So a while ago I was on Buzzfeed (shocker!) and took their “What Should You Write About?” quiz. It seemed stupid at first, but then after picking a random box I was challenged to write a day in the life of my Halloween character from last year.
I wore my prom dress and called myself a Ancient Roman Empress (even though the dress was Ancient Egyptian styled). I played around with this idea and checked out some books and sites on ancient Roman living. This is my first attempt at historical fiction and I in no way claim everything as accurate but I tried my best! 🙂
I was really surprised by how this piece turned out and some of the lines in here shocked me with the sheer brutality and vulgarness of what I was able to create.
Try to enjoy! 😉
From a very young age, Liviana was told not to get too comfortable with the idea that she would take the throne. Her father, on the rare occasion that they ended up in the same room together, constantly reminded her that he had yet to name an heir and was waiting for his ridiculous wife to bear him a son.
She was never afraid of her father and knew that no matter how many times he told her to stop talking of Rome as if it was hers, he was wrong. Oh so very wrong.
Her childhood friend was a gifted boy. Son to one of the slaves working in the palace- no one was quite sure which one- he hid from all his elders and superiors, except Liviana. But Liviana wasn’t superior, or so everyone told her, and Augustus knew something no one else did. He knew that one day Liviana would rule all of Rome as one of the most powerful Empresses Rome had ever seen. She would rule alone, with no need for a husband except to secure her role on the throne. For no matter how hard they tried, Liviana’s parents, the current Emperor and Empress, would not be able to birth another child.
At first Liviana did not believe Augustus. She had heard the people talk; the Empress was said to be pregnant with a child. But every time the rumours started, she would disappear for a few months and the talk of her child would vanish just like that.
Liviana grew to trust Augustus. He showed her the stars when they sat out in the garden and showed her how they explained her future. She never understood how he did it, but she knew that everything he said would come true.
They were barely 11 years old when Augustus showed up by her room out of the blue. He had never been that careless when wandering through the palace. He knew the best hiding places and had gone years without running in to anyone who might question his reason for being a non-working slave boy in a palace full of as many slaves as the Emperor had enemies.
“Augustus! Why are you here?” Liviana asked, surprised when she bumped into him on her way to her lessons.
“I have to warn you.” Augustus puffed, out of breath.
“About what?” She questioned.
“I beg your pardon?”
“You remember how I’ve told you you’ll be Empress someday?”
“Keep your voice down!” Liviana looked around, “Here, come. Quickly.”
Liviana dragged Augustus into her living chambers and pushed him into a chair, “Yes I remember.”
“Good. But now I need you to remember this: something is going to trigger your temper very soon, I think. You need to control it though and learn to separate your anger towards your parents from your everyday life. If you don’t control your temper, you will become a very jealous person, always wanting what you can’t have, pushing away those closest to you. Envy will be your downfall, Livi!”
Envy would also be what led her to the throne; but even gifted astrologers can’t read everything.
A few years later, talk about the Emperor’s heir began to grow. With every passing day the Emperor refused to name Liviana as his heir. He was getting older and his people feared that he would die without an heir and send Rome back into the chaos they had desperately been trying to avoid.
One evening at one of the Emperor’s lavish dinner parties, he called Liviana over from her dining couch and announced in front of everyone that he would consider naming her his heir.
“But, I shall only consider when and if you can find a suitable husband to rule for you.”
He dismissed her quickly. The people’s hope was renewed, but all Liviana could feel was burning hatred towards her father.
“Why should I find a husband? Why can’t I rule alone?” Liviana cried as she tugged pins from her hair and threw them at her maid. “Does he not realize that I’ve grown up preparing for the day I lead Rome? Does he want to waste all that and all that he’s done so some idiot noble man can throw it all away when he gets swept up in the money and luxuries?”
“I do not know, mistress.” The servant replied quietly as she ran around picking up the pins.
“Oh, just get out!” Liviana screamed.
The next day after have bathed in a scented bath for most of the morning and coming up with a brilliant plan, Liviana ran downstairs to find Augustus. She couldn’t ask anyone if they had seen him because she knew they hadn’t. She had to trust her instincts and look in the dark corners of the palace where they usually met.
While walking through one corridor in the east wing, Liviana thought she heard Augustus grunt. She quickly turned around and headed back around the corner. There, in a tiny nook beside a window and behind the decorative busts of her ancestors, she found Augustus, wrapped in the legs of a young woman around 15- Liviana’s own age- kissing and thrusting towards the girl fiercely and without much clothing.
She gasped loudly. Augustus called out for her, but she didn’t hear as she ran back to her room in, what she assumed, was disgust. It was only when she was lying in bed breathless that she realized it was not disgust, but jealousy that coursed through her veins. She envied that slave slut, for it was she who desired to be deflowered by Augustus.
She rarely saw Augustus after that night. She avoided him whenever possible and quickly brushed him off with excuses whenever he sought her out. She disregarded her previous plan to purpose a marriage with Augustus to annoy her father and seal her spot on the throne. Instead she lay on couches at dinner parties, waiting for a suitor to approach her. Her Palla elegantly draped around her form; one hand forever holding a glass of watered down wine, the other resting carefully above her head.
It didn’t take long for suitors to begin asking for her hand in marriage. She turned them all down; too cocky, bad breath, too old, not right. Finally it was her cousin Maximus who caught her attention.
He was simple enough that she didn’t have to worry about him trying to steal the throne from her, and yet he was intelligent enough that she could see herself ruling with him as equals.
But Augustus told you you’d rule alone. A voice in her head whispered, but it was ignored because it contained her first love’s name.
Liviana accepted Maximus’ marriage proposal and rushed to find the Emperor and share the good news. Liviana had expected the Emperor to name an heir.
Liviana hadn’t expected the heir to be Maximus.
She wed Maximus in the spring. The people all spoke of how beautiful the ceremony was. The garden was in full bloom, the decorations all hand-crafted, the Emperor and Empresses regal and proud. But no one dare spoke of the scowl that refused to leave Liviana’s face as she promised her eternal love for Maximus, nor the icy chill that radiated from her body.
Her Stola was lovely though.
The first year of marriage went by smoothly and quickly. Liviana did not smile; at least not in the presence of her father. She was said to be very happy with Maximus though and the people of Rome expected a baby announcement any time now!
The Emperor grew very ill in that year. Each day his body seemed to contract further into itself and his eyes had a glazed-over look. He developed a terrible cough and often wouldn’t leave his bed for days at a time.
Liviana smiled publicly for the first time that year when Rome’s best healers were called to the Emperor’s wing of the palace.
On the eve of the Emperor’s death, Liviana’s mother cried for three hours straight before stabbing herself through the heart.
Although the Emperor criticized her ability to deliver more than one healthy baby, they had truly loved each other and his death was far more than her frail mind could handle.
At the funeral, musicians played beautifully as they led what was left of the royal family to the cremation of both the Emperor and Empress. Liviana wore black, but she did not seem to be mourning.
The weeks following the funeral were terribly busy as Maximus adjusted to his role as Emperor, and Liviana to being second in charge.
Always second, never first. She thought as her maid finished combing her hair into trailing braids down her back. Liviana delicately adorned herself with sapphire earrings and gold bracelets. She slipped her sandals on and slowly made her way to where she would be dining with her husband.
“Evening, wife,” Maximus said, glancing up from his papers, “You look beautiful tonight.”
“Yes, I do.”
Liviana took her place at the end of the table. She signalled over to one of the kitchen slaves.
“You have the special wine correct?” She whispered.
“Yes, my Empress.”
“Good. You understand it’s a very special occasion correct?”
“Yes, my Empress.”
“So why don’t you treat yourself, and anyone else who helped you, to a little bit after you’re done serving us.”
“Yes, thank you, my Empress.”
The servant began to walk away when she called him back, “And remember, I am with child so I will just have the regular watered down wine please.”
The servant agreed and ran back towards the kitchen.
Liviana and Maximus made pleasant small talk as they made their way through the meal. The servants were bringing out the special wine and dessert when Liviana sighed dramatically.
“What is it, wife?”
“Oh, it’s just such a shame that this will be our last night together.” She folded her hands in her lap and called over to the servants, “You are dismissed. Please go enjoy some of this fancy wine in the kitchen.”
“Wife, what do you mean?” Maximus asked, bringing his goblet to his lips, “Do you wish to divorce?”
“Oh, heavens no! That would look terrible on my part.” Liviana watched Maximus take a large gulp of wine. When he set the goblet down his face went very pale and he looked up at his smiling wife.
“You didn’t.” He heaved.
“Unfortunately, I did.” Blood began to trickle down Maximus’ lips, his eyes bulged out and his hand found its way to his throat as he struggled to breath.
“You see Maximus, when I was a little girl, only one boy believed in me. He could read the stars and he told me that I would be the greatest Empress Rome had ever seen. And since my father died with you as his heir, I had to take matters into my own hands. Such a shame really, you were quite the lover.”
Liviana pushed her chair back and slowly made her way out of the dining hall and through the kitchen, stepping over the bodies of three slaves and her cook on her way to her chambers.
Liviana was the greatest Empress Rome had ever seen, and she was also the most feared. The people of Rome all suspected what had happened to their beloved Emperor and Liviana never denied it.
She ruled by herself and never remarried.
The rumours that had been circulating about Liviana being with Maximus’ child were quickly shut down at his funeral. One young lady had come to offer her apologies to the Empress for her lost and to wish her the best with her child.
She was murdered three days later.
Many thought it was because she dared to bring up what was later revealed to be the Empress’ fake pregnancy. Only Liviana knew the real reason she was killed- she had been the girl she spotted with Augustus a few years ago. In fact, Augustus was with her then.
Liviana had locked eyes with Augustus as his pretty girl grasped her hands and wish her luck for that fake baby. Augustus knew what was going to happen. He knew the future very well, and he couldn’t stop it.
Augustus also knew he would end up in the Empress’ chambers again from the moment she caught him in that hallway. He had known that his girl would be murdered at the hands of Liviana. He lived in fear everyday knowing that someday the Empress would cut his life short too, but never knowing the exact time.
Would he go by poisoned wine like so many others? Would he simply cease to exist someday- all his records being erased? Or was she going to kill him in the bedroom; in between acts of pleasure and torture?
Augustus was hers now- she told him every night. She burned her name across his back:
She whispered it, softly, into his ear in the early mornings.
He chanted it every single night. Every single time she teased him between pleasure and pain. Never letting him feel just one or the other.
Liviana, Liviana, Liviana!
And when she finally got bored with her pity vengeful games, she killed him and buried him deep in the ground with a huge marble headstone reading,
Property of Liviana.