No one knew what caused the fire.The fire separated Quintus from his wife,
Quinta, because Quintus had been in the Roman Law Courts when the fire
started.Although only a few miles away
on Quirinale Hill, one of Rome’s famed seven hills, Quinta might as well have
been hundreds of miles away.
here," a voice shouted from a door set between two Doric columns.Quintus had passed by the door many times on
his way to the law courts.He had always
thought it a facade and not a working door.Now it sat open with faint light coming from it as people, citizens,
plebs and slaves alike, scurried amidst the growing inferno, their shadows
bouncing off the marble buildings and the dusty pathways.
you talking to me?"
tall one.My name is Servus
way.There isn't much time.We must hurry."The mysterious man pointed to the narrow,
turned down the dim passageway and followed the man as he carried a glowing
torch in front of him.Quintus did not
know why he followed the man, for he had never seen him or at least he didn’t
recall doing so.The man’s dark eyes
shone with certainty, an absolute certainty that he alone knew the way out of
the inferno.His eyes spoke with
confidence words could not convey for in their dark implacability they allowed
for no doubt.Ultimately the conviction
in the man’s eyes made Quintus trust him.The conviction Quintus thought he saw told him the stranger knew the way
to safety.Quintus acted out of
instinct, and his instinct usually proved correct.His instinct and the man’s conviction told
Quintus to trust the man.Quite frankly,
he didn’t have many other good options.He could panic among the hapless rabble of people or take a chance and
follow the man.Besides at least there
wasn’t fire in the passage.
felt like eons passed as they raced through the dank passage.His sandaled feet hit hundreds of bricks as
he ran deeper under the ground.Occasionally his arm brushed against cold, wet stone, and he heard the
constant drip of water around him.Probably
from the aqueducts he thought.In spite
of the coldness of his surroundings, he felt a warm aura from what he assumed
was the fire above.The passage smelled
of wetness and burning simultaneously. He ran for at least half and hour, and
the distance along with the heat, wetness and cold meant he must have been deep
under the earth because he soon felt no warmth from the blazing Roman inferno.
here.We are going to make it.This way..."
glowing torch was Quintus’ last human memory.