Claudia smiled, pleased with Cynane's answer and had a nagging feeling that there were others in her retinue that would not agree with the statement. Her eyes met Cynane's, a warm look in her eyes and for a moment. Her gaze dipped down towards Cynane's lips before Claudia turned to recline on the lounge. While she had been in her cousin's home before, this was the first time she would be staying here and looked around at the room. Since they were in private, away from prying eyes and ears, it allowed a more free manner between them to take place. She gestured with her hand for Cynane to join her in sitting.
"Yes, although... not quite like you inside the arena," She answered with a smile. Claudia's enjoyment of the games was torn between the human lives, and yet, it was incredibly exciting to watch while not risking your own life. Claudia ran her hands over her wrists and reached out for some wine, poured it herself and took a mouthful. Too much at first. Swallowed and breathed excitedly.
"Life at the Domus Augustana will certainly be much more boring now," Claudia added cheekily. Mischief in her eyes, and she knew that her dealings would need to be more discreet or perhaps they would become limited. Still, there was no harm in exaggeration and imagination. Was there? "Who knows? Perhaps I will need to do that on the road another time? What you taught me came in handy, and I am forever grateful to you." She answered, the latter part truthful.
Claudia was peacefully curled up asleep with her arms tight around her pillow. Her dreams were on the flight from Rome with her sister and brother, a time of both chaos and growth. An adventure! In her dream she felt a deep grumble, the ground shook and in the dream she heard the ground growling. Snarling at her, like a wild beast and awoke with a sharp jerk. She let out a cry of fright, and reached out for Volusa or one of her other slaves. She could not find them. Her heartbeat began to become more intense, she threw off the blankets and heard the cries from outside. Where was her household? Where was her family? Was everyone safe?
A hand reached up to open the heavy doors when one of the praetorians took her arm to lead her towards the garden. A place of refuge in times before chaos.
"Have you seen my brother?!" She asked in a rush, hung to his arms and looked up at his face. He answered her yet she struggled to hear him through the noise of the crowd of people. He pointed to the garden and told her that the family were gathering there. "I need to make sure everyone is safe!" She called out. Unfortunately, the praetorian had no desire to allow the princess to return inside and risk death.
She turned and smiled in relief when she saw her twin by her side. Tiberius was safe. But what about the rest of them? Claudia headed in the direction of the garden.
Claudia felt an overwhelming sense of guilt and worry. She was safe and Juliana had been pacified yet the thought of any of them suffering because of her actions was difficult. Still, it was quite an exciting thing to experience. She walked silently towards the room she had been assigned with Cynane's footsteps behind her. Claudia did not wish to speak freely with Juliana's household slaves. She trusted her cousin yet... old habits died hard.
Behind her she heard the twin doors close behind her. She exhaled and slumped, her arms wrapped around her and looked over towards Cynane. She reached out with her hand to gesture for Cynane to come closer.
"Well, at least that part is over," She murmured with a half-smile. Next she would have to face the other members of her family and explain what had taken place yet again. Not to mention Volusa when she returned to the Domus Augustana. "Is it strange? I worry about how this will harm you three? Yet......" Claudia paused, reflected deeply and burst into a giggle. "Is it terrible to feel exhilarated and fired up?" Claudia asked with a grin. It was dangerous, certainly.
This must have been what the gladiators felt when they had a victory in the arena or a Legatus being victorious.
Juliana did not believe a word of it.
She had primarily addressed Claudia and instead it was the wayward Aia who answered her instead. Juliana raised an eyebrow yet there was still plenty of time for an interrogation later on. The medicus looked at her for further instruction, she flicked her hand for them to leave and exhaled softly. She would be having a stern word with the pair of them later. However, for now, Decimus' safety was important. Not that she would admit it but she was fond of the wayward pair.
"Treat him, and once the arrow is removed and he is stable. Bring them to me." She told the medicus and the other household slaves who came to assist. The medicus offered him something to drink with a sedative to ease the pain and began their task. Naturally, little Quintus watched eagerly and was oddly silent throughout.
She walked with her arm around her cousin. The blood from the bandits now coated her, and she listened to her cousin closely. Caesar would need to be told, and she hoped that the service provided by Decimus, Aia and Cynane would not be forgotten in the process. "Do not worry about it. Get yourself cleaned up, you are safe, and come speak to me in the triclinium." Juliana said, turned and left Claudia and Cynane at the baths.
Food and drink would be provided as they would go into detail about what had happened.
@Atrice @Chevi @Jenn @Sains
Claudia watched her cousin approach them, and did not wish for them to suffer because she chose to be foolishly generous. She thought of a diplomatic way to answer the question when she saw Julia, her former governess approach her as well and could not hide the distinct look of 'oh, fuck' from her facial expressions. She may have possibly been able to fool Juliana. Julia, however? Perhaps not at all.
Fortunately, Julia seemed to be more distracted by little Quintus than with her for the moment and it gave her some time. She didn't have a lot of time to wonder what little Quintus thought of the scene.
"It looks far worse than it is, cousin," She answered, gave Decimus a concerned look as the servants began to led him away to receive medical care. One of the things Claudia liked about Aia was her honesty. Except right at this moment, she gazed at the redhead a strained smile to encourage her to let her deal with her cousin and explain what had occurred. However, the words had already been spoken. What was the more polite way to refer to bandits along the road? "Decimus is injured, and they all risked their lives to protect me." She added, and realised the extent of how badly it could have potentially gone for them. They could all be dead by now.
"It was my fault, cousin. I stopped to help a wounded bandit and rode ahead away from them. It was foolish. There were survivors but Decimus, Aia and Cynane killed the leader of the band." She added. Unsure whether or not she would assist any bystanders along the road anymore. Claudia hoped she would still be able to go riding.
Claudia looked over at the blood soaked Cynane and hoped she would follow them inside the villa. No doubt headed towards the baths.
She had invited Julia Valeria over the family home. It had been some time since she had seen her last due to her isolation and was happy to learn that she rented a property from Alaric Aetius Stilicho. Essentially, Juliana had been lonely yet did not feel comfortable pestering her family into coming to visit her. The invitation had been sent. When Julia Valeria arrived she was welcomed into the home. Juliana walked to meet her and greeted Julia fondly. A hug and a kiss on either of her cheeks when she heard noise outside. There was the sound of horses. She gave Julia a confused look and headed out to see the gathered group of riders. Instantly she recognised them as her cousin, Claudia. Decimus, her bodyguard who had previously served under her husband. Aia, her son's tutor, and she recognised Cynane.
She gasped at the sight of her cousin's face and garments covered in blood. Anger and a sense of defensive justice filled her. She was concerned yet for a split second. Her expression was that of her warlike father. Juliana rapidly clicked her fingers as she stormed out of the entrance way. The household slaves were in action! They were assisting them down. Taking the horses to care for them. "Fetch help for their wounds!" She commanded.
The Medicus came running to tend to the injured. Little Quintus looked at what was happening from behind a pillar, heard his mother's voice and went back to hiding again.
Juliana saw the guilty look on her cousin's face. The concern faded just slightly.
"Who attacked you? Are they still alive?" She asked rapidly, an arm draped around her cousin's shoulder. "Come, we will get you washed. Everyone will be cleaned up. I want answers about what happened."
Juliana would not accept no for an answer.
Claudia was exhilarated. She had never felt so alive through having survived and the Adrenalin was starting to fade. Fortunately, cousin Juliana's home was close by and they would soon find safety there. The Princess had hoped that she would be able to wash off her face and body. All in an attempt to make it look less bloody. Aurea's walk was slow and steady. She glanced over towards Cynane who looked the most happy with how things had gone down. Her bodyguard's face coated in a bloody war-mask and had to admit, she blushed with desire under the blood on her cheeks.
"I think it will be okay," She said with blind optimism and an awkward smile of encouragement. However, with each step made towards the recognisable villa. Claudia's worries began to increase. She glanced towards Aia and Decimus, concerned for how they would be seen and whether or not they would get into trouble. It could have gone much worse than it had.
Cousin Juliana... though.... Claudia was unaware that Juliana had a visitor, Julia Valeria, her one time nanny.
She raised her chin, exhaled slowly and was assisted down from her horse by one of the shocked stable boys. Alarmed at the now dried blood on her face and clothing. Each of them had their own mark of the conflict. Claudia had to admit that Cynane looked to be in the best shape than all of them. Not to mention there was something about her face painted in blood. She landed on the ground with an oof.
"It will be okay," She said to her companions. Confident until she saw her cousin's facial expression as she approached.
"Oh, fuck..." Claudia muttered under her breath.
@Sains @Atrice @Chevi @Jenn
OOC: After Atrice and Jenn. I will post with Juliana 😄
Claudia smiled, pleased that he had accepted what she said and they could move on from it. She did not appear surprised about the sight of the lictors that came with him and accepted them as part of visiting them. It was not uncommon for slaves and other attendants to be present when a visitor had arrived. She, however, noticed where they stood calmly and noted the respectable distance they had.
"It would be quite an interesting experiment," She answered, a hint of playfulness, "you would be able to see which of your lictors are quick on their toes and which are not." Claudia mused. Briefly her imagination took hold as she imagined each of the lictors following typical procedure, rushed forward to take their place and arguing over who would be in what position.
Ah, she noted that he was a well-versed politician. Most of them would ask how the family were, and she guessed that he meant the smaller family group of family rather than the large, extended family network. "The family is well," She answered politely. It was true. Caesar was in good health as was the Augusta. The princes and princesses were all in good health and spirits. From what she knew of the extended family, they were filled with prosperity. And as for herself. "I have also been well, thank you for asking," She answered politely. The princess enjoyed keeping herself busy and involved with her duties. Her rare moments in the gardens were the few quieter times she had, and those moments were treasured.
"And what of yourself and your family?" She asked politely. At the present, she could not recall whether or not he had a wife or not.
@The Young Pope
Claudia remembered him from the assistance that he had given during one of the Augusta's many charitable projects. The explosion at Vesuvius was devastating for the people involved. The relief brought was vital for the impacted citizens. Many of whom had lost everything during the natural disaster. The Princess was gradually becoming more prominent in public life and her obligations towards the family. Two roles she both found herself drawn towards. The message had been sent out with an invitation for the Praetor Lucius Furius Pontius Thracius Minor to come visit her at the Domus Augustana. Since they were in similar social groups, she remembered meeting him already and the pair of them had not spoken at length though. Thus far, she found him helpful and handsome yet it was a visit of a political nature.
Like mother and grandmother before her, the gardens were a place of solitude and reflection. They had been added to and changed over the years. Drusilla having made her own additions, and listened to both her and Rutiliana (Flavia's Caesaris') thoughts. She was seated, with a piece of parchment in her hand and in the background was her faithful body slave, Volusa. Along with Cynane, her former gladiatrix and Decimus, her favourite Praetorian who guarded her. When he approached her servant alerted her to give her time to rise. The parchment was rolled back up once more. The princess smiled politely and rose to her feet elegantly. She took note of his proper Senatorial attire, it was more formal than she thought he would have been wearing to the social visit.
She had been about to answer his greeting when he took her hand and kissed it gently. Claudia's chin was raised to look at him. Her clothing was made out of silk, her hair curled and flowed down her back. Her eyebrows narrowed in irritation at the gesture before her polite smile returned. "Praetor, thank you for coming to visit me and I hope we may work together once more for the benefit of the Empire. And," Her lips lifted, "Rest assured, I will offer you my hand to kiss in the future." Claudia answered politely, and with a slight warning concerning the boldness of his gesture.
@The Young Pope
There had been no incidents when they were out today. The visits had gone quite well. People were polite and praised her yet what would happen if they eventually decided that they did not like her or her family? She extended her arms as other household slaves began to disrobe her, remove her jewelry and pin up her hair to protect it from the water. Claudia re-entered the room, had her body coated in oil before being massaged and had a strigil run over her skin.
"Cynane, how much security do you think I will require if I go into the poorer areas? I wish to see some of the projects that Drusilla has going on for the less fortunate," She asked. Drusilla's public works had been one of the most prominent things she had done since becoming the Augusta. She gestured with her hand for Volusa to join and assist her get into the warmth of the water. "Put it down, Volusa. I will eat soon." She said, in private, she permitted her slaves to have some more freedom with their words than what she would permit in the public sphere.
"I'm not sure whether Decimus would need to come or whether I need more Praetorians," She sighed in aristocratic frustration of the necessities of life, and waited for either of the two women to comment.
The palace at night was peaceful, and the prince was one to sleep past dawn. Not raising until Apollo's rays peaked through the gossamer drapes that fluttered in the gentle breeze. That night, however, Titus was awake. Fretting in his bed as he felt some sort of unnerving feeling settled into the pit of his stomach. Almost as if he knew the gods were angry for some reason. His body slave tried to get him to cast the thought away. That is just his mind playing tricks on him. Still, it needled at him. Until he finally began to doze off thanks to mere exhaustion.
That was when the earth began to quake, rattling the buildings of the city, including the palace. Titus bolted up right as the room around him shook, he could see his men slowly coming to, shouts around the palace could be heard. "We need to get to the gardens." He told them as he stood, grabbing his tunic and sandals. Pulling them on as he moved quickly out of his room. Slaves were running around trying to save what they could from being destroyed as they too headed towards where they would be safe at.
Another tremor hit, this time stronger , forcing him to make haste before he stopped and realizing he didn't recognize any of the slaves as his younger brother's. "Get to the gardens, I need to go find Drusus!" He said, pushing his servants and his tutor towards the way to safety before making his way towards the rooms he knew housed his brother.
--- 30 6 75 | sorry fort he anticlimactic starting post lol | open to those living in the palace. | no posting order, short posts are ❤️
Late September, 74 AD
after Road to danger and Consequences
Everything was taken care of with the princess. Flavia Juliana had slaves ready to help Claudia and Cynane remained quiet, alert and resilient while Claudia was bathed and her blood-soaked dress removed. She didn't speak unless spoken to. She did not take her eyes off Claudia for one tiny instant. It was while Claudia was under her protection, that she could have been hurt… she could have been worse off than she was! She could have been violated or even killed, although the first would honestly have been worse for the princess than the latter. When you died, you died. Living through the aftermath of the other thing… was not something she wished upon the only Roman she truly cared about. Maybe even loved.
Now Claudia had been bathed and dressed in clean clothes and she had been given a room of her own to stay in while they were here. Aia and Decimus were elsewhere, while Decimus was being patched up and had to rest. Cynane followed Claudia, she would not leave her alone right now. Like a shewolf, she would guard her young with her life.
She watched how the last of the slaves left the room and finally she and Claudia were alone… to think and to talk, probably. They needed to, after this. Claudia would need it and Cynane would be there for her. But for now, Cynane remained standing near the doorway, so she could check anyone who might want to enter.
And she waited for Claudia to say something.
Aia could still scarcely believe that they had survived the attack. It had been a close call. Too close. Some god must have guided Cynane's hand, because if the gladiatrix had missed her one shot when she threw her weapon, all of them would have been dead by now, or dragged into slavery. As things stood, they were still pretty much screwed.
The horses had run away, but they slowly wandered back once the danger was gone. Still, there was no way they were going to make it back to Rome before dark, not injured and worn as they were. Decimus still had the arrow in his shoulder; there was a chance he would bleed out if they tried to remove it on the roadside. Aia had shredded her already torn palla, and made a sling for his arm, and some bandages. But they needed to find shelter, and fast.
The last place she wanted to go was Flavia Juliana's villa. But it was also the closest place to go where they would find shelter. Juliana was her domina, and related to Claudia, so while she was likely to explode like the Vesuvius when she found out about this little adventure, she was also the most likely to help. They could make it there together, with the help of the horses, keeping an eye out for danger. Luckily (Fortuna was in a good mood today), they did not meet anyone on the road. Just as well; Aia could imagine what they looked like when they showed up at the villa's door: Claudia drenched in blood, Cynane wearing victorious war paint, Aia covered in dirt with one eye swelled shut, and Decimus with an arrow in him and supported by the rest of them.
The slave at the door took one look, and ran yelling for Flavia Juliana like the building was on fire.
Oh, there would be consequences.
@Gothic @Atrice @Sains @Jenn
Receiving an invitation to the Imperial Palace may not have been an occurance on a daily basis, but when someone of his status such as senator Lucius did actually acquire one, then there was no opportunity and time to be wasted at all and it would've been taken advantage of immediately. He may not have been direct connected to the Imperial Family through marriage or any other type of blood relation (within recent memory), though that didn't stop him from being invited all due to his family's loyalty towards them, something which continued still under his leadership as the living Pater Familias of his branch, aiding in the reconstruction of vital infrastructure such as aqueducts, roads and temples, as well as the development of the empire through charitable works like orphanages and soup kitches directed towards the poorer classes. It was how he came into contact with the Caesarini Julia Drussila Augusta herself, one of the most notable undertakings involved the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the aftermath of Mount Vesuvius' volcanic eruption.
This would've attracted the attention of one of the Imperial Princesses, Claudia Caesaris, who happened to be a niece of the Caesar, and even Lucius briefly met her through his connection with the Caesarini, he gathered that she was also into restoration of vital infrastructure and works of charity, being described as interested in horses, having a keen mind for education and a desire to learn. The princess's beauty wasn't to be ignored either, as her darkly thick hair, pale ivory skin, blue eyes befitting slender, curvy body marked by a routine of physical exercise yet not tainted by any pregnacy or heavy work, would make any man bend the knee for her in an instant. A reminder sprung off in his head as his eyes gazed upon her presence in the garden whilst being led by a Praetorian, and in an instant he would also get reacquainted with impressive personality as a character. Wearing his Toga Praextata, which was a toga with a broad purple stripe on its border, worn over a tunic with two broad, verticle purple stripes, Lucius was there to build a influentially powerful connection, and he'd wager that it was exactly the same thing for the Princess.
Putting on a friendly smile of confidence, he approached her to steadily greet her as the man she was waiting for. "Claudia Caesaris, let me just say that it's such an honor to receive an invitation to the Domus Augusta, and it shall be a pleasure and privilege to enter into a cooperation that will only mean great fortunes for the empire. The Caesarini has spoken highly of thee every time we've worked together for the greater good." Lucius took her hand and kissed it gently, hoping it would flatter her by the very least and possibly resolve of any tensions in this proper encounter they finally organised together.
Volusa entered her mistress' chamber on silent bare feet, placing the breakfast tray beside her bed before turning to lay out her under-tunic ready for when she wished to rise; Claudia would tell her what else she wanted to wear, but having at least an under-tunic ready was always a good start. She was beginning to get used to this new routine, although it wasn't the same every day. Well, why should it be? Especially on a nice day like today; Volusa actually wouldn't be at all surprised if her mistress preferred to dress and then take breakfast in the colonnade surrounding the garden.
That would be easy enough to arrange, of course - once Mistress Claudia was awake.
Volusa crossed to the shutters, opening them to let the sun in, thankful that it did not fall directly across her mistress' face, although the newly-admitted brightness caused the young lady to stir.
"Salve, Domina," Volusa said quietly, wanting to wake her but not startle her. "I've brought your breakfast."
Serving one person was far to be preferred to running around, ordered about by several people, all of whom though their orders should superceed everyone else's. It was far easier to please just one person!
Late March 74CE.
Claudia had lived in Quintus' household for some time now. While she was his niece and daughter of the late Claudius, she had always been treated as his daughter and given the respect. Occasionally, she had nightmares of what could have been. A time when her fate was in the hands of an incompetent halfwit, and would awaken happy that it was not the case. She had received word that her uncle, Quintus Caesar had desired to speak with her and there was no indication about what it was. Naturally, she could not refuse and she wanted to show her uncle that she was growing into a fine Roman woman. She had a family lineage to live up to. With Livia dead, she was the last of Claudius' daughters left alive and was one of two daughters left alive from her mother. It was a careful balance honouring the memory of both parents and ensuring that her uncle understood where her loyalty remained.
She walked through the corridor towards the Aula Regia, a place where important meetings occurred and her mind raced with the possibilities of what her face would be. Her bottom lip went inward, she purposely stopped herself and raised her chin.
Claudia would be fearless.
Not a girl but a woman now. Her chiton was was a pale blue made of silk and lined with gold thread along with semi-precious stones. Soft, lambskin sandals adored her feet, her hair was half flowing down her back and it was dark, shiny. A picture of health and youth. The door opened and she was admitted into the room. She bowed her head respectfully.
"Ave Caesar," She greeted him and then continued, "You wished to see me, Uncle?" She asked, this time with a little more familiarity.
Thus it began!
The Flamen Dialis along with the other luperci took the goats and the dog. Symbols of sexuality and fertility in Rome. The animals had been sacrificed, and their screams filled the air. The smell of blood loomed around them. The Flamen Dialis watched as the young men killed the sacrficed animals, they were gifts for the Gods, and it was their sacred duty. He was cowled, his head was covered and the mealcakes, treats that had been made by the Vestals virgins was also placed. After the slaying of the beasts, the head priest of Jupiter approached both of the young men and anointed their foreheads with blood from the sacrificial knife. Gaius did not laugh nor smile. Yet it was expected for both Titus and Tiberius, the luperci to laugh and smile at the gesture.
The pair of them were marked as the luperci for this year. The blood would dry on their foreheads, and a sacrificial feast followed. Bloodied strips were taken from the skins of the beasts. The strips, called febua or throngs were placed into the hands of both of the young men.
"Now go, go and grace the barren unmarried women with increased fertility," Gaius said, the luperci had changed over time. Either of the youths could run naked or semi-naked through the streets of Rome. Married women or women on the cusp of marriage would offer their hands or backs to ensure fertility would follow.
Gaius is the NPC for the Flamen Dialis, the head priest of Jupiter.
Notes: Tiberius or Titus to go first. Then they will be instructed to run through the Palatine and to strike the ladies. Once that begins, people are welcome to join in!
It was a time of celebration, of liberation, and naturally of libation. Slaves feasted, masters served, and in the dark of the year society turned upside down in recognition of the fact that they were all as equals before the Gods, and lesser to them. Let that please Saturn and Apollo Helius and lengthen the days once more, lest the year fail to turn and the world descend into darkness.
The Imperial family had attended the rite at the Temple of Saturn, watched the priest with his head oddly uncovered as he said the ancient words and made the sacrifice. The banquet had been well underway for some time and even Tiberius had indulged in some wine and a little too much food, after the palace slaves had eaten.
Now he was sitting by the window, looking out over the city and pondering the future. This was the turning of the year, and the new year would bring the first steps into his adulthood, marked by the beginning of the cursus honorum. Titus, who was of age with him, was facing the same, but he was making a thorough enjoyment of the evening, if Tiberius's last glimpse of him was anything to judge by.
The young Imperial, last son of Caesar Claudius, glanced up with a slightly sheepish smile at the approaching figure.
(OOC: Particularly open to Imperial and Senatore youth)
Labor had been quick for her this time around. Less than a few hours and not one but two new lives came into the world. Small but thankfully robust. Flavia was unsure what surprised her more. How quickly both came or that there had been more than one. Laughter had filled the room when Gnaeus had been called in to be presented his new daughters. His shock apparent but soon replaced by joy that his wife and both the newborns were expected to live.
Motherhood renewed blossomed Flavia prettily, her color quickly returning as she slowly began to heal from her delivery. Each girl sported a head of dark hair and warm tanned skin. Like their siblings. Gnaeus was overjoyed with his fatherhood, boasted to his own about it. Who finally was sober enough to see to them. Flavia had expected disappointment, no second grandson. But the moment the youngest of the two latched her hand around his fingers and gripped it strongly, Gaius had nothing left to say but how proud he was.
There would be time for another son.
For now, as December began to round to its end, Flavia kept herself horded in the warm bedroom. Lucilla and Minor curled up next to her, asleep. Honoria and Saturnina laid between her and the others. Sleepy yawns on cute little faces. "You're so precious." She said to them as she traced the outline of Saturnina's face. Softly sighing at the silky softness. "Oh the family is just going to love you two so much." She said as she scooped up Honoria as she began to fuss, shushing her softly as she tried to determine what her daughter needed.
Finally, he'd been assigned. What had seemed to be an endless wave of formality and introductory training had finally resulted in a posting that he thought he'd more than merited. He was, after all, to be a bodyguard. A bodyguard to the Imperial family was a position of great importance for obvious reasons, and the great honor was not lost on Decimus. The walk from the lower streets up the Palatine hill had been something he could have only vaguely imagined during his time in the Legion. It was a religious experience. During that trek up the marble stairs towards his new and most likely permanent posting there was little more he could think of than the stories he'd been told of the palace and how the greatest leaders of Rome had once walked where he was now. He could feel them, he was sure, smiling in acknowledgment of yet another soul that would be exposed to such beauty. How lucky he was.
He did his best to control any awestruck look he may give off as he followed closely behind one of the Praetorian sentries that had been instructed to lead him to the palace. Of course, they could not wear their armor within the limits of the city, and the toga he'd been instructed to wear was something of a bother to a man who had worn a simpler tunica for the better part of his life. It wasn't truly falling apart on his person, which is what he had feared most, but even still there was a bit of awkwardness when it came to keeping his feet away from the cloth. Perhaps it was a bit big on him? He'd skin that tailor alive if he'd spent money on a botched piece of work. It hadn't helped that he'd been receiving idle grins from the other sentinels as he'd passed.
Soon all of his inhibitions would need to melt away. He had reached the last few stairs and the guardsman had waved him on, as he would not be accompanying him to the room. A friendly nod and his final ascension began.
He told the first slave he encountered what his work was to be, and with a few turns down long and ornate hallways filled with the art of ages he was well on course. He'd never been inside the palace of course, but he was not overcome with any great sense of desire to stop and gawk at any of the paintings. Today was the day he would enter a noble's house without any clumsiness or awkward sets of speech. Today he had a simple job and it was one that he should delight in.
More hallways passed him by as if he were in an endless labyrinth of statues chiseled from fine marble. They were of men he'd never seen before, of course, but their labels lent some magnitude to each of their visages. He felt as though the gods had watchful eyes on him. Finally, he grabbed a slave long enough to explain where he needed to be in earnest. It was a short walk to the final set of doors and with a cautionary gesture, he awaited the slave's return from the young imperial's room. He doubted he would be turned away at this point. But who could tell? Maybe she had a tough disdain for bodyguards. He'd heard of such from other rich men who'd no desire to be watched for long durations by a mercenary or even a soldier. At any rate, he hoped he hadn't gotten out of bed for nothing.