When the vampire had entered Rome, he was wearing a crown woven of dried grass and roots which were stained in still wet crimson blood. He sat proudly and confidently on a huge black warhorse whose tack was trimmed in gold. His polished yet battle-scarred armor stretched across his chest without any of the decorations the other men in the human general Lucius Licinius Lentulus's legions wore, but the only one he needed was his brittle circlet: the Corona Graminea. An honor so rare that he was a living legend at the age of twenty-six.
The thousands of people lining the narrow streets exploded into ecstatic cries when they saw him. "Imperator! Imperator!" they screamed, not caring that the chant was used only for generals. Some of the braver women pressed to the front of the crowds and flung flowers before his horse.
Sweat ran down the back of her tunica as Lia pushed and jostled the other women, but in her basket of petals was a hidden dagger. Her hand white-fisted around the knife. It was pure madness, but oh Goddess, the anger made her alive.
He was here at last.