Titus Junius Carnutius was the second son of Marcus Junius Domitilla. The first son, Titus Junius Domitilla had been born some 17 years earlier, a weak, sickly infant, who lived twenty-one days. In between, had been born 11 daughters. As their mother, Cornelia Quinta, had born her husband 12 children and was, herself, a daughter of the powerful senator Cornelius, she could not be put aside. Still, a family connected to the Emperor Vespasian could not be allowed to die out. Thus, was the child of Marcus Junius and the Gallic slave Aura of the Carnutes, adopted as a full Roman citizen of the Junius family and given the name Titus. On his 20th feast day, in the month of Januarius of the year 53 AD, he attained his full adult citizenship and his mother was given her freedom.
Aura's gift to her son was a carnutian coin, cast of high tin, (called potin) and showing a wolf with a star on one side, an odd mark on the other. A hole had been drilled above the wolf's head to hang from a jute cord. “This belonged to your grandfather's father and through him, you are related to the great Vercingetorix; he who will unite Gaul,” she told him. “It will keep you safe when the Romans are driven out.” Titus hushed her, putting a hand on her arm, and looking around, uneasily. The next day, Aura had gone.
The weeks that followed were busy ones. Titus's skills in oratory, literature and Roman law received final polish and testing, while training with spear and sword intensified threefold, as befitted a well-to-do Roman Patrician, who would soon be taking his place as a centurion.
On the bright morning of March 13th, Titus scooped a handful of olives, a piece of meat from the previous night's supper, a loaf of bread and a few plums into a leather pouch, which he hung from his belt. Outside the villa, he heard voices raised in sudden commotion; women screamed and continued screaming as men joined in and large objects crashed over; pounding began on the gate along with the sounds of weapons clashing. Titus had barely turned toward the armory when the gate splintered open and screaming Gauls burst through, their faces and leather shields painted with blue woad. Armed only with his personal dagger, he faced them as they spread into the villa. He heard screams from the direction of the family rooms – his sisters! His father's slashed body was thrown from the mezzanine into the atrium where Titus was now held by the hair, at sword-point. A warrior pulled him backward and raised a sword to his throat. At that moment, the coin on the jute cord, around his neck, swung free, clanking against the sword. The sword arrested.
“Where did you get this coin?” the warrior asked, in nearly unintelligible Latin.
“A gift,” Titus gasped, using the almost forgotten language of the Carnutes, “by my mother, from her father's father's father.”
“Vercingatorix will decide your fate,” said the warrior, “and if you lie...” He smiled.
Titus was led out of the atrium, to the gate, past the weeping women being herded there, past the bloodied bodies of Romans of all degrees, past the burning villas, businesses and buildings, out of the world of Rome and into the rebellion of 1st century Gaul. Cenabum was in flames and he was about to step between two worlds.
Challenge: As a writer, you draw inspiration from the familiar world around you. You observe and take note of details which your imagination weaves into the fabric of your work. Your time and place in the universe has a great deal to do with how you see the world. Picture yourself in another time; another place. You're not a hero or a villain or an important historical personage, you're you. Tell us a story that you observe – a vignette from the life happening around you; an event important only to its participants.