Records: Coroner's Report 799-11-14-QQ

Department of Health & Records
Royal House Archives

Coroner's Report, 11/14/799

Royal Male cadaver exhumed from the Palace Catacombs.  Found in underground mausoleum.  Untouched door but wall was broken in.  Treasures stolen.  Body intact.  Subject-cadaver name: unconfirmed.

Connection to royal family highly probable.  Presence of gold thread suggest expensive burial attire.  Bones indicate the subject was heavy-set, well-fed.  More analysis forthcoming.  Wealthy.  Wreath around skull.  Structure of tomb indicates high political pull and social esteem.

In-depth analysis of bones yields the following data:
  • Carbon dating puts subject's Time of Life in the second century AD
  • Traces of long-term low-dose heavy metal toxicity, consistent with gold-lined silverware used during meals (as expected of the upper class)
  • Spinal compression indicates minimal hard-labor and extended periods of sitting; slant further indicates frequent use of recliner
Subsequent tests, including facial reconstruction, suggests the subject is a direct ascendant of the current emperor.

Evidence of infection found.  Possible Cause of Death?  Samples sent to upstate laboratory.

Some concern that the infection is still contagious.  Probability: near impossible.  Several team members absented themselves.  New researchers taken in.

Preliminary tests of infection yield results: benign.  Reconfirming research.

Researcher not found.  Signed out of laboratory minutes after filing report.

Test re-executed.  Results were less promising.

Test re-executed.  No change.

Test re-executed.


Initial postulations suggest a revitalization of infection, as unexpected side-effect of repeated testing, use of high-end technological procedures and chemicals.  Laboratory locked down.  None allowed to leave.  Some take their own lives.  The rest of us continue research.

Contact with outside world forbidden, but results were sent to the Emperor.  Acknowledged the relation.  Return memo detailed two sons of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus of the 2nd Century AD, Lucius Aurelius Commodus and Marcus Annius Verus.  In 169 AD, following the end of the Parthian War, the two sons were made Caesar by Marcus Aurelius.  Commodus was age 8.  Verus was age 7.

More commit suicide in the laboratory.

With limited personnel, an estimate of the subject's age was reached, with some degree of accuracy, after establishing the year of Death as 169 AD.

These were the remains of an 8-year old.

Research concluded.  Little to do.  Lockdown continues.  Food and water supplies not given.  Doors have not opened again since lockdown.

Only one researcher left in laboratory.

The researcher writes furious notes about the research, until finally there is nothing else to write about.

The researcher staggers to the refrigerator room where the remains are kept.  She aims to die there.

The researcher takes a look at the skull.  She no longer studies.  She gazes, staring into the empty sockets.  She lies down beside it and clutches a fresh image in her hand, tiny and fragile.  She had used chemicals to create the pigment, and memories to inspire the subject of the image.

The researcher grows weaker.

The researcher closes her wet eyes.

Titiana Paula Claudia
Novus Labs



The horror.

More than anything, it was the smell.  Putrid.  Debilitating.  The rebellions of history welled up in our stomachs each time we passed the streets.  Some areas were worse than others.  The rich neighborhoods could afford hiring people to remove the sick from the streets.  But in the slums...

Oh gods, the slums...

I saw once, in the dead end of an alleyway, a pile of bodies.  Only some of them were living, barely breathing, even reaching out.  There was such panic.  People were on the streets, in a frenzy, or barricaded in their homes, as their mothers begged for wooden doors to be opened, or children trying to climb in through the windows.  Oh but it wasn't so noble.  Robes were stained brown, trails left behind everywhere by the sick.  You could trace the path of every sick man and woman in Rome, where they went, from whom they sought help, and who turned them away, time and again.  A network of lines drawn with filth.  And each was distinct.  Not only by the fabric of the cloth which acted as pen, but just as much so was the shade and color of the ink.

But I could not write them all.  I scarcely could write one.  Here now, sitting on the second floor balcony, overlooking the sick-ridden streets, I can only cower.  The swollen throats as if stung by a dozen bees, the hellish skin like petrified moss and tree bark and stone...

At the sight of them, my hand is stiff.  I am a writer no more, for I can no longer write a story-- I may only write about them.

I shouldn't even be out of bed, but I am unable to turn away.  I have to keep looking, and try to overcome this block.  I must.  If the Parthians leave this plague for us, then I won't let them take from me my art.  And it won't much matter.  This fever I have -- I am told it will go away soon.

Albus Nero Fabianus
An Anthology of Master Works
171 AD