November 13, 2012
At school you couldn't go a day without hearing Gaius complain. He would sit on the steps outside the forum and kick sand across the stone, which everyone knew the younger boys would have to sweep away later. He was always just sitting there, picking flecks of dirt from the white cloth of his toga and ensnaring any poor soul who happened to walk that way with his boasts.

"My father is a quaestor!" was a favorite of his, and you could sometimes hear him shrieking it all the way across the grassy expanse. "My father is wealthier than all of your fathers put together!" The worst thing was that most of his bragging was pure hyperbole. His father had been a quaestor, but that was before Sulla purged the consulate and Gaius' father was shamefully dismissed for embezzlement.

Most of us had long since learned to avoid the stairs at the edge of the forum where Gaius made his nest, but that didn't mean we could escape him during class. It was poor Faustus who got the worst of it. Gaius appointed himself Faustus' personal Fury, a vindictive demon trailing always at his heels, simply because Faustus was Sulla's son. In Gaius' mind there could be no worse crime than descending from the dictator, except perhaps being the dictator himself.

On the day before our graduation from the academy, Master Archelaus took Faustus and I aside. "What think you, Julius, and you, Faustus, of our friend Gaius Cassius Longinus?" he questioned in a grave tone. I watched Gaius petulantly fling a handful of sand across the freshly swept stone, and replied bitterly, "He's got an appetite for cruelty and he's too smart for his own good. I plan to stay well clear of him." Archelaus nodded slowly, concern shading his wizened brow. "See that you do, Julius. See that you do."

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