" Are you sure this is wise?" Praetorian Prefect Naevius Sutorius Macro asks as he hurries quickly behind Caligula. "I mean the whole of Tiberius's family is in residence."
"True Macro," Caligula replies not slowing his step at all. "But they are not with him now. I may not get another chance."
"This is dangerous," Macro states. He follows Caligula around a corner and nearly runs into a member of his own Praetorian guard who stands not far from Tiberius's bedchamber. He prays the man has not heard them.
"Prefect Naevius!" the guard shouts in surprise and salutes his superior. "I did not expect to see you here personally. Nor you Quaestor Caligula."
"You may go," Caligula says dismissively with a wave of his hand as he stands before the bedchamber door.
"I …" the guard looks back and forth from Macro to Caligula. " I don't understand."
Caligula stares daggers at Macro and nods at the guard.
"You are relived," Macro informs the guard. "I will stand guard."
"You?" the guard stammers out in utter confusion. For a Prefect of the Praetorian Guard to take up the duties of a simple palace guard is unheard of.
"Do you have some issue with taking orders from your superiors?" Caligula asks with impatience clearly resounding in his tone.
"It's hardly possible for a man to get any sleep in here with all that racket," a barely audible voice says from within the bedchamber.
"It's all right," Macro reassures the guard. "Quaestor Caligula wishes to spend some time with his great-uncle. You can go." He punctuates the words with a level gaze to let the guard know that he is overstaying his welcome in their presence.
"Of course," the guard replies seeing that he is overstepping his duty. He leaves without another word.
Once he is out of sight Caligula steps face to face with Macro. "Give it to me."
Macro reaches into a satchel hanging from his belt and removes a tightly secured scroll.
"If Gemellus or any of his family arrive you have to stall them. I will need time. Do I make myself clear?"
The Prefect nods in agreement and turns to face the hall.
Caligula slips through the bedchamber door like a thief and closes it behind him as quietly as possible.
"Who is it?" a feeble voice calls from the prone form on the bed. "Who's there?"
Caligula draws closer with silent steps. He feels the imminent death of his great-uncle hanging in the room like a fog. He breaths it in like fine wine. The sweet smell of death. A death that is of his making. "Hello uncle," the voice is dripping with a sickly sweet but feigned sincerity. The words drip from his mouth like honey as he draws closer. "I've come to see how you are faring."
"Caligula." There is a suppressed joy in Tiberius's voice. With an effort that causes him to groan in pain , he pulls one frail arm from under the bed sheets and holds it out. "Come here my boy."
Caligula walks to the bed and pulls up a nearby chair. He sits down and takes the dying man's hand. It both repulses and delights him. For he hates this man more than any that lives but he revels in the destruction of him. And soon all that he holds dear. "How are you feeling uncle?"
"I will be honest with you," Tiberius answers. "I feel the end is near. I do not think I am long for this world."
"Hush now, uncle," Caligula says with a smile. His words seem to echo in the small room and last far longer in the ears of Tiberius than they last on the lips of Caligula. "You shouldn't talk like that. You are strong. You will outlive us all."
"You are too kind. But I feel myself slipping away with each breath." As he finishes the sentence Tiberius is racked with a fit of coughing that rattles his bones and makes every organ in his body jump painfully.
As the fit nears its end Caligula leans closely in on Tiberius's prone form and draws in a deep breath. Were there another in the room to bear witness, they would see a bluish-white vapor slips from the older man's mouth like smoke and be sucks into Caligula's. Tiberius slumps deeper into his bed afterwards while Caligula shakes with near orgasmic joy.
"Perhaps you are right uncle," Caligula says standing up from the chair. "I will be so sad to see you go. But I will be the only one." He makes his way to the desk near Tiberius's bed and unrolls the parchment he brought with him.
"What do you mean?" Tiberius asks in a voice barely audible even to Caligula just a few steps away.
"Your grandson Gemellus and all the others. They have been conspiring against you." Caligula picks up the candle on the desk that is nearly burned to nothing and tips it over slightly. Red wax begins to pool near the tip. "They want to take it all away. They want to betray Rome and give it all to the Gauls."
"My…" Tiberius mutters. "My own family. It can't be."
Caligula tips the candle over more and the molten wax drips down onto the parchment. He waits for more of it to drip down then sets the candle back down. "Oh yes uncle. They have been plotting ever since you became ill."
The words drift across the room to Tiberius's ears where he cannot help but find them to be true. "I can hardly believe it. But it is nearly my time. What can I do?"
Outside Caligula now hears voices. He can distinctly hear Gemellus demanding to be let in and Macro denying him. He must work quickly.
Caligula returns with the parchment and sits by Tiberius's bed side again. "There is much you can do. Put your ring to this order then I , and I alone, will rule. Only then will Rome be safe." He holds up the parchment so that the spot of molten wax is visible. "It is …" Caligula leans in closely to whisper the next words directly into Tiberius's ear. "…the right thing to do."
"Yes," Tiberius replies dreamily. "Of course it is." He pulls his other hand out from under the bed sheets to reveal a golden ring set with the eagle of Rome.
Caligula lays the parchment on the bed and directs Tiberius's hand to press the ring into the wax. Once it is done he pulls the parchment away to look at it. The order , stamped with the signet ring of Tiberius himself, cannot be denied.
"You were always like family to me Caligula," Tiberius says with heaving breaths.
Hatred burns on the face of Caligula. "Really uncle. Is that why you had my father Germanicus killed? Poisoned? Is that why you had my mother and brother starved to death in prison? Because we were like family?" Caligula grabs the bed sheets and pulls them off Tiberius. As soon as the covering is gone Tiberius begins shaking with cold. He sees the man opening his mouth to speak but before he can Caligula grabs him by the throat and pushes him up against the head board. "Let me tell you a few little secrets. Your family loves and adores you. Gemellus is no more a traitor than you are. But I don't want to share joint rule with him. And thanks to this…" he holds up the parchment. "…I won't have to. You've given me sole rule of Rome."
Tiberius's eyes bulge in their sockets as the hate filled words of his great-nephew spill out.
"Oh and you are not dying by the way. I'm murdering you." Caligula inhales deeply and for the first time Tiberius sees the bluish mist being sucked from his body.
Tiberius tries to fight but he is too weak. Too frail. Too nearly dead.
"And lastly. Germanicus was not my father." He leans in so close that his lips nearly touch Tiberius's. "But if you end up in the Hell that I'm sure he reserved for you perhaps you might meet him. The Incubus Amoth." Caligula draws in his breath deeply again. From Tiberius's mouth slips a minuscule amount of the blue vapor. Then his wasted body slumps in the bed.
With a giggle Caligula releases his hold on his great-uncle's throat. He looks at the parchment with childish glee.
The shouting in the hallway has increased in volume. He turns to look at the door then strides towards it. He throws it wide just as Gemellus finishes screaming something at Macro.
The grandson of Tiberius looks at Caligula with a disdain that only the truly unobservant could not see. "What are you doing Caligula? I have a right to see my grandfather."
"It will do you no good now," Caligula says. He does not even try to hide the smile on his face. "Tiberius is dead."
There is a gasp from the others that have accompanied Gemellus to the hall.
"You lie!" Gemellus exclaims.
Caligula steps aside to allow Gemellus to see inside. "Have a look for yourself."
"Grandfather!" Gemellus screams running towards the bed. He stops short when he sees the condition of the bed and the body upon it. "What have you done?"
"Summon the guard Prefect," Caligula orders Macro.
Macro pulls out a whistle and blows upon it.
"You will tell me what has happened you bastard!" Gemellus screams turning back to Caligula with a tear streaked face.
Caligula holds up the parchment for Gemellus and those others present to see. "What has happened is that I now rule Rome. Alone!"
"What?!" Gemellus cries out. He reaches out for the parchment but Caligula pulls it away and hands it to Macro. "Present this to the Senate. It bears Tiberius's seal. They will have no choice but to ratify it."
"You bastard!" Gemellus wails. "You killed him didn't you?"
The Praetorian guards arrive at the door. They salute their Prefect and await orders.
"Gemellus," Caligula says in a disapproving voice. "What a thing to accuse me of. I believe if you examine the body you'll find no wounds."
"I'll kill you!" Gemellus shrieks. He lunges at the Caligula but finds the way blocked by the swords of the Praetorians.
Caligula snorts with laughter. "I believe Gemellus just threatened my life. Have him and his whole family arrested. I don't ever want to see their faces again."
"As you wish," Macro says with his own subdued smile. He snaps his fingers and in an instant Gemellus and all those with him are seized. They are dragged away kicking and screaming much to the delight of the new Emperor of Rome. After they have gone Macro turns to the new ruler. "You have done it."
"Done?" Caligula says haughtily. "My dear Macro. I have barely begun."
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