XIV: Guess who's Coming to Dinner
Sagala Royal Palace, September 25th
Marcus Antonius strode into the throne room of King Apollophanes, the second last to arrive. The room was furnished with tables plied high with the best food the now multi-national city could offer, the walls draped with purple silks and textiles. At the center table sat the king, and opposite him Cleopatra, each flanked by their children. As little Ptolemy ran up to greet his father, Cleopatra smiled "By Zeus, he's sober at last!" "How can you tell?" The king asked quizzically "You ever try to put a toga on a drunk man? Much harder than getting it off." Apollophanes gave her a slightly disgusted look, before rising to greet Antonius "You're actually early for once, truely the world must be ending. Slightly annoyed, the Roman asked "Is it really a public holiday when I can get myself out of bed before cena?" "A bit, yeah." the king replied.
Before Antonius could reply, a messenger shouted out "Presenting Prince Vonones! Heir to Parthia!" As Antonius rushed to his place at the table, the prince entered flanked by two swordmen. Seeing his guards were the only ones armed, he dismissed them with a wave, and bowed slightly "King Apollophanes, it's an honor to be aquainted with my father's eastern neighbor." The king stood and returned the bow "And the honor is all mine to have the son of my western neighbor at court." "Indeed, I'm happy your campaign this year has allowed us to meet as friends, and I must say, your hospitality is much more respectable than Caesars."
Antonius jumped slightly at that "You spoke with Octavius?" The Parthian nodded "About a year ago in Antioch, threated to burn down my dynasty or something along those lines unless we agreed to kill you both." He pointed at Antonius and Cleopatra, who both looked taken aback. The prince continued "Odd bastard, does a very good impression of a bust. It's a bit creepy isn't it?" "Sounds like the brat indeed." Antonius nodded "Since I'm not helping you examine your own ass right now, I'm assuming you turned him down? Cleopatra shot him daggers, but Vonones laughed "Smart man indeed. Yes I told him to fuck his sister more or less, mostly because he gave me a bad deal."
"And what deal would that be?" Apollophanes asked "Your kingdom more or less. We have no use for India though, it's a mess, no offense." "Or course not." the king said through gritted teeth. "Now to get to the point." Vonones said "We do want to help you, it's just we aren't going to clear the way to Rome and Alexandria for you for free." Cleopatra sighed "Of course, and I've put together a plan for the redrawing the Parthian borders with Rome and Egypt." Antonius looked at her shocked "You did?! When!? Why didn't you tell me!?" "I DID. Two months ago. And your reply was something along the lines of 'Don't bother me woman, I've got four more of you tonight.'" Antonius didn't remember that, but conceded, while Caesarion muttered "Fucks sake dad." under his breath.
"Fine, fine. Let's hear it." Cleopatra nodded, and a servent brought out a map of the Eastern Mediterranean. "I was thinking we let the Parthians have Armenia." She looked at Vonones "Annex it, vassalize it, wipe your arse with it I don't care." Antonius winced, but said nothing "Same with Phoenicia, but I'd like you to keep Herod in Jersalem, he's solid." Vonones nodded "Then I was thinking you could have as vassals, Pontus, Cappadocia, and Cilicia-" "Partition!" Antonius almost shouted "You can partition those provinces with me. We'll work out the details after it's all done." The Parthian nodded "That works better actually, I'd rather not have my thumb too far up Rome's ass, sorry children." Cleopatra Selene waved him off "You've met our father, we're used to it."
"Anyway." The queen said "In return I'll let Rome have Cyrene and Crete back, that should keep the senate from rioting more than they surely will." At that Apollophanes sat up "Actually, I know it's not my concern, but who's going to be ruling what?" "It's quite simple." Cleopatra said "I'll take the children and rule in Alexandria, Antonius will take back the consulship, and that's that." "Hey, wait." The king suddenly looked worried "Does that include Caesarion?" "Well yes." he replied "And my daughter?" "My wife? I would hope, she's got my child in there." "That child is supposed to be my heir, you dick!" At that Vonones stood "Well this no longer seems to require my attendance, I'll be waiting outside."
As soon as the guest left, the discussion got more heated "Listen you Latin little ass. That child in there" he pointed to Ambrosia's stomach "Is the one chance I have of saving my dynasty. I WILL NOT let you march halfway across the world with it. You forget you're still a guest here, don't fuck with me." "Alright, alright." Antonius said, munching on some pastry as he had been since he got there "It's not like we're leaving tomarrow, I have an idea." "Let me hear it." Apollophanes said, still furious "Firstly, there's no guarantee our grandchild is even a son, by Pluto it could come out dead or weird or who knows." Ambrosia suddenly looked horrified "So here's what I suggest. Since we're likely to be here another year or two anyway, Caesarion can keep at it as soon as this one's out. Odds are pretty good you'll get a boy or two out of that, and you can keep them once we leave."
"That's it!?" Apollophanes shouted "You stupid soldier, I'm fucking OLD! I'll be long dead before her son is of age!" "Will you calm down, be reasonable." The king scoffed "Am I in Hades? Marcus Antonius is telling me to be reasonable." At that Cleopatra spoke up "Actually that's a good point, Marcus, are you alright?" "Come to think, I do feel... odd." He turned to one of the slaves "What was in that pastry, opium?" "No master, just figs, and a bit of cannabis." "A bit!?" Cleopatra marched over to Antonius' side of the table, smelling the pastry "You moron, this is full of cannabis!" "Ah shit." Antonius muttered "Is father going to die!?" Ptolemy asked, frightened "If only the world were that sweet." Bemoaned Apollophanes "No, he just might wish he had. Have him brought to bed, he'll be strange until this tike tomarrow." As two of the slaves led him away, he caught Cleopatra by the arm "Tell the... that asshole." He meant Vonones "I'll agree to your proposal." The queen nodded as he wobbled away to bed...