two men hugged, Sonia and Aurelia standing back and smiling.
"It is another campaign we fight, my friend. A campaign of faith." Adrian smiled.
The four sat down, talking amongst themselves.
Aurelia opened the wooden case, removing a tray of personal items.
Underneath it was a false bottom.
She took out of it a small wooden case.
"So where is Gaius at this moment?" Adrian said, Artanga looking at him.
"He has gone to Lichera to meet a convoy. What that convoy is we know not. But I do know that it must be of importance. He is picking up seven carts, and commandeering a small legion of soldiers. My guess is it's very valuable what he carries."
"The wealth of Rome. Spoils of campaigns and atrocities." Aurelia said quietly.
She placed the small wooden case in front of Adrian.
"This must be guarded for his destiny. One of your children of lineage one day must face evil. He'll need this to win that battle."
Adrian opened the case, staring at what lay inside.
"Yes, twelve will be needed. Twelve will be summoned."
Adrian nodded, looking into her blue eyes.
"You are a wonder, my lady. God shines in your eyes."
She smiled, looking at her husband.
"God shines in all of us. And the time draws near. We have much to discuss. You have a fight ahead of you, Adrian."
Adrian nodded, Artanga beginning the discussion.
Three days later Gaius Dracarius returned to Zamorra.
Behind him came forty soldiers, and twelve wagons laden with goods.
They camped out in the fields below Villa Tavarro.
Gaius made no attempt to see Adrian, that making Adrian happy.
Artanga and Adrian were ready for him.
During Gaius' absence, Adrian, as well as Artanga, had been making journeys of their own.
What they found out didn't really surprise Adrian.
Artanga journeyed down to their camp on two occasions, coming back with little information, other than Gaius was leaving for Rome in one week on a special request from the senate.
The atmosphere around the villa took on a sense of tension.
Adrian knew something was in the wind.
Sonia took their children into Zamorra, leaving them at her sister's.
Sonia returned to Villa Tavarro to stand beside her husband.
They both were ready to defend their home and their faith.
On the last night of Gaius' stay he asked for an invitation to dinner.
Adrian reluctantly assented, Artanga walking up to the house with Gaius in tow.
Behind them walked in formation the forty legionnaires.
"Do you need protection from my simple fair, Gaius?" Adrian commented, standing on his front step.
"They are my guard. They travel where I travel. I see you have your protection." Gaius smirked, looking toward two farm hands removing stones from the front entrance.
"I am a man of peace. Spain is free. My heart is free."
Gaius stared at him, Adrian taking in his icy gaze.
"Not all hearts are free, Adrian Tavarro. Some carry great pain, and hurt."
Adrian said no more, turning and walking into his home.
Artanga looked quietly at Gaius, the two walking into the home.
The armed guards stood in the front yard, their ranks breaking up.
The two farm hands remained, quietly watching the men surround the house.
Gaius downed his third glass of wine, staring at Aurelia Petronilla.
She was an enigma to him.
What was she doing here?
>From his inquiries, he'd learned she was nothing more than a freed slave.
He sensed she and Rostin were somehow connected.
Likely his whore, thought Gaius.
Yes, she did indeed look the type.
Her beauty was entrancing and she bore herself aloft.
The markings of a woman of ambition.
He smiled at her, Aurelia looking away.
Gaius' gaze fell on Sonia.
He'd been enthralled by her quaint common beauty.
He'd avail himself of her after this mess was finished.
He smiled at her, Sonia's gaze glaring back at him.
Gaius looked towards Adrian.
He twirled the ring in his right hand around.
It had been his father's.
The ring of destiny, his father called it.
Gaius felt its hold on him, its commanding power.
He glared at the man who'd viciously murdered his father.
>From the remaining guards in Judea, Gaius had learned the truth.
Adrian Tavarro, nothing more than a slave and company whore, had murdered his father.
And for that he'd cut his heart out.
And destroy his family, starting with his wife.
Adrian watched Gaius, tired of his leering looks towards Aurelia and Sonia.
"Enough of this. It is time for truths."
Gaius stared at him, his hand falling to his side.
Adrian stood, looking at the young Roman.
"You have one chance to walk away from this, Gaius."
Gaius glared at him.
"And what makes you think that I shall do that?"
"Because I always hope for sense and forgiveness in all men."
Gaius stood up, his face red with anger.
"Did you give my father forgiveness?"
"Your father was given the same chance I now give you. I fought him because he gave me no other course. He died for his own faults. Do not be your father's son."
Gaius face was covered in rage.
"I am Gaius Dracarius, son of Marius Dracarius! My father's life was taken by you! I shall have yours in return!"
Adrian stared at him, a movement to his left causing him to turn.
He saw three soldiers coming through the west entrance.
"Your home is surrounded, slave! You are a fool to leave yourself no escape!"
Adrian saw Artanga walk to his side.
"I have no reason to leave my home. It is my sanctuary. You, on the other hand, had better leave!"
Gaius laughed, walking up to Adrian.
"I have dreamed of this day for ten years, since I was a small boy. You robbed me of my father. I shall rob you of your children, and then your wife. And the final moment of your useless life will be watching me tearing your heart out!!"
"Evil walks in your heart. I am sorry for you."
Gaius slapped Adrian across the face, then yelled.
"Seize them all!"
The room became a scene of motion.
The six guards who now were in the room looked in shock as over twenty men flew into the room, all carrying weapons.
Gaius looked on is shock, seeing them attacking his guards.
"I come prepared, Gaius. Over seventy armed men are around this place. All friends and former compatriots. Your men are disarmed. Give it up, all is lost."
>From under Gaius' robe came a silver knife.
He lunged towards Adrian.
At the last moment, Aurelia stepped in front of Adrian.
The knife sunk into her chest, Aurelia falling backward, Adrian clutching her.
Gaius looked on in anger, then was on the move.
He jumped over a chair heading for the side door.
Artanga was by Aurelia's side, Adrian releasing her into his arms.
Sonia was trying to help him gently lay her down.
Adrian took off after Gaius.
He flew through the side entrance, the darkness of night closing in.
He caught a glimpse of Gaius jumping a fence, Adrian following in pursuit.
In the darkness and the heavy brush, he lost him.
Adrian scanned the fields for a few minutes, no sight of the man found.
Walking back to the house, he was met by three of his friends.
"They're all captured. Twenty are dead." one man said, Adrian nodding.
"Good work, my friends. Put the remainder in the horse corral. We will deal with them presently. I want all the men to scan the fields and town. I don't want that man to escape."
The men nodded, heading back towards the house.
Adrian entered, seeing Aurelia now laying on a couch, Artanga by her side.
Sonia looked up at her husband.
"The knife has done its work. There is too much bleeding."
Adrian knelt beside her, looking at the woman.
Aurelia's eyes opened, staring into his.
"My vision has come to pass. I knew that it was I that would sacrifice to keep you safe, Adrian.."
Adrian put his hands upon her, a blue glow surrounding her.
Aurelia closed her eyes.
He closed his eyes, Artanga staring in wonder, Sonia quietly watching.
Adrian pulled out the knife, his hand going onto the wound.
He remained that way for a few moments, then pulled back, staggering.
"I have healed the damage of the knife, but there is something else at work here. I cannot heal the poison that was on the knife."
Adrian picked up the knife, seeing a sticky yellowness on the blade.
He sniffed it, not knowing its scent.
"There was poison on the knife. He covered all eventualities. I'm sorry, Artanga, I've done all I can."
Adrian looked into his friend's eyes, seeing the depth of despair there.
"Let's get her to bed. And we'll search their encampment. Maybe we can find what kind of poison it is."
Artanga picked her up gently, Sonia leading him into a bedroom.
Adrian and a group of his men searched the army encampment.
What they found there shocked all of them.
Wagons laden with gold and wealth.
The depth of it was unreal.
Adrian had the seven wagons pulled up the road to his house.
An armed guard was posted around them.
They found Gaius' abandoned tent, finding some startling information.
Books of magic, incantations and vials of poison.
Through some crude notes that Gaius had left, Adrian found the answer to his question.
The silver knife had been magically possessed. And dipped in poison.
Gaius had wanted Adrian dead in this life and the next.
Adrian read Gaius' notes on Sarcosa.
Somehow Adrian's healing had stopped that fatal voyage for Aurelia.
Or God had intervened.
Adrian walked out of the tent, throwing a lit torch inside it.
The tent was consumed immediately, Adrian walking up the hill to his home.
For two days, Aurelia passed in and out of consciousness.
When she was coherent she talked to Adrian about his destiny.
And the destiny of his offspring.
Adrian listened, Artanga by her side.
He felt a lot of love for this tragic couple.
And he saw the finality of Artanga's upcoming loss.
The poison was killing her.
On the third morning, they knew the end was near.
"Artanga, my love."
Artanga took her hand, Adrian and Sonia close beside the bed.
Artanga looked up at his old friend.
Then his eyes turned to his dying wife.
"I am done, my guardian. The end draws near. I go to him that I have longed to know."
Artanga was in tears, holding her hand.
"I love you, and I love my God. Promise me you'll find peace." she struggled, her breathing erratic.
Artanga kissed her lips, the two united.
"I shall find peace in only one way. Until our next meeting, my love." he said, Aurelia's blue eyes fixed upon him.
"Time will judge all. Adrian?"
Adrian moved closer.
"Yes, angel of love?"
She smiled, looking into his golden eyes.
"Through other golden eyes his love shall shine. He comes."
She stared at him, all the life going out of her blue eyes.
Artanga sobbed, Adrian's hand upon his shoulder.
"Go in peace, angel of love. You are with him now."
They entombed her in the Tavarro family plot, located behind the house, in a small garden.
Somehow Adrian sensed he'd do more for her.
Artanga stood in silence, seeing his love closed into darkness.
He stood with his friends, staring at the marble tomb.
"It is not befitting to her. She should be wrapped in Godly splendor. Her love and faith should inspire others."
Adrian put his arm around his friend.
Artanga looked into Adrian's golden eyes.
"Soon that shall come to pass."
They walked solemnly back to the house, retiring together.
Artanga sat in the main room, drinking wine.
Adrian sat beside him, Sonia leaving them to talk.
"She is gone, and my life is on one course. I shall avenge her."
Adrian was in tears, hearing the hurt in Artanga's voice.
"Today begins the Aurelian Order. I am its first champion."
"Artanga? Is this wise? Let the pain go."
"This is more than pain, Adrian. This is evil. It seeps out and destroys the goodness of life. It took her, I shall not let it take others. You know of what I speak, those men confessed that."
Adrian reluctantly nodded.
The captured soldiers who'd remained alive, told a story of hatred.
Gaius Dracarius was an evil man.
He'd picked the bunch of them from some of Rome's most vicious gladiator schools.
They were not soldiers, but men of fortune.
Thieves, assassins and murderers.
They'd all given an oath to him to fight for him.
The belonged to the Dracarian Order.
Gaius' father had begun the sect, using it to destroy his enemies.
The son came by it naturally.
"I will hunt them all down. Beginning with Gaius. His blood will be on my hands. And his evil will wash away as you washed away his father's."
Adrian stared at him.
He stood up, Artanga looking up at him.
"I cannot stop you from this quest. In my heart I know that it is just. But, here today, I give you an oath."
Artanga stood, the friends clasping arms.
"If ever you need me, or any of my sons to fight this menace, we are here for you. I pledge from this day forth one of every lineage, one of every generation to this cause."
Artanga smiled at his old friend.
"I feel in my heart that this will be a long fight. An evil this contained will live a long time."
"Your loving wife told of the destiny of the man that one day would rid the world of that evil. We shall not see it. But we will love, laugh and fight until our end."
The two embraced, Artanga leaving the room.
Sonia entered, her husband looking at her.
"He is gone. I could not stop him."
She took his arm, kissing his cheek.
"He fights now with a purpose. That will sustain him through his grief. And I sense in my heart that he will do good."
Adrian smiled, hugging his wife tightly.
"Our own path begins, my love. Our path of faith."
Michael looked up, seeing a lot of tearful staring eyes.
"So that is how the two sects began. Artanga creating the Aurelian Order to fight against the Dracarian Order, created by Gaius."
Justin looked up at Michael.
"Did Artanga find Gaius?"
Michael folded his hand in front of him, looking towards Antonio.
"Gaius Dracarius died upon the sword of Artanga Rostin. Artanga found him almost thirty years later, hiding in the Swiss Alps. Gaius had run out of escape routes. With his final breath Gaius cursed the Tavarro name. And he said that every generation would see the Dracarian Order reek its vengeance upon it. And in truth it has."
Michael sighed, Justin sensing his complete exhaustion.
Justin got up, walking up to him.
He put his arm around him, Michael leaning against him.
"In the time since those events, both Orders have grown, or diminished, depending on the threat against them. And thirty years ago, the two lines of destiny joined. Fredrick found the ring of Marius. The wearer of that ring is consumed by the evil it holds. Fredrick's soul is gone, replaced with a heart of evil. And now I must face him in the final battle."
Michael walked across the room, standing in front of Nico.
"I ask you to rescind your leadership, Father Nico. I now must lead the Aurelians."
Antonio and Alberto stared in total shock.
Father Nico stared in disbelief.
"How did you know?"
Michael remained silent.
"You are Artanga's successor?" Antonio stuttered.
Nico looked at his younger brother.
"Yes, Tio. I was chosen through the secret Aurelia Trials. I carry the faith and love of Artanga. I am the twenty third Aurelian leader."
Antonio knelt in front of his brother.
"I follow you and her faith, brother."
Nico looked at Michael.
"It is not I you shall follow, Tio. We both should kneel to him."
Nico began to kneel, Michael putting up his hand.
"Cousins, stand with me."
The two stood again, looking into Michael's golden eyes.
"The wealth of the family Tavarro began with the abandoned gold that Gaius left. That gold was the spoils of his father's old campaigns. Marius had hidden it all in Spain, to return one day and reclaim it. He died by Adrian's hand before he could do that. Gaius returned to reclaim it. To save his own life, he abandoned it. It fell into Adrian's hands."
Michael looked at his grandfather, smiling.
"And Adrian gave that wealth to those that needed it most. The poor, the sick and the destitute. But the wealth was immense. The town gave Adrian full reign in its coffers."
Alberto smiled, pride beaming for the giving heart of Adrian, his ancestor.
"From him to me all our leaders have followed the same cause. To help those that need it."
"His first act was the building of St. Aurelia's, a church to show her faith and love. She lays entombed within it."
Father Nico looked shocked.
"That's impossible, Michael! There are no crypts in that church! I know every inch of it!"
"She lays entombed under her statue, Father Nico. The inlaid cross on the floor marks her tomb. Artanga lays there by her side. Adrian entombed them together. Artanga died three weeks after he'd killed Gaius, two days after he'd returned to Adrian. He'd given over to his tiredness of chasing ghosts for so many years. Adrian honored both of them as true followers of faith."
Everyone looked totally awed.
"And the other cross? The one on the floor in front of the wooden cross?" Antonio asked, knowing the church well.
"That marks a special place of faith." Michael said quietly.
He looked at Justin, Justin seeing the tiredness in Michael's golden eyes.
"Something lays there. Silent until the moment of destiny."
End of Chapter 154
And so the story of Aurelia is told.
And the beginnings of the wealth of the Tavarro family.
And the Dracarian Order's reasoning behind its hatred of the Tavarro Clan.
Fredrick has power behind him, ancient power.
He wears a ring of evil.
Can Michael fight that evil?
What lays under the second cross?
How can Michael use it and what lays in the Stone of Vengeance?
Read on, more to come.
Up next: The uniting of love.