Soaring marble pillars spilled across the stretch of the titanic hall, sheltering the ring of gladiators standing in the black shadows. The obtuse angles of the expansive domed building permitted them to remain relatively unseen, caught only by those with raven eyes. These barbaric animals were not crucial to the devious plot. It was to be expected that they would linger where they stood throughout the ordeal. Men who had given rough death would stand aside and witness Amadeus’ foul deeds. Upon other occasions, the immense irony would have deserved a small laugh from Amadeus. But not today. Pale angular fingers, moist with sweat, lurked into the depths of the elegant toga. Subconsciously grasping an ordinate ivory hilt, his hand felt the cold and miserable touch that resonated with his thoughts. Amadeus forced himself to let go. It was unwise to let his fellow senators see his overwhelming insecurity. The distinguished men had purposely scattered themselves in minor clusters, everyone a portrait of established authority. Amadeus noticed that their eyes sporadically flickered towards the inviting entrance, each pair blinding suns of bold determination. These men had entered through free will, had convinced themselves to justify the upcoming murder. Amadeus still had not. Amadeus’ sharp green eyes sought out the two men of importance talking quietly together farther apart from the others. The first, Amadeus knew only as the student and personal friend of the great Julius Caesar. Many watched him and the entrance with equal frequency, as he portrayed the crucial key to unlocking a successful assassination. Marcus Brutus, a man whose name carried great significance across the Roman Empire. He endured a relaxing stance while he discussed quietly with another senator Amadeus unfortunately knew considerably well. Both were of calm composure, though the eyes of one glinted with strange danger. “You must do it. He will slay the Empire and declare himself king. Pompey once thought such as you, and now he is a mockery to democracy. You could become celebrated someday Amadeus, but you must come to realize the necessity of creating opportunities. My fatal mistakes shall not become yours.” The quick, humid air tumbled through Amadeus’ black hair, yet he made himself ignore the wind’s rising pitch. The weather was refreshing, it helped hide his surprise at the blunt and absurd notions his mentor proposed. The grey haired senator had lived countless seasons, making Amadeus unsure if the man still had the ability to dance the political sport. Perhaps his experience gave him a hidden advantage, yet Amadeus had not seen evidence of it. “It is vile treason and foul murder. I do not wish to advance in life through such atrocities. There must be other methods,” Amadeus responded, not willing to look into the old man’s pale glazed brown eyes. “Every choice has been attempted and all have failed significantly. This time we are promised a true success. He must die or Rome will die. You must make your decision known to us, yet perhaps I can influence your choice.” The older man leisurely walked several paces to the edge of the balcony and peered calmly over the endless spine of the city. Amadeus remained still and waited for the elder to continue his idiocy. “Amadeus, you have realized and taken into consideration the consequences of refusing, yes?” The older man’s breathing paused silently while his eyes scorched Amadeus’ face. The raspy voice continued in a whisper. “If we succeed without you, the knife may glide into your back next.” The memory made Amadeus’ mind tumble into a mixture of angry emotions and worried speculations. The aged fool would soon come to understand his enormous mistake. No longer would Amadeus tolerate the elders’ manipulation, nor would he allow the old man to destroy Rome’s future. Amadeus’ hand subconsciously crept back into his toga, yet he caught himself when his slender finger contacted the frosty weapon. He glanced around hastily, but found no eyes upon him except those of the two secluded men. One of the men eyed Amadeus warily with vigorous suspicion. The next stared in deliberate confusion. Yet their mouths continued to move mechanically in the flow of intense discussion. Amadeus walked into the large feast hall, where the sounds of conversation sang loud with the vocals of laughter. The evening was meant to celebrate the dictator’s favourite day, the Ides of March. Few understood what he treasured about it, though rumours had floated into Amadeus’ ears, each of them as fanciful as the last. In the center of the room, a stiff oak table defined the hall’s contour, serving the hundreds of notorious men who made dramatic gestures. The emerald vines that coloured the plain wall partnered with the large fireplaces that produced a fiery glow of heat. Yet none of the civilized luxury caught Amadeus’ eye. The privilege of sitting near the head of the dictator’s table meant he must capture every hint that travelled his way. “It is a shame that you have not found logic yet, Senator Amadeus. We greatly desire your companionship tomorrow afternoon.” The quiet yet steady voice of Brutus shattered Amadeus’ concentration. He had been immersed in a dynamic argument between Senator Cassius and the dictator. He took a slow sip from his ornate goblet to wet his throat before giving his response. Amadeus would have never suspected that Brutus himself was part of the conspiracy. Stealing a quick glance towards the man, Amadeus then turned and stared ahead into one of the furious fires blazing. “I find myself in a rather complex predicament, my choices are limited. You seem unlikely,” said Amadeus. Brutus gave a rough laugh, yet cut it briskly. “Sometimes we have to decide upon hard choices. The man is my brother in all but blood, yet I see the hazard. A king leading Rome will lead to ruin.” “Perhaps you are travelling down the wrong path. There are others who develop trouble,” responded Amadeus, glancing towards the man beside the dictator. “Many develop trouble, but only one man can cause grave harm,” said Brutus. “There must be another way, Senator Brutus. See reason!” said Amadeus. Brutus paused silently before responding in a gentle, yet mysterious voice. “He always spoke to me of his end. He wants to die a soldier’s death, the unexpected death. Ponder carefully, Amadeus.” A stir of movement brought Amadeus back to the giant building, where the roar of calm movement along the entrance quickly gained every eye’s attention. Amadeus had been expecting a heavy crowd trailing like sheep, yet oddly the dictator had entered alone. The echoing sounds of scuffling feet shouted out to Amadeus that he was not alone in his curious apprehension. Moving so that his white robes flourished at every step, the dictator gracefully flowed to the center of the hall, where the large statue of Pompey stood in contrast to the man approaching it. He turned around in a slow manner that helped convey a strong image of influence, yet Amadeus knew he was memorizing the numerous faces present. Not all of the senators knew of the violent plot, the untrustworthy ones had been absent from the conspiracy. But the majority here would partake. The dictator’s eyes journeyed around the hall and unveiled the quiet atmosphere. When Amadeus’ eyes caught his, he nearly destroyed the discipline he held. The man’s eyes reflected sorrowful pity, not the raging hatred Amadeus had prepared himself for. The gaze burned Amadeus’ soul for a perpetual second before silently passing onto the other men standing present. The dictator did not waver throughout the ordeal, yet he stopped and stared at Brutus. Both men illustrated identical stone faces exposing no obvious emotion, yet it appeared as though the dictator was unsure of himself. The tense ordeal was broken by Amadeus’ mentor slowly walking towards the large statue, appearing relaxed and unconcerned. He finished his saunter several paces from the dictator and a concentrated stare suddenly wrinkled his weathered face. “On behalf of my fellow senators, I offer the crown. Do you accept the title of king?” asked the old man, turning as he spoke to glare at the dictator. “I decline, Senator Cassius. No king will be welcome in Rome,” said the dictator hastily. The aged man gave a sarcastic laugh that sounded throughout the hall’s endless volume. The other conspirators present held stiff composure, though the energy that radiated throughout the large room showed their nervous thoughts. Amadeus forced himself not to grasp his knife hilt. The need to feel its icy reassurance was incredibly tempting. “You deceive us! Your intentions for the Roman Empire will lead to our downfall,” said Cassius. The dictator’s voice of command overpowered the small, frail man. “I have the powers of any king. You and your hidden comrades commit treason against every citizen of Rome. Justice shall be dealt.” Amadeus’ aged mentor pulled out his curved dagger from his interior robes, holding it high above his head in disagreement to the dictator. The many men around Amadeus followed in a less civilized pattern, including Amadeus himself, after several moments of uncertain hesitation. As an afterthought, Amadeus realized that he had declared himself to all present. The consequence of failing to kill the man would be fatal. The mass of murderous men started to walk forward, yet the dictator did not show any noticeable reaction. Amadeus followed at a lethargic rate, hoping perhaps the dictator would not see his face. Yet the aged man motioned to Amadeus, with harsh gestures and strict words, to quicken his stride. Amadeus cursed silently to himself while he tightened his fingers around his knife. The first senator to slash brutally at the dictator only tore a large strip of cloth from the rich toga. The dictator tried to defend himself feebly, yet the swift strokes of the cold metal soon consumed him. The taunting voice of Cassius urged Amadeus to continue forward towards the hail of metal that swarmed the dictator. Amadeus halted and turned slowly to face the elderly senator. With a sinister glare, the aged mentor continued to ridicule Amadeus with his insulting words. Amadeus’ temper elevated and he slowly raised his knife. Suddenly, the crowd surrounding the dictator divided. Brutus walked past both Amadeus and Cassius, his gaze set solely on the dictator. Brutus’ knife was not decorated like the many that flashed in the afternoon’s light, it held a plain wooden handle and standard blade. A soldier’s knife. Silence overcame the hall in a deadly echo. The coldness of Amadeus’ own knife scorched his palm in a horrendous agony. Caesar’s voice to burrowed into every man’s thoughts. “Et tu, Brutus?” The plain and unpretentious soldier’s knife rapidly glided forward in remorseful flight, finding its path. A piercing cry of betrayal followed. Amadeus dropped his cold weapon and fled.