On the way to Eboracum, Aulus Hectorius sends Caius Hectorius, Quintus Badiovirus, Lugh Striking-Hand, and Peredur into a valley to recover as many buried coin hoards from the ruins of old villas as they can, to help pay for the campaign. They manage to recover four.
When the army reaches Eboracum, there is much debate about what Aulus Hectorius should be acclaimed as. At stake is the nature of his kingdom, and what the army is fighting for. Should he be declared Emperor Aulus Hectorius, leader of the last bastion of Rome in the west — and possibly the next Restitutor Orbis? Or should he be acclaimed as Arthur Pendragon, High King of the Britons — the leader of a new nation? Lugh becomes the foremost leader of the Nationalist faction; Caius, of the Imperialist faction. Early on, when Lugh tries to champion his cause among the men, Caius takes offense, interpreting it as an attempt to manipulate and strong-arm his brother. The confrontation leads to a private duel in the woods, which Caius wins.
While the debate continues in the city, with each of his commanders offering their advice to Aulus, Sextus Blossius Martianus arranges a secret meeting with Peredur, where he tells him the story of Firactus’s treachery, and how Æthelflæd turned his father, Vorcunos, into the monster he is today. Peredur made Martianus one of his Outriders.
Meanwhile, Bishop Auspex spoke to Caius of his concern over Aulus’s Pelagian heresy, and having an Enemy of God like Badiovirus so close to him. He told Caius that if he cares for his brother, he should do more to save him from the infection of heresy. Caius took offense at this, and cowed the bishop by threatening him.
When Peredur went to Gwenhwyfar to advise her to help Aulus make a decision, she explained how she had tried to push him into taking the title of High King, but Aulus listens to his brother’s advice, too, which had led to an impasse. She decided that for his own good, she should try to drive a wedge between the brothers. She sent Lugh to advise that Aulus be anointed by a Pelagian bishop, hoping to provoke a response from Caius. Caius advised against it simply because it was divisive. Aulus pointed out that whether the bishop was Catholic or Pelagian, it would be a divisive move that alienated some on the other side. Caius pointed out that if he, a known Pelagian, were anointed by a Catholic bishop, it would send a powerful message of unity. Aulus agreed, and sent Caius and Badiovirus to Bishop Auspex. The guard would not admit Badiovirus, who grew angry and slew him. They then intimidated the bishop into agreeing to anoint Aulus. In the process, Caius was angry enough that he slipped, and told the bishop, “You will anoint Arthur High King.”
Lugh had clearly overestimated Caius’s devotion to his faith, and underestimated his commitment to his family. Caius is no deep theologian; he accepts the Catholic faith because it’s part of being a Roman. But he’s devoted to being a Roman because he sees pietas, devotion to family, as one of the core principles that define romanitas. Lugh asked Aulus why he would be anointed by a bishop he does not agree with? Will he not need God’s blessing to rule justly? Aulus told Lugh that every man has equal access to God. He does not need a bishop to bless him. God will bless him, or not, based on what he does — and no priest can change that. Lugh found this shocking, and more than a little bit arrogant.
When he returned, Caius explained his slip with the bishop to Aulus, and admitted that even he found it natural. He advised his brother not to abandon the dream of Rome entirely, but that perhaps it was time to begin something new. Aulus promised that his vision was to unite the Roman and the British to find a new way forward, guided by principles and ideals.
In a huge gathering in the city, where over a hundred years before Constantine had been first acclaimed emperor, Caius leads the troops in acclaiming his brother as Arthur Pendragon, High King of the Britons.