Story:Glory of Rome

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Glory of Rome
User:Chromogar
Flag of Roman Empire.svg
Written 14 February 2020
Story Arcs Romanum story arc
Wordcount 855
Location Constantinople, Roman Empire


Taking a deep breath, I approach the microphone stand. The crowd, and the Empire, want their Basileus. I must tell them the truth. Falling back on my rhetoric lessons, I start reading from my notes. Live, of course.

What if Alexander the Great had attacked the infant Roman state instead of Persia?

An impossible question. Our great military minds of long ago believed we’d win. In reality, Rome was too poor, too militant and too lacking in prestige to be worth the fight.

Persia was the land of the Shahanshah, the King of Kings. Perhaps the greatest Empire ever created before our own, that of Cyrus the Great, a man whose tomb Alexander himself was said to have paid respects at, rose, became great, and fell, all while our forebears were still relatively uncivilised.

Alexander did not want our little village. He wanted the prestige of Persia, the riches of Egypt and the glory of crossing the Indus into the exotic lands of India.

Our greatness would come. Caesar Augustus forged an empire that had already swallowed up the bickering and divided western remnants of Alexander’s vast realm. In those days, the Empire stretched all the way from the muddy isle of Britannia to what would become our Holy Land.

We became the greatest empire in history, eclipsing the empire of Cyrus, the empire of Alexander, the shattered realms of the Diadochi and the ancient kingdom of Egypt.

We have been tested. Our resilience has held us firm. Our God has been our guide and our protector. Though the barbarians ravaged the West, the East remained. The East held the Imperial line founded by the first Augustus. First it was the Huns and the Goths.

Then, a new force from the south threatened to destroy two empires. The Mohammedan Arabs rushed over our southern borders in hordes, proclaiming a false new religion.

Though the Arabs tested us to our limits, we survived. We recovered as we always do. We came back stronger than ever.

Listen, people of Rome. We had been in a centuries-long struggle with the Persians for dominance in the East. We sacked their capital, Persepolis, more times than anyone can remember.

Let me ask another question. What if we had been at war with the Persians? What if our ancestors had not forged a lasting peace between us? We would have been weak. Both us and the Persians would have been exhausted and another power would have carved us both up.

Unlike the ancients, I need not ask ‘what if?’, because I know. I know that the followers of the false prophet would have spread their religion from the Atlas mountains to the Indus.

Constantinople, too, would have fallen. To the Turks, a unremarkable people you only know as living East of the Caspian Sea. They would have surged into Europe. Christendom would have been divided, split, forever and the Balkans overrun with Muslims. Jerusalem also, would have spent most of the last fourteen hundred years in the hands of infidels.

To many of you, this will seem as useless as the first question. Most of you will find what I have to say difficult to believe. But I am entirely serious when I say I know what would have happened. Not just in that timeline but a thousand others.

The me of not too long ago would have called my present self crazy. Indeed, I called an old friend that, an old friend who has since passed.

He was trying to answer the same questions many of us have had about critical points in our own history. To this end, he, with my father, the then-emperor’s, support, embarked on a mission to simulate time itself.

After simulating a thousand different histories, he claimed that these simulations had become gateways. Gateways to worlds where time went differently. I never believed him. My father dismissed him, but the project stalled without my friend leading it, so he shut it down.

I never believed my friend, that is, until last month. Last month I saw the truth. I saw a thousand different timelines with my own eyes. I know them because I lived them. I have seen the Nexus. I have seen the planet Yaop. I have seen the fall of a hundred Romes and hundred Constantinoples.

For now, the words ‘Nexus’ and ‘Yaop’ mean nothing to you. The fall of our capital may seem distant and impossible to you. Very soon, I fear, these words will become far too familiar.

However, it is my duty as your monarch to lead. I must not leave you in the dark and I will not leave you in the dark. I have told you the truth, against the wishes of those who would rather the truth come crashing down on you suddenly.

Thank you, my people.

The cameras cut. The people will be worried. The world will look on in shock. Someone may be emboldened to stab in the back. Maybe literally.

The people have to know. Besides, I can’t take back my words now.

My father sure was right about the crown of the Basileus. It’s incredibly heavy.