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Chapter 154 Training The Next Generation

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Theodosius sat on horseback, as he slowly by surely trotted forward. Today was his first lesson in horseback riding. He had to admit; it was easier than he was led to believe by his past advisors. Of course, the only reason such a thing was the case was due to the invention of stirrups which allowed the boy to mount the steed, and stay seated on its back in a much easier fashion.

Marcellus rode on horseback by the boy\'s side, giving him words of encouragement as their steads rounded the corner. He was dressed in his full armor, despite being within the grounds of the palace. Perhaps it was years of military service deep behind enemy lines, but the man wore his armor from the moment he woke up, until the second he climbed into bed, even when he wasn\'t on a campaign.

The boy seemed to get a thrill out of the Imperator\'s shiny armor and made a comment on it as he carefully held the reins in his hands.

"Uncle, your armor is so amazing. When will I get a set of my own?"

A slight chuckle erupted from Marcellus\' lips as he pushed his steed around the corner. Where he quickly made a comment in response to the boy\'s question.

"For a set of armor like this, you need to at the very least be a Legatus. Perhaps when you grow up, and enter the army, you will rise through the ranks. However, if you desire such a thing, then you need to focus on your own training, and not slack off in the slightest."

The young boy merely pouted as he heard these words, before following after his uncle, who had sped slightly ahead of him. No longer daring to merely trot forward, he made the horse move a bit faster as it walked through the palace\'s circuit with a hint of pride in its beastly eyes.

While Marcellus instructed his nephew on how to properly ride a horse, Pulcheria and her sisters were huddled together and watching the lesson. The eldest of the three sisters had a frown on her face while bitting her lower lip in displeasure. She couldn\'t help but voice her thoughts regarding her uncle allowed.

"That old bastard..."



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The moment she said this, her younger sister Arcadia repeated her words, as if she was not even aware what they meant.

"Yeah... that old bastard... Pulcheria, what\'s a bastard?"

Upon being asked this, the adolescent girl blushed lightly before looking away, not willing to answer her sister\'s question. She merely responded with a general statement that so many adults had said to her in the past.

"You will know when you\'re older..."

This caused the younger of the two sisters to pout, and just when she was about to break out into a little tantrum, Placidia approached the trio with a wide smile on her face.

"How are my three little nieces doing on this fine afternoon?"

Arcadia had completely forgotten her previous state of anger and rushed over into Placidia\'s arms, while Pulcheria no longer dared to gaze upon Marcellus\' back any longer, and instead addressed her aunt with a pleasant smile on her youthful face.

"Aunty Placidia! What are you doing here?"

The young woman smiled and gazed upon her husband, who was instructing her nephew how to ride a horse before making a short comment explaining her reasoning.

"Is it inappropriate for a wife to watch her husband while he\'s at work?"

This comment caught Pulcheria by surprise, as she did not really consider what the man was doing to be work. After all, he was the Emperor of the Romans. Why was he wasting his time teaching a young boy how to ride? Or so was her thoughts.



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If the girl was actually honest with herself, she would recognize that there was a hint of pride in her heart over the fact that Rome\'s greatest general and current military dictator was teaching her little brother the skills he needed to survive in this harsh world. But she was not honest with herself, and thus she could only find fault in everything Marcellus did, no matter how benevolent it might be.

Placidia had long since noticed the way her niece treated her man, and had taken the time out of her schedule in an attempt to mend the rift between the uncle and niece. Thus, she wore a pretty smile on her face as she tried to dig into the root issues.

"Is being a pagan really such an unforgiveable offense? Has Marcellus not done more good than evil in this world? Thanks to his efforts, the people of Rome now have more food than we have ever had in the past. Yet he does not horde it for himself, and in fact ensures that every citizen of Rome has ample food in their bellies.

When compared to Christian emperors like your uncle Honorius, who cared not for the common man, and punished the virtuous out of a sense of envy. Would you not say that Marcellus is more righteous? In the end, is that not what truly matters?"

Despite the logic behind Placidia\'s words, Pulcheria merely pouted and did not respond for several seconds. Just when Placidia was about to sigh in defeat, the girl began to argue with her words.

"Only through Christ can a man be righteous! No matter how good of deeds Marcellus may do in his life, unlike uncle Honorius, he will never enter heaven\'s gates. Because of that, he is not to be trusted!"

Placidia narrowed her eyes in response to Pulcheria\'s statement. She knew all too well what kind of man her brother was, and what evil deeds he had done. The fact that her adolescent niece had said such a man had entered heaven was an insult to those he had killed. As a result, she merely glared at the girl and said one simple phrase before departing.

"If you knew the evil that my brother had done in his life, you would never say such a foolish thing..."

For perhaps the first time in her life, Placidia had encountered the fanaticism of religion. Sure, she was born and raised in the church. But she had never seen a christian embrace a wicked man over a righteous man, simply because of which god he chose to worship.

Perhaps she was too sheltered by Stilicho, but it was only now that Placidia was starting to understand why Marcellus despised the church so much. As for Pulcheria, the girl was steadfast in her ways, and stubborn beyond belief. She would continue to look down on Marcellus for some time, before she ever started to think of the man as family.



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