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  1. November, 75 AD It had been weeks since he first met Aglaea, the nice and gentle slave to his uncle Secundus’ wife. Since hearing about her situation and getting to know her better, she was often on his mind. Wulfric knew he should make moves towards meeting his father, but for some reason, it was difficult to pull himself together to do it. Instead he decided he would meet this cruel uncle of his first, see if there was anything he find out or anything he could do about Aglaea’s situation. Both Tertius and Secundus did not sound like good men, but so far, Secundus seemed worse than Wulfric’s father at least. He had to be careful though. He did not wish to reveal to Secundus, that he was his father’s son – that he was Secundus’ nephew. So he had to find some other excuse to visit him. Working at the market was luckily helpful. He worked in a warehouse and he found out they made deliveries to certain households in Rome. And when he asked into it from his colleagues, he found out, that they delivered to a Quinctilius Varus household. One morning, Wulfric managed to follow the cart that went towards that part of the city. Since he’d been working well and hard for a few months now, his employer had already raised his payment and was giving him more responsibility. Wulfric was to check that everything went correctly at the house. And he would. And not just in the kitchen and with the goods. Since he was working, he wasn’t wearing his finest clothes. Just the simple daily clothes, more German than Roman in the style – he was not wearing the new and finer set that he bought recently. Anyone would be able to tell he didn’t come from here, although few might guess where he had his origins. He didn’t know the master of this house might. Once at the house, he let the others unload and stood by, looking at it all. There were mostly vegetables and grains and spices. Everything seemed to be in the correct amounts, but he still had a good excuse ready for meeting Secundus. He asked if the master of the house was home at this hour and if there was a chance to see him. The main kitchen slave said he was at home but wondered why Wulfric would meet him. She wasn’t sure Secundus would meet a foreigner though, but Wulfric said it was important and insisted. At long last, he was allowed inside, into the fancy looking household. Well somewhat fancy. He had been to a few other places already and he’d seen nicer. It didn’t look so well-kept to him. Quietly, he waited in the atrium for the master of the house to appear, curious to see his uncle in Rome for the first time. @Járnviðr
  2. December 12th, 75AD Imagine that - being summoned, somebody like him? Of course the invitation wasn't written as a summons, no no, it was perfectly polite and affable and drafted in a way to make it appear that it was just an opportunity for cousins to 'catch up' after all the trials and tribulations of the last several years. Never mind that they were cousins only by virtue of blood and not friendship - Lucius' mother (Publius' maternal aunt) had died when Publius was only five years old. They'd claimed friendship though, of course, throughout their childhoods but the maternal line and its connection was never as strong as the paternal and Lucius far preferred the nature of his paternal cousins anyhow. Still, family was family, and so he dutifully replied that he'd be delighted to reminisce and attend Publius' domus. He just hoped that none of the other family were in attendance so might have some interesting conversation. He arrived at the domus at the appointed time and ran a hand through his dark hair, neatening it out. He was dressed finely (and practically given the chill) for the occasion,which he was pleased for as he was ushered into the atrium of the domus by one of the slaves. He blinked as his eyes adjusted to the dull light, illuminated as it was by torches and the great open portion of the ceiling. It was a little after lunch, and the man's clients had evidently left for the day judging by the sounds of children - or teenagers if his memory served him - filling the place. He hoped they weren't intending to join the conversation, he'd left his own children at home in the care of various slaves. It wasn't fitting to have them present for things such as this, not yet at least for his son. He blinked, growing irritated at being kept waiting as his host loomed into view. He effected a smile on his face and moved to embrace his cousin, "Publius," He said as he pulled back, eyeing the man carefully. "It's been what? Two, three years perhaps?" He'd been on some sort of military expedition if memory served. "Too long in any regard." He made no comment or platitudes on the house - it was as fine as any other domus in Rome and didn't require any special praise. "Thank you for the invitation, I was surprised but warmed to receive it." TAG: @Echo
  3. Early November, 75 AD Today was just yet another ordinary day in the life of Marcus Barbatius, one of countless professional barbers in Rome. Some just had their shops in the street, but Marcus had his very own shop and insula just above it. Quite a nice insula too. One bedroom for himself, another for all the slaves, a small cooking area, a tablinum and a triclinium. And a few spare rooms for storage and other things. Then there was the shop. Large enough to hold a chair for clients in the middle of the room and shelves and tables and many little pots and flasks with salves and oils and everything else he needed for the business. And then the box with all the knives and razors in it. The key hung steadily around his neck and Aculia would have to ask, if she needed a knife to cook with. He once had a slave cut his own throat, which he had absolutely no right to, so Marcus had to keep the knives locked up at all times, so it would not happen again. The slaves were his property. They had no right to take their own lives while he was their master. But luckily, that was already years ago and life went on. Even with what he did recently, to that girl. Yet that was also in the past now and all he had was the lingering memory of her and her blood. He was thinking about that when he opened the shop this morning, which put him in a good mood and he was even whistling when he opened the door. His head slave or favorite slave, Manus, was already busy getting the shop ready for the first client. Now all they had to do was wait for someone to walk in the door. @Sains
  4. Early October, 75 AD Wulfric had agreed to meet again with the lovely Aglaea, who was slave to his uncle Secundus, whom he had not yet met. He hadn’t even met his father yet, but Aglaea knew him too and he found it very useful to have found someone, whom he was not related to, but who could provide him with useful information. On top of that, Aglaea was very sweet and friendly and he had enjoyed talking to her. Plus she seemed to need someone to talk to and she needed help with her situation. Wulfric had felt sympathy with her and he was more than ready to help her, whether she said she wanted his help or not. He would be the friend she needed. Really this was a win for both of them. So a week later, he found himself entering a place called the Gardens of Sullust for the first time. Aglaea had sent word to him via a messenger, where they were supposed to meet and he walked around, trying to find the right place. It was still somewhat warm, but some leaves had begun to change color and he found that he liked the gardens because of the amount of greenery here. Rome, to him, mostly consisted of stone, marble and people. There was not a lot of green and it was nothing like Germania in that sense, where the majority of the land was forests, fields and meadows. Rome had its own charm of course, if you looked at things individually. He tried that too, while searching for the right fountain Aglaea had said they’d meet by. He found a very pretty one, there were no other people near and he thought it was the right one. Then he leaned against the edge of the basin, enjoying the warmth of the sun and waited for Aglaea to show up as planned. @Echo
  5. September, 75AD Evening in Rome. She wasn’t even sure what she was doing out this late, honestly she ought to head home to the palace – but Claudia was probably already sleeping and Volusa lay there too somewhere and the praetorians guarded her door. Cynane wasn’t in a hurry yet. She’d been visiting a bath house and was taking a long way back to the palace. The sun went down as she walked and people came out in the streets. Some had finished the day’s work, others were just beginning. In an open square where a few streets met, a stage had been set up and actors were getting ready to perform some kind of play. Benches had been set up in front of it and Cynane stopped, curious. It was rare she got to see these things. Some wealthy senators squeezed their way past her and sat down on the front rows and Cynane took a seat in one of the back rows, by the end of a bench so she could easily get up and walk away. The play began. A fisherman’s wife was waiting for her husband to come home from the sea, but he didn’t come and what was a lonely woman to do then, when higher ranked men wanted her attention? Cynane rolled her eyes, well, that woman was to kick their crotch and tell them to go find someone else, she thought to herself. But people around her were amused and she thought she better be on her way. That’s when a man came to her side, pushing his way in to set next to her by the end of the bench. He was larger than her. Much larger. Cynane stared at the stage, lifting her chin as she did it, “Well well, a barbarian woman!” The man said, looking at her. She was dressed in her preferred clothes, breeches and a thigh-long tunica, not very feminine at all. The most feminine was probably her long braid down the back. Meanwhile the man... was clearly drunk, “I never had a barbarian before… not one who actually looks like one…” He said with a grin and placed a hand on her thigh. Cynane inhaled a breath, glaring at him, “Get your hand off me!” She bit back, pushing at his hand with hers, but he didn’t stop there. Instead he caught her wrist and held it tight… “Uh she talks! And fights!” He laughed and stood, “I like it…” He said while attempting to drag Cynane with him. Fuck! She tried to jerk her hand away from his, thinking she could probably easily use some kind of attack to get him away, but the square was crowded and she was, after all, just a slave. @Sara
  6. Early September, 75 AD Alexius had been talking to people. Well, he always talked to people and met people and had good times with people, but he was on a mission now. A certain and very important job, because a friend of his had been attacked and he had to do something about it. Didia must have been so afraid, he thought, when that sick fucker cut her and she had to go to Theo for help and then asked Alexius to help her look for the guy. And of course he'd help her! She was his neighbor and friend and he hated to see anyone he liked, harmed. It actually felt good, for once, to know you did something that really mattered to someone. And now, that’s exactly what he did. Galla, one of his lovers, suggested he went to the lower classes and the alleys and brothels to look for the attacker. And so he went to the first on his mind, the lovely Lucilla, who lived up on the top floor of the insula, because she knew people like that. But she said she doubted any guys like that went to the Venus. She had not heard about any men with knives cutting up anyone for fun there. But maybe at Elysium? People with sick tendencies tended to go there, she said. That brothel-owner felt no remorse and all he thought about was earning coin. The whores there got beaten up and worse and nobody cared. He'd gone out, asked around and some days later, he knew that Elysium had to be the place to go to. So that’s where he went. If Didia’s attacker ever went to a brothel, that would be the place! He felt weird though, approaching the place. Alexius had never once paid for sex, not directly anyway. Paying to meet a gladiatrix because she fought well, and said gladiatrix then deciding she liked him enough to have him, that was different in his eyes. And now he stood in front of the Elysium, a poorly kept building, matching its inhabitants, he guessed. Poor girls and guys. But he wasn’t here for sex, at least. He was here for information. Alexius entered the house, coming into the bar-like room on the ground level, where men (and some women) met whores who’d let them do just about anything. He felt… almost dirty, walking in here. He didn't like the idea of owning other people and then selling them to the highest bidder for one night or one release only. Some of them could be used many times in the same night. It was disgusting. As a gladiator, he'd been prostituted too. He knew what it was like. It was not always a fun business and especially not in a place like this. He inhaled a breath and ran a hand through his hair while his eyes adjusted to the light. @Echo
  7. September, 75AD So much had happened since the spring, when Clio for the first time told her sister about the boy she met in the gardens. With whom she swapped clothes and wore boy’s clothes for a little while. And he wore hers! It was scandalous, really, but she had kept her promise and not told a single soul about it. They were twins, they’d always been together and Septima believed she would always love her sister and be loyal to her. They were very different apart from the fact that they looked almost exactly alike. But they were still sisters. Clio could trust her. They’d talked about Clio going to see the boy again and Septima would come along, so it at least wouldn’t be the two of them meeting alone. And maybe she was also a little bit curious about this boy, Lexus. But time moved on and they had not gotten a chance during the first month after and then it was suddenly May and their birthday. And then summer came and parties and events and then an earthquake shattered Rome! While the damages in their home had been repaired, the twins had been sent to spend time with relatives outside of Rome. And now it was suddenly fall and thoughts of the boy gardener Lexus were far away. The twins had other things to think about. After the earthquake, some people became homeless and some of them had settled in small camps the gardens in Rome - and it was decided in the family that the twins should go and hand out a little bit of food and clothes they had outgrown, to the homeless. Septima held a large sack with bread and fruit and her sister had the other sack with the clothes. Together they ventured to the Gardens of Sullust to hand out their items. As they came nearer the gardens, she looked at Clio. They spent much time together, but not all time, of course, so she was curious about how it looked like behind the walls to the gardens. She wasn't even sure she'd ever been here at all, “Have you been here since the earthquake?” @Chevi
  8. 31st of August, 75AD It had been 9 days since Charis gave birth to his son. Of course he knew it was a son. Tertius was quite anxious to see the boy, but in this household he was the Pater Familias and he was the one who would decide anything that would happen to the child. So he would do things properly, as you did, as tradition ordered. Which meant he would not see his slave-born son until 9 days after the birth. If the child still lived and appeared healthy, the slave would present the child to the head of the household and Tertius would either pick up the child – setting it free – or not, leaving it to be brought up as a slave. And he would name the child. Now it was the 9th morning after the birth and today he would finally see his son. Hector had done everything in his power to distract Tertius the night before and he had done everything to attempt to make his master relax, but Tertius had still turned in the bed at night and he’d woken when he ought to sleep. Charis knew nothing of his plans. He had only told Teutus and he trusted that Teutus would not tell anyone. He nudged Hector when he’d been awake long enough and the slave got up and fetched a basin of fresh water for Tertius. He also fetched a fresh tunica and anything else he knew Tertius would want and Hector did not utter a word. His body slave was probably displeased with the whole situation. He knew that Charis was on Tertius’ mind a lot. He’d been worried since she went into labor and had been happy to hear that both mother and son were alive and well after. The way he lost his wife after Antonia was born… he didn’t want to lose Charis the same way. And she wasn’t even his wife, but… he couldn’t help but wishing he would not lose her. Despite everything, she had to live and be here. After he got dressed, he sent Hector out to set up a nice breakfast in the triclinium, for himself and for Charis – and then he found a seat in the atrium of the house, because that’s where he had imagined this ceremony would take place. In his hand he held a special amulet for the child. Honestly it didn’t have to be a big deal, when the child was born by a slave and not a wife, and he had not planned it to be. He had sent word to Livia Justinia, Secundus' wife, that a child had been born, but he had not formally invited them. He doubted they would come anyway. It could be a big ceremony, with guests and many family members present, but in this case, with a slave-born child, it would just be the whole household present and Charis presenting the child and Tertius doing what he planned to do. And then it was done. After he’d been sitting there a little while, watching the slaves just do their jobs, he decided it was time and waved the nearest slave over… “Announce that Charis’ child can be presented to me now.” He told the slave, who hurried on to tell Charis and then anyone else at home at the moment, who would witness the ceremony of the newborn child. It didn’t take long for Antonia to appear by his side, as the first and he gave her a smile and a hug, as she seemed very excited. He had of course informed her that Charis’ child was his, despite Charis not being his wife. He had explained to Antonia that he had been very fond of Charis, so fond of her that at least for a time, he had treated her almost like a wife (but not quite, of course). He didn’t know if Antonia had met her new brother. But he knew he looked forwards to it, no matter what. Slowly many of the house slaves appeared in or near the atrium. Would Teutus show up? He didn't know. All he could do now was wait for Charis and his newest son to appear. @Sara
  9. August, 75 AD - the evening of Tricky Timing Alexius was ready. He’d not been working much today… well not officially anyway. He did not bring home any extra coin for him and Lexus. Instead he’d lurked around the marketplace to keep an eye out for Didia, as well as having asked people about barbers and other people who’d carry around knives and flasks with scented oils. A slave from one of the brothels said there were girls at their brothel who were scared of this one patron, who always wanted to see blood before he took in their bodies to get release. But when Alexius asked the name of the brothel, they didn’t want to talk. As if they were scared. It wasn’t at all easy, this mystery! In the evening he had a simple meal he brought back home to the insula and he told Lexus this morning he might not be home until it was dark out. Lexus wasn’t home yet while Alexius sat at his table, downing a bit of wine – a quite common thing for him to do – while he waited for Didia to show up. He was already dressed for the occasion, because when was he not? Short breeches and a thigh-long tunica and a belt that could easily be removed, so you could move easier. He wore his good boot-like sandals and had, just in case, also hidden a blade down a special sheath in said boot. Just in case. At last there was a knock on the door in the otherwise silent flat and Alexius jumped up to answer it, expecting to find Didia outside, also ready to learn a bit about self-defense in Rome. @Sara
  10. In honor of the Volturnalia, Secundus had joined in the day’s public festivities. Senators were expected to make appearances at these things; they represented most of a man’s religious life, so he performed the necessary civic duties. However, this year, he most looked forward to the night’s festivities. Secundus had been planning this party for many days now. Several of the men of the senate had been invited to join in. It would be a night of feasting, drinking, games, and music. Livia, as usual, had taken no interest in helping him plan the occasion. She considered any time spent with him wasted time. Secundus did not mind that. It made his plan easier. He could arrange for Vibia to perform as the night’s entertainment without it rising to his wife’s notice any sooner than the party itself. Although he only planned her to use her skills with the cithara, if any of the other guests took her up on another offer, he had not intention to stop them. Secundus hoped that Livia would guess what Vibia was. He imagined her affronted expression vividly as he supervised his slaves’ preparations. He wanted to provoke a reaction from her- something other than the meek, mouselike behavior of recent months. For someone so bitter and angry, she insisted on remaining dormant. Perhaps she was waiting for him to show weakness. He would force her to play her hand first. As the day’s festivities began to come to close, Secundus watched as the household finished its preparations. The party would begin soon; if everything went as planned, Vibia would be the first to arrive, with senators filing in very shortly after. Livia, who had been in her room all day, would likely want to be ready to greet their guests. He told one of the slaves to go fetch her- no need to disturb her mood before she’d had a chance to meet their guest of honor @Liv @Sara
  11. Late September, 75 AD Wulfric was still trying to get used to this huge city. He was quietly trying to figure out more about his father, but the people he encountered in the streets and taverns, that cared to talk to him, didn’t know the man. Apparently he must be wealthy, as Wulfric assumed, since people who were less wealthy didn’t know him. Some had given him a weird look though and then just went on their way. As if it made no sense that a man dressed like Wulfric should want to get in touch with a man named Varus. Today was just another of these days. Wulfric had managed to find some actual work, working in a warehouse mainly with moving sacks of grain and other things, from one place to another. Or onto carts. Something like that. He was strong, after all. And today he’d been doing just the same all morning and was paid in the shiny coins, that he added to his purse and then made his way out into the marketplace to find something to eat. A stall selling purses caught his attention though, his own was getting rather worn and those they sold here were very fine. Good quality leather, he could tell. Wulfric purchased a light brown leather purse and then moved away from the shop to attach it to his belt, a little bit away from where the crowds were, because he understood that you should watch your coins carefully and no one should know how much you had on you. With his back to the marketplace, he opened the belt and slipped the old purse off the belt and began moving things from the old to the new one. Unaware that from behind in the shade of a building, he might look like someone else entirely. @Echo
  12. 23rd of August, 75 AD He barely had any sleep last night, after Jocasta came to tell him that he had a new son. Tertius had gone to sleep in the chamber that had been set up for him, the day after Charis suddenly went into labor. He had to sleep somewhere, although it definitely was not the same as his own bed. Hector had done everything he could to make Tertius feel comfortable and he also tried during this particular night, but for some reason, Tertius was just not really in the mood for sex. Finally Hector fell asleep and Tertius turned many times, thinking about freedom, adoption, ceremonies and sons. He’d have to speak to Teutus about the matter. No doubt his oldest son was worried about his rank in the family now that Tertius would be a father, a real father, to his newborn son. No doubt Teutus was also aware that the child had been born now, so perhaps he could guess why Tertius sent for him. Tertius would have to make sure Teutus understood it all, what had happened and what was going to happen. He'd have to make sure Teutus understood his own rank and Tertius' plans - because he honestly wasn't sure if Teutus did understand at all, why it was taking so long and why it wasn't as easy with him as Tertius had hoped. He’d also tell his plans for the new son so far. No one else knew about the plans, not even Charis. And no one else would know until the ceremony, no one but Teutus anyway. He could not just discuss it right away though, he was a Praetor and Senator and had to do some honest work first. But after the morning turned into afternoon and the warm part of the day began, Tertius headed home and sent a slave to find Teutus, so they could meet in the tablinum. Here he sat now, on the edge of the table, just like last night, when Jocasta came to dryly announce the birth of his new son. Hopefully Teutus' mood would be at least a little better. @Sharpie
  13. 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. @Chevi
  14. Late September, 75CE Aglaea groaned softly as she leaned over the bucket, seated on the floor of her room adjacent to Livia's bedroom. Ever an early riser, for a few days now, the woman had been woken up in the mornings with horrible nausea, yet unable to get anything up. It was a most perplexing ailment, as it seemed to disappear after a while of its own volition. Surely, the cook was doing something wrong, and Aglaea resolved to go and give her a piece of her mind. Just as soon as she was able to rise from the floor. Life recently had been nothing but chaotic - actually, it had been chaotic ever since Secundus had come into their lives. The man sowed chaos wherever he went, frightening Livia and bullying the house staff, mumbling to himself and forcing Aglaea into the position of protecting her mistress from laying with him. Aglaea had soon decided that she would lay with Secundus and yet protect herself at the same time. Like many Roman women, Livia took silphium in order to prevent pregnancy, and like any good body slave, Aglaea was responsible for retrieving the tincture from the apothecary whenever they ran out. But unlike a good body slave, Aglaea took a small amount every time she saw Secundus, hoping with her limited knowledge of the substance that it would be enough to stop pregnancy and all the symptoms that came with it. Her head shot up from the bucket with wide eyes. It couldn't be... but what else? No sickness from food showed itself with nausea without vomiting. And now that she thought of it, she was a few days late for her monthly cycle. Oh, God. With the sudden realization hitting her like an enormous weight, she stayed stock still for several seconds, before burying her head in her hands, weeping quietly in despair and misery. How could she ever explain this to her mistress? And what would happen to the child once it was born? How would Secundus react? Would Livia send her away and refuse to ever see her again? And how could Aglaea blame her for that if she did? It seemed a horrible betrayal without context. She had done everything she knew to do to prevent herself from bearing Secundus's child. She couldn't bring a child into this household with a clear conscience, knowing what sort of father he or she would have. And the consequences this would have for her relationship with Livia, her nearest and dearest friend... her heart broke. In time, the tears subsided and she began to think logically. She just wouldn't tell Livia. She could wear a tunic that flowed more to hide her bump, maybe bind the bump with cloth to limit the appearance. And then, when her time came, she could slip out of the house, have her baby somewhere safe, and then return to act like nothing would happen. Perhaps she could even leave the child on the doorstep and pretend as though it was a foundling - those were common enough in Rome. Wiping her eyes clear, and feeling the despair and nausea subside, she dressed for the day. She could act as though nothing had happened. She had lied before. Once dressed, she slipped into Livia's room to help her dress. The day had to go on. Title inspiration @Liv @Járnviðr
  15. Late August, 75CE It had been a good couple of months for Gaius. He’d been promoted to optio in the Praetorian guard and quickly proven himself worthy of the station. This naturally came with a substantial pay upgrade and he was considering moving from the barracks to a house of his own. He’d been touring around a nearby neighborhood, in the market for a simple domus that he could afford, and though he’d been unsuccessful, he was still in a good mood. Since it was getting dark, he decided to stop in the poppina for a drink and something to eat before returning to the Praetorian barracks for the night. He made his way into the upper section of the establishment, pleased that he was allowed here instead of the lower section. The wine here was better as well as the service. He smiled shyly at an attractive young server, just thinking that a domus was empty without a lady to guide it. He would have to remedy that situation soon. Gazing at the woman, he didn’t notice someone standing with his back to him, and bumped into him. “Oh, my apologies,” he said, blushing as the server giggled. Then he looked at the man he’d bumped into and vaguely recognized him. “Secundus? Is that you?” @Járnviðr
  16. August, 75AD Zia leaned against the wall of an inn - half demolished by the earthquake and utterly unfixed. It had to be two, perhaps three in the morning and she stifled a yawn - green eyes hawkishly watching the passing trade. She didn't dally with the job herself, and preferred to keep a watching brief - back to the wall and picking up the names and mannerisms of clients that came back again and again, or brought their friends. She left the heavy lifting to Gallus who had a particular way about him which kept the poor in his thrall and the rich who frequented this part of the city for vice and depravity, intrigued. She smirked to herself and stifled another yawn - her bloodshot eyes fluttering shut for the briefest of moments. The scheme had started some months prior. It had been luck and chance more than anything, although in years to come she'd claim it was a visionary idea she'd been harbouring for a while. She left the house most nights now. Her nightmares, which had started almost immediately after her capture last year and the ordeal she had been subjected to at the hands (and cocks) of the legion had disturbed her sleep and ever since that irritating run-in with the master of the house past midnight, she had sought solace and to calm herself down out of the house. So every night, pretty much, she slipped out of the slave entrance and into the dark of the city. She had smelled it before she saw it and heard the chatter of her mother tongue down by the Tiber. Back in Dacia, the flower1 was largely only smoked or inhaled by their priestly class, but as the wife to a future chieftain she had held her own plentiful supply. She missed it, and the smell had brought her right back. She was not a friendly woman by nature, but she had made an exception for this lot and before the week was through it had been her little ritual to meet them down by the river to share the smoke of the flower and relax. Her mood had improved immeasurably, and it had only helped her see a way out of all of this mess. She smirked to herself now at the memory. That had been three months ago. In that time, those friends had long since departed this world or Rome - she didn't care to know which, and their supplier - a foolish man that liked a fuck more than he liked his money, had readily admitted his own source of the flower before he'd even climaxed. Men were too easy. He too was currently whereabouts unknown (many thanks to his once-employee, Gallus). Once she'd got the name and understood the distribution network he'd set up (the man was a fool), Zia had swooped. She'd employed Gallus on credit, the man also liked a fuck but he was canny and could respect intelligence and drive when he saw it. He had been the fools, but equally couldn't stand him. He came willingly to her venture, she hastened to add. Over the last three months they had successfully, together, taken over the distribution of the flower in Regio IV, carved out a little corner of a warehouse near the spice markets to store their stash and made a decent few coins. The first few always went to Gallus to pay off the credit she had endured to take him with her, but the rest was hers - and in the future they had agreed a 65-35 split, Zia to Gallus, once the debts were settled and the runners paid. She smirked again as she leant against the wall. She never used her name, but should anybody in the city be looking for that sweet, calming high they knew where to come. Gallus the Great, would show them a good time. Nobody knew her, and that was the way she liked it. She lurked in the shadows for now, reaping the rewards of her ingenuity, and when the time was right? Well. She couldn't wait to see the look on her dominus' face. - FIN 1Marijuana
  17. July 75 AD, one week after the earthquake The earthquake was a week behind him now and slaves and workers were busy repairing most of Rome – including Tertius’ house, of course. The ceiling had to be improved, he wouldn’t forget how bloody Charis’ arms had been the morning the earthquake happened… and all because plaster from the ceiling in her room had fallen down. And her fellow slaves had not helped the pregnant and pretty young Charis. And that was just one thing that had to be repaired. There were several others too. But that was his own home. Now however, he’d been sitting in the tablinium, deep in thought. He had not heard anything from his siblings after the earthquake. He hoped his sister and her grown children were alright, as well as Livia of course. And Secundus, he supposed, but he didn’t bother considering him much. Tertius had tried his best to be friendly with his brother, when he returned from Germania, but Secundus kept blaming him for returning to Rome and not searching for his captured brother. And he hadn’t liked how Tertius had run things while he’d been away. Things had just spiraled the wrong way and Tertius was only happy to marry and move away from his childhood home. Since then, the brothers didn’t see each other a lot. Tertius still received visits from his sister and the children of course, but not from Secundus. Still, he was worried about his family and decided to go and take a look at the house of the Pater Familias of the Varus family. Hopefully Secundus was in the countryside, as he often was. He didn’t bother to bring any slaves with him. The travel through Rome wasn’t long to reach the old house. It was kind of strange to knock here, but he did and a slave let him in. He just wanted to see how much damage had been done here and if Secundus even cared to repair it. The house where they grew up. He probably didn’t care. Quietly Tertius moved through the house and into the peristyle to take a closer look. @Járnviðr
  18. Mid-August, 75AD Horatia sipped her wine, eyeing the dancers with amusement and interest. It was different, for a party, she'd grant their host that. Usually there were poetry recitals or dramatic performances and such and she had to admit it got a little...dry after a while. She was pleased that Antonia had spared no expense tonight. The dancers were from some Eastern province judging by the music that accompanied them and were mesmerising. She stood alone in the sea of people invited tonight; many she knew, others she did not. Aulus was sequestered away somewhere by the husband of their host discussing politics or his upcoming (potential) appointment to the Consulship and she cast him a wry, amused smile every now and again over the heads of other people gathered in the circle to watch the dancers. She'd also, much like Antonia, spared no expense for this evening. She was wearing a stola as befit her rank and marital status, but it was fine garment of silk in the colour 1, almost akin to a burning sunset and it was left open at the arms - being held together by ornate gold clasps instead of stitched shut. Her vibrant red hair had been intricately braided and set up although not in the hyper-fashionable way some ladies piled it atop their heads. Her palla, draped over her shoulder and and arm, and the tunica she wore underneath her stola were a paler yellow. She wore minimal jewellery, as she customarily did, but the bracelets she wore glinted in the lamp light being cast across the triclinium. Whilst she didn't necessarily enjoy these sort of functions the way some social butterflies did, she always made an exceptional effort. She was the wife of one of the most powerful men in the city, and she had to look the part. Besides, she wasn't an old woman by any means and it was nice (in an odd sort of way) to have aspirational or a few longing looks cast her way. She tried to ignore said glances as she stood watching the dancers, her back leaning against a pillar that opened up into the garden. She smiled to herself at the spectacle and murmured a positive comment at the lady stood to her side, unknown to her. It was only when somebody called her name did she pull her eyes away from the rhythmic movements. She recognised Pinaria Gaia, they moved in equivalent circles although she wasn't a close friend by any means. She offered a gentle smile. "Pinaria, it's lovely to see you." She leant in to kiss the woman on the cheek, "You look lovely." TAG: @Atrice 1 The colour of her stola is this colour dress from Horatia's face claim in the Borgias, when they dressed up as Romans!
  19. Mid-August, 75AD Vibia primped and preened as she always did before a client. Her various pots of lotions and potions and cosmetics were well used but still did the job as she etched kohl around her bright blue eyes and dabbed rosewater on her throat and between her thighs. There was no need to spend hours agonising over an outfit choice for this job, however. This wasn't the first time Secundus had visited her, and she knew him well enough to know what he liked. There was also the chance that perhaps the nature of her job wouldn't come into play at all, and he'd just be after conversation. But not being an oracle and knowing for definite, she still dressed in her usual sort of attire of a gauzy tunica that revealed more than a hint of what curves lurked underneath, with her rare, bright blonde hair half pulled up and half left to trail in waves over her shoulders and down her back. She made no move to attend the atrium where clients mingled and chose girls, and instead stayed in her room. Secundus knew the way, and this was a pre-booked arrangement. No need to parade herself this evening like cattle ready and waiting to be picked. Instead, she reclined on her bed, fingers twirling through a strand of her hair as she glanced at nothing in particular. Secundus was better than some but worse than others, not that it really mattered. She wasn't a slave and thus had more say in the clients she serviced but ultimately her employment rested on her willingness to service all who chose her. Besides, the man was useful. Whilst she didn't - or hadn't - sold any of his secrets back to her handlers in both the Syndicate and the Servian Collegium, it didn't mean she wouldn't. There was something intriguing about the man lurking just beneath the surface and she was determined to pry it out of him. And when she did, she'd decide what to do with it. A noise alerted her to a visitor and the door swung open, and the curtain beyond it pulled back. Vibia propped herself up on her elbows and gave a sly, seductive smile. "Hello stranger." TAG: @Járnviðr
  20. Early August, 75CE Why was Caecina plagued with forced visits with people she didn't care to know? It was nothing personal against those she had to meet - she just had a million other things she'd rather be doing! And Juliana had an amazing ability to make connections for Caecina while being miles away at the villa. Today's visit was no different. She had been introduced to Horatia Justina before, and had attended a social gathering, a book club, at her home as well (also spurred on by her stepmother) but had never had a visit with the woman one on one. At the book club meeting, Caecina had made the appropriate niceties and then retreated to spend the rest of the evening with the one young woman she'd known there. Because she'd never interacted one on one with the older woman, Caecina was going into the meeting today with little to no context or knowledge about her personality, and that intimidated her. The young senatore lady was of the notion that all older women were simply out to get their younger counterparts, to judge their new fashions and hair styles, to judge their adherence to the proprieties. Caecina was absolutely better at interacting with women her age than older women. But at least she had some knowledge about how to appease the old cats, so she was at least prepared on that front. Caecina dressed especially carefully, choosing a more modest chiton than she usually wore. The fabric was a light blue, Caecina's favorite, and embroidered along the edge's by the girl's own hands, something she could brag about if she needed to defend herself. Her palla was also blue, though darker, and sparingly decorated. Her jewelry was tasteful and not too garish, and she brought along a bottle of fine wine from her father's cellars as a hostess gift. Upon arrival, Caecina was shown into the entryway to wait for her hostess. @Sara
  21. Late August, 75 AD Boring, boring, boring… the lessons with Aia had ended for the day and Marcus didn’t have any plans for the day. He could of course get into a litter and go visit one of his friends, or he could practice his fighting skills, but it was high summer and it was too hot to do anything. He lay on his bed, on his stomach, with Silvanus massaging his back. It felt nice, but he couldn’t do this all day. Maybe a trip to the thermae? That might be nice, to cool down. Or maybe a dip in the Tiber, far from where people lived, so the river wouldn’t be disgusting. Or… maybe Caecina had an idea on what to do! She often did, he thought. Or else they’d just get some alone-time and kiss. He could spend a day doing that too. It had been a few months now, since their little escapade to the Poppina Via Lata and the Gardens of Sullust, where they promised they wanted each other, but also kept it a secret so far. And a secret their relationship remained all summer. Marcus would sneak kisses from her whenever he had the chance, fighting to control himself to not push for more than what she wanted. She was just so… beautiful and alluring, wasn’t she? He pushed Silvanus away and had the slave hand him a light blue tunica to wear. Marcus walked though their home in Rome to Caecina’s chamber. The curtain at the door frame was drawn, so he stopped outside and ran a hand through his hair, which most likely fell perfectly as it always did. “Caecina… are you in there? Can I come in?” He asked out loud and waited as patiently as he could. @Echo
  22. Early August, 75 AD Manius had finally found something, or so it would seem. He’d been contacted by a servant to Quintus Caecina Tuscus, a former bodyguard to his daughter, actually. The actual Quintus was far away from Rome, but in Rome and near Rome was his family and his servants. And since Manius used to know people a little higher up in ranks, back when he worked for Cyprianus, he was still well-known, even if he had just worked at the slave market for over ten years now. Not that he was the kind of man to hang out with his friends all the time, but they knew him. And Manius had of course let it be known, that he needed a job... although for a while, nothing happened. Until this bodyguard reached out to him and it was about time too. He had little less. The landlord had threatened with throwing him out soon. At least it was something, he thought, even if it was good and probably more than what he deserved. He’d been bodyguard a few times before, both for Domitilla (whom he was so foolish to fall in love with) and to Cyprianus (who was also dead now), but at least he’d tried it before. He was told that the young girl was of the marriable age and that she might soon find herself a husband, but that she’d also lately landed herself in a few situations, where she ought to have a man looking closely after her. And after the earthquake, her old bodyguard had been injured and he was close to being retired anyway. So he reached out to Manius, who responded fast, because he really did need a job. He just hoped he really was able to keep her safe. He failed with Salacia, after all. Her too. Manius had dressed in the finest outfit he had - he didn't know yet if they would offer him a home too in the domus, or if he would still stay in his own - and then he went to the right address at the Palatine. His hair was short and curly and he had actually visited a barber to remove the worst stubble on his face, which was needed after his most recent fall from grace. It had been his last money spent, so it was a good thing he was getting a new job, finally – and a proper job with a good pay even, for a Senatorial family! At least, he hoped they would want to keep him. He hoped they'd not change their minds about him. A servant allowed him in and told him to wait in the atrium. So here he stood. Quietly, with his hands folded on his back, waiting to meet his new mistress. Hopefully it wouldn’t go wrong this time, but by now, he barely trusted his own thoughts on that. It always went wrong somehow. @Echo
  23. August, 75 AD Despite everything that had happened to him, he was still here. Since Salacia was gone, he’d been thinking about her a lot. And about what happened when they first met and even before that. He remembered his first wife, his son… he remembered it when he gave himself to slavery, because he had nothing. He remembered his first owners, and then the second. He remembered the beautiful Domitilla, whom he made the mistake of falling in love with and telling her. If he had never told her, he might still have been with her. But he had been passed off again, to Cyprianus, who gave him the undeserved freedom, which he still had. And so much had happened since then. The past decade had however been quiet for Manius, right until the earthquake, where his life fell apart again. It was slowly rebuilding now and he even got himself a job - but he had all the memories and they weighed him down. He had always liked to take walks while thinking and that was the same case today. A good, long walk through Rome to clear his mind. Still on his own, of course. As always. That’s when he saw it. A young woman near a market stall, picking something up when the stallholder was looking away. Then she hid it in her purse and hurried away. Manius shook his head, this wasn’t good. It really wasn’t his job to follow her, but it wasn’t right to steal like that. And maybe the stallholder would pay Manius a reward for helping. He decided to follow her until she stopped. @Liv
  24. July, 75 AD He had nothing. Or, almost nothing. No work, no wife, no place to be and soon he might be out of coins too. Manius barely ate these days. He was trying to make the money last and trying to not go and gamble with the hope for gaining more. On the other hand, he might lose it all and be so indebted they’d take him because he had no coins and then he’d be a slave again. That might be the easiest way to go anyway. But so far he had not gambled the rest of his coin away. He had spent a little of it on wine. Just a stupid attempt to forget his sorrows for once. That didn’t work all the time though. He was hungry. He needed food. Manius had gone to the marketplace to see what he could find. The food smelled deliciously, from every taverna and place handing out food, but he didn’t think he was so poor he should get food from one of the places offering for the poorest. He had coins. And someone else needed it more. What could he get though? He walked by a few stalls. The bread was too expensive. So were the sausages and the flat-bread and the honey-cakes. There was a fruit stall. The apples looked delicious and so did the oranges. He could smell them in the summer-heat. But they were shiny and fresh and there was no way he should spend his money on an apple just because it was shiny. He began turning some of the peaches around and picked one that was extraordinarily soft. Even its color was somehow... off. Overly ripe. “How much for this?” He asked the lovely young woman in the stall. @Sara
  25. Late July, 75 AD It had been a good while since that evening at the Gardens of Sullust, where he had been caught off guard by a thunderstorm and had to seek shelter in one of the pavilions there. And on the same night, a lovely young lady, Caecina Tusca, daughter to the proconsul of Britannia, had done exactly the same. That is how he met her and he was plenty entertained by her wit, her charm and their conversation – and her own attractiveness of course. So much that he almost found it a pity that he was already in his mid-40’s. Of course other Senators might be happy to consider such a young woman a future wife of theirs, but Tertius didn’t like the idea… at least not of her as his wife. If he should have a wife, he would like for her to be more mature and not someone who was younger than his own son. That would be strange. There was someone however, who should be looking for a wife, and that was his son and his heir, Teutus. He was a freedman and he could not hold office or follow the course of honor, but any children he had, they could reach proper ranks once more. And Teutus did carry the Varus name name, so any children he had, would do the same. Teutus was the one who would carry on the family name. It was all on his shoulders, especially since Secundus had no children. He hoped Caecina would like Teutus and that he would like her as well, and that her father would deem it a proper match despite Teutus’ rank. An invitation had been sent to Caecina Tusca at the Palatine, not far from the palace, as she had explained to him. It was the end of July now, almost a month after that fateful morning of the earthquake and Tertius’ domus was more or less restored now. He had considered leaving Rome and inspecting the villa in the countryside, but decided against it, because he wanted to bring Charis and with how far her pregnancy was now… he didn’t know if it would be safe for her. So in Rome they remained. Maybe they would travel after the child was born. Right now though, there were other important matters. The triclinium had been made ready, Rhoda was busy cooking in the kitchens and Teutus had also been informed that he should attend dinner with Tertius tonight, because they were having a visitor. Tertius had of course told Teutus how he met the young lady and that he had merely invited her to thank her for her kindness on the night of the thunderstorm. She sent for a litter for him too, after all. Now he was resting in a chair by the atrium, waiting for the guest to arrive and hoping that Teutus would be able to entertain her too. @Sharpie @Echo
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