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Mysterious Disappearance: Vestal Virgin Missing from Temple!

Aelia, Rome's most revered Vestal Virgin, mysteriously vanishes, plunging the city into chaos. Amidst rumors and conspiracies, a tale of forbidden love, ancient cults, and a race against time unfolds, revealing the very soul of Rome.

Mysterious Disappearance: Vestal Virgin Missing from Temple!
A bust of a Vestal Virgin. Illustration by StableDiffusion

Disclaimer

This story is based on historical figures, but is ultimately a work of fiction. We're a small team of human writers, fascinated with Ancient Rome and its myriad myths and legends. Narrating fantastical stories to each other started as a hobby; and with the help of AI tools, we are able to share our passion with the rest of the world. We wholeheartedly wish you enjoy our craft – Carpe diem.

The sun had barely risen over the Roman Empire's skyline when the news began to ripple through the streets. Aelia, one of the most revered Vestal Virgins, had vanished without a trace from the sacred Temple of Vesta. The implications of her disappearance were profound, not just religiously but politically, and the city was abuzz with speculation.


The Role of the Vestals

To understand the gravity of Aelia's disappearance, one must first understand the role of the Vestal Virgins in Roman society. These women were not just priestesses; they were symbols of Rome's honor, purity, and continuity. Chosen from noble families at a young age, they were tasked with maintaining the sacred fire of Vesta, a duty believed to ensure the safety and prosperity of Rome. Their thirty-year vow of chastity was a commitment made to the goddess herself, and any breach was punishable by death.


Aelia: The Paragon Vestal

Aelia wasn't just any Vestal. She was often described as the epitome of Vestal virtues. Her beauty was surpassed only by her piety, and her dedication to her duties was unparalleled. Her sudden disappearance was not just baffling; it was a blow to the very heart of Rome's spiritual life.

The morning Aelia was discovered missing, the other Vestals were in a state of shock. They had seen her the previous night, tending to the sacred flame, her face illuminated by its glow. But by dawn, her chambers were empty, the bed untouched.

An immediate search of the temple yielded no clues. The sacred flame still burned brightly, and there were no signs of struggle or forced entry. It was as if Aelia had simply vanished into thin air.

The City's Response

The Senate convened an emergency session.

The disappearance of a Vestal was a crisis of state. Rumors began to circulate. Some whispered of a political conspiracy, others of a forbidden romance. There were even those who spoke in hushed tones about divine intervention.

The Pontifex Maximus, Rome's chief religious official, appointed a special investigator, Decimus, known for his sharp intellect and unwavering integrity. Decimus was given full authority to probe the mystery and was tasked with finding Aelia at any cost.

Decimus began by questioning the Vestals. They were equally perplexed and distraught. They spoke of Aelia's unwavering commitment to her duties and her recent dreams about Vesta, which she believed were prophetic.

Diving deeper, Decimus explored Aelia's personal quarters. Among her belongings, he found a series of letters, carefully hidden. They were from a Roman senator named Gaius, expressing deep affection and hinting at a secret rendezvous.