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Quintus Vestinus Corvus
Fictional Character
by Laura Frankos
"Merchants of Discord"
Set in OTL
Type of Appearance: Direct POV
Nationality: Roman Empire
Religion: Roman pantheon, with a preference for Mithras
Date of Birth: 2nd century
Occupation: Decurion
Spouse: Tancorix (wife)
Affiliations: Roman Army

Quintus Vestinus Corvus was the first decurion in Brocolitia, a fort along the Wall. He served as the right hand of prefect Claudius Appelinus.[1] He originally hailed from northern Italia.[2] His wife, Tancorix, was the daughter of a Briton, and lived in the settlement outside the fort. His duties were such that he could go long periods of time without seeing her, even though she lived close by.[3]

Discord came to Brocolitia in the form of four merchants who shared a mutual dislike for each other. They'd been escorted by Cammius Maximus, who warned Corvus about the merchants before taking a note to Appelinus.[4]

Corvus saw the tension among the group almost immediately after they arrived at the inn of Gaius Julius Decuminus. Brocco, touchy about how the Romans treated Britons, demanded to have the one private room at the inn to himself so as to escape Secundinius the Gaul's snoring. Tertullus, an African, mocked Brocco. When Corvus asked Decuminus who should have the room, Decuminus suggested Flavius Antigonus Papias and his son, both Greeks, should have the room since they hadn't raised a cry. Secundinius then intimated that the Greeks were lovers, and not father and son. Papias and his son refused the private room, and in turn suggested Secundinius should have the private room, so as to isolate his snoring from everyone else. Corvus and Decuminus both agreed with the logic.[5] That decision made, Secundinius, Tertullus and Brocco once again fell to bickering, and Corvus wished Decuminus luck.[6]

The next day, Corvus and the fort's standard-bearer, Calpurnius Firmus, went to the market to buy wine for the fort's mess.[7] They briefly visited Papias' wagon first, where Corvus purchased a few items. While examining a box, he inadvertently found a secret compartment with a ring inside, which Papias quickly informed Corvus was not for sale. Corvus recognized the significance of the ring, but kept it to himself.[8]

They then moved on to Secundinius' wagon, where Tancorix was waiting to buy wine, much to Corvus' excitement. Secundinius, not knowing Tancorix's identity, refused to sell to her once Corvus and Firmus arrived as they were her "betters". Another Roman soldier, Publius Rubrius, explained who Tancorix was before Corvus could erupt. Upon hearing this, Secundinius promptly sold Tancroix his best jugs of wine.[9] Secundinius also tried to get back into Corvus' good graces by making accusations against the other merchants. As Corvus saw no evidence of any crimes, he again asserted that so long as things were peaceful, he wouldn't heed any of Secundinius' rumors.[10] As Corvus and Tancorix looked over the other wagons, they heard Matugenus the potter joking with Brocco in their native tongue. Tancorix explained that Matugenus didn't want Secundinius' imported pots, and that Secundinius could stick his head in one of his cursed pots and never come out. They also purchased from Tertullus, who bad-mouthed Secundinius for having stolen a customer from him, and even intimated that Secundinius might have committed murder to get that deal.[11] The next day, when Corvus visited the inn before the market opened, he found that Secundinius had been in a verbal altercation with Tertullus and then a physical one with Brocco. Decuminus received a lump on his head when he intervened.[12]

On the third morning, Decuminus sent his grandson to inform Corvus that Secundinius had been found murdered at a shrine to Belatucadrus. Corvus and Firmus went to the shrine and examined the body, finding a knife wound to the belly.[13] Decuminus reported that Secundinius had quarreled with Papias the night before, and Papias refused to speak of a matter publicly. Then he attempted to argue with Brocco and Tertullus in turn. Then all three left the inn.[14]

The investigation seemed to point to Papias first, when Firmus found a bloody knife in Papias' wagon. However, during interrogation, Corvus revealed that he knew Papias was a Christian, which was a sect not fully understood in that part of the Empire. While Papias insisted his beliefs would not allow him to commit murder, Corvus concluded that Papias was too smart to have actually killed Secundinius, but until other evidence turned up, Papias would have to remain in custody.[15]

The local Greek doctor, Archagathus, found a piece of metal with the letters IVS in Secundinius' hand, and gave it to Corvus, who returned to the shrine, and found a curse tablet against Secundinius. He spent the remainder of the day investigating and interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence.[16] Then he released Papias and confronted the real killer: Tertullus.

Corvus laid out his evidence. Tertullus had been at the brothel every night since the merchants had arrived. He'd asked the woman he was with, Pluma, about the local gods. He'd also bought a quantity of lead, ostensibly to fix pots, but his pots were not worn; the lead was how he made his curse tablet. Finally, Pluma gave Corvus Tertullus' old cloak, which was blood-stained.[17]

Tertullus confessed, and Corvus took him into custody. Tertullus asked Papias' for forgiveness, which Papias freely gave. Privately, Corvus doubted that the courts would be as forgiving.[18]

References[]

  1. Crime through Time III, pg. 28, mmp.
  2. Ibid., pg. 31.
  3. Ibid., pg. 30.
  4. Ibid., pgs. 28-29.
  5. Ibid., pgs. 31-32.
  6. Ibid., pg. 32.
  7. Ibid., pg. 32.
  8. Ibid., pg. 33.
  9. Ibid., pg. 34.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid., pgs. 36-37.
  13. Ibid., pg. 37.
  14. Ibid., pg. 38.
  15. Ibid., pg. 39-40.
  16. Ibid., pgs. 41-42.
  17. Ibid., pg. 43.
  18. Ibid., pg. 44.
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