Face ClaimRobert Sheehan
"Right, that's a good idea. We should only take as much as can be blamed on rats."
If there was anything to take at all, Iophon thought. Maybe they already moved the goods. Or sold them. Or maybe it was just some spice they couldn't really do anything with anyway. Still, curiosity carried him forward as they made their way to the storehouse.
"You think?! That he would let us in on it?"
Probably not. No reason to think about that just yet. "We'll see when it gets to that. Maybe it's a business we don't even want to be in."
"That's the one. So what's the plan now? There's usually a guard making rounds. Do we try to avoid him or should one of us distract him while the other sneaks in?"
"Let's avoid and get in" Iophon decided after a few moments. He did not want to let Artemon get inside alone, and he definitely did not want him to be the distraction. Iophon saw the guard round the corner, then followed his movement as he walked along. He seemed very sleepy, ready to hand over duty to someone else. "Is the door locked? Should we get through a window?"
Well, this was happening now. They gathered all the things they needed, and left the apartment to go snooping around at Artemon's workplace. Iophon was mostly motivated by sheer curiosity and a bit of boredom, which was just as well, because Artemon's plans rarely ever ended in profit.
"Right, stay close to me,"
"I'm right behind you" Iophon smirked after his brother looked back for the third time to see if he was being followed. He was. By Iophon.
"What should we do with the stuff after we've taken a sample? Do you think that if we try to sell it, they'll know where we got it?"
"If it is rare enough that they bring all of it into the city, then we are definitely not selling it." Iophon observed "Honestly, we shouldn't take a large enough portion for them to notice. Which means we won't have enough to sell. I just... want to know what it is, first. Maybe if it is exciting enough, we can join in on the business."
"We can also use the pouch to stash away some of the herb, in case we don't have enough time. Then we can check it out here at home."
Iophon blinked, and then did that thing he usually did when his brother invented the wheel with full, honest enthusiasm. "Yes. Yes, we can do that too." And moved on. The tools were not hard to find (their apartment was not that large). The rest they would just have to improvise, and hope for the best. Really, what was the worst thing that could happen? They might not find out what the mytery cargo is. oh well.
"Close to an hour, depending on how crowded the streets are. Should be a little faster at night... Do you want to go now?!"
"Why not? No time like the present!' he grinned an put on his cloak. "Unless you don't want to?"
Artemon was easily pulled into the wildest plans, as long as they were made by someone he looked up to. Which was most people, but especially his brother. Iophon also knew he would never notice or point out any flaws in said plans, so it fell to him to think things over before they were caught red-handed in the storehouse.
"Yes, rats! And if somehow we're caught, we can say we were investigating the situation. Like where the rats came from and what they ruined!"
"What are we doing with the file, though? Isn't a crowbar better? And what if you don't know what it is? Should we take a small pouch with us?"
"Pouch, yes. I'll put a few coins in it." Iophon nodded, rummagin around in one of their boxes "The file we need to make some marks on the crates. In case, you know, they don't actually have any rats." he smirked "And yes, we will have to find a way to pry a crate open, although if we are lucky, they might have already opened up at least one for quality checks... How far is this building from here?"
Artemon looked very excited about his brand new idea. Bless him, he didn't have one of those very often.
"Well, first we need to go to the warehouse, obviously. It's better just before dawn, because that's when the people working at night want to go home and rest and so they don't pay as much attention."
"Makes sense" Iophon nodded. Leave it to Artemon to accidentally make sense every once in a while. So far, the plan was not half bad. Unless he counted the times wrong, but so far, it seemed easily doable. Artemon, encouraged by his approval, carried right on.
"The crates are nailed shut, so we'll need an iron bar or something. Or something sharp to make a small hole in the wood?... Unless you could tell what it is just by smelling it...? But we still have to get to the warehouse."
"I am not sure I can tell every spice by smell" Iophon mused, tilting his head. The crate thing was a hard question. "Maybe we could make a hole in a crate, and claim there are rats if anyone questions us? Can we get a dead rat somewhere? That would be useful. And a file?"
Iophon made a habit of not interfering with Artemon's business ventures right away. Since he believed one could only really learn from his own mistakes, he usually waited until his brother began to realize something was wrong before he drew the moral of any story. Right now, Artemon was happy lugging mystery boxes of expensive product around. He could do that a bit longer.
"Indeed I have! But I was also gaining Gallus' trust, Iophon! I can't show him how smart I am, so I decided to show him I am hard-working and dependable."
"That's smart of you." Iophon smirked, enjoying the irony and chewing another piece of bread.
"Besides, they are all nailed shut. I think he'd grow suspicious if i tried to pry one open... Well, the crates aren't that heavy, you know? And they rustle a bit when you move them, like something dry is inside. Oh, and they also give off this faint smell... Kinda plant-y? It's hard to explain, but if you could smell it too I know you'd agree."
"Sure does sound like spices" he had to agree. He also had to admit he was curious now. Spices were not usually a big enough secret, and they had already ruled out silphion. Maybe it was a new kind of spice that Gallus had cornered the market on? Iophon was intrigued.
"Iophon. I've got an idea."
"Do share, dear." This was bound to be good.
"Why don't you come with me and we figure out what's inside the crates?"
"Ooh, an adventure!" the storyteller grinned. He was a little surprised Artemon would risk the position he'd just said he was working for. Then again he may not have realized he was risking it. "I am happy to sniff some spices. Just for the mystery, mind you. How do you propose we do that?"
"I bought us food, brother!"
Iophon had been trying to use the last light of the day by the window to read a scroll he'd found about some interesting anecdotes. It was past time to light an oil lamp, but that light was not great for reading. Still, he was so immersed in the reading that he forgot it was time to eat until his brother barged in.
"Good job" he said, stashing the scroll before he moved to make some space on the cluttered table. The upside of Artemon having a job was that it made him hungry enough by the end of the day that he remembered to get food. Usually. Iophon sat with his brother, breaking off a piece of bread. The stew was not bad.
"Iophon. I've been thinking hard about something. What do you think is in those crates I carry back and forth for Gallus? I thought it was some kind of spice, but it doesn't smell like any I know."
Iophon arched an eyebrow over the bowl. "How should I know? I thought you knew! You have been hauling those crates for weeks!" Did he really never look inside? Or did he just not know what he saw?
"Do you think it's that plant women use so they don't have babies?"
"What, silphion?" the storyteller shook his head "Boy, if you were hauling crates of silphion into the city, your employer would be the richest man south of the mountains. That shit's worth more than gold... What makes you think it's spices?"
"I have not... give that much thinking. I hope I will rule well, be fair, be just. I do not want rule with fear. I know some do. That is not good way."
Wulfric seemed like a good person. Whether that was beneficial to being a king or not remained to be seen. Ruling over other people required skills that few people possessed, and it was even harder, in Iophon's opinion, to be a good ruler. Fear was easier, no doubt. It was up to the storytellers to decide whether someone would be seen as a good king or a tyrant...
"My grandfather, now... he is good king. But firm. I do not know if I will be so much."
"You have to learn from the best" Iophon agreed. And yet, Wulfric was here, in Rome, trying to find his father who was a Varus. He might have been looking for paternal inspiration in the wrong place...
"What would you do, if you would be king?"
"Have much better wine" Iophon promptly responded with a grin. "And I'd have a whole lot of concubines... Let's face it, I'd probably make an abysmal king. Too much work."
"Royal guard" Iophon reiterated, looking at Wulfric in a whole new light. Roman emperors usually didn't have their own family members as praetorians, though. One, they were too noble and important for that, and two, no one wanted family with weapons that close, just in case.
"I not king yet. Maybe I never be. You can not live life on maybe. I am here, now. This matters. Treat me like normal person."
"I'll drink to that" Iophon raised his cup "To being normal people. May there be more of us in this fair city." he grinned, drinking.
"So... if you do become king... how do you imagine you would rule your people?"
Deianira seemed to be enjoying the story. Iophon liked a captive audience. This tale could have gone either way when told in a brothel out of all places, but so far, it seemed to hit a chord with the young woman, and some other women who were halfway listening.
"If only I were so talented,"
"Oh, I am sure you have plenty of talents" Iophon grinned at Deia. Coming from another man it would have sounded sleazy, maybe, but he actually meant it. Women (and men) in these kind of places were usually a lot more than they though about themselves.
"Anyway. Rhodopis soon became a popular hetaera, and Charaxus... well, he disappears from our story. He probably went back to Lesbos to beg money and forgiveness from his sister, with his tail between his legs. Or he got lost in Egypt. Who knows? Rhodopis did well on her own, all things considered. And this could have been the end of the story, with her living comfortably... if it had not been for the eagle."
Iophon held a dramatic pause for good measure, and took a drink before he continued.
"Now, I'm not talking about the Romans" he grinned "I am talking about an actual, feathered eagle. It flew over the River Nile one day, and it spotted two things: a beautiful young woman, bathing in the water, and a pair of her sandals in the sand on the riverbank." Iophon smiled at Deianira. Obviously, she would have been the beautiful woman in this situation, had she been born in another era. "The eagle, alas, did not care for the lady, beautiful as she was. But it did care for her sandals, which looked like small creatures from above. So the eagle swept down, and stole one of them. And wouldn't you know: it was the luckiest thing that ever happened to Rhodopis..."
Topics I Participated In
After a day's work Artemon all but stumbled in through the door of the tiny one-room flat he shared with his twin, body aching for some rest. It seemed like he was the last one to get home that day, he concluded as he spotted Iophon's figure in a corner. "I bought us food, brother!" he announced cheerily, putting down on the table a clay bowl with finger-licking good stew he had got on the way home from the place Alexius had introduced him to.
"Iophon," he started, brow furrowed in deep concentration. "I've been thinking hard about something. What do you think is in those crates I carry back and forth for Gallus? I thought it was some kind of spice, but it doesn't smell like any I know." Granted, Artemon didn't know a lot of spices as his finances only allowed for the most common ones such as fennel and cumin, but that was no skin off his nose as he broke a piece of bread from a round dark loaf and sat down to dip it into the stew with gusto.
In between loud mouthfuls he carried on. "Do you think it's that plant women use so they don't have babies?" Whatever it was, it seemed like business was booming. And Artemon would very much like to be in on it too.
Early September 75 CE
"Now, it may not seem like much at first" Iophon told the half-dozen mildly interested passersby, standing under one of the many columns of the Basilica Iulia. "But believe me, had you stood here say... thirty-nine years ago, you would have seen a wonder. No, I am not talking about the Basilica, or the temple of Castor and Pollux" he added, gesturing to his right "... or even the Capitolium" he swung his arm to his left "... but right here, on this very column, you would have seen a cage. And what was in the cage you ask?" he winked at one of the young women, who paused with her shopping basket on her arm to listen. "Well... it was a true wonder of nature, a rare creature of legends, a being summoned from fire from the farthest reaches of Africa... It was a phoenix!"
Iophon took a pause, looking at the faces of his listeners. He hoped he had hooked their attention, and also wanted to gage if they had any idea what a phoenix actually was...
"Go on right in my friend, you are entering the realm of the Blessed" Iophon said with a flourish, as he ushered another guest inside the brothel. It was a steep exaggeration, steep enough that even he himself kind of felt bad about it. The Elysium was an establishment notorious for many things... but blessings were not one of them. Still, they gave him coin if he steered some guests their way every once in a while. Iophon tended to pick the friendly, harmless looking ones. The girls and boys deserved a break sometimes.
"And how are all the nymphs and goddesses and demigods doing on this fine evening?" he asked, flashing a friendly grin at the people in the parlor of the brothel. Must have been a slow night, because a few of the prostitutes were sitting around, drinking, eating, chatting while they waited for the next guest. Iophon had seen some of them around before "Does anyone have a cup of wine for the dry throat of a poor storyteller? I am entirely willing to sing for my supper."
Early September, 75 AD
This place was… huge! Wulfric was barely even sure when he entered Rome, it seemed to go on forever and it felt like he’d been walking for days, when he reached this part of it. He had planned to make it to the center of Rome and people kept pointing him this way, towards the so-called Forum of Rome. He knew a forum was a marketplace of sorts, but when he entered this part of Rome, it seemed to be a marketplace for white marble rather than anything else. And painted statues and gold and people literally everywhere.
Wulfric grew up in a town, it wasn’t small, it was large actually, for a Germanian town. He bet the Romans would not say it was even a town, they would call it a village. A gathering of houses, even. And the houses were barely houses, compared to what they lived in. And this place, Rome, was not even a town, it was a city or was it actually a country in its own? Of course he knew it was an Empire, but that word was almost beyond his understanding. He’d never seen so many people before in his entire life, nor had he seen so many buildings made out of brick and marble and he’d not seen… well any of this. The towns he passed through on the way here did not compare to Rome. He had been somewhat prepared, but he was still astonished by this. Some called it the eternal city, because it had already existed in centuries, and he’d believe it if it still stood when all men had gone.
It was also a bit confusing, to be honest. Where did you go? Wulfric wore nothing but his travelling clothes, the more ordinary clothes, and on his back he had a sack with the rest of his clothes and other personal items. He should find a place to sleep, he’d been sleeping under the sky and with friendly people on the way here. He’d even stayed in a few places where you could buy a drink and pay for a bed, which he never tried before. Perhaps they had such places in Rome too? He should also find the palace though. He was a prince. And most importantly, he should find Varus!
But where to begin? He stood staring up at a huge building of white marble, he understood it was a temple of sorts, to their gods, although it was nothing like the temples they had where he came from. It was as huge as everything else. Wulfric scratched the back of his head, he probably looked as disoriented and confused as he felt.
22 | 10th December 52 CE | Peregrini | Periegetes (Tour Guide)and Fabulator (Storyteller) | Bisexual | Original | Robert Sheehan
Iophon is friendly, easygoing, and talkative. He is eager to strike up a conversation with anyone and everyone, and charming enough that it doesn't feel pushy. He is honestly curious about people, and stories, and the world around him. In fact, he loves stories wholeheartedly, and sees them as a tradition and art form, rather than an easy way to make some coin. With that said, however, Iophon loves an easy way to make some coin. He is clever, with a good memory and a winning personality, but he is not ambitious at all; he likes the finer things in life, and likes spending his free time with enjoyable activities. He is not one for hard work, or an established career. He is the embodiment of "carpe diem". He also has no qualms about making up a story and telling it as true whenever he feels like it; he is an enjoyable guide for visitors to Rome, but he is an abysmal academic source...
Iophon is tall, long-limbed and lean, with curly black hair, short cropped black beard (he's still working on that), hazel eyes, and a bright, wide smile. He tans in the warm months of the year, and has some freckles. He is fraternal twins with Artemon, and not many people can tell by looking that they are related at all. Iophon generally has a decent appearance, he likes his tunics clean and presentable, but he is fighting a constant losing battle against keeping his hair in check. He is usually seen hanging around monuments, temples, and other sites of interest, with a satchel slung over his shoulder, filled with interesting tidbits, and trinkets for sale.
Father: Empedion (b. 18)
Mother: Tsillah (b. 23)
Siblings: Euphemios (b. 40), Apollodora (b. 42), Hermolaos (b. 46), Niketas (b. 49), Chrysanthe (b. 51), Artemon (twin brother, b. 52), Tryphosa (b. 57).
Extended family: aunts, uncles and cousins
52 CE – Iophon is born a few minutes after his twin brother, Artemon, into an Egyptian Greek family in a village near Ptolemais Hermiou. Just like all his siblings, he receives a Greek name from his proudly Greek father, and a deep sense of being Egyptian from his mother. Iophon is a bright and curious child, who loves stories, and loves exploring interesting places as soon as he can crawl.
59 CE – The family is somewhat struggling food and livelihood, and the older siblings go off to work or marry. Artemon takes on fishing. Iophon is showing signs of being an intelligent child, so one of his Greek uncles, who works as a scribe, takes him on as an apprentice. He doesn't live far from the family's home, so Iophon spends his days with him, and his nights at home. His parents hope he might become a scribe, or even - his father's ambition - a scholar. Iophon begins to learn to read and write and count, and he takes to it easily. At the same time, he is fascinated by the endless stories his uncle Eumaios tells him. He begins to learn history, Greek, Egyptian, and Roman, and alongside he begins his lessons in Latin.
59-68 CE - Iophon learns letters and languages, but as clever as he is, he is not ambitious at all. He loves to talk, however, and his easygoing and friendly manner makes him popular, not just among the village youth, but also with strangers (especially around the taverns). He picks up the most colorful and useful bits of his studies, and he starts spinning tales for visitors, making up ancient curses and local legends wherever his deep store of tales from his parents, grandparents, and uncles runs dry. His father is more and more disappointed, but Iophon discovers that a good story is worth a pretty coin. He starts visiting the elders of the village and even farther, fishing for the best stories to tell.
68-74 CE – Iophon's father puts his foot down about his twin sons making themselves useful (and gainful). Partly under parental pressure, and partly to look after his thick-headed twin, Iophon joins up with a company of merchants alongside Artemon. He is a shit sailor, but he can keep everyone entertained, and even though he tries to get away with the least amount of work, he does enough not to get kicked overboard. The silver lining in the venture is travel: for Iophon, the world is made of stories, and new lands mean new stories. He is excited for adventure. When Artemon eventually suggest they should go to Rome and seek their fortune, Iophon cheerfully agrees.
74 CE – The twins disembark in Ostia, and while Artemon finds himself work around the docks, Iophon heads straight to Rome. The big city is full of marvels, and Iophon devours all of it: the games, the races, the markets, the baths, and temples and the brothels. While Artemon struggles to find the next big break, Iophon throws himself into life in Rome, not really thinking about tomorrow. He frequents the libraries available at the baths and other public spaces, and eventually starts spinning his tales again, working as a guide for people even newer to Rome than he is. Many of his stories are real, while others are completely made up by him, and not many notice the difference.
75 CE - The earthquake hits Rome, and everything is turned upside down. Artemon decides to move into the city permanently. Since neither of them has money for a house, the brothers rent a small one-room space in an insula, and move in together. Artemon is still chasing the next big thing, and Iophon is beginning to strike deals with brothels, shops, and other tourist attractions, channeling people their way, and getting a piece of the profit... usually in goods.
Chevi | Central Europe | Discord