King Amren finally proclaimed, “Marrock is no son of mine! I renounced and banished him almost seven years ago for his treacherous acts.”
The senator remained adamant. “Rome only recognizes the birthright of your eldest male heir, not the queen or your daughters.”
“Marrock!” Amren growled with contempt. “Why would Rome support him?”
“Cunobelin, the king of the Catuvellauni, claims your son is the rightful heir.”
The senator’s disclosure shocked Catrin; she could feel her heart pounding in her chest. Even though her father and Cunobelin had been bitter rivals, they had recently forged a truce. Obviously, Cunobeline had offered her father a hand of friendship while stabbing him in the back by championing Marrock’s claims. She seethed. This is brazen betrayal. Marrock cannot become king! He will destroy everyone in my family!
When Catrin’s noticed her father’s clenched jaw, she assumed that he had also reached the same conclusion. She had seldom seen him lose control of his steel-edged demeanor, but his face blazed like molten metal. A battle-hardened warrior, he might lash out. Her mother must have also seen this, because she rose to calm him with a soft touch. It seemed to work, as her father appeared to relax, his face returning to normal color. He looked at the senator and said in a more tempered voice, “How did you hear of Marrock’s claims?”
The senator pulled at his toga. “From the mouth of the Catuvellauni king himself in Rome. Last fall, he presented your son’s case to Emperor Tiberius.”
Every new disclosure by the senator grated on Catrin; nothing made sense. Why would the mighty emperor support her half-brother’s claim to the throne if he had seen his monstrous face?
She then overheard her father grumble in Celtic, “Cunobelin, that treacherous dog.” Her mother again nudged him and shook her head. This time, the king made no attempt to hide his rage.
“Why should Cunobelin’s support for Marrock matter to Rome? This is a local tribal issue that has no impact on the empire. For that matter, neither does it affect the Catuvellauni.”
“I beg to differ,” the senator replied. “Cunobelin accuses you of blocking Roman merchants from traveling through your kingdom to trade with the Catuvellauni. Marrock promises to open trade ways through your territory.”
“Where is Marrock now?”
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