Face claimAllen Leech
Decimus had watched the situation evolve with some amount of interest, noting the princess's cursing which he found to be particularly humorous. They'd all certainly come down to a level playing field once the attack had taken place, that was for certain. If one could never see the true nature of a person before combat they'd certainly see it afterwards. With that said, all this milling around about his arm was something that he didn't care for. The sooner he'd seen a medicus and had it removed the better.
One thing was becoming a bit more apparent to him, though. He'd lost a lot of blood. His eyelids felt heavy even as he was led towards the medicus who would soon put an end to all of this fussing. It was no mystery why he'd lost so much either. Between being thrown from his mount, dueling with his own blade, and getting into a wrestling match there was definitely a lot of blood pumping through his system and out of that wound for all of the time it had been left uncovered. That bastard that felt the need to twist it certainly hadn't helped things either! Visions of what might happen to his arm should he wake up to an infection flooded his mind as the surgeon took him by the arm as well and there was only a few words that he could think to say as he was led away from the others.
"Lets be done with it..."
Oh, if only he'd been wearing his armor! He wouldn't have to now grapple with the idea of losing one perfectly good arm to the dogs. Bloody regulation might have done him in with this one.
Whatever conversation the other non-wounded persons might have after his own departure was anyone's guess and not exactly his concern. One thing was for sure, their little rides into the country probably wouldn't be happening again. The emperor would hear one word of this and they'd probably all be told off, or worse, and he couldn't exactly see it helping out his future career. He began to curse the idea of their little excursion to no end as he laid eyes upon a chair that was likely to be the place that the arrow would be removed. Curse it all.
@Chevi @Gothic @Atrice @Jenn
Decimus rolled his eyes and smiled as he thought about revealing that tidbit to Longinus. Officially, of course, it wasn't exactly a good idea to go around divulging the fact that you were close to the ears of the highest authorities in the land to anyone who asked you. Being a guardsman went hand in hand with discretion, and the less people who knew exactly what you were doing in the palace the better. With that in mind, Decimus felt as though he could probably trust a man whose loyalty and dedication to Rome were unquestionable, especially to those who'd served under him.
"Oh, I'd say so." He'd say with a coy smile.
Admittedly, he knew little of what other high-ranking nobles thought of her beyond the false smiles and political language they used with her at parties and other sorts of occasions. It was likely that she had more than a few admirers, though none could hope to win her very easily. She was a determined young woman, and one that Decimus was all too happy to serve... Even if he wouldn't be in the heat of battle every waking moment.
"I guard Claudia, daughter of Drusus." He thought for a moment on that. He was almost certain that was correct, but his memory from the readings was a bit foggy as it had been some time since he'd delved into the records. Before too long, though, he continued.
"Would have been a pity for one Rome's great generals to come back looking like that."
Shaking his head at the thought, Decimus made his way over to the bench and made himself comfortable on the smooth marble. Feeling the impact of that familiar hand on his back sent a chill down his spine. It brought him back to the moments leading up to one of the last great battles he'd seen against the northern tribes where he'd felt that confident pat on the back of his shoulder as the rattle of a thousand barbarian swords and axes echoed through the forest. That simple gesture had instilled confidence in the hearts of many during those campaigns from long ago. It was almost as if they'd never truly parted ways.
"I'd say I came to the city about a year ago now... Something like that."
He'd snort when the suggestion was made that he was off "Storming" anywhere in the days after the Legate's replacement had taken command.
"I wish! I'd wager we marched for a whole week before meeting resistance some days... Think they lost the stomach for it after they figured out they couldn't take shots at you anymore!"
A hearty laugh would give way to silence soon enough as Decimus looked over some of the nicks in his hands.
"No, I was ordered to come to Rome to represent the Governor on some state business... It was only after a few weeks of being in the city that I'd been told to report to the Palace."
He turned his head to meet the gaze of Longinus to measure his reaction when he informed him of the good news.
"I am Praetorian now."
It was not often that Decimus found himself free to enjoy the gifts of Rome as he otherwise might've if he'd not been so gainfully employed. Being an active, and extraordinarily important, member of the army meant that his days were filled to the brim with all sorts of martial activities when he was not standing guard outside of an official function or in the halls of the palace at the behest of her ladyship. The concept of such a monotonous life had once filled Decimus's mind with dread and longing for the frontier that he'd left behind. As he'd become more accustomed to life within the walls of Rome, however, he'd begun to thrive in its familiar embrace. He'd a constant bed to sleep in and the food was far more agreeable than it had been on the outskirts of those dreadful Pictish villages that they were often forced to scavenge from during Winter. He could hardly complain about the title either! Praetorian. He didn't think much of it now, but there were still some nights that he'd sit up and look at the ceremonial blade he'd been entrusted with upon his induction.
With that in mind, "Days off" were few and far between. Today he'd been told that his presence at the palace was unnecessary. It wasn't unusual. He didn't often dig into the reasons why, but more often than not he'd be told that the Princess was doing something of a religious nature or was off and about with that Britannic shield-maiden Cynane. Nevertheless, he was always happy to lay down his sword for one day and think of himself for a change.
He'd arrived at the Thermae after a long period of sword-sparring with a few other guardsmen. Fighting without a shield was almost a foreign concept to a common soldier, but it was an absolute necessity when one wasn't lugging a hulking frame of wood about to protect them everyday. The cool waters of the Natatio had been a welcome reprieve to his aching muscles. He was always amazed at how one could feel every sore and ache in the body after a short stint in the baths and today was certainly no exception. Exiting the pool and brushing out a bit of the excess water from his own hair, short as it was, he was quite surprised to see a man he'd thought long gone to the frontier.
"Legatus?" he'd whisper to himself, slightly baffled at the concept that he should find Longinus here of all places!
Decimus was not shy, and he approached with a knowing smile towards his old friend.
"I am well, Sir! I see you've been shaken free of the Isle as well. The wilds too much for you?"
Ordinarily he might have acted a bit more reserved around a superior, though Longinus was quite different. Already memories of cold nights overlooking various maps by candlelight had returned to his mind. As Primus Pilus he'd been privy to nearly all discussions of strategy and the like, not to mention an adviser on the current mood of the rank and file.
The journey had been torturous. If the constant jabs of pain from the arrowhead touching his bone with every step and movement weren't enough, then the insufferable dread of seeing that blood soaked cloth tied neatly about his arm would keep him moving. Of course he knew they couldn't very well stop and rest for the night on the edge of just any road in the province. Not only would they endanger the safety of the princess if they chose to be so foolish, but he'd be lucky if he didn't awake with a bulging puss filled limb where his arm had once been.
Even still, this agonizing form of motivation didn't do much for him. Every step his mount took was liable to send another wave of pain through his arm, unless he focused and held it just right. Though Aia had done a typically superb job when it came to wrapping up that wound, he could still feel the occasional warm droplet land on his thigh. It was concerning, but he'd seen worse on the frontier. So long as they could find this bloody villa he'd be alright. That's what he'd like to believe, at least. With little hope of getting to Rome before tomorrow it was truly the very best they could all hope for.
Finally, when they'd arrived, Decimus was keen to dismount. He did so clumsily, stumbling as he hit the ground with a knee and hissed a curse at the beast as it instinctively backed away and made to walk off. This, truly, was not his day. The support offered by his fellow companions was appreciated, though he wished they might not take such care of him. The wound hadn't taken away his ability to walk, but he was grateful of course.
At seeing the reaction of the slave with little input from any of them he couldn't help but feel as though this wasn't going to be well accepted back in Rome. Honestly he just hoped that no one would hear of it, but that idea was laughable! He could already hear the reprimands he'd get from his Commander for being wounded in such a way. It would be an unrelenting deluge...
For some time Decimus's world had been the constant state of flux between having a face full of dirt and looking down upon the face of some no-name brigand. They rolled about, gaining the advantage over the other for moments at a time before some dirty trick tipped the tables and the other was on top yet again. It would continue on like this until Decimus felt the sudden burning heat of the arrowhead still lodged in his arm twist to the right with devastating results. His body locked up and he was forced on to his back immediately.
This, most assuredly, was the end. As he lay there he still drew breath, but for how much longer no one would know but the gods themselves. He was not afraid, nor was he angry that Mars had fated him to die with a rusty dagger pushed through his abdomen by some common criminal, but he was disappointed. All the dreams of future glory were dashed. His corpse, if it were recovered, would be thrown into a pit of anonymity with the rest of the corpses found around the countryside. His family would hear of it and receive his belongings. The thought of how they would react sent a shiver down his spine, one that spurred him to open his eyes and catch that dagger that was surely about penetrate his cuirass. He would fight on, as they'd not taken his heart yet.
That is he would have fought on if he'd seen anyone above him. He'd expected to see one of their ugly faces set right above him, but there was naught but the clear blue sky. Was he already dead? The stinging pain in his arm made him doubt it.
He made to sit up, but found he'd have to rely on but one arm as the other still wailed with pain every time he attempted to use it. Had they ran? Surely not. Why would they have run? They'd had them in the bag, how could they have screwed up? These thoughts were cautiously abandoned as he, indeed, caught sight of his own assailants turning tail and fleeing into the brush.
Huh. Fancy that. He'd think to himself, smiling at his good fortune.
His faith in his destiny having been restored, he looked to Aia, who was standing quite unhindered by any sort of rabble. She was certainly in a state. Though, that being said, he couldn't imagine to begin how he might look. With a confused tone, he managed to blurt out the first coherent words he'd said throughout the length of the brawl.
"Have they gone?"
The sudden flush of darkness that came as the thug's fist connected with his cheek stunned Decimus and caused him to pause if only for a few moments. Though not enough to disarm him the blow was certainly felt, and he staggered as a result. As quickly as it had blinded him his vision was restored, however, and with some effort he was able to step away from the next strike that had been aimed at him. It was then that he'd had the momentary opportunity to glance back towards Aia. She was being overcome, even if it were only because she was outnumbered. It was only natural, of course, that he began to feel a cold sweat come over him as the true magnitude of the situation became apparent.
Aia was being thrown to the turf and he was doing his best to fend off a man with an arrow buried deep into his shoulder. It stung, gods it was agonizing. More than once he'd made to bring his offhand up to attempt to grapple with the bandit, and more than once he had felt a crippling pain shoot through his side. He was no fool, he realized the fight was lost, the only issue was there was no true avenue for escape. Once they had finished with Aia they'd surely make to come at his flank, and then?.. He'd have to get free of this place, and with that scrappy little red head too. As for the princess, well, he could do nothing more than to hope that Cynane had already ridden far away. Whatever screaming or cursing Aia had heard had been lost on him, and the hope of Claudia's escape was the only thing that really drove him to think to run. Help would come, surely, but it wouldn't be soon enough to save their skins at this rate.
Still, he'd little other option than to continue to fight. There was still a chance, after all, that they could get away from this mess with some skill. It was still a wonder to him that they'd not proven themselves as greater trouble than they were worth! With the princess gone and away and one of their men dead or dying, what was keeping them around the two? Perhaps only to kill them in a more complete fashion... Well he'd not have that.
The key was to keep the area disruptive. At the moment he'd been fending the other man off with simple faints of his blade, but it was as soon as he'd watched Aia bring a foot clean against the thugs face, the one she'd been grappling with, that he'd chosen to turn and run from his own assailant. His goal was clear, he was to barrel himself into the man that was holding Aia down and run him through in the process. Either that or tackle him to the ground. With Aia free, she just might be able to scramble away or at least hinder the man that would surely be running after him.
The situation was desperate to say the least.
@Chevi @Atrice @Gothic
He'd smile at the idea out of politeness but he did truly hope that she didn't intend to send him off into the basilica to prey on those who'd lost their husbands, especially if the loss had been recent. The idea of flirting with the widow of one he'd served with in a previous life would eat away at him before he could make anything meaningful of it anyways.
"Ah, an honor i'd do the fallen, to take their wives before the ashes have settled."
There was nothing in it, he knew many men who'd taken widows from previous marriages right after a death in the family. Even though it was commonplace, however, the thought still didn't settle well with him. He'd hate to learn that a woman he'd taken to was the wife of some lost legionary he'd once known. It would just be... Odd.
Sighing, he rested a confident arm across her shoulder, looking out towards the varied stately buildings that they'd been milling about and offering some sort of reassurance.
"The search will go on, but I dont think wandering about in the street and talking to strangers is anything that i'm good at... As you'll recall the courtship rituals in Britannia were somewhat different."
"Fucking bastards!.." He'd spit at the man immediately in front of him.
There was seldom a time where Decimus felt more alive and in control than in combat, but even he was beginning to sense that the odds might be very much against them. The most frustrating thing was how unprepared they'd been. If this had been Britannia or one of the frontier provinces he'd doubted that any trust would have been given to a peasant by the wayside, but the Princess could not be blamed for trusting another Roman, deceitful as he may have turned out to be.
Instinctively he'd begun to back towards Aia who was dealing with her own assailant. She'd have to hold, at least for now, the two men around the guardsman would demand his full attention until he could find an opening to help her. Backing away from them both was the best strategy, and he was happy to find that they drew closer to each other with each pace he took backwards. Facing two men at your front was dangerous, facing one to the front and one behind was most assuredly suicide.
Though the Spatha gave him the ability to fight at some distance, that alone would not be enough to save him. Luckily Decimus was not short on cunning. First he'd even the playing field as best he could. Keeping his eye trained on the two men and offering occasional faints to keep them at bay, he'd draw the Pugio that still sat on his waist. Ceremonial as it may have been, he mostly kept it around to cut up meat or rope. Today he'd see if it could still get to a man's heart...
With one fluid movement, he thrusted his blade towards the closest bandit who retreated back a few paces in turn. As expected his mate hadn't sat idle, and Decimus quickly moved the sword away from the first man to lock blades with him. Adrenaline surged through his body as his eyes locked with the bandit's rugged looking mug. Strong as he may have been, he was not to know what Decimus had planned. With all of the strength he could muster, he attempted to throw the man back and off of his feet. If he'd managed it, then he'd launch a quick flurry of swings at the man who he'd first gone after, seeking to finish him as soon as he could.
In the heat of it all he could not see if the Princess and Cynane had made to flee, but from the sounds of things it seemed the situation had only grown to engulf them as well...
@Gothic @Chevi @Atrice
He could only scoff at the question.
"What one 'ought to say... She said that she wasn't interested in anything that I was selling, wouldn't have any more of me!"
All at once he'd begun to laugh; the idea that she'd thought that's what he'd been after! Of course it was one of the more natural reactions he hadn't counted on, doing this in the market as they were. There must have been hundreds of vendors and con-men that bombarded women with special offers constantly, all finding ground in the common tactic of flattery beforehand.
"Perhaps the market was a mistake, unless that was a fluke."