Face claimAllen Leech
Decimus certainly wasn't one to disobey an order especially from one of the members of the royal family. With a nod of affirmation towards the Princess, he'd follow Aia almost immediately towards the bush line, scanning the area rather carelessly as they proceeded. In truth he'd only been there long enough to hear the end of the exchange between her ladyship and this strange old man, but the thought of a small child drowning in a spring had certainly taken some attention away from caring about their surroundings. That is until they'd finally gotten close enough to that thick line of shrubbery that supposedly held the spring just beyond its border.
It seemed strange to him before she'd said his name, and even before her horse had refused to go any further on account of some unseen danger. Unless the girl had already gone under, he expected he might hear some screams and cries for help... Thrashing even. No sound, not even the sounds of any songbirds about. Then came the nervous voice that he'd heard once or twice before on those long patrols through the dense forests of Britannia. Aia had noticed something and he had too. Halting his horse, he'd only needed to look for a few moments before he sighted what he'd been fearing since their ill-fated march towards the scrub began.
With panic in his eyes, he turned his head towards Aia and pointed quickly back towards the direction of the princess, shouting quite loudly.
"Away! Ride awa-..."
The last of his words never left his lips as the sudden force of a well placed arrow punched its way into his left shoulder. Whatever he'd intended to say was replaced by a shrill cry of agony as he grasped rather clumsily at the reins, causing the horse to rear up and throw him. With the impact of the hard earth on his back, the guardsman could only grunt with pain as the wind was, quite literally, knocked out of him. It was only out of muscle memory perhaps that he was able to draw the Spatha from his side so quickly afterwards and begin to stand.
It was then, and only then, that Aia may notice the shapes emerging from the scrub.
Decimus thought about what he might say to wiggle his way out of going on over to this woman and making an utter fool of himself once Aia had suggested doing just that. He could feign illness, recalling the piece of sour fish he'd been given at the castra a few hours earlier. He could say that his feet were ailing him and that he really should go and rest up for a bit before his shift began the next day. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all was the fact that she'd immediately have some sort of witty retort ready to knock him back into line and send him in her direction. If it weren't today it would be some other day, and so on and so forth...
He looked at her, glaring with all the menace that a man like Decimus could muster. He wasn't angry at her. Of course he was annoyed that she was forcing him out into the wide open world that he hardly understood, but he supposed he was the one that was always griping about not being able to break into this world of courtship that everyone seemed to be so keen on.
He was about to say something. Whatever it was would be lost to eternity though as he suddenly pushed off towards the woman that Aia had pointed out, grumbling something to himself as he went.
It would be a time for Aia to observe the interaction, and he could certainly feel her determined gaze watching over him with each step he took. In the distance, she'd see the woman stand up suddenly from tending to her basket full of various groceries and other vessels that she seemed keen on purchasing. There was Decimus standing near her and saying something that was obviously very witty, for she laughed, before he'd point at the items on the ground and speak of them for a few moments. The conversation only seemed to decline from there, and with a wave of her hand, he was on his way back to the column with a look of not grief, but of confusion. With no explanation he posted back up on the frame of the column and hoped that would be the end of it all.
Decimus could only shrug at first. After all, it was hard to define himself what he was looking for! There was always the vague idea of what type of girl he'd like to meet, and it never seemed like any of the ladies of Rome were ever just right. There was always something about them that was always a put off. He, perhaps wrongly, always assumed that one need only wait to find the crucial flaw in any one of them.
With a sigh, he decided he might as well make an attempt at describing something.
"One that isn't afraid to dirty her hands... I don't want a dainty woman of the baths. Tempting as they are to the others."
It must have been so easy for that lot of his comrades; the ones who cared little for a woman beyond the act of penetration.
"Honesty is crucial, I can't have one that hopes to gain something from me at the very start of it all... I guess she can ravage my purse after we're wed."
That sort of tragic humor made him smile as he finally came to rest against a plain column so that he could take a look for himself. He'd given Aia a very sparse set of parameters partly because he couldn't think of anything else to say and partly because he was hoping he might frustrate her into giving up this fruitless crusade of matchmaking, but he had a sneaking suspicion that she would only carry on.
Decimus rolled his eyes and grinned as he watched the princess and the rest of group take off at full gallop down the trail. How perfectly like her! Nobody had to tell him twice and within a few seconds he'd caught up with the group. It had been some time since their last outing like this, but he'd not forgotten the familiar rush of the wind through his hair. Growing up in Spain had afforded him the opportunity to become somewhat of a horseman before he'd joined up and these outings on horseback were always a welcome reminder of the life he'd left behind.
He was happy that Aia seemed to be enjoying herself too. He could only hope to imagine how simply dull was the life of a tutor in some far off villa. Comfortable, of course, but certainly dull. As much as he loved being at the side of the princess and the rigor that came along with being a guardsman, he couldn't help but note the thing that he missed most of the legion was where it had taken him. He'd had the opportunity that few outside of the military would understand, a life of adventure. Of course that life had been filled with all sorts of peril, but it was a life nonetheless; a life he'd think about on many a moonlit night from the small window he'd been afforded in the castra. Many times, he'd amused himself with the thoughts that those days might not yet be over.
They must have been a sight for everyone they passed, a party of women riding at full gallop down the rough trail, for the few farmers they passed seldom saw visitors in the area and Decimus had noted more than one dumbfounded expression set on the face of an old man tending to his crop. Admittedly, he thought it all looked a bit funny. Cynane was wrapped in her usual kit, of course, but the way that Aia's clothes sort of fluttered about in the wind made the party look rather comical.
With the nagging concern that they were going quite too far still growing in the back of his head, Decimus could only wait and see how far they'd need to head before they finally emerged upon this "Spring" that Aia had mentioned.
@Atrice @Chevi @Gothic
Decimus would roll his eyes as he kept pace at her side. Sometimes he didn't know if she only meant to annoy him about the topic of women. To him, at least, the prospect of approaching a complete stranger in the middle of the market seemed like one of the last things he truly wanted to be doing. The last thing he wanted to known as was the strange vagabond roaming endlessly about the streets bumping into well respected women to start conversations with them.
"I think you should leave it be. None of them want to be bothered on their way back from the market, anyhow."
The very thought of it all...
"'Sides, there's more too it than hips and clothes."
And he knew that she was quite aware of that as well. Dis, if there were anyone around who knew about that sort of thing it would be Aia. Ever since arriving in the city she'd seemed to indulge herself more and more in the life of women and the different types that strolled about the streets. Wouldn't be too long before she'd run off and become a match maker...
Decimus had known for some time that the princess had chosen this day to ride. Ever since he'd arrived she'd occasionally mention the wish to leave the walls of Rome behind and venture out into the countryside and more than once she'd done just that. He'd accompanied her on a couple of them, though it was far more common that she'd only wish to take Cynane. He couldn't blame her. She was obviously more attached to the maiden that had been with her for several years already, and Decimus certainly wasn't one for jealousy. He was happy, of course, whenever he was allowed to come along. He'd certainly become accustomed to life in the city, but more often then not he'd find himself longing for the fresh air and rolling hills of the Italian countryside which reminded him of home.
There was the odd caveat for this trip in particular, however, and the additional company of Aia settled uneasily with him. Of course he was happy to have her along, he'd have her around more often if he could manage it, yet there was always a fear that some sort of scandal was suspected between the two. They'd been careful of course and in truth they were innocent of any such accusation, though it certainly wouldn't seem it should any knowledge of their frequent rendezvouses come to light. While there was nothing to it, one wouldn't have to stretch their imagination too far to come to some embarrassing conclusions.
Aside from that unsettling knowledge the fair weather gave him some confidence and he pressed his brown creature to speed up so that he might keep pace with the princess who rode in front alongside Cynane. He was comfortable enough riding just behind them next to Aia. Thinking on it, this had truly been the first time they'd been in each other's presence in a professional way for some time... He was just glad that he hadn't been asked to ride in a toga. His dress was rather plain, a dark leather cuirass set over a dull red tunica that denoted he was of some military bearing. The gear was comfortable for riding and that was all for the better since it was often a guessing game to see how far the princess would take them in a day. She was, after all, quite the explorer.
@Atrice @Gothic @Chevi
The guardsman would nod at the observation finding that to be true of most of those he'd come to know that had held any real money or power. Hell, there was that fellow Ursus that had seemed to fancy himself a demigod back on the Isle, and that was not to speak of any other of the emperor's 'best' men. And it wasn't any secret after all. Often he'd hear news of yet another noblemen who'd delved into the world of corruption and intrigue too much and was stripped of titles or humiliated in other ways. That life certainly wasn't for him, though his relatively lowly existence made that much easier to say. Who truly knew what they would do if they were suddenly blessed with all of the money, power, and fame they could wish for? That was probably what all of those poets were always blabbering on about... Morality and such.
"Who knows what and where life will bring her... She should turn out alright as long as she keeps clear of certain vices... Orgies and such."
He'd chuckle at the thought, as it was a ridiculous prospect in his own mind, though perhaps it wasn't all too unlikely! With so much time on their hands, who knew what the lesser parts of the royal family got up to once the torches were set alight.
"I'm guessing there may be a few things about her schedule that may surprise me?.. A few quirks after the ceremonial tripe is done with?"
It was actually quite odd for Decimus to favor leaning against the wall too as a rule. If he'd been anywhere else and among any other company he might well have adopted the more familiar formal pose that he'd learned upon becoming an officer, though it didn't seem as though it would do just at the moment. He was trying, quite simply, to appear less threatening or imposing than he otherwise might. For some unfathomable reason, he believed he might continue to lessen the tension between them by appearing to be quite cool. The reality was quite different, of course, as it was his very first day on the job! As far as he knew, Caesar himself could walk through the hall and he would be there on the wall attempting to make peace with his Britannic co-worker.
"Jealous?.." He raised a brow, "I assure you, Ma'am, I've been so honored to be allowed to be here that I couldn't imagine anything like that. Y'need not worry about that."
He'd not go into the fact that he was a simple pleb, he was far too puffed up to bring that up now. Perhaps if he'd become famous he'd often refer to the fact, though calling yourself a pleb among the nobility was hardly advisable for a career-minded veteran... Or so he'd been told.
"And what do you think of the Princess, anyways? Is she one of those few good Romans?" he'd probe, a smirk crossing his face.
Letting her pat at his tunic, he was glad to hear that she liked it. Of course there would be no way of knowing that a family member had made it aside from a few rougher stitch marks that weren't typical of the more experienced designers of the various cities about the empire.
"Aye, and you'll have that walk back to the country to look forward to... Try water, that often helps."
He certainly didn't feel any kind of pain in his head yet, the warm buzz he'd gotten was still going strong. The next day would be horrid, of course, but that was a thought for tomorrow and not while he was still reveling the numbing bliss of intoxication. Perhaps he might give her some money to pay off a wagon ride home, but he expected she'd not much like to ride among hay to get back to a Villa. Might get her dress dirty as well which wouldn't sit right with the lady that would be waiting for her to teach her children.
"I don't know what I am going to do tomorrow, I think we're going on a walk to the ludus... Hopefully I'm up for it."
He'd groan at the thought. Walking about the city under that pretext was one thing, but doing it with a hangover, however much he'd do to treat it, was another matter altogether.
Tossing the palla back onto the chair, he'd let his back fall onto the soft cover of the bed so that he might rest his eyes for a moment.
"Mmm... I guess it does beat sleeping on a skin. Smells a bit nicer too, but that's just my opinion."
That old leathery tent smell was familiar to them both, of course, but he couldn't say he exactly missed it. It was tolerable once one's nose became blind to the scent, but those initial minutes always made him fear that he smelled like an old leathery tent whenever he'd gone about the camp. Still, it was better than smelling like one of the gravediggers; they always had the stench of death about them.
With little thought, he'd grab up her palla gently in his hands, enjoying the feeling of the fabric running through his fingers. It was soft, clearly of some quality that matched those Egyptian fabrics he'd always been hearing so much about... Or at least he thought it did. Having no notion of the goods of that far-off land, he could only imagine that her lady had clothed her in the very best she could find, though this was almost certainly not true.
"It's nice, this. Not like that rough old garbage the army provides... Took me years to get enough tunics that didn't chafe whenever I moved about in the armor."