"It's quite impressive. I still remember the first time I saw it" Theo nodded as they walked back to the ludus. Theo led the way, to the doors that opened to the tunnel towards the Amphitheater. They were usually closed and guarded, but for Saturnalia, the rules were different. When they emerged, it was clear that some people must have had the same idea from various ludii: smaller groups sat here and there in the seats, with wine and food and lanterns, and some were playing music and dancing down in the arena. Theo smiled, heading to the seats. "Looks like others had the same idea."
He shook his head at Spurius' question. "I don't know her personally, but I've heard about her. She sounds remarkable. Gladiator or gladiarix, the best ones are always more clever than people give them credit for..."
"Something sweet, I can definitely do" Theo nodded a he helped Dago lay back down. "I'd advise against pretty girls for the moment because of the... physical strain." he added with a smirk. He packed up his things, it was time to move on to his other patients. But he always felt guilty, for leaving the young man alone with his pain and his dark thoughts. "I'll visit again soon, Dago. Take care."
Hopefully, he'd be alright till then.
"Trying every day, just a little, is half the battle." Theo noted as they paused. "More than half, actually. I have seen people give up before, and at that point, neither medics nor the gods can do anything to help." Waiting for a miracle didn't usually work, not in his experience. Not anywhere near a battlefield. He had also known people with severe injuries that sought death... his oath had always kept him from aiding them in that. But Dago did not seem like he was ready to give up yet.
"You are doing great." he said encouragingly, walking a few more steps before they turned back to the bed. "I'll visit again soon. Is there anything I can bring you?"
Theo supported Dago, putting his shoulder under the man's healthy arm. He was wobbly on his feet, and there was a long way to go between standing and walking, but at least he balanced enough to be upright. After weeks of lying down, that was important too.
"Slowly. Just a step or two" he said, allowing Dago to lean on him. "I have seen people come back from bad injuries. You might not un around anytime soon like a kid, but walking on your own... is not out of the question yet." he said, patting the man on the back.
Theo sighed. He had no good answer to that. Slaves that were disabled sometimes found a new use for their skills, but sometimes, they were deemed useless. A gladiator who could't fight, was pretty much useless to a ludus. "We'll think about that when we get to it, hm? Maybe they will put you to work training the others. All that takes is yelling really loudly, from what I can tell." he said finally, shifting to help Dago stand up. "Come on, let's see you stand."
"I know." Theo admitted, continuing with the exercise, helping Dago move his leg. He was still in a lot of pain, and a long way from walking on his own. He would have deserved something easier, for sure. "I know it's probably not a comfort right now... but I doubt they will make you fight again."
Theo knew that Dago was not keen on fighting in the arena; and after the experience he'd had when he got injured, it was probably going to be a relief on the long run that he didn't have to do it again. What he would do, if he couldn't fight, was another question, however.
Dago's left might have been his off hand, but at the moment it was definitely the stronger one. If his shoulder did not heal completely, he might be stuck using his left for the foreseeable future. He would learn, but it would be awkward for a long time before he got used to it. The leg... that was another matter entirely.
"It's a good thing those slaves are strong... I still feel like I'm going to fall whenever I try to put weight on it,"
Theo examined the leg too. The wound here was also healed, and the bones back together, but movement was going to be slow to improve, and strength to return. He helped Dago bend his leg gently, as far as he could go. "You will need crutches to start balancing on your own. Strength returns the more you put weight on it."
"It might not seem like it, but you are improving" Theo nodded. A little bit, probably not enough for him to see through the struggle. But compared to where he was when he had come in with the injury, he was not doing bad.
He still couldn't hold things in his grip, though. And the right was his dominant hand, which just added more struggle to the healing process. "And how are you doing with your left hand?" Theo ventured, holding both hands of Dago at the same time. They had done this exercise before: he would have to squeeze Theo's hands, so the medicus could feel the difference. Since he'd started improving, Dago had had to start using is left hand for things, which often made things awkward.
He spent some more time moving his arm and massaging the shoulder, before he turned his attention to Dago's leg.
Theo pulled his hands back, letting Dago hold his arm on his own as long as he could. It still hurt, he said, and it started shaking after a few moments. Weakness was to be expected with injuries like this, as was pain.
"You are doing well."
It would take time, but hopefully he would get a bit more strength, and range of motion back. Theo reached for Dago's hand. "How is your grip? Can you hold on to things?"
"I know that, but it doesn't make me any less tired,"
"I know" Theo took off the bandages and examined the shoulder wound. It was mostly healed now, on the outside anyway; but as far as movement, Dago was still having problems. Theo put one hand under his forearm and the other over the shoulder, and helped him move the arm carefully. Even a movement like that was work when someone was healing. He only helped enough so Dago could follow through with the movement.
"I probably would have given up if it wasn't for you..."
Theo smiled softly. "I'm doing my job right, then." He was glad the young gladiator was not dead. He might not even fully heal, but he was a good man, and deserved to live. He helped Dag lift his arm a little higher. "Can you hold it here?"
After a few years at the ludus, Theo was learning to anticipate his work from the sounds he heard coming from the arena. A roar always mean something dramatic; depending on the tone, it could be a kill, or a win, or something entirely unexpected. Death rarely horrified the spectators. But gruesome moments did. Theo could tell this one had been a bad one, judging from the collective gasp from the audience. He wondered the gladiator lived, and whether he belonged to the Ludus Magnus. Not leaving anything to chance, he got ready for some hard work.
"THEODORUS!" the slave sent ahead stood in the door, panting. "You better get ready for this..."
He was ready. The windows and door were open, with a lot of light streaming in to the operating table. He had his tools, bandages, he had a lot of water and towels, unwatered wine and poppy milk. The patient arrived a few moments later, carried by two other slaves on a stretcher. Blood was dripping behind them along the way.
(Right after Whoever brings the night)
Aia was sitting on a chair in the apartment she and Decimus had only recently vacated. No one had moved into it yet, so it was mostly empty. And thus, and excellent place to stash the piece of shit they had just apprehended. While Aia would not have minded just stabbing him right in the alley, Alexius claimed he didn't deserve that. He deserved worse. She liked that idea.
It seemed that a whole lot of people had a bone to pick with this man. Everyone ran everywhere, carrying to news, leaving Aia to get patched up by Theodorus while the two of them waited for the rest to return. Aia had her largest kitchen knife at hand, just in case. And Theo was there to make sure she didn't just stab the man anyway.
Aia frowned, drinking from a cup of unwatered wine as Theo bandaged her wound. It was deep, but not serious; he stitched her up, which hurt like a bitch, and put her in a foul mood. The man on the ground was still unconscious, although he groaned sometimes. Alexius had done a thorough job tying him up like a prize hog, and Theo had helped gag him in case he woke up. He was not going anywhere anytime soon. Or maybe ever.
@Sharpie @Atrice @Sara@Sains
February 77 AD The night following Falling Apart and Crime scene investigations
It was far from the first time he’d killed someone. And it had felt so good when it happened, the feeling of the knife penetrating the flesh, the way the man had doubled over, forcing the knife deeper, all the way to the handle. The way the blood had run over Marcus’ fingers. The way the other man died, the way Marcus touched the wound and the warm blood. Until he realized he needed to flee. The man wore white robes; the man was a Senator of Rome. It was not good. But Marcus was sure it could not be traced back to him…
Or was he? Somehow, what happened tonight made him think to everything else that had happened, since he attacked that girl at Saturnalia. She’d been so afraid. Her blood had been so red and warm. He’d almost wanted to fuck her after he cut her, but then he didn’t, because he thought he killed her. But he didn’t. She lived and she was with a guy named Alexius, who also knew the Egyptian who came to his shop, who knew a mute boy. A mute boy that Marcus thought he'd met sometime. He couldn’t be sure it was the same, but maybe. It seemed like a puzzle, almost impossible to solve, but he knew he had the right pieces. He just had to finish it. If all of this really was connected… it was very bad for him. He knew how they treated murderers. They’d often end up in the arena against some beast of a gladiator and Marcus wouldn’t win such a fight. And he had no death-wish. All he wanted was to do what he’d always done.
The next morning he woke up in his bed. He hadn’t changed, he’d been thinking about the murder until he fell asleep. Then he yelled for Manus to come and help clean him, and his female slave could get him a fresh set of clothes. There was blood on his tunica from yesterday. He told Manus to burn it. Once he’d cleaned up and wore clean clothes, he went down to open the shop as usual. Pretending like nothing happened last night. But then people began coming into the shop to be shaved or have a haircut. And there was gossip. About the important Senator that was murdered in the street last night. And the Vigiles were looking for the murderer. Many people were looking for said murderer. Marcus worried more and more. So much that he felt distracted.
He closed the shop early, locked the chest with blades and once darkness fell, he put his cloak back on. And went out into the night. Towards the Esquiline Hill. He had to solve the puzzle. And he had to attempt removing the people he thought might know too much. He could start with Alexius. Or Artemon, whom he had already shaved once. Artemon might be easiest. Not that he had not killed bigger men before, but why take a risk when you could be safe?
He hid in a dark doorway near the insula, watching the area. Marcus didn’t know if he’d kill them tonight, a murder two nights in a row might not be the best idea. But he needed to see them and needed to think about what he'd do. Then he might at least threaten them. Hurt them. Silence them. Something. And so he waited.
February 77AD (Right after Falling Apart)
Blood still glimmered on the cobblestones in the light of the torches when Lucius got to the scene, but it was darkening fast. Even wrapped in a senatorial outfit, the body could have lied there for hours until a carriage bumped into it... but someone had seen a man running away from the scene, and the victim was found. Someone alerted the vigiles. Lucius, nearby just starting his evening patrol, hurried to the scene with the others. The news were spreading faster than a flame. A senator had been killed.
Stabbed, no doubt. Dead as a doornail, no hope of a rescue. The vigiles formed a perimeter around the body, but Lucius managed to convince the centurion to wait before bundling it away from the prying eyes of the plebes. The man had been stabbed, in the street. Not robbed, not beaten. Maybe, just maybe... but why a man? Why a senator?
Lucius sent one of the other recruits hurrying to the insula, for Alexius and Theodorus. Another one for Jason. The centurion was losing his patience fast, but dealing with the death of a senator made him cautious enough that he was willing to listen. That won some time, but not much of it. Lucius swore under his breath, standing by the body. he wasn't even sure what he was waiting for... but he wanted the others to see it too.
Mid-February, 77 CE
By the Gods, he had not thought his afternoon would have turned out quite the way that it had. If he did, he would not have ventured out of his humble insulae. The commotion of the marketplace had drawn him out, the need to find something to replenish his food stock and something that he could eat. The people moved around as if they had little else more to do, their eyes browsing wares that they could or could not afford.
Gaius moved through the crowd, awkwardly however, for his height was sometimes made point for him to be gawked at like a slave for the market. He was not a slave meant for the market, nor would he wish upon himself such a fate. He enjoyed the freedoms that he had, even whilst not a Roman citizen. However, it had not been long until presently, he was hurried being guided through the market with a child in his hands - bloodied and bruised from a fight that he had intervened in. "Stay with me." He barked, out of breath as he shoved past a couple of other plebians who had not seen a rather large man barrelling towards them as he made way towards the closest known medicus that he had been pointed towards.
It had past his attention that he had, in fact, ran headlong into the Gladiatorium grounds; his eyes wide and searching. "I need a bloody medicus now!" He raised his voice, enough so that he could be heard over the roar of the audience, his eyes going back down as he checked that the child was still breathing.
Instead of waiting, Gaius proceeded forward - swatting hands away of the guards who attempted to stop him. He was not allowing this child to die with such dishonor.
"Find me a medicus or so may the Gods help you." Gaius snarled, as he braced himself, trying to prevent his sandals from slipping as the guards attempted to take him back through the door.
(OOC: I hope this works, please do let me know if you need more to work with.)
Early December, 76 AD - after Male Fantasy
He suddenly felt very exposed, in a way he’d never felt like in Rome until now. But as he sat there, still leaning against the wall to his insula, people were looking at him. The fight was over, Ione and the guard had left and although the fight had been broken up, no one had come to ask how Wulfric was doing. He knew he must look like a mess. He could feel that his one jaw and cheek was swollen and would most likely turn blue or purple soon, and he still had the taste of blood in his mouth. And his clothes were all dirty and dusty. This was so bad. He couldn’t turn up for work like this! He wouldn’t get a thing done anyway.
He had luckily not passed out, but he knew he’d been close. And his face was hurting everywhere, as was his chest and he had a terrible headache. How was he going to drag himself up the stairs to his insula? And what about the warehouse, when they expected him to come and he didn’t… it was fucked up, all of it. He needed help, now. And the inhabitants of his area didn’t seem to want to give it to him.
Wulfric closed his eyes, thinking he might just sleep here then. Once spring came, it really was time to return for Germania. It was now more obvious than ever, that he was very unwanted in Rome.
December 22, 76AD, evening (after The hunt begins)
In retrospect, they could have tried to find a bigger place for this, Lucius thought. They barely fit inside Alexius' apartment, and his son was not even home yet. But it was still better than nothing, and the place was inconspicuous enough not to raise any suspicion of the ragtag gathering of slaves, freedmen, plebeians, and one former patrician. They really looked like an unexpected group of people as they all filed in. Lucius, still in his vigiles uniform (he had to go on patrol while the others looked for more clues, and he jut got back for the evening). Alexius, the ex-gladiator, towering over the rest of them. Jason, the imperial body slave, and his cousin, the mute charioteer, who was leaning against a wall with his arms folded, sizing up everyone. A girl - Didia? - who had been attacked by the killer, and apparently also lived next door. And she brought another, soft-spoken older man along, who introduced himself as Theodorus. Medicus for a ludus, apparently. Well, Lucius thought, there was a possibility that a medicus' services were needed before this was all over.
Lucius had brought some wine for everyone, and also a rolled-up map of the city. It was a little dated, and barely marked more than the main streets and the regions, but it was the best he could rustle up on a short notice. He also had a new writing tablet, instead of the one he'd borrowed.
"Is this everyone?..." he asked, glancing around at the assembled people. How were they even... supposed to do this? "I know we don't all know each other, but apparently we have a common enemy. Someone who has hurt... and killed... a lot of people." he glanced at Didia, and cleared his throat. "Someone no one has paid attention to, or connected the dots, for too long. And we need to find him, fast. Before he hurts someone else."
@Sara @Atrice @Sharpie
Saturnalia, December 76AD
The sun had set, the western sky still glowed with pinks and purples, but already torches were lit along the main streets and outside the domii and insulae. The sounds of celebrations could be heard from various quarters as the citizens of Rome enjoyed the One Night of the Year when the rules were tossed aside and freedoms of all kinds prevailed.
Spurius always tried to run his stock of slaves down as low as possible as this night approached, but for those who remained he had thrown a lavish banquet, complete with wine and entertainers, and then thrown the doors of his warehouse for the night, locking only the inner store rooms. It said something of his confidence perhaps, or the way that he treated them, but virtually all would be back by morning and any that weren't were usually sleeping off a hangover somewhere, and trickled back eventually.
Once he'd served the banquet he'd left them to it, wandering off into the night with a jug of good wine in his hand. His own personal slaves were also out doing as they pleased, and once the warehouse was seen to he always felt somewhat at a loss on these nights. Perhaps it reflected the rest of his life; there was a certain emptiness. Most of his peers were wed with families of their own, or involved in politics, or other dealings, or had some vice to service. He had none of these things. He told himself that he was happy that way, though the vision of his once intended would occasionally float in the mind's eye. Her father had rejected him on his return, not wanting a cripple for his daughter. Never mind that he was set to establish a successful business, which he had. He was a cripple, and probably that was how most saw him. It was easier not to risk more rejection, if not the most fulfilling. He told himself he had plenty and was content.
Sometimes the greatest lies are the ones we tell ourselves.
What he had surprised himself to find was a certain camaraderie with another ex-legionnaire. He didn't know where the man lived, but he knew where Theo worked, and on impulse he headed that way, and found himself standing at the entrance of the ludus, calling out hopefully.
July 76, the Circus Neronianus*
It was still summer in Rome, still hot, and yet with the advent of a new Caesar, there was a new air of excitement and anticipation even in the heat that pervaded Rome. It was cooler outside the boundary of the city - not a lot cooler, but enough.
Racing was something that everyone had an opinion on and interest in, no matter the season or who wore the purple. Most races took place in the Circus Maximus, that vast stretch of racetrack in whose shadow the Whites' stable lay, but there were other venues in Rome for racing to take place, and one of those was the new Circus outside the boundaries of the city, across the Tiber. It was a venue for less prestigious races, and therefore the perfect place to introduce a new charioteer to the business of actually being a charioteer.
Marcus had made sure that Azarion had had the opportunity to drive around this smaller track so that its shorter length and tight turns would be more familiar during his first race. And now the chariots were lined up at the end of the Circus; behind the carceres, the starting gate. When the signal was given, the gate would allow all the chariots to move forward at the same time, aiming them deliberately to the right-hand side of the spina that ran down the centre of the circus. Marcus would watch this first race of Azarion's future career from near the starting gate, where he could see right down the circus on both sides of the spina, although not the curve at the far end. He had Varica stationed on the spina itself to cover that - being able to hear of any occurrences there would help with the final assessment of the day. Seven laps would tell whether Marcus was right, or wrong, in his assessment of the boy.
@Chevi ( @Járnviðr and @Atrice if you want to include Menelaus and Caeso as either spectators or participants)
*Two things: the Circus Neronianus was begun by Caligula (and finished by Claudius in our own timeline, there's no need to think it couldn't have been finished by AeRo's own Claudius); I have referred to it by the name it has in our world because I don't know what it would otherwise be known as. The thread is set in the Transtiberim even though this circus is technically not in that area simply because it is on the other side of the river and only just outside Rome itself. See the map here
It was rare that Rufus was sent on an errand by his master; he was his master's personal attendant and errnads were generally given to house-slaves to run. This one had been deemed important enough to dispatch Rufus himself, though, and he was glad of the little bit of freedom to leave the house and take the message, which was for the lanista of the Ludus Magnus.
The only reply he'd been told to wait for was a 'yes' or a 'no' (and Rufus' master being who he was, the expected and only acceptable answer would be 'yes') which answer he'd received. He was on his way home and hadn't managed to get very far when he had to move out of the way of a litter that was being carried along the street with little regard for the pedestrians already in it.
He hastily stepped backwards and, as he did so, caught his foot on the edge of a pothole caused by a missing paving stone and went down, hard. It was a moment before he could gather himself, and look down at his ankle, which was throbbing. He hadn't heard or felt anything break, but there was a definite swelling at the joint, and he sucked in a breath.
mehercle but it hurt!