Zombies vs. Romans!
The year is 37 AD; a mysterious living severed head is delivered to Rome from the far reaches of the Eastern Empire. The head, and a lone Chinese monk arrive in the city of Capua, near Rome’s capitol. They have been captured by the Roman Governor of Syria and sent to Rome as holy gifts for the Emperor—the notorious tyrant, Caligula.
Before the head magistrate of Capua—a Roman named Pullus—can make the arrangements to speed the bizarre gift to the Emperor, the magically animated severed head bites the finger of a ferocious Centurion; and the real fun begins.
The curse of the Dead spreads through Capua like a field of wheat set ablaze, but Rome does not care, all her Emperor cares for is the arrival of the head—now called the living head of Apollo—and the magic and power this will bring him.
Pullus struggles to combat the Dead and save his citizens, but as the numbers of Dead grow exponentially, he realizes he is fighting a losing battle—the Madness has taken hold. Convinced the head of Apollo is a powerful omen of his own divinity, Caligula demands the head be sent to him in a Triumphal Parade, and the Madness begins in Rome itself.
Conflict is set between Pullus and Caligula—pragmatism vs. outlandish caprice, man vs. the will of the gods—but can anyone save Rome? Perhaps the narrator, young Atticus, and the lone Chinese monk he has befriended have the answer.
Imagine that all of Roma was a field of wheat, dry and brown in the autumn heat. Now, imagine a wind rushing over the field. The wind grows, but without direction, like a gently swirling tempest. The stocks of wheat bend to-and-fro with the shifting winds. Now, throw a firebrand into the field.
There is an initial flash as the brand scorches all it touches, but the flames settle—either the flames will catch, or they will not. The wind whips sparks from the incipient brand and carries them aloft. They, too, will fall where they may amongst the wheat and will either catch or not catch, spread to the nearby stalks of wheat or be smothered by them and not spread. This was Roma at the time.
The field would burn. It was inevitable.
The wheat was too brown, and there was no one tending the farm. Roma fell into ruin in much the same pattern as the field set ablaze. The dead slave markets became the firebrand, the dead themselves the sparks, carried to every corner of the city, fanned by the winds of pious delusion and reckless amusement.