Skip to main content


The Guest Star, Facts vs Fiction

As usual, at the very end and above all, I truly hope you enjoyed Hero and Lucia's adventure as well as the background story itself, which was perhaps a bit different from the stereotype that we first think of, when it comes to the history of the Roman Empire. The idea for this novel did not come in an instant, so to speak. Instead, the story unfolded along the way, and in the end it turned out to be one of those books where the research and writing were not separate, but intertwined with each other over the course of months of writing. To say that I enjoyed creating the story from the start would be an understatement. In fact, the basic idea that was in front of my eyes from the very beginning was to combine fields and sciences that have always fascinated me such as astronomy, archeology, anthropology and ancient history we know little about, all wrapped in a classic adventure with a hint of romance and unavoidable violence. I am obliged to say that this is entirely a work of fic

The Guest Star, Epilogue

The large water wheel that Titus had built under the waterfall, just a few dozen feet from the west wall of their mansion, rotated quite rapidly, considering that a lot of water was falling from the cliff in the latter part of November. A system of wooden gears and shafts transmitted the rotational energy to the millstone, which had a hole in the middle through which the wheat was fed. As the upper stone rotated, it crushed the grains against the stationary stone below, grinding them into flour. Water milling wheat has been a fairly simple process for centuries, but these particular millstones were not intended for grinding wheat. The gap between these stones and the patterns carved were specially designed to be wide enough and instead of wheat, Pia kept adding frozen grapes to the basket, which were inserted into the hole through a wooden channel.

The Guest Star (10), Stardust

Tomorrow afternoon Kai was the guest of honor at their mansion. Septimius was, to say the least, amazed by what they had seen last night on Kai's roof, so he invited him to a feast with fresh fish specialties from the sea of Propontis. Before they left, he showed them Jupiter and Venus, the two brightest wanderers in the Byzantine sky, and both of them turned out to be completely different from how everyone saw them with the naked eye. Jupiter seemed to be in the company of several stars that could only be seen through Kai's stargazer, while Venus, for some reason, like Luna once in a month, showed only three quarters of herself. Although everything they saw, thanks to the smaragdus had a greenish tint, it was obvious that the life of wanderers and stars was far beyond the comprehension of even the smartest people in the Empire and in this case, literally beyond.

The Guest Star (9), Byzantium

Returning to Philippopolis, after only a few hours of sleep, was less risky than if they had continued in the same direction that Pescennius Niger and his legionaries had taken, which led east towards Byzantium. Vitus and Caelius had lost seven legionaries and with two veterans from Praetorian Guards who were also killed in the first wave of the attack, they had no choice but to return to regroup and reconsider the smartest way to proceed. Last night it took them three hours to bury the dead, and after a short rest, they started back before dawn with two badly wounded soldiers who had to ride in the empress's carriage. It was already night when they arrived at the imperial villa.

The Guest Star (8), Via Militaris

Parting with Valerius' family was difficult and emotional for Lucia. Developing a warm friendship with all of them, in such a short time, neither she nor Hero could have imagined. Yes, the hostage situation with the Goths sped everything up, but somehow everything was more than that. She couldn't put her finger on exactly what it was, and she knew it could just be a fascination with the life she didn't have in Rome with her own family, but tomorrow morning when they set off on their horses towards the road and Vitus waiting there, she wasn't sure that, when everything was over, returning to Rome was her only option. Leaving Alexandria was difficult, but for the first time she felt unsure of where the road would take her next.

The Guest Star (7), Timacum Maius

Lucia was worried sick all night after they heard a shrieking sound in the middle of the night, followed by another that seemed to come from a greater distance away. Both sounded distant and muffled, but she understood what Pia meant when she said it wasn't a bird. There's no bird that sounds like that, and even falcons and night owls weren't that creepy. She had a bad feeling about all of this. Livia tried to calm her down, telling her that Titus was a military veteran of over five years and would still be in service if he hadn't been wounded in the battle against the Quadi tribe in the Marcomanni Wars and if anyone could do this, it was him. Alerting the legionaries at the station was not an option. If they had gone to Timacum Maius first, it might have been too late and the kidnappers would probably have disappeared.

The Guest Star (6), Cassius

Tomorrow morning Bruttia asked her Praetorian guard and Pilus prior of the Naissus defense cohort to join them for breakfast. Lucia and Hero insisted on continuing their journey alone and she wanted a security report on the route north. When it came to security, Rome had recently become aware that the existence of an imperial workshop of that size with precious metal mines in the vicinity was not something that could be kept secret for so long. One cohort in the city, one in Timacum stations, and one in Remesiana, both less than twenty miles apart, might not be enough to meet all the dangers in the coming years. In the atrium, she hosted them at a long stone table behind the fountain.

The Guest Star (5), Naissus

To say that all the events of yesterday were intense would be an understatement. But now that it was all over Hero felt a little excited. He was by nature withdrawn and devoted to school and education and never had the opportunity to participate in any military action, let alone be at the center of it. He never expected to witness firsthand the cold-blooded killing and efficiency of Roman legionaries. Something he had only read about in books, he had the opportunity to see with his own eyes. Lucia was couple of digits away from death and the mere thought of it terrified him all over again. Seeing her sleeping peacefully just a few feet away gave him comfort and peace. Vitus gave them last night a tent where they would take a rest after the exhausting day. They should have all day to prepare for the six days journey to Naissus.

The Guest Star (4), Lissus

Hero felt they were no closer to the answers after they left Ioannis a week ago. Before Cnoso, he was sure that maybe if he could find the original text from the Tiberius' note, it could shed some more light on the meaning of the guest stars, but if it meant that the old record would be written in ancient pictographs in its entirety, it would be more than challenging, to say the least. He would need somebody who would know how to translate the ancient text to the newer Serican language and then to Latin or Greek. Ioannis said that he heard from the silk merchants in Phaestus about dozens of Serens who sailed with them along the new route in previous years, but they mostly left the ships in Egypt, and they did not know where they went. They were also merchants who did not trade in silk, but in something else, something of a technological nature.

The Guest Star (3), Insula Cretica

Corbitas were truly built for any weather. The one Hero and Lucia boarded was medium in size with a single large square sail on a mast amidships and a small square sail on an artemon mast over the bows. It was steered with two deep steering oars, one on each quarter, which in strong winds and high seas required as many as four men on each oar to control the vessel. The stern was high enough to withstand large waves during storms. Their journey was about four hundred miles and sailing in this wind should ideally take them to their destination in less than three days, assuming that with the wind changes their course would not be a straight line.

The Guest Star (2), Departure

Lucia took the scroll excerpt from the floor, one of many surrounding Hero and read it aloud: "Times of crisis are always predicted by divine omens. Sometimes the star remains visible during the entire day and night, encapsulated in rainbow colors, or another one cоmes extended to an enormous length, seemed to be hanging in the middle of the sky." She gave him a puzzled look and took another one. "Before the war of the deserters the heavens were ablaze." She deftly jumped over a pile of papyri excerpts, several opened scrolls and something that looked like old and reddish clay tablets and kneeled to face Hero. He seemed oblivious to her presence as he stared deeply at the piece of papyrus in his hands. She took it from him and revealed a text that looked very old. Text was in Greek, Latin and big portion of it written in pictographs.