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Liv last won the day on July 1

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  1. This topic was inspired by two books I bought just the other day. I've got a few fiction titles set in Ancient Rome, but don't actually own much non-fiction on the subject (though I sometimes borrow from my library). What have you got on your bookshelf that may serve as reference or inspiration for the denizens of AeRo? Me, I've got: Invisible Romans by Robert Knapp. One of the new purchases. Have only skimmed it, but goes into the lives of common folk - slaves, soldiers, outlaws, women, etc. from the little information available (mostly from funerary inscriptions, grafitti and the Bible). Doesn't seem to be broken up into age or location, though. Pax Romana by Adrian Goldsworthy. The other new purchase, haven't started on it either. Attempts to explain how the Romans forged alliances and quashed rebellions, what they provided the conquered peoples with and how and why did the empire last as long as it did with relatively few breakaway conflicts. Haven't yet checked how it's broken up. Antony and Cleopatra, also by Adrian Goldsworthy. I'm about 100 pages into this one, and so far it's done a good job of introducing the backgrounds of both the Ptolemies and the Antonii, as well as the political environment of the time. It tries to separate myth from fact, but the writing is a bit dry. Interesting for someone with an interest in politics.
  2. Clio made to swallow and found out her throat was as parched as the swaths of land the Nile did not reach, according to her meagre knowledge of Ægyptus. Up until today, the image she had of her dominus was of a serious man, continuously (pre)occupied by business matters, but after this meeting, that image would be tinged with a shade of fear. She got the feeling that even freeborns would not enjoy finding themselves on the bad side of Titus Justinius Canicus Phiscerus... As her master exhaled, Clio's own breathing caught in her chest, and she tightened her fists until her knuckles shone pale against her brown skin. Was a storm coming? Had she said the wrong thing? The moment of doubt was over as quickly as it came, and Clio allowed herself to let out a shaky breath. No more talk of gladiators, unless the master brought it up first. Domina was an intelligent woman with a keen eye for quality wares, but when said wares were fighting men, it would be unwise to arouse her husband's suspicion, and if Clio were the one to do it by mistake... well, it would be a very costly mistake for everyone involved. She quivered as the master spoke to her, but somehow managed to relax her hands; her fingernails had left crescent-shaped marks on her palms, and they were starting to smart a little. "Yes, Domine, I shall!" she nodded vigorously. "Is there anything that should be brought to Domina's attention before the next event?" What Clio really wanted to ask, but would never dare to, was how much longer this interrogation would go on for. She hoped she had a little more tact than that, and so she would stand up as straight as her unease would let her until the master dismissed her. @Brian
  3. Liv

    Joining forces

    Surprisingly, neither men made a fuss about his confession. Titus was counting on, at the very least, a raised eyebrow from Aulus Calpurnius Pratextatus - politeness, or pity, would suggest a gesture no more reproving than that - and the slave biting the inside of his cheek to keep himself from laughing... But instead, all he saw and heard was a shrug, a comment on the advantages of sea travel, and a slightly thoughtful, wondering look in the slave's eyes. Could Felix, too, be reluctant about travelling through Neptune's domain? Or was he perhaps picturing in his mind's eye already how Achaea was like? He gazed at the crude map drawn in the dirt, pondering what to do while listening with only half an ear to the other two. Time was of the essence in this situation, and even if he were to ride day and night, and be so lucky as to find fresh horses at every outpost... No, who was he kidding? Only himself. With or without seasickness, the truth of the matter was that the sea route was a good ten days or so faster. Legions could be mobilised, and cities besieged and destroyed in ten days. Titus pinched the bridge of his nose in defeat. The others were talking. "I can't converse about philosophy or anything, but yes, my mother talked to me in Greek." Good, so Felix had some knowledge of it. Spared them from having to translate for him, though few would bother doing it for a slave. "Well, nobody really expects a slave to wax eloquent about philosophy in Greek, unless that's exactly what they were purchased for," Titus deadpanned, letting his irritation seep through. He almost regretted having come across the pair, for otherwise he could have carried on with his merry, time-wasting delusion of taking an overland route. His stomach would have appreciated that... but it was not meant to be. He caught himself an instant later, though, and tried to smooth over any ruffled feathers. "It's definitely a plus that you speak it, though. One can never have too many eyes and ears in circumstances like this." Titus made to stand up; his mind was finally made up, and the sooner they got on with it the sooner it would be over. "How often do you think ships depart for Corinthus or Tarsus from Ariminium?" @Chevi @Sharpie
  4. I recently finished "The three body problem" by Cixin Liu, and am now on my library's waiting list to borrow its sequel "The dark forest". A pleasant read if you're into sci-fi!
  5. Liv

    Special delivery

    Clio winced instinctively when the towel hit the old man, who grumbled at the interruption but wiped his arms on his stained tunic before resuming his meal. The owner clearly had no qualms about setting his clientele straight, and she found his no-nonsense manner refreshing. To his his straightforward question about her funds, Clio replied by patting the coin pouch she was trusted with and letting the sound of metal clinking on metal speak for itself. "I've got a bit." She took the piece the shopkeeper offered her and put it in her mouth. It tasted great, and the longer she chewed the more complex the flavours became. The salty ham was the perfect counterpart to the richness of the cheese. Her masters would like it, possibly paired with some wine. Cheese always went well with wine. "It's delicious!" she beamed. No wonder the thermopolium was almost always full, if all the food was like this. "I think I'll take..." Clio trailed off, looking at the ceiling for a split second as she did some reckoning, "four of these." One for domina, one for dominus, one for young Canica, and maybe one to be split among Clio herself and dominus' body slave, if the masters were feeling kindly towards them. But just one filling wouldn't be enough; there had to be more variety. "And I'll have four with pork, too." Best to take fewer pieces of different flavours. "You mentioned ones with spices. What sorts?" There were probably more types of fillings than she could afford at the moment, so she would have to select the ones more likely to be approved of. Two or three more should be enough, taking both palate and budget into account. Hopefully the man wouldn't try to rip her off - but if she tried, she had a secret weapon ready to be used! @Gothic
  6. Titus had been absent from Senate proceedings for years, courtesy of his service in the provinces, and most of the time he did not miss the stuffy, formal speeches that had senators talking in circles and boring each other to inaction. During this meeting, however, his colleagues seemed to have come to the same conclusions rather quickly, and not yet once had he had to steel his jaw to tame a yawn threatening to escape. It must have been Caesar's influence, transforming the venerable institution from an ineffective assembly to an energetic decision-making organism over the better course of a decade. As the young Tiberius took his seat again, Titus stood up. "Esteemed colleagues, I find myself seeing the truth in your words, and agreeing with it. These children must not be left to suffer the whims of Fortuna, but instead aided so that they can contribute to the grandiosity of our homeland." Many had ended up in their situation through no fault of their own, and petty criminals and gangs would step in to claim them to their ranks if those of means did nothing. "For many generations, Rome has been cleverly exploiting whatever resources are available. Our forefathers turned marshland into terra firma, and our soldiers build roads as they conquer foreign lands, all so that their successors will thrive. These children are a resource for our patria, one that we should take advantage of today lest we lose it forever tomorrow." He paused to clear his throat. "Let us do as Tiberius Claudius suggests: send the brightest to a grammaticus, so that they may help shape the minds of the future. Send the strongest to our legions, so that they may bring glory to Rome and themselves. Send the others to be apprentices to tradesmen, so that they learn the virtues of being a Roman through honest work. And as for the girls - true, our mothers, wives, daughters and sisters may know best how to handle them. There would be value in letting them into our own homes, so that they may learn how to be good Roman women. But seamstresses, too, need apprentices, and the temples are often in need of novices. For if we offered our help to ten girls, how could we justify not extending the same charity to a hundred, or a thousand more who would reclaim it?" Let them all know meaning through hard work, males and female alike. Idle hands made for idle minds, and these orphans could contribute to society by providing useful work. Rome didn't need any more ne'er-do-wells. Having spoken his mind, Titus sat back down, gazing attentively at the next speaker. @Chris
  7. The last man who had complimented Clio on her name had deceived her and sold her off, so she was naturally not quite as elated by the comment as one would think. "Thank you. She is the muse of history. I don't know who chose it, probably my first master..." She trailed off, allowing herself a moment's silence to wonder what of the mousy man. He would be in his fifties now, if he lived still. And his daughter, who she had played so often with, was likely married with children of her own. Before her thoughts turned to her parents and siblings, Clio snapped back to the present - no use wondering what had become of them; she knew they would not meet again in this life. No segregated baths for the slaves? How very generous. "Such progressive overseers you have," she chuckled mirthlessly, letting herself be drawn along. "What do the old codgers say to the likes of you or me bathing alongside them?" In the households Clio had been a part of, the slaves would take care of their personal hygiene at times when it didn't inconvenience the masters, but the thermae were clearly their own little world, in more ways than one. And in this little world, a headstrong slave was putting Clio's resolve to the test. She blushed and averted her eyes from his, unsettled by Helenus' intense gaze. "I, um..." She tensed up, not realising the instinctive action had accidentally tightened the grip of her hand on his. "I d-don't really think I should..." Somehow her voice had naturally dropped a tone to match his, but she was now sounding more unsure than ever. With a modicum of courage, Clio looked up again, feeling the heat on her cheeks as they made eye contact once more. "My domina would have me killed if she found out." It wasn't an understatement; for this kind of transgression, Annia Comna's trust in Clio would be so irreparably broken that mere flogging would not sate her desire for punishment. Finally aware of how tightly she was gripping Helenus' hand, Clio released it in a sudden gesture, as if it burned her. "I'm sure you value your life, within the bounds of our kind. I value mine too, and especially as it is now." Her voice was still quiet, but sterner; a little of her resolve had returned, now that it was no longer being drained away by the warmth of his hand. "In a place like this, I'm sure every brick and stone has eyes and ears, and many who would snitch and gossip simply to sow strife, I think." She bit her lower lip, still holding his dark gaze. "Am I wrong?" Can you prove me wrong? @Atrice
  8. Liv

    Joining forces

    Titus nodded in acknowledgement of the slave's admission of ignorance. "Fair enough." Indeed, not all of them had a need for education; not every tool needed to be sharp. Yet, Felix had just been presented with a quick lesson in Italian and Eastern geography, courtesy of his master. Aulus' sketch was a very reasonable likeness to the real world, the distance between towns even sufficiently proportional. His enthusiasm waned somewhat as Aulus pointed out his intended stops. It was beginning to look like a long sea journey was inevitable, since it was the faster - and given the circumstances, preferred - option. "It often is, so long as Neptune is in a jolly mood." A storm could appear seemingly out of nowhere, and many a good ship and crew never made it to their destination. Overland, as far as Titus was concerned, was safer to a certain extent: inclement weather could be waited out someplace dry, it was easier to stay on course and resupply, and ambushing thieves were easier to escape or deal with. But... it would take longer, even with fresh horses at every stop. He exhaled deeply. "Your plan is sound. There should be ships going at least halfway there, to Corinthus or thereabouts." Titus turned to smile at Felix. "You would get to see your mother's homeland," he suggested with no scorn or malice in his voice. Had the slave ever wondered about it? Directing his attention to Aulus once more, Titus figured it was time to come clean. Admitting weakness did not come easily to him, but he'd done less brave things. "You may have noticed my hesitation regarding sea travel..." He twiddled his thumbs, voice trailing off. "It's because I find it extremely unpleasant. It does not agree with my body." There, he'd said it. And prepared for the laughter he knew would ensue. @Chevi @Sharpie
  9. Liv

    Mordreds Plotter

    Hi Mord! I have two characters, maybe one or both of them strike your fancy? Titus - younger brother to Gothy's Quintus, also a senator and newly back in Rome after a stint in Dacia as legatus. Doesn't quite know if he wants to start taking political life more seriously or keep kicking barbarian behind in the provinces. Has a 13-year-old daughter and should probably start looking into possible suitors for her... Clio - body slave to the mistress of one of the ludi. Is happy with her current lot in life and entertains no thoughts of running away, though a tiny part of her hopes she one day can buy her own freedom. She can wander about the city on errands for her masters or in her sparse free time. I must warn you I'll be going on holidays soon and my internet access will be spotty, so if you'd like to defer any ideas to after my return I completely understand
  10. It was good to be back, but it was great to be home. Rome was, of course, home to any Roman worth their salt, but sometimes the lofty ideals of patria were supplanted by a simpler, baser need for refuge and belonging. As one of the household slaves welcomed him into the house that had been their parents' and was now his brother's, Titus couldn't help but reminisce. It had been years since he had last set foot in it, and the decorated walls had been witness to many things: his decision to join Quintus Caesar in the east, his brother Quintus' own one to stay in the city and protect the family from the lunatics that pretended to be the righteous rulers of Rome, their shared worries as to the safety of their wives and children... And older things still: Quintus' marriage, Sulpicia's cunning schemes to get out of trouble, himself swinging a wooden gladius at one of the slave boys in a play fight. It had been so long ago that it may as well have been in another life, a more innocent one. As he saw his older brother come into the atrium, Titus broke out into a merry grin. "Quintus, my brother! It's been far too long!"He returned his brother's hug with a bone-crushing one of his own. Despite the years and miles that had separated them, their bond remained as strong as ever. "Is she here? I better borrow your tonsor before she shaves my face off too!" he laughed heartily. Sulpicia was a formidable woman of an even more formidable temper, and only the unwise should tempt her to unleash it. Yet it was also true that he should start to look more presentable and get rid of that itchy stubble, now that he no longer had the excuse of a long journey with limited tools and no skilled barber. He followed after Quintus through the familiar spaces, studying his brother's back. He looked healthy, but tired, and when he'd pulled back from their hug, Titus thought there were deeper lines on Quintus' face compared to the last time they'd been together. Politics could be far more gruelling than most would believe, and a consulship could be just as much work as it was an honour, if not more - and was Quintus any less busy now, as a former consul, than he had been two years ago? For a fleeting moment, Titus felt what he thought was pity; at least in Dacia they fought the enemy with gladii and pila, not with intrigue and rumours. "You're a far better host than I deserve, brother," Titus chuckled. There would be no shortage of delicacies, and dared he hope for some honey cakes too? "I trust Cornelia is in good health?" His brother's wife had seemed to recover well after the difficult birth of their youngest a few years ago, but one never knew with women - healthy as a horse one day and at death's door the next. Valeria seemed to be an exception so far, seemingly having a stronger constitution than most women, but for how long would the gods maintain their favour? "Oh, she's doing well. Grew chattier and more excited the closer we got to Rome, though you know she'd never admit it. That is, until we got word on the way here that her father was doing poorly, so she made a detour to go see him first - sends her deepest apologies to her beloved brother-in-law, of course, and hopes you can forgive her rudeness - and will join us later along with the children." He smirked conspiratorially at Quintus. "So for now it's just us two brothers, eh?" @Gothic
  11. Liv

    Juggling RL and RPG

    Much of what you write here strongly resonates with me, it's good to know I'm not the only one who needs time to get in the right headspace for a particular character. Fun stops being fun when it turns into a chore.
  12. Me, for sure! I grew up on Horrible Histories and other "Horrible" titles, can't wait for the film to come out near me.
  13. Liv

    Special delivery

    She was not the target of the shop owner's irritation, and still Clio couldn't help but flinch at the mention of the mines. They were a slave's worst nightmare, their mention more fear-inducing than Medusa's face. Many owners would insult their slaves; a few, like this one, would threaten them with promises of a terrible fate, but only a very small part of them actually made good on it, the gods be thanked. Perhaps this vendor was like the fire-spitting mountains to the south that Clio had heard of: troublesome , unpredictable and sometimes inclined to blow everything around them up, but also capable of great periods of rest between explosions. Looking at the scene around her, there was no doubt the man and his household would be stretched thin at times. Still, the man wore a kinder expression when he turned to her and requested she speak up. Of course the cacophony of voices and sounds would leave anyone a little hard of hearing if they had to deal with it day in and day out. That, and short on patience, probably, so she'd better hurry up and pick something from their selection. "I was sent by my masters to purchase your specialties," Clio started tentatively, smiling back at the vendor. "It seems like meat and cheese are popular with your patrons." She leaned forward a little, raising her voice - hopefully without sounding too shrill - as she looked at the plates of her bench neighbours. The meat looked juicy and tender, and an elderly man was going at it with such gusto that he even licked the juices dripping down his forearms. "I take it you have several kinds of each?" @Gothic
  14. Hey guys, Sorry for my long leave of absence. Some family stuff happened that put me in a bad place mentally, and then the longer I went without logging in the guiltier I felt, and so it went on for far too long... I'm really sorry about that. On a slightly different note, next week I'm going on a three-week holiday where I won't have access to a computer and internet access will be spotty. If I manage to post, it'll be from my phone, so there may be more mistakes than usual. I'll try to catch up until then.
  15. The smell of fried onions and cooking meat beckoned to Clio irresistibly. She had walked past the thermopolium a number of times over the past few weeks and nearly succumbed to its delicious aromas, but it was only now that she had the agency (and bravery) to actually become a customer. She was a faithful slave on a secret mission: to sample the wares of the Wolf-man. If they passed the taste test, she was to bring some back - discreetly - for her domina to try. If they didn't, she got a free meal out of it anyway. From inside the shop the owner's voice boomed, and Clio trembled in anticipation. The shopkeeper's reputation preceded him, and it was not the first time Clio heard him ranting or complaining at one of his helpers, probably a slave who knew better than to argue back or really do anything but nod. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and approached the stall. It's for Domina, she told herself in a bid for courage. Clio had not dared to bring up the subject, but could this particular craving of her mistress's be caused by new life in her womb? Pregnant women were known for wanting all sorts of extraordinary foodstuffs, after all. On the other hand, it might just be due to wanting to try some tasty commoner food. Clio would reserve judgment until a later date, when things became clearer, before reporting this to her master. "Hello," she greeted timidly, elbowing her way between two patrons, each busy with gorging himself on bread and meat. The smell was enough to make anyone's mouth water. @Gothic
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