Chapter 1 – Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Palestine
“My inquiries have come back from the Senate,” he spoke in a conspirator voice. “The governor general position of Syria and Palestine had been given to Pontus Pilate.”
“I don’t know him,” Cornelius said.
“I met him once in Rome. He is a career politician who is also trying to impress Tiberius and the Senate. The talk is that with the volatility of that region… with its increasing insurgent problems and foreign intervergence, the eastern trade supply had been steadily strangled. For Pilate, this governorship may be a career maker or breaker. He is taking a real risk.”
“Father, what have you heard about my sudden promotion? I don’t think I am senior enough in the roster to merit the Primus Pilus position.”
“All I know is that a General Gaius had put in the request. I remember meeting him many many years ago. He was a Tribune then but quite popular among the public masses because he also rose through the ranks.”
“General Gaius is in command of my division. I don’t remember ever meeting him in Spain nor in Rome,” Cornelius sat down on a marble bench. “So, why would he petition for my promotion especially a rank usually reserved for men in their fifties.”
“Ah remember… this rank is also awarded to those who have special skills. I believe you have been chosen for a task that is unique only to you. This assignment may advance you or break you. Be wary.”
“Be wary,” Cornelius repeated to himself as he stared from the bow of the ship blankly looking out into a foggy sea.
“The wind!” A voice shouted from the stern which brought Cornelius out of his deep thoughts to the present. He looks around as several commands were shouted unseen from the stern and he watched the sailors run to their stations; a number of them climbed the rigging like monkeys. Then they would precariously crawl out to the ends of the yard arm with both ends extending out about thirty feet from the center. The massive sail unfurled which slowly expanded and fluttered in the wind. Things became clearer as the fog swirled away and steadily dissipated. Cornelius could now just make the other ships in the fleet. The galley started to roll on increasing swells. Another unseen command was given and sailors as well as loitering legionaries from his own command were mustered roughly into two line on opposite sides of the ship. One line faced the stern with each man grasping a thick rope. The other line was facing the bow also grasping a rope.
The command was given. “Heave!”
The two lines started to move in the respective direction with every hand pulling and grunting. Cornelius looked up as the yard arm ponderously pivoted to the port side in a more or less 45 degree angle allowing the fluttering sail to suddenly balloon as it caught the wind. Another command was given and the ropes were secured. Cornelius felt his balance shift as the ship picked up speed. The other sail smaller than the first was also set until it too billowed into the wind.
Cornelius turned again and looked out into a hazy horizon. He knew there is land there and sure enough a voice from above, a look-out on the crow’s nest, on top of main mast hailing, “Land ho!”
The story continues in my next post a week from now.
If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.