Cicero ran his hand over the sharpened barricade. “Those Vandal dogs will sooner see Hell than the inside of our city.” He smiled knowingly at Virgil.

Virgil, for his part, was engrossed in the several red apples pressed against his chest.

Cicero frowned. “Virgil. I say, Virgil, are you listening?”

Virgil nodded between grotesque sucks of apple juice and the flecks of peelings sticking to his lips.

“Virgil, I’m commenting on the fine craftsmanship of this abatis- You and your men, you did a fine job.”

Virgil continued to devour the apples.

Cicero tapped the hilt of his short sword with something very like annoyance and approaching indignation. He would have reprimanded Virgil except he was the only soldier at attention. The others had scattered to the orchards, to a man, to investigate the sundry trees’ bounty of nuts, berries, and waxy leaves. Only Virgil was left. And Virgil had an unhealthy appetite for pomaceous fruits.

Apples. Bugger. Being Roman used to mean something. Men were proud to wave the old SPQR. For all of the bravery and legends and big shiny helmets what did he have to defend the city? Cicero sighed. “You know, Virgil, I really wonder if the whole Empire might not come crashing down while I wait for you to burp.”

It did.

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