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  1. October 75 CE After a successful praying session to the ancient gods of his homeland, Artemon was feeling quite ready to honour another Egyptian custom of old - a nice mug of beer. Even though his deity of choice was Sobek, the crocodile god to whom he had not found a temple yet, he had faith that neither Isis nor Serapis would object too much to being second best. The small tavern a couple of streets away was mostly frequented by countrymen of his and, as far as Artemon was concerned, had pretty decent beer for its price. He hummed an old tune all the way there and headed straight for the counter upon entering, where he parted with a bit of coin and was given a big cup with a generous amount of beer inside. He took a sip, sighed in delight and made his way outside again, intent on enjoying his drink under the autumn sun... That was, until he walked into something quite solid and proceeded to spill half his beer over it. As he processed the event he first mourned the loss of his drink, and only a moment later did he realise he had unwittingly given a young man a beer bath. With a sheepish smile Artemon awkwardly and futilely tried to pat the man dry as he apologised in Egyptian. "I'm sorry brother, my mind was elsewhere." @Sharpie
  2. May, 75 AD After discovering that his money had been stolen under Aglaea's inattentive eye, Secundus had been looking for a way to find the culprit. Secundus happily seized on her mention of a male slave, Rufus, that she had spoken with shortly before she noticed the purse missing. Now, Secundus had elected to investigate the matter personally. Although they were due back in Tibur soon, he could not let this matter rest. No one could steal from the Varus family without some action being taken. It did not take long to arrange the meeting. Rufus served a master who moved in much the same circles as Secundus, and finding him lingering while his master attended to some business was easy enough. Spotting him across the way, Secundus strode purposefully towards the man. The physical description did not quite due the hair justice, he thought with some amusement. "Are you Rufus? You spoke to one of my slaves, by the name of Aglaea. I have urgent business which requires your assistance." @Sharpie
  3. For the fifth time that day Titus had to shoo away Betua's anxious form that kept hovering about the entrance to the kitchen. Yes, it was her territory as much it was his possession, but there was a tradition to uphold. If she found the results of said tradition inedible she was free to go and serve something up on the sly. If Titus had to be honest, though, he thought he and this three helpers were faring quite well and did not warrant such levels of worry. Valeriana had helped pluck a chicken with unfettered, gleeful abandon, tearing out the feathers in small but forceful fistfuls before gathering an amount she deemed sufficient and running off giggling, possibly to disturb her indisposed mother. Publius was surprisingly adapt at peeling fruit and vegetables; in another life he might have made a fine tailor, or perhaps a medic. Still, the boy was just the right amount of both careful and daring with a blade in his hands. And Titus? Well, he had finished plucking the chicken, quartered it - clumsily, yes, but he was no butcher -, taken out the nasty bits and tossed the good ones into a big clay pot where onions, lentils, carrots and chestnuts awaited company. Copious amounts of garum and red wine and a handful of assorted herbs and spices, selected with no concern for how well they would go together but merely for their fragrance, had followed suit and the pot, properly lidded, had been placed in the oven to work its magic and hopefully turn all that food into a passable stew. At the same time, his eldest hadn't been idle either, and had prepared quite the artfully decorated platter of assorted cheeses and cured meats before moving on to dessert: apples boiled in a mix of red wine and honey with chopped walnuts and more honey on top, and some stuffed dates and preserved plums on the side in case someone didn't fancy apples. Titus felt a surge of parental pride well up inside him: if his attempt at preparing a meal for the slaves failed, Sulpicia would save his honour by making sure they would still have something decent to eat. The clay pot was smelling like it might be done cooking, and after a moment's deliberation with his son on how they would take it out of the oven without incurring serious burns, Titus spotted two thick and seemingly well-used squares of leather hanging from a hook just by. They served their intended purpose and soon enough the pot was set on a table and uncovered, belching out a great curtain of steam. It smelled like food, which was a start. As he portioned the stew into two big bowls Titus dipped his ran his fingertip along part of the edge of the pot and brought it to his mouth to taste. All right, so maybe he had been too careless with the garum and the gravy was a bit saltier and thicker than intended, but he had had worse. All in all, it was a valiant effort; he was pleased. Now all that was left was to serve it to the critics. He picked up one of the bowls, Sulpicia the other and Publius the charcuterie platter and the three of them made off into the triclinium, where bread, wine and olives had already been freely made available to the servants. Titus had the feeling it wasn't only just Betua's expectant look that was trained on him, and that made him a little uncomfortable - nobody liked to be judged, after all. But a natural inclination for resting bitch face and years of making intentional use of it meant his expression remained mostly neutral, even as they placed the food on the table and began ladling the stew into individual bowls for the slaves' convenience. "Dinner is served, my fine ladies and gentlemen. I hope you'll enjoy it." @Chevi @Ejder @Sara @Sharpie _____________ I suggest no set posting order since there's a few of us. Also, feel free to NPC Betua and any other slaves!
  4. Artemon was feeling down for the umpteenth time that week. Things were not looking up at all. As he carried an amphora full of water up the stairs, balancing it easily over his shoulder, he ran the maths in his head once more. Numbers weren't his strong suit, but even a bad student like him knew that unless his luck changed - or Iophon's, for that matter -, keeping a roof over their heads would be no easy feat. His thoughts quickly strayed to the topic of alternate lodging and then to his attractive neighbour Lucilla. She was so pretty and had such nice skin... hard to believe she was a laundress, her hands were never swollen and wrinkly! She must clearly use quality products and be paid well for them, since she could afford a better place than him and Iophon. If only she would give him the time of day... Lost in his daydream, Artemon almost crashed into one of his neighbours that was going down the stairs, and after a few seconds of juggling and cursing the amphora was safely balanced between his shoulder and head again. "Sorry Alexius, I was very deep in thought," Artemon apologised to his downstairs neighbour. The man had always been friendly, so maybe he wouldn't be angry at the near-collision. Wait a minute. Alexius was just the right person to ask! He was often in good-looking company. Looking at Alexius with big hopeful eyes, Artemon put a hand on the bodyguard's arm to stop him. "Actually, you're just the person I needed to see. I want your opinion. And your help," he added in a low conspiratorial tone. "What do you think of Lucilla who lives upstairs?" @Atrice
  5. 6th of October, 75 AD Given the tragedy brought on by the earthquake only a few months earlier, Titus didn't quite feel right celebrating his birthday with huge festivities or partying from dusk to dawn - besides, this was no milestone year, just the passage of time signalling that he had officially grown older. The previous day - the actual day of - had been spent with family, featuring a relaxed and pleasurable evening with far too much food including Betua's mouthwateringly good placenta cake, and only a tiny hiccough when Valeriana loudly and vehemently expressed how unfair it was that she received no gifts, skilfully ignoring the fact that it wasn't her birthday for that to happen. Tonight's celebration was simple as well, though less child-friendly. Going out for drinks with friends was also very agreeable, even more so when they had a decent-sized chamber and an own dedicated servant all to themselves. Drinking alone was no fun, though, even when it was Falernian and Caecuban, and Titus busied himself with deciphering the multitude of humorous scrawls on the walls and snacking on bread and olives before the others arrived - his stomach would thank him later. @Echo @Sara @Sharpie Feel free to ignore posting order!
  6. Early July, 75CE Marcellus took a step back and sighed. The sun was beating overhead and making him drip with sweat. The whole team and their accompanying servants had turned out to help assess and fix the damage to the stables, and of course Marcellus was helping out. What else did he have to do, anyway? He could be out drinking, of course, but what was the point in that if he had to come back to the stables to sleep in an uncomfortable pallet on the ground? It wasn't worth it, though, for the hundredth time, he reminded himself to pool his money together and live in the insulae nearby. It wouldn't be a headache to commute to training, and he was a free man, free to live where he liked. But for now, he was taking a break from moving stones into the rubbish pile to have an apple and a sit-down. He couldn't work for hours on end without stopping - no human could. He made his way into an undamaged covered area and sat, sighing again. What a boring and difficult day. @Liv
  7. July 75CE It was a rather dreary day in Rome, and the clouds sat heavily in the sky, promising rain later and blocking the sun from shining through. Citizens went on their way, mingling with slaves as they moved from task to task. Deianira had been given a few errands to run - as a part of the Elysium, it wasn't enough that she devoted her every night to serving the men of the city. She had to earn her keep in other ways, such as the errands she was running now. She had already made a few purchases, including an amphora of the cheap wine served to the workers which had been running low. As she was a diligent worker and quick, she had a few more minutes before she had to return to the brothel, and she intended to take advantage of it. She had wandered off a little further than she had meant to, and she was without a guard, though she didn't dare run off. Her master's wrath would be immeasurable if she ran off and he found her. She had decided to take the long way around to see what she could find. She walked through the crowd, gazing around her, pleased to be away from the brothel for once. But an icy chill ran through her as she recognized a face in the crowd. Marcus Barbatius. Stunned at first, she gathered herself and began walking away as quickly as she could, begging the gods to spare her meeting him outside of the brothel, too. She only hoped she hadn't been seen. @Atrice
  8. April, 75 AD - same day as 'First introductions' Livia had begged and pleaded for days and finally her efforts had borne fruit. To think she would have had to grovel in order to be granted permission to visit her only sister, whom she had not seen in months. Yet here she was, blessedly free of Secundus thanks to his asocial ways ('I can't possibly go with you to see your sister, I know she and her husband laugh at me behind my back!'), if only for a few hours. With Aglaea dismissed on charitable grounds of 'go and enjoy yourself', Livia felt oddly uncomfortable, almost as if she were naked. Even in an environment that was anything but hostile, her unease only showed how dependent on her body slave she had grown, in spite of the fact that her older sister was sitting just a few feet away. Now that small gifts and platitudes had been exchanged, Livia was at a loss for words. Had she really wanted to see Horatia after long weeks of nary a word, or had it all just been a convenient excuse to get away after all? She stared at Horatia with a meek yet somewhat fearful expression, hands folded in her lap. What should they talk about? "So... how was your winter?" @Sara
  9. May, 75CE - After The Crush of the Crowd Even after Aglaea's enjoyable conversation with Rufus, it was time to return home and tell Livia what had happened. The slave wasn't really afraid that Livia would be angry, and she was sure that between the two of them, they could smooth it over with Secundus, if he even found out. But Aglaea was still kicking herself. How could she have been so stupid? She'd been in Rome for fourteen years and never been pickpocketed - and now, the one day she doesn't tie her coin purse on tightly enough, someone in the crowd took advantage of her oversight. And now she had to confess. Aglaea took the back entrance into the domus, greeting a few friends in the kitchen before seeking out her mistress and finding her in the master bedroom. "Livia - could I speak with you for a moment?" She seemed alone, so she figured it was safe. "You sent me shopping this morning... I got what you asked for but I... I lost the rest of the coin." She bit her lip, trying to judge the woman's reaction. "It wasn't a lot of money, but... I figured you should know." @Liv @Járnviðr
  10. Formiae, late June 75 AD After close to three days on horseback, Titus would have been lying if he said he didn't fancy a nice long walk to stretch his legs, and maybe even a massage. Attis had kept pace surprisingly well and without much complaining, or perhaps he had complained but Titus was riding too far ahead to hear it. His shoddy hearing helped with that, too - blessings in disguise, such were the gods' mysterious ways. The villa in Formiae was very nicely kept, and not a thing seemed to be out of its proper place - testament that the master did not live there full time, as its current state would have been impossible to maintain had that been the case. The slaves, on the other hand, seemed displeased that yet more visitors had come to disturb their existence with even more needs to be attended to. Ignoring the doorkeeper's repeated excuses that his dominus was unavailable, Titus gave the man a look that could have made a legionary wet himself and brushed him aside to walk past, not bothering to wait for his friend's body slave to explain the situation to the doorkeeper. Attis could stay behind and elucidate the other slave or he could follow and help find his master quicker. "Longinus!" he called out as he made his way to the atrium, ignoring the scandalised glances some slaves shot him. Good thing most villas had a very similar layout. "I'm here to return Attis to you, I can't stand him anymore!" And find out what in Jupiter's name has got into you. @Sharpie @Sara
  11. Early February, 75 AD It had her taken several weeks to form the idea and find the courage to present it to her husband, who was invariably and very demosntratively displeased that Livia would entertain such thoughts. It had taken a few more weeks to warm him up to the perceived benefits of a social visit: did Secundus not want to know what his brother was up to, if only to protect his own interests? Did he not want to know what that slave son was like, again for his own sake? At last he relented, but made Livia swear she would be back before nightfall, and sent her with one of his trusted slaves as a not-at-all-undercover spy; although Aglaea would be going too, Secundus knew the body slave was far too loyal to Livia to be persuaded into reporting to him. She knew it had been in poor form, but Livia had not dared to send a message beforehand to let Tertius know she would be dropping by - he could have refused by claiming to be too busy, and she did not want her little outing - one of increasingly fewer - to be compromised by a polite denial. So it was that they reached the Esquiline unheralded. A slave rushed off to announce their arrival and as the party of three waited for her brother-in-law to come and greet them, Livia took in her surroundings. The domus was big and airy, and gave off an impression of lively bustle even though everything was impeccably maintained. It felt like the opposite of her own house, which she found gloomy and austere despite being just as pristine in furnishings - any ruined or destroyed objects were quickly replaced with new, whole ones. Livia looked to her body slave for encouragement, who provided it with a small nod. This was out of line and she knew it, but she hoped Tertius would forgive her and let her into his house. Her desire to meet with him and his new heir - Teutus, she recalled - was genuine, and she wanted to be optimistic that they would see it. @Atrice @Sharpie @Echo
  12. The early summer sun was out, brightening the city’s white columns and terracotta, and with good weather came the endless prospects the outside world had to offer. While Valeria was often content staying at home with her wax tablet and scrolls, she also found herself in need of stimulation and company outside her family. Because the high-end bathhouse was a place of both leisure and a cultural hotspot with the occasional theatre or music performance and a collection of literature housing reading rooms and a library with shelves for scrolls. Despite having the litter brought to the baths where she intended to enjoy a warm soaking and massage, Valeria was gowned – for the journey – as an artist would express herself: in bright colour, with a thick, styled wig, and kohl. She made sure to have Horatia accompany her. “Think of the fun we’ll have,” she promised. After all, the weather, and an excursion anywhere put her in good spirits. As they left the heat of the sun in the front gardens of the bathhouse, they were welcomed by the coolness of the bathhouse interior. Although music or the projection of dramatic lines were not yet filling up the frescoed walls, the high domed ceiling compensated for it with the sounds of echoing footfall on marble and the flapping of birds that had found their way inside through the skylights. “Oh, I was hoping they would be here,” Valeria gasped eagerly as her eyes caught the set-up of stalls near the entrance, each were brimming with colourful trinkets and perfumes. The woman made a quick beeline towards them, pressing her fingers with their polished and coloured nails here and there as she pulled one thing out after the other followed by a “how much?” before she put it back. It was never a question of money as it was that Valeria simply liked the victory of a good bargain. After having some perfume sprayed on to her wrist, Valeria took a whiff before turning to Horatia, holding it out for the woman to smell. “What do you think? It doesn’t smell too much like a centurion’s sweaty ass, does it?” @Sara
  13. Late July, 75 AD The problem with boat trips was that they, without exception, were all far too long. The moment Titus stepped aboard a vessel whether big or small, civilian or military, his stomach began to threaten to make its way out of his mouth and quite literally abandon ship and jump overboard. It had not yet succeeded, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. He knew all the tricks in the book and had tried each of them at least once, some to greater success than others. Travel on an empty stomach. Fix your gaze upon a far-off point in the horizon. Close your eyes. Try not to move your head. Press down on the inside of your wrist, approximately in the middle. Press down on the area between the thumb and the index on the back of your hand. Promise Neptune a great many sacrifices. Curse all the gods and threaten to withhold sacrifices. In the end, what worked best for Titus was lying on his back, eyes covered by his arm so he resisted both Sol’s unforgiving rays and the temptation to open them and look about and make matters worse, and distracting himself by reviewing what was to come. Aenaria had better be all the touts promised and more, or else he would personally drown them all once they were back on the mainland. Thinking objectively on it, they were probably right: a number of quality vineyards that offered wine tasting tours, quaint little towns, pristine beaches and hot springs and therapeutic mud capable of healing tiredness if nothing else. He looked forward to spending a few days there and sampling all those portents; it would give him the fortitude to mentally prepare himself for the journey back. Fully aware of how childish he looked and just as equally unbothered by it, Titus readjusted his head on Valeria’s lap and repeated the plaintive question he had posed some three-quarters of an hour earlier, though he kept his arm in place as a sun shield. “You spot land yet?” Any similarity to their children's 'are we there yet?' of some days prior was purely and entirely coincidental. @Joaquin @open-ish
  14. In the early hours of June 30th, after a week of feeling very weak to light tremors in the surrounding areas of the Eternal City, the land between Rome and the port city of Ostia was hit by a very strong to severe earthquake. With tremors being felt both north and south, especially southwards towards Naples, the Via Appia has sustained heavy damage and as a result travel between Naples and Rome is currently severely restricted. Depending on the state of them, buildings suffered moderate to considerable damage, or more so with older or poorly constructed buildings. Officials expect injuries and deaths to be reported throughout the affected areas. OOC NOTE: How your character reacts is up to you. There will be no special board for this mini event, however, so please time stamp and tag your posts if they are related to this event. You may use this an an opportunity to write off characters or npcs if you feel the need to.
  15. April, 75 AD Over the last two years Livia had become remarkably good at finding opportunities for slipping away and savouring the short moments of freedom she could find. That morning, one such opportunity presented itself, when Secundus had finally gone to bed in the wee hours of the morning after spending most of the night going on drunken tirades. If previous times were anything to go by, he wouldn't rise before noon, which gave Livia a few hours of blessedly alone free time. She sneaked out of her room and almost immediately came across Aglaea, as she expected to be the case. "There you are!" Livia exclaimed with unusual yet somewhat contained excitement. "Have the kitchen slaves prepare us a hamper, we're eating outside today. I want to go for a swim." Her swimming spot was nothing more than a stream that ran through the property and had the unfortunate tendency of drying in particularly hot summer weeks, but it almost felt like a world away. Secundus didn't approve of her doing so: the slaves or a traveller passing by could get an eyeful, and decent Roman matrons didn't do such things. But she wasn't a decent Roman matron any more than he was a decent Roman man, so that made them even in her mind. "Oh, and bring a change of clothes for us both." Even if Aglaea ended up not joining her in the water, Livia could use them to dry off. @Echo
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