Shu's Diaries - Reggia Latina

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To His Imperial Majesty,

I have arrived near Reggia Latina. I must tell you, while I know this area well, it feels unfamiliar. There is something in the air…

My bones bear the mark of the many mountains and fields I have traversed. It has been an arduous journey and, at times, more than a little dangerous. We must think twice before traveling here unprepared. My trusty companion Nenet, however, seems completely unaffected by the journey. He glides through the air as effortlessly as the first day I found him.

I was still miles away when the tallest towers of the Roman village appeared on the horizon. The town lies at the base of a mountain, which not only offers protection but also valuable iron mines. It is surrounded by well-positioned forests, crop fields and clay pits. Every worker’s path here is designed to be as short as possible.

As I approached closer, I could see that the whole village was encircled by a strong brick wall. Impressive. Nenet was circling the perimeter and cawed to inform me that we were soon within sight of Roman guards. I entered the nearby forest and put on my Roman attire.

It baffles me to this day that a civilization so advanced still runs around in sandals. As I walked toward the gate, I could see that the guards were diligently patrolling the area. However, it was nearing the end of the day and lots of workers were returning from a day out in the fields. I easily blended in with the constant stream of villagers. To make sure I would enter completely unhindered, Nenet cawed loudly and started flying in strange patterns. Everybody looked up immediately. The Romans were obsessed with bird omens…

Once inside, I was amazed. Everything was in motion. Hundreds of voices were shouting over each other, people ran back and forth with carts full of resources and soldiers paraded past in perfect unison. I passed a large, round building with a dome completely made of gold. Mean-looking soldiers were stationed outside. I wonder what, or who, they were guarding in there? I saw horses drinking out of a trough that would have been luxurious even for our noblemen.

I decided to leave when I met the gaze of a man walking toward me. He looked me sternly in the eyes. He was dressed in white with a red robe gracefully slung over one shoulder. It could only have been the village's senator. Did he know my secret? I held my breath as he walked past me. He didn't know. I, however, immediately realized the potential value of the situation, so I began to follow him. He entered another grand building, with two floors and vines growing up its sides, pointing toward an ornate balustrade. I sneaked up to one of the openings in the wall and started listening.

The senator was eagerly talking to another man. This man had a thick accent and he called the senator Gnaeus Titianus. Good to know. They were complaining about a village not far from here that had been founded by a new people who had no right to claim the area for themselves. Or so the Romans thought. Apparently, these people were experts in resource production. I could hear a note of envy in the senator's voice – something rare for a Roman. It was clear to me that I had to visit these people myself. I was about to head away when I heard the senator mention their name.

He called them Egyptians.