The inn was full, but the Innkeeper was not happy. This was not the usual crowd, these were dangerous, angry men. The Emperor, for reasons he kept to himself, had decreed that every male in the Empire be registered in the town of their ancestors. No one knew why, some suggested the Emperor was going to raise taxes on the provinces, others talked of a renewed campaign against the Germanic tribes, and Rome’s need to know how many legions were available.

So, men of wealth made the trip to their ancestral homes. They brought with them guards to protect them on the way. Guards who were defying the Emperor’s decree by being in the town of their employer, not their own. Caught between loyalty to their paymaster, and obedience to their Emperor, loyalty won out, but the price was high, and no one was happy. There was nothing left but the waiting. The men waiting to be registered and then their long trip home, the innkeep waiting to have his own home back.

The Innkeeper’s son also did not like these angry men. He kept himself as busy as he could in the stables in the back. The stables were no more than a cave, but the cave was quiet, so the Innkeeper’s son spent his hours in the cave taking care of the beasts.

He, too, was waiting for things to get back to normal. He could hardly have imagined that normal was about to change, and that change was going to happen in the quiet stable where he was finding refuge. The loud and rowdy common room, full as it was with music and stories, was destined to be a footnote in history.