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springy

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  1. Docia, now known as Vita Kitchen slave Age: 26 Just a little over a decade ago, a political marriage was arranged between Zia, daughter of the chieftain of the Appuli, and Diegis, youngest son of the chieftain of the Ratacensi. As a secondary measure to further cement the alliance between these two prominent tribes of central Dacia, Zia’s cousin, Tarbus, who had been sent along as a sort of permanent guard to his cousin, was married to Docia, niece to the chieftain of the Ratacensi. If the former union might be fairly said not to have been all milk and honey, Tarbus and Docia made an excellent match. For nine or so years, they knew mostly harmony and happiness with each other. Docia bore Tarbus two sons, and was pregnant with a third child when calamity befell them all. The Ratacensi grew too bold in their skirmishing with the Romans, who pressed tentatively against that north-eastern border. The golden eagle of Rome caught Tarbus, Zia and Diegis, along with most of the Ratacensi warriors, in its cruel talons, during what was to have been a victory feast, some distance away from Surcea, their “capital.” But it wasn’t long before the eagle flew on to snatch at those who had escaped, or those who were back in the village. Docia was there, with her two sons and the yet unborn child within her womb. They were among the eagle’s hapless prey, and she was captured, and sent on to Rome. What is Docia’s tale? All we know for sure is that eventually a new slave, a Dacian woman, was brought into the household of Lucius Cassius Longinus. He christened her “Vita” – merely because he found it humorous to match her dour mood to that of his similarly dour slave/secretary Vitus. They seemed a matched set, in terms of temperament. It’s hardly a surprise that “Vita,” known to all those who loved her once as Docia, once a respected member of the aristocracy of her tribe, a devoted and cherished wife, and doting mother, might have a bit of a sour attitude now finding herself a slave in a Roman legate’s kitchen. Her life was of such little accord, it was something to be merely traded away during an afternoon of drinking between her first master, the Legate Titus Supulcius Rufus – the selfsame eagle who had led the Romans in the conquest of her tribe – and his friend Longinus. Truly, the sweet wine of life has turned to vinegar for poor Docia. What chapters lie ahead, waiting yet to be written? -What happened to her sons? -Did she deliver her child? Did it survive? What was its fate? -Does she know her husband is in Rome? Or her cousin Diegis, or his wife Zia, and their young son? -Is there any chance she will reunite with any of them? -Will Tarbus find a way for them to escape, and if so, will they make it out of Rome alive? Requirements: Her age is set at 26, for reasons, and she has birthed 2 sons. She had a good marriage with Tarbus and was fond of him and faithful, and pregnant when she was captured. Open: What happened when she was taken captive, the fate of the two boys, and the child she was carrying, are up to you. Her history before marriage and her personality are fairly open, but she must have been a loving wife, and a good mother. No warrior princesses please – she was a homebody and not interested in political scheming like Zia was. I see them as being foils to one another. Whether or not she found out that Tarbus survived the Roman attack back in Dacia, or if she has somehow discovered he is in Rome, is up to you. PB is open – the above face (Imogen Poots/Centurion) is just a suggestion. Potential threads with: Lucius Cassius Longinus – her current owner Attis – Longinus’ body slave Metella – Brithonic slave and nurse to the boss’ daughter Titus Sulpicius Rufus - her former owner, and legate of the Roman legion that basically destroyed her life (possible back in past threads) Zia – her cousin’s wife (if they manage to get into contact with one another, or back in past threads) Tarbus – Certainly back in the past threads are a must! Current time, I’m hoping they will be able to start communicating with each other, maybe even somehow get to meet up in person – imagine the feels!! Then I would love to eventually have them plan an escape, but whether it is successful or not…who knows? I’m the type of writer that is totally willing to see my character go down in flames, if the plot is right and it makes sense. But you do not have to sign up for that! Great drama though! If you are interested, please let me know here or through PM or on Discord!
  2. May, 76 CE Tarbus stood close to the mare, running his fingers through her long mane, over and over, rhythmically and without hurry. Resting his left arm against her withers, he used the right hand to tease out any tangles and lay the mane straight on her glossy neck. Fingers were more gentle than a rigid comb. And the repetitive motion coaxed more oil from the roots, adding to the silky look of the mixed black and white hairs. She was a deep, dappled grey, and the rest of her coat was already burnished, rubbed and brushed to a high shine, although a grey coat would never come close to that of a chestnut, bay or black, in terms of luster. But she was a beautiful creature none the less, well proportioned and in top condition, a far cry from the shorter, stouter mounts common to his homeland. The blood of the horses of Hispania ran through her veins, and she had the more fiery disposition that went along with such breeding. It was one of the few things of his new, unchosen place of residence – hopefully a temporary residence – which he admired. These racing horses were only one example of how the Romans bent the world to their wishes, in this case by the selective breeding of the best to the best, to produce a superior line to what nature alone could have supplied. Of course, it was superior only in terms of what the Romans desired in their steeds. Nature could not be bested in producing that which was truly the heartiest, the strongest, the most adaptable. As for the rest of what the Romans had conceived of and brought into existence, Tarbus had no admiration or awe. Rome, the city, was a hundred times bigger than anything in Dacia. The architecture and building methods were advanced almost beyond belief, even the materials used were of profound beauty. Yet they held no allure for the slave, a man once a noble in his own country, around whose neck the simple iron circlet he now bore weighed heavy on his soul, like a bitter gall. There was nothing about the Romans or their city or empire that Tarbus envied or respected, other than their power to subjugate other peoples and lands. If he could have called forth an army of millions, to sweep this accursed place into the Tiber, he would not have saved a scrap of it. Well, maybe the weapons, but nothing else. As far as Tarbus was concerned, he’d take the mountains, the snow, the forests - the modest villages and homes, with an occasional temple built on simple lines - of Dacia, over the progressive bustle of this well-oiled machine of conquest, any day! But today would not be that day, for the likelihood of Rome falling to armies of what they deemed “Barbarians” seemed remote indeed. This day was drawing to a close, in much the same way as all the days of the past two years had drawn to a close. Tomorrow was a race day, so in that it might be said things were just a bit more hectic, a bit more intense, around the racing stable of the whites. But like all things Roman, the team and all its many, many workers – slave, servant, freedmen, and plebian alike – ran like a well oiled machine, for the most part. Each person knew his or her tasks and acted like many cogs that fit together smoothly and turned with precision. Tarbus, seeing nothing to be gained by throwing any monkey wrenches in the works, at least not yet, did his part without any fuss and very few words, keeping to himself and watching all about him with keen observant eyes. With soothing sounds that were not really formed words, he hummed and murmured to the mare, as he finished a job that was perhaps not quite so urgent as the hundred others he had performed throughout the day. Working directly with the horses in the racing stable was literally the only thing he enjoyed about his daily existence, and he lingered over it, if he could. It gave him real pleasure to touch them, listen to them, try to communicate with them on some level, get to know each one’s personality and quirks. It was soothing and it was something he’d never taken, or had, the time to do, before his enslavement. Then, he had enjoyed riding and training the horses they needed for transportation and making war on other tribes, and the Romans, and other people who occasionally tried to make inroads from the north or east. But here, the contact with living flesh held some strange sort of comfort for him. Where there were no loved ones to hold him, or for him to hold, the horses provided at least some form of connection with living beings that he could tolerate. The same could not be said of many of the other people he now was forced to live and work with. His fingers leaving off combing, their part of the work done, he turned and moved to the opening of the stall to retrieve a stiff brush of wood and boar bristles, to complete the job of seeing to her mane. The mare shuffled, at the approach of another two legged creature. Tarbus’ gaze went to the dark haired boy, and he nodded a small greeting. “Ready for tomorrow?” he asked, in Latin, eyeing the other slave with curiosity. He knew tomorrow was a really big day for the mute – his debut as a charioteer. It wasn’t something Tarbus was interested in – risking his neck for the entertainment of the fucking Romans. But he knew, his story and his goals were not the same as every other slave’s - they each had ambitions or dreams according to their own experiences. He could still pray to Darzalas to preserve the boy’s health, for after all, Azarion was not a bad sort. The fact that he had no voice probably played a part in Tarbus’ opinion of him.
  3. He saw the spark of recognition, as their eyes happened to meet, and despite the grip of anger and resentment that grabbed at his stomach and squeezed tight, Tarbus’ expression remained neutral. The man across the way in some sense embodied everything that was now wrong in the slave’s life, just as the iron collar was the inert symbol of the calamity that had befallen him, his adopted tribe, and almost certainly, in one way or another, his wife and sons. The fact that the legate remembered him brought no joy or sorrow to the Dacian, only an intensified sense of caution, which came up like a shutter inside of him. Best to be careful around the man who, above all others, now controlled his movements, if not his fate. Never his fate, for in Tarbus’ mind, whatever actions he took, or refrained from taking, would drive his future. Right now, it was a long game, with no definitive resolution anywhere even remotely on his horizon. Watch and wait, those were the words that guided his every move, his every thought. And so he did, watching Rufus walk towards him with a casual gait, waiting to hear what his owner might have to say to him, a lowly slave. Of course, what he had to say was replete with the privilege of his status, as would always be the case, for any Roman, regardless of their class. The citizens of the empire would always be so far above him that he could not even see their feet, although they always expected him to lick their boots. He replied in an even, though not obsequious or servile tone, “I paused only to gage the hour of the day, dominus.” Tarbus was quite careful to add that term of respect, a reflection of their relative positions, though he did not harbor any such emotion for this man. There was no “one warrior to another” sentiment that the Roman had simply been doing what he himself would have done, if their advantages had been reversed, and done it well. Tarbus despised the man, just as he despised all who would or had harmed his people, in particular his own small family. He could accept it, as a fact. But he would never see the perpetrators as anything other than vile foes, to be cast down if and when any opportunity to do so should arise, as long as in the doing he could still execute what was for him his prime directive - find Zia and Luto, and Diegis if possible, and get them all safely back to Dacia. He had half turned to get back to that work Rufus had just alluded to, being happy to avoid any further scrutiny by one who could so easily switch up his fortunes and place his goal even further beyond his reach. The slight opportunity which the Roman may have presented to possibly garner some useful information about his cousin and her child was so remote, to Tarbus’ way of thinking, it was not worth the assay. To his knowledge, Rufus did not know of their relationship there, or of his relation by marriage to Diegis, erstwhile chieftain of the Ratcensii. So he did not look to the man to divulge anything useful in that vein, nor did he wish to be questioned in a way which might require him to make any such disclosures himself. But before he had taken a step, Rufus demanded his name, moving closer, and as the reply was given – “Tarbus, dominus” – the Roman next demanded to see his arm, in a pissy tone. Tarbus held out the limb, done up as it was in a jury-rigged brace of leather, running from below his left elbow to the end of his little finger. It gave some support to the lower arm and wrist, and kept his hand aligned straight withal, or as straight as could be given the now deformed bones of his forearm, which angled away at a notable degree from normal. Leaving the thumb and first finger free, he still had some use of the pincer grip that came from having an opposable thumb, which set humans apart from all other animals, save the primates and a few other rare exceptions. He displayed the arm silently, offering no explanations and volunteering no information. This was not out of stupidity or sullenness, although he would not mind if Rufus took him for a fool. It was out of caution that he held his tongue so expertly and with now two long years of experience. Speak when spoken to or only if necessary outside of direct questioning, this was the best way to keep a close guard on his tongue. Plus, when your lips are not moving, your ears tend to work better, he had always found.
  4. The servant intimated that the current mistress of the humble domicile was out, in conference with a man of her husband’s household. The woman looked at Tarbus meaningfully, but there was little hope in the lined creases of her face. They were all of them stuck here, until Zia declared otherwise. And when that might be and what might prompt it, none of them could say. Her retreat to this northern stronghold had been strategic, at least in her own mind. No doubt her concession to return would be as carefully thought out, the point being to inflict some sort of injury to her husband and his pride. The servants and slaves – those with ties to Surcea - might wish her to act with haste, as time stretched out with no reprieve in sight. Tarbus knew she would not. He nodded, without any sign of emotion on his own stony features. It wasn’t for servants to gossip or pry into the affairs of their masters, even if he felt a kindred longing to their own. The woman went about her business, leaving the room hares in hand. Tarbus removed his bear skin cloak, arranging it on the floor near the crackling fire, where he then sat upon it, cross legged, alone for a short moment. Although in any household, community living when indoors meant a near constant coming and going of servants, slaves, retainers and family. No doubt his solitude would be short lived. He drew a whetstone from a pouch at his belt, and began the rhythmic slide of stone on metal, the accompanying schickkk schickkk a pleasant harmony to the low susurrations of the flames as they slowly devoured their wooden repast. As anticipated, this state did not last long. With a herald draught of chilly air, as the door opened and the curtain swept aside, Zia entered. Her face told the tale of how the audience with her husband’s ambassador had gone, as Tarbus looked up at her and nodded in greeting as she acknowledged his presence. Another slave had hurried into the room – all of his cousin’s household staff knew the wisdom of giving sharp attention to their mistress’ needs, and no doubt they’d been on the look-out for her return. “I’ve been out hunting,” he replied succinctly to her inquiry, knowing full well her small but competent network of spies would have kept her in the loop of his activities. In a place such as Cumidava, one could hardly fart without the entire miserable village hearing about it before the odor had even dissipated. “My plots have concerned only the tracking of a crafty stag. The crown of antlers he carries bear testament to his cunning. Each passing year has added to both, sharp tine, and wisdom.” Would that were the case for his cousin. If Tarbus was speaking in allegories, he had no intention of pointing that out to her. “And you? I hear you’ve had yet another messenger sent by Diegis?” He did not mean to beat about the bush on this subject. There was no need. Of necessity, he needed to know what was going on between the two unhappy spouses. Well, at least Zia was unhappy. Tarbus was relatively certain Diegis was quite content to be leading a much more carefree existence without his young wife to scowl and scold at him. Yet man and woman apart was hardly likely to produce the heir which was Diegis’ father, and tribe, would want and expect. Otherwise, why form an alliance between their two people? The two must reunite in some capacity, sooner or later. Tarbus could hope for the former, but it was out of his hands. His duty lay in protecting Zia. If her father, his uncle, had any thoughts that she would listen to her cousin’s counsel, well, the man had deluded himself. Zia took her own counsel, in all things.
  5. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! This was about all Tarbus could think, as he chased after the escaped stallion, reaching for the lead strap with his good hand. Sure, it would be no skin off his nose if a few Romans got run over and trampled under the hooves of the lust filled beast. But it would undoubtedly result in skin off his back, or worse, if his part in this incident was seen as the one to target for inflicting a lesson on would be inattentive slaves! From the corner of his eyes he saw people of all varieties scrambling this way or that, and in exasperation he shouted out, “Someone try to fucking catch him by the gods!” It was probably imperfect in its Latin declension, but it was good enough. Doubtful that it had any direct impact though, as those stable workers in the yard either already knew their job or had already decided to opt out and forego the risk of serious injury by trying to turn this equine tide of misfortune. Of course, the yard was by no means big enough for the horse to get up a gallop. Plus, the object of his desire was not so very far off, and that is definitely where he was heading. The mare too was now deciding to act fractious and danced at the end of the short lead her handler had her on, as he tried to quickly move her into a stall, to remove her from any attempted assault by the amorous would be lover. This proved to be the means by which Tarbus managed to get his fingers on the trailing lead attached to his own charge. He was running and then bent to scoop at it as the stallion slowed. He grabbed it, while finally others moved in the try to get hands on the halter. It took a few seconds, but just as quickly as it had all begun, it was over. In the final moments, the stallion had caught Tarbus’ thigh a glancing blow, as it had reared and plunged. Handing the lead to the groom who now seemed intent in taking control of the situation, who fair snatched it out of his hand with some appropriate cursing, Tarbus rubbed the spot, knowing it would bruise deeply in the coming days. His head lifted a bit and his dark eyes, without seeking too, came to rest on a small knot of people who were gathered around a form on the ground. Oh, shit! he thought, and groaned inwardly. He hobbled a bit as he made his way over to gaze down at a fair haired woman dressed like a man, or at least he thought she was a woman. She certainly looked like a woman, except for her garb. The others gathered around her were murmuring and chattering, some calling for someone to run for the medicus. Tarbus searched his memory, trying to reconstruct the scene of the stallion’s flight, and he was certain, completely certain, that the horse had not run over anyone. Vexed, he asked a man standing next to him, “What happened to her? She could not possibly have been struck by the stallion. Not fucking possible!” he murmured, as the man shrugged and said he hadn’t seen what happened. Tarbus, almost antagonistic in his desire to know the extent and cause of the woman’s injuries, pushed closer and painfully knelt beside her. A woman, one of the slaves, was on her other side and patting her cheek gently. The fair haired one appeared to be unconscious. Tarbus looked at her anxiously, looking for signs of broken skin, or bone. At that moment the woman’s eyes opened, in that way that is common for those swimming back to the world of light. Out of concern more for his own welfare than hers, though the two might now be intertwined for the moment, Tarbus asked anxiously, in passable Latin, “Are you alright? Where are you hurt? What happened? Did you fall or...or did the horse strike you somehow?" Regardless of cause and effect, he knew his ass would be on the line if Marcus determined it was the “one armed” Dacian’s ineptitude had been the cause of this woman’s injuries, whatever those might be. Perhaps things would go better for him, if he was solicitous and expressed concern – and made an apology, much as it would leave a nasty taste in his mouth. At least from the looks of her she was no Roman, and that at least was some small consolation.
  6. Spring, 67 CE , Cumidava, Dacia Sometimes… he wondered. He wondered if his cousin did these things simply to annoy him and make his life more difficult. Of course, she didn’t. He knew that. But he also knew that she would fully realize how her headstrong and impetuous decisions so often wreaked havoc on his own affairs, and that Zia wouldn’t give a toss that they did. That was so her. An idea came into her head and it must be done, immediately. Tarbus wondered if age would ever soften her sharp edges, or bring wisdom to sit more easily with impulse. He seriously doubted that it would. Yet one should never give up hope. The days stretched long here, in Cumidava, and sat uneasily upon his shoulders. Nights were longer still, without the comforts – both of the body and the mind – that his sweet Docia brought to him so willingly and tenderly. He missed her. He missed their son, Duras, who had taken his first steps only weeks before this petulant move of his cousin. They passed word back and forth, regularly. And the distance between them was not great. But it felt like he might have passed into some other world, sequestered here to the north, forced into segregation by Zia’s wounded pride. Yet another night was already well on its way to claiming the clear sky above. Soon Bendis would begin her ascent, and her path would sparkle with stars in the high vault of the heavens. Inside the homes of the village, behind wattle and daub walls and under snug thatched roofs, oil lamps would be lit, before families readied to retire and sleep. Wooden shutters and doors would be closed against the lingering chill of late spring, and the fire pits would be carefully tended to make sure warmth lasted through the dark hours. Having seen to his horse already, Tarbus sighed inwardly and squared his already square shoulders, before pushing aside the leather flap that added an extra layer of insulation at the doorway. Four skinned and gutted hares he carried in one hand, tied by their feet with twine. In his other dully gleamed his knife, clean yet in need of sharpening, which he intend to do before he slept. Stepping inside he smelled meat roasted on a spit and other fare, seasoned with local herbs, such as dill, parsley, celery leaf, lovage and thyme. Salt mines right in the area provided an abundance of that precious commodity for all. He nodded at a servant who came forward to relieve him of the hares, asking, “Is your mistress returned?” With Zia, there was never any telling where she might be, or what she might be about, although nine times out of ten, the answer to both might be ‘making mischief, somehow.’
  7. April, 76 CE “Tst, tst…” Tarbus gave the headstall a shake with his good hand, to get the stallion’s attention. He spoke gruffly to him in Dacian. “Stop being an asshole. You’re not going to get to fuck her so just keep your dick to yourself!” He gave the stallion’s flank a flick with the tip of the lead, making the animal side-step skittishly, its partially released member swinging pendulously as its hooves beat a little tattoo on the stone flags of the yard. On the far side of the stable area, a mare in heat pranced, aware in her own way that she was garnering interest and causing a ruckus. She too might be receptive to some four footed frolicking but that was not going to happen. Typically, mares in heat were not brought to the stables at the circus, just for this very reason. Someone must have screwed up and miscalculated her cycle. Tarbus wished he knew who to thank for this added headache to his day. He chucked the lead strap once more, moving his hand closer to the halter, just in case the amorous racer decided to give him any trouble. The horse leapt a bit, this time towards the slave, but Tarbus stood his ground and muscled the knucklehead, with their shoulders pressed hard against each other, man to beast. “The gods take you! Be still!” Tarbus grumbled sternly, as the groom approached once again, in their combined effort to get the excited animal harnessed and ready to be brought together with the rest of the team. In this the two men were falling behind, and that was never a good thing. Suddenly, the mare nickered, a true ‘come hither’ call. The stallion reared, cowkicked – narrowly missing the groom’s head – and plunged forward, almost knocking Tarbus, cursing, to the ground. But he managed to keep his feet and was running after the horny animal, trying to grab the leather lead that flapped in the air, while those many people in the yard jumped to the left and to the right trying to avoid the fractious creature, who trumpeted his love song to the heavens.
  8. May, 76 CE The sound of a footfall, shod in a boot of leather, crunching the rimed dead grass underneath, as the winter wind tugged at his cloak. His breath, frost filled clouds coming from nostrils, and lips slightly parted. Gathering ice crystals on the beard about cold-dried lips. In his hand, a long spear, as with stealth he approached the den. One tender plume of vapor standing proof of the sleeping bear therein. His weapon raised on high. Eager but still cautious signals, man to man, with steady hands and keen eyes, as they encircled the lair. A final sign, and the hunters moved forward at speed and thrust the cruel tips of iron down, through spaces between logs and earth. Those holding the silent dogs some paces back felt the urgent tug at collar and lead, as the hounds quivered and lunged with anticipation. A wounded roar. A bellow. And the spears withdrew and pierced anew, bringing the creature stumbling out into the thin air of a day far too early. The dogs released by their handlers, baying with frenzy. The spearmen quickly retreating. Several bows twanged in unison and sharp tips found their marks. Blood and foam and an ever insistent cry of rage. Tarbus once again moved in, with the others, on all sides, and quickly the death blow was dealt. Bending over eagerly, to peer into the face of his prey. But instead of hair and fangs and eyes dimmed to the sun evermore, he saw another face, fair and fresh yet washed with blood and sorrow on her brow… Tarbus woke with a start. His heart was pounding in his chest, and sweat suffused his face and back. Another muggy day in Rome was set to begin, the sun just beginning to peep over the rooftops of the grand city of splendor. In the stables it was still dim, and quiet, the horses only just beginning to shuffle about in anticipation of their own day to come. He sat up, having no desire to return to a sleep beset by nightmares. Two years it had been, but always the same come nightfall. He rose and brushed stray bits of straw from his one piece of clothing, a simple tunic spun of rough cloth. He slipped his feet into a worn pair of sandals, and moved to begin his own day, one that would be like all the others, since his arrival in Rome. Much later, when many, but not all, of the never ending tasks that were required to keep and train and race multiple teams of horses entered and competing successfully at the Circus were seen to, he stood for a long moment, leaning against the frame of the wide doors that gave into this section of the stabling. He gazed at the sky, the sun now tilting down into the west, his own gaze fixed to the east. To home, so far away. More than a month’s march, if one also had the use of a boat to cross the water. His fingers went to the simple, serviceable iron collar about his neck, a weight he had grown accustomed to physically, but which served as a constant reminder. He was clever enough to realize, that was its main purpose. Many people there were, in that moment, milling about. But his dark eyes immediately caught the presence of a newcomer. A face he hadn’t seen more than a handful of times, and not since before their arrival here, was still etched in his memory. He knew the former legate at once. But to look at Tarbus, there was no sign of emotion. His face was like stone, though the eyes moved to follow the progress of his owner as the man made his way across the yard.
  9. springy

    springy's plotter

    TARBUS Here is my enslaved Dacian captured about a year ago by Roman forces lead by Titus Sulpicius Rufus (played by Liv). He now belongs to Rufus but has been contracted out to Marcus Eppius Parthenicus, leader of the white's faction chariot team (played by Sharpie). Tarbus is cousin to Zia (played by Sara), another enslaved Dacian owned by Rufus, taken in the same skirmish. Tarbus has been put to work as a general stable hand for the whites, and he'd be either at their stables in the Campus Martius or at the Circus Maximus. He pretends to know less Latin and Greek than he actually does (which is passable, and probably has improved in the past year). He is always on the look out for some means to escape - but first needs to track down his cousin and her child. His left arm is visibly crooked, and he has limited use of it, having healed badly from a sword inflicted injury when he was taken along with many of the Ratacenses. If you know of any reason why your character(s) would know him, encounter him or you need him for a thread or plot idea, please give me a shout :)
  10. Tarbus

    Tarbus

    TARBUS. 27 | 21 September 48 CE | Slave | Stable hand | Bisexual | Wanted | Marlon Teixeira Personality. Tarbus is a staid man. He’s been through a lot and like most men born into a world of both politics and warfare, he’s very good at hiding emotion. In fact, it might well be that at this point in his life he actually has trouble feeling emotions. He’s tough as nails, durable and enduring, dogged and diligent. He takes life very seriously and it shows, in the lines of his face and the beetling set of his eyebrows. His intelligence runs more to quiet, almost sneaky cleverness. More than one unsuspecting rival or foe has been brought to their undoing when, seemingly out of nowhere, a well laid and carefully thought out trap is finally sprung, with no chance for escape. Unfortunately for Tarbus, it’s he who needs to escape now – from his Roman captors. Appearance Corded sinews ripple over long, lean muscles on a frame now stripped of any trace of excess nourishment. Enslaved and existing now on the bare minimums of whatever his current master sees fit to feed his chattel, Tarbus’ mass has diminished. Yet what there is of him is hard as stone, from hard work and even harder living. His face too is leaner, more pinched. Naturally swarthy skin, weathered over a lifetime spent outdoors to a dark golden tan, is now somewhat paler, making the dark brows stand out like warning sentinels. That brow stands guard over the even darker eyes below, which observe the world around him like soldiers on a rampart, taking the measure of the enemy without. A straight nose, set over full lips, somehow evaded any breaking force despite years of combat at arms. Dark waves of now long, untamed locks frame a face lined with the cares of a life spent always on guard, a dark beard and mustache half masking what few expressions appear on that visage. Dressed in the garb of a slave, a simple tunic and sandals, a ragged blanket serving as a cloak for days that bring an added bite of frosty chill, there is little to mark him as the once proud and dutiful son of a warrior, nephew of a chieftain, cousin of a chieftain’s wife. Yet, there is a certain set to his head, and a way he has of looking without fear upon a world grown most hostile to his existence. There is too a posture, a way he holds himself, and walks with a boldness not perhaps as common to those born into slavery. Another distinction now is clearly to be seen on his body, newly made and fresh to his mind, though healed as well as it will ever be physically. His left forearm was badly broken, and slashed deep, by the edge of a Roman short sword. With proper treatment by a bone setter, it might have healed up well enough that he could still use it. But as the injury was sustained in the fighting that saw him taken prisoner, and then enslaved, it was not tended to and the result is a twisted, bent lower arm. There was nerve damage as well, that no amount of care would have cured. He has lost most of the use of his wrist and fingers. The two handed falx will not be a weapon he’ll ever wield again. The gods had some pity on him, though, for they left him the use of his dominant right hand and arm. Family Father: Sinna, status unknown Mother: Duccidava, status unknown Siblings: 3 brothers and 2 sisters, status is unknown Spouse: Docia, status unknown Children: Duras, son, age 9, status unknown; Dapyx, son, age 6, status unknown; child, age 1, status unknown Extended family: Zia, paternal cousin, age 26, status unknown; Diegis, husband of Zia, status unknown Other: Titus Sulpicius Rufus - owner; Marcus Eppius Parthenicus - "employer" - Tarbus is contracted to him to work as a stable hand for the white faction chariot team History The successful birth of a child, especially when the mother survives the event as well, was always cause for celebration in the world into which Tarbus made his appearance. The fact that he was born on that day in which, by the priest’s reckoning, the hours of sunlight equaled the hours of darkness, was a strong portent. In their sophisticated methodology, they arrived at the fairly simplistic view that the day of his birth heralded a life of balance and a steady nature. Success and failure, good times and bad, would be his lot in equal measures. As much as any such oracles can pronounce a man’s fate, so far the priests have been proven right. But what man’s fate is either all good or all bad? Perhaps Tarbus’ destiny, as well as his reality, merely reflect the spinning wheel of fortune most men experience. He’s certainly had his ups and downs. Tarbus was the first born son of Sinna, who himself was a younger brother to Brindis, who, in time, took his rightful place as chief of the Appuli tribe. The Appuli lived approximately in the central part of the lands of the Dacian people (the Daci), nestled against the shoulder of the Carpathian Mountains, in what would later be known as the country of Romania (along with bits and pieces of the modern day countries that border it to the north, west and south). Approximately a century before Tarbus’ birth, the Thracian king, Burebista, had united the tribes of the Getae and the Daci, establishing a Dacian kingdom that stretched eastwards from the Black Sea, south to the Danube, north to the Tisza, and bounded in the north-east by the Dniester. This pushing of the boundaries of Dacian territories brought the Daci into direct conflict with Roman occupation in Thrace, Macedonia and Illyria. However, Burebista’s assassination, some 80 or so years before Duccidava, spent but smiling, saw her newborn son placed into the arms of her husband Sinna, saw the Daci revert once more to a land of internecine conflicts among the many tribes. The Appuli’s seat of power was the fortress city of Apulum, an important center of both political and economic power in the Dacian lands, sitting at the conflux of two major transportation arteries. It sat in a cradle of low hills and valleys, bounded by mountains to the northwest and south, and giving access to the Transylvania Plateau to the east. Crisscrossed by rivers, covered by forest (wherever they had not been felled to make way for cultivation and pastureland), it was a land rich in resources and supported the tribe with abundant timber, fish, and crops of wheat and other grains. The Daci were skilled vinters, and miners as well. Their lands were veined with rich lodes of gold, silver and copper, and dotted with smelting works for the production of bronze and iron. They minted their own coinage, and traded for goods coming from all corners of the known world, as well as sending their own products of metal and ceramic work out into both Europe and Asia. To the Romans, they might have been branded a wild, warlike, barbaric people. But to the child Tarbus, and to the man he was to become, his world, his land and his people were all that was needed, all that was good and wanted, all that spelled out comfort and home and happiness. Born into the aristocracy of the Appuli, Tarbus had the best that his culture could offer, in terms of material comforts. His birthright also came with obligation. He was raised to be a warrior, and in a land of near constant strife, his training was put to good use from an early age. Mentally and physically, from both nature and nurture, Tarbus was certainly able to hold his own as a bold, fearless and skilled soldier, in support of his uncle’s ambitions. For what Dacian chieftain of that time ever lacked in a zeal to take more into his own hands? Due to the sheltered location of their lands, though, direct conflict with the Roman Empire was something young Tarbus never experienced. That was perhaps something happening farther to the east, and south. The Appuli, wisely, stayed out of such events. By the age of sixteen, Tarbus was a seasoned fighter, and held some renown among his kinsmen for his prowess with both the single and double handed falx, and the sword, as well as being known to have a level head, an observant eye, and a quiet cunning. So it was that he was selected from among the young men of his uncle’s family to accompany his cousin, Zia, Brindis’ eldest daughter, to Surcea, across the Carpathian Mountains to the east. There she would marry Diegis, youngest son of the chief of the Ratacenses tribe. It was, of course, a political marriage, negotiated and secured by Zia’s father. To further assure the Ratacensi of his intent to forge a strong alliance between the two tribes, Brindis also arranged the marriage of his nephew, his daughter’s escort and guard and male representative of his tribe, to a niece of the Ratacenses chieftain. Thus did Tarbus learn to straddle the requirements of serving two masters, a never easy task. But he had the head, and the heart, to do it. Beneath the surface, though, his allegiance would always lay with the Appuli, and his uncle, and through that family bond, to his cousin, Zia. For ten years, Tarbus did his duty, to his cousin, to his uncle, to his uncle-in-law, to his adopted tribe, and to his wife. The latter he did most willingly, for the girl, Docia, was a beauty and had a pleasing manner. Her skin was fair, her eyes the shimmering greens of the new spring leaves, and her oak-colored hair fell in a straight shining curtain to her waist. Her smile was sweet as honey and her merry laugh sounded like the chimes of small silver bells. Unlike his cousin, Zia, Docia had no interest in the political maneuvering of her family. She was content to leave such matters to wiser heads, and longed only for the day when she could add being a mother to her list of domestic accomplishments. Tarbus was eager to give her the desire of her maternal longings and soon enough she bore him a son, who they named Duras. Docia was over the moon with her babe and happily let Tarbus go about his business with his shrewd cousin and her own kinsmen, while she tended to his child and his hearth. On this domestic front, Tarbus had all that he could ask for. Would that life was so simple a thing! His cousin, Zia, was definitely one of the things which made Tarbus’ life not-so-simple. Zia was always a proud, headstrong girl, and marriage did not change her. She was also very intelligent and not content to simply play the devoted wife and doting mother. An estrangement from her husband rather early in their marriage saw her withdrawing north, to Cumidava, to nurse her wounded ego, and Tarbus of course went with her. His duty was to protect her, above all else, and he never took that lightly. So he put personal feelings aside and went with her. He left a much saddened Docia behind, because he wouldn’t part her from her mother, her sisters, her aunts and cousins, not with her firstborn still toddling about, even though she would have obediently followed him. Thankfully, Zia relented and returned to her husband, and Tarbus had a much awaited and joyous reunion with his wife and son. Unsurprisingly, Docia bore him a second child nine months later, another son, whom they named Dapyx. Not too long after, a year or so, his cousin bore her own child, a boy, Luto, but this did not in any way dissuade or distract her from continuing to meddle in the political maneuvering of her husband’s tribe. Both Diegis and his father seemed to fall under her sway, or so Tarbus felt, and he didn’t feel it disloyal to his charge to try to warn his cousin’s husband, who was now his closest friend, to exercise great caution when listening and considering her counsel. It wasn’t that he thought Zia stupid, ill-informed or foolhardy. But Tarbus saw the gleam of ambition in her eyes, and he questioned the wisdom of her bold suggestions to prick and probe at the Roman lines to the south and west. He had no personal experience of the might of Rome, not yet. However, there were none in the known world who had not heard of the giant machine of conquest, and the immense wealth which funded the greedy, grasping hands of emperors who were never content with what they had and who always sought more. In this regard, they were not unlike the chieftains of the Daci, or any other men of power. But their armies were huge, well equipped, well trained and brutal. Was it wise to poke this particular wolf who seemed content for the moment to keep to its own territory? Tarbus thought not. It was not for him to say, however. The Ratacensi began sending small parties of their warriors out to harry and harass, disrupting supply lines, raiding outposts and eventually engaging the Roman troops directly in skirmishes. Tarbus’ increasingly vocal opposition against provoking Roman aggression fell on deaf ears. Nevertheless, despite his own misgivings about such operations, he continued to support the Ratacensi’s covert attempts to provoke instability. He did so out of obligation, for it was his oathbound duty to watch over and protect his pig-headed, proud, ambitious cousin, Zia. And if he could not dissuade her husband from this folly, then he must do whatever he could to help the Ratacenses achieve success. Whenever he had the chance to return to the seat of their tribe, and lay with Docia in his arms, their sons asleep in their cots beside them, he wondered where this path would take them, and if he would live to see Duras and Dapyx grow to manhood. He did not have too long to wait for an answer to his unspoken question. Poke a wolf one time too many and it is sure to leap upon you, and attempt to rip your throat out. So it was too with these Romans, who grew sick and tired of the bedevilment peppered against them by this brash Daci tribe. Ironically perhaps, it was in the midst of a feast set to celebrate yet another raid that the wolf appeared. Tarbus could only send up a swift prayer of thanks to Zalmoxis that the feast was far enough away from Surcea such that, perhaps, Docia and their sons, and the child she carried within her, would have time to flee to safety before the very long and powerful arm of Rome struck there too. For surely the Romans would not rest until they had punished the entire tribe for the audacity of its chieftain, who already lay sprawled in a growing pool of blood. So too lay his eldest and heir, dead. Tarbus realized that Diegis, his cousin-in-law, was now chief of the Ratacenses, little good it would do him. An exultant Zia, of course, was at this feast beside her husband, Tarbus thought in frustration, as he wielded the one sole falx he had to hand in the moment of the surprise attack. The gods could take her, for being the stubborn, brave, bold woman that she was, he cursed inwardly, as he twisted to avoid a Roman sword, only to feel the blade of another one slashing down on his forearm. In short order, all those who had assembled with the intent to drink to their success against the Romans were instead either dead or taken captive at their hands. Tarbus was among those left alive, as was Zia, or so he heard in the hours after their resistance was finally and fully squelched. Even young Luto, only a child, was taken, and thank the gods they spared him his life, at least initially. Diegis he had seen alive, before he was hauled away by their captors. Tarbus could only pray that somehow his own little family in Surcea would have at least a day or so of advance warning of what had just transpired, and would have time to escape the wrath of the Romans. The remnants of his adoptive tribe, and others who had joined them in the raid which had been the motivation for the feast, now became the spoils of war. Tarbus and the rest were handed over to the legate of the Legion which had so successfully rid the area of an annoying nuisance, one Titus Sulpicius Rufus. With his arm badly injured, Tarbus was quickly segregated into a group of captives with injuries or wounds grave enough to question their viability in the coming days. Some were clearly destined to make the journey to the next land. Others, like Tarbus, appeared to have a shot at making it through the coming days. It was a wonder they weren’t simply put to the sword on the spot, for the new life that lay before them was not going to be an easy one, even for those survivors who were wholly intact. In Tarbus’ case, it may have been that, knowing that he was related somehow to both the chieftain of the Appuli, as well as the captive chieftain of the Ratacensi, the guards that had his keeping were told to try to keep him alive. He might be worth something, maybe more, in any case, than the average commoner. On the other hand, perhaps they had no idea of his connections to both chieftains. At the time, he neither knew nor was in any state to either hide or disclose his status. There was no real attempt to see to his injury though, beyond binding up the hacked flesh and tying the useless arm tight to his chest. A fever soon set in and Tarbus spent the first week of his captivity laid out almost senseless. Fortunately for him, his tough constitution waged a more successful campaign against the infection than he and his fellow tribesmen had against the Romans. Within a fortnight, he was back up on his feet, and it was high time too. The legate was ready to decamp, and with him were to go many, if not all, of the enslaved Ratacensi. Unfortunately for Tarbus, he was included, and thus any chance that he might remain in Dacia and somehow find a way to escape and reunite with Docia and his boys, if they still lived, vanished like snow on the mountains during the spring thaw. Thus began a long and slow journey, to Rome. The legate was returning to his home there, with a strung out train of family, servants, slaves and baggage, all loaded into wagons, as well as a good number of soldiers as escort. Most of it was overland, to the eastern shore of the Adriatic, from whence they took ship to sail the few days it took to reach Italia. Another week saw them in Roma, and here truly began Tarbus’ new life, as a slave, put to work under a Roman master. Unsurprisingly, the Dacians were dispersed to here and there. Tarbus certainly had no clue where any but himself were sent, or sold. He’d kept quiet about his connection to the now captive chieftain, Diegis, and he hadn’t seen either his cousin or her husband or their son since the night they’d all been overcome by Rufus’ soldiers. He thought it prudent to keep his identity to himself, although he had no idea if the Romans already had determined who he was. If so, they showed him neither exceptional cruelty nor forbearance, and he was treated as were all the other captives. His mangled arm gave him mingled concern and hope – on the one hand, that might be sent to the arena, where he would surely die quickly, or that, if Rufus wanted to get any more coin out of his labor than a corpse would bring, he would be sent to some longer lived and less lethal mode of employment. The latter proved to be the case. His knowledge of Greek and Latin – which he pretended to have little of - was good enough to understand that he was being contracted to a Roman of Parthian extraction, of the equite class – a man by the name of Marcus Eppius Parthenicus. This man lead a faction, one associated with the wildly popular chariot racing, which was the life blood of Rome’s entertainment industry. The white faction had farms outside the city, where the breeding and much of the training occurred. But Tarbus was sent to the faction’s stables in Rome itself, at the Campus Martius, where the horses who were actively racing were housed. Here there was a constant bustle of work from dawn to nightfall, with a host of slaves, freedmen and plebians performing all the many, many tasks that needed seeing to reach the point where fiery and fit teams of horses and charioteers would be sent flying down the long straightaway of the Circus Maximus and its treacherous, sharp turns. It was a good thing Tarbus had been around horses all his life, for he was set to work as a stable hand, made to perform whatever tasks needed seeing to in order to keep the horses fed, watered, groomed, bathed and walked after a hard work out, as well as making sure the stables themselves stayed clean and neat. Some of it he found difficult, as his left arm was only partially useful. He adapted though and came up with a lot of work arounds. His shoulder and elbow still worked. It was just everything below the elbow that was skewed and he had limited use of his wrist and his three outer fingers on that hand. The work was physically demanding but not to an extreme. Things could have played out much worse for him. And he was pleased to find that he would often be going with the team to the Circus itself, for the races, and then back to the Campus Martius, for that meant he had some opportunity to learn about the rest of the city. Always on his mind was discovering and acting on some means of escape. It might seem far-fetched. But he had no intention of spending the rest of his life in Rome. But first, he had to discover what had happened to Zia, Diegis and Luto. He wasn't sure that they had been brought to Rome. But if they were there, he couldn’t leave without them, unless he knew with certainty that one or more of them was dead. His oath to protect and watch over Zia still stood. He had failed her, at the feast. But he wouldn’t abandon her, if she lived still. And upon Luto’s birth, that sworn obligation had extended to her child as well. Diegis was his best friend, and for that Tarbus would do all he could to aid him as well, if it was within his power to do so. But in the off chance that Tarbus could both discover Zia and Luto’s whereabouts and come up with a scheme to get them all out of Rome safely, he would not hesitate to leave without Diegis, if it came to it. Springy | GMT-5 | PM/DM
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