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  1. Late September, 76 AD It was late September and fall was definitely coming upon Rome now. The weather wasn’t too cold yet, but it was not summer either. Pinaria pulled her palla closer around her and looked over her shoulder after her servant, Gaia Lucia. The woman was actually a freedwoman, but she and Pinaria had not yet parted ways and she wasn’t sure she wanted to. At the same time, she was not sure if it was actually love between her and Lucia, but they cared for each other. Deeply. And Gaia Lucia came with her everywhere. Soon it would be dark and they needed to head home from the temple. Lucia suggested a shortcut through an alley between a few streets, said she knew it. Lucia said it wasn’t entirely safe though, so they should hurry. Pinaria nodded and followed the former slave. But Lucia hurried a little too much and suddenly she was too far away. It had become darker as they walked and suddenly, Pinaria did not feel safe at all. She tried to call for Lucia, who had disappeared around a corner. Pinaria stopped for a moment to call for her servant again. That’s when she heard it, in the silence behind her. Footsteps coming in her direction. She looked over her shoulder to see a hooded figure some way behind her, “Hello? I don’t mean to bother you… I’ll be on my way…” She said and moved on, but the person kept following her. Suddenly he was right behind her and held a blade to her throat. Pinaria froze and squeezed her eyes shut. She thought about her son. “Please, don’t hurt me… I have a son…” She said, and yet she felt the man pull her closer, “What do you want? I don’t have any money. I gave them all to the temple. You can have my necklace…” She suggested to the stranger behind her, “I don’t care about such things…” He whispered back to her and she felt the blade cut into her throat and stinging pain of it. He’d cut her. She felt his other hand move up. He touched the wound and got her blood on his fingers. “Wha… what do… you want?” She stuttered, afraid, but she heard nothing but his breathing as he touched the wound again and smeared the blood between his thumb and his other fingers. Suddenly she heard her name and she dared to look up. It was Gaia Lucia! Lucia came back for her! The man behind her saw it too. He let go of her, but not before he also cut her arm through her palla as he pulled back. Then he quickly ran away in the other direction. Pinaria ran towards her servant and fell into her embrace. She felt her heart pounding in her chest. Together the two women made the rest of the way out into the more open street again. Now, however, it was entirely dark. And there was still a bit of a way to get home. "I'll run for help!" Gaia Lucia promised Pinaria and tired as she was from the sudden incident, she didn't argue before it was too late. Suddenly she was alone again! What if that maniac came back? What in the name of Hades did he want? With a sigh she dared to take her eyes off the street for a moment, as she leaned against a nearby wall and moved the palla away from her arm to inspect the bleeding wound.
  2. September, 76 AD She could barely believe it when it happened – but suddenly she saw Eucleia’s tail disappear out the front door to the domus and the dog was gone. Her father and her brother were not at home. It was just Sosia and the slaves. What should she do? She had to find her dog! She could not imagine not having Eucleia, she’d had the dog for four years already and she loved her. And how on Earth did she get out? Who left the door slightly open? With a heavy sigh, Sosia opened the front door on her own and looked out into the bright sunlight, “Eucleia?!” She yelled, but the dog did not come. She looked over her shoulder and then she wrapped her palla around her and went out. And closed the door behind her. She still stood just on the front door step to the street. She hadn’t said anything to anyone. It was kind of embarrassing, that her dog had run away and no one but her cared so much about Eucleia. They would not go looking for her. Where could she have gone to? She stopped an old lady walking by, asking if she’d seen the dog and she thought she’d seen a blonde dog running around a nearby corner in a certain direction. Sosia thanked the lady and began walking, occasionally calling out for the dog that did not show up. She kept asking people if they’d seen Eucleia and a lot of people had noticed the beautiful and well-groomed dog running around. Finally she spotted the fur walking down a narrow alley behind some houses. Sosia followed Eucleia. This time the dog turned its head when she called. It was indeed her dog! She finally managed to put a leash around the dog’s neck and then turned around. But where did she come from? She didn't recognize any buildings. Now she could really use Davus to help her figure it out. Or even Tiberius. But none of them were here. She was lost. In Rome.
  3. September 76CE It made a convenient excuse to leave the palace and Palatine Hill. An Imperial could spend almost all of their time there if they so desired, but Tiberius did not. He wanted to see Rome - and the Empire - talk to people, and keep an eye and an ear on the happenings beyond the Hill. It was part of what made good governance of course, but it was also his interest. It was also a good place to catch up with friends, in a less formal setting. Leaning back against the beautifully glazed tiles and relaxing into the hot water, Tiberius glanced across at his long time friend and often younger partner in crime to himself and Titus as they were growing up. Now, all of a sudden, they were grown, or close to. Not boys but men, with their own responsibilities. Quintus' abdication had made that all the more apparent. But Tiberius hadn't asked Marcus to meet him to dwell in seriousness. "How have you been, Marcus?" He asked out of genuine interest. "What's new?" Marcus had this bright and garrulous nature about him that was immensely cheering and made him very easy to be around. It was something that Tiberius appreciated. @Atrice
  4. September, 76 AD Sosia was busy in Rome, trying to find a way to please her father and her brother. Although it had never really been an issue before, suddenly it was a huge issue that they found a husband for her, before she reached the age of 20. Apparently it was best to get married at a young age, so that you could have plenty of children while you yourself were also strong and healthy. Sosia didn’t mind children, they were sweet, but it was hard to imagine herself as a mother. She had already visited the Aedes Vesta recently, to make a sacrifice, and now the turn had come to ask Minerva for help and guidance too. Minerva covered a great many subjects, so it was easy to find a reason to visit her temple. And wasn’t it beautiful? She thought so when she stepped out of her litter, into the bright sun of this September day and looked up at the temple. It still wasn’t really cold, but you could sometimes feel a cool breeze, different from the summer heat in Rome. She pulled her palla around her and waited for her slave to hand her the sacrifices she’d make. Once again she had managed to find beautiful flowers for the goddess and in a cloth was a carefully wrapped small almond pie. Quietly she climbed the stairs alone, holding the palla in place with one hand and the offerings in her other. She had no free hands. And it all went well. Finally she could step into the faint light of the temple, although she could see nothing as she approached the entrance. Outside it was bright and light and to her it seemed to be pitch black inside, which it of course wasn’t. She walked in. Or, almost. Because on the way in, she walked straight into someone leaving the temple. They were almost the same height, so it was only good fortune that they didn’t butt heads. Sosia however stumbled and to balance herself she let go of the palla, which fell off and down the steps behind her. Despite that, it was natural for her to be the one exclaiming an apology, “Oh, oops, I’m so sorry! I hope you’re alright!” She said, looking up at the young man, who was still a stranger to her. @Sarah
  5. June 30th, 76 AD Alexius life had not been going according to the plan lately. Not that he ever really had a plan, but lately, things had just taken a wrong turn. Not that it was all entirely bad, not that he was bored or didn’t have any lovers or anything like that, but he’d been feeling strange. He couldn't really explain it. All he could hope was that tonight might help. It was now about half a year ago, that he went to talk to Thessala, or rather, let it all out in a good spar with her, that he found out about the event. Thessala had heard rumors that the gang who ran the Domus Venus were considering to put up a day and night of entertainment. A private night, an exclusive night and it wouldn’t just be the kind of entertainment that the Venus was famous for. No, it would be all sorts of things. Including gladiatorial games. It was going to be a big event! That was the first time he heard about it, back when Thessala told him what she'd heard. Then a month or so, he was invited to talk to them. It came out of the blue and he didn’t know what they wanted, it wasn’t like he wanted to be a bouncer at the Venus! Brothels were not really his thing, not at all, in fact. He always felt so bad for the women and men and boys and girls working there, forced to sleep with anyone instead of being able to choose, like he did. But the Venus didn’t want him to become a bouncer or a guard, no… they wanted to see him fight in an arena. And wondered if he’d fight a woman. Because they had managed to get a deal with a ludus about one of their most fierce and famous gladiatrices. With that, they gained his interest and then they also offered plenty of coin for his efforts. Alexius always felt like he was in need of coin. Good wine wasn’t entirely cheap, after all. And to always have food and wine in the home to offer guests, well, that was not cheap either. So he agreed to the deal. He’d fight as a gladiator again. Purely for entertainment, there would be no Caesar there to say one should live and one should die. They could draw blood, of course, and one would win and another would lose, but killing was not on the menu for the evening. You couldn't continue entertaining people if you were dead, after all... It was now a year since the most recent earthquake and apparently that was the perfect occasion to celebrate. He hadn’t really fought in an arena since he was freed, but everyone knew he’d never forgotten about it and he had even at times considered returning, for real, and not just for one night only. That’s what this was though. Now, he could barely wait. He'd worked hard and exercised to return to his former strength - and here he was. Dressed and armored as he’d been in the past, as a Murmillo… walking through the tunnel underneath the seats, the tunnel that led to the private arena. The tunnel that led to the roar of the crowd and a proper fight against a proper opponent. He couldn't help but smile. @Chevi @Sara @Sharpie @Liv
  6. September, 76AD It was only practice, not a true competition, and whilst practice battles drew a few spectators - often owners of the gladiators - it was usually only a few loiterers or those who enjoyed watching half-naked men sweat who would attend. Tiberius was neither, but he was only half watching; the young Imperial was deep in thought, otherwise relaxing beneath a canopy. The Ludus was simply a place to be. Sometimes it helped to get out of the palace when he wanted to think. Oddly enough he was less likely to be disturbed here. And he was thinking, very seriously. Titus was Caesar now, suddenly, at a young age, and Tiberius - who admitedly was no older and his relative level of wisdom was debateable - saw it as his duty to support Titus in guiding and guarding the Empire. He also wanted to guide and guard Titus so that he was able to do so, not least because he was his brother, but also because if anything affected Titus, it could potentially lead to a period of instability in the Empire, which it could ill afford. The Empire seemed to burn through Caesar's at an uncomfortable rate, and the pool of potential heirs was reducing. This was one of the many things that preyed on Tiberius's mind as he half watched a bout end. One of the combatants had been injured by a blow from his opponent's weapon, and lay on the sand, shifting in pain. Whilst gladiators were generally looked down on as the slaves most were, they still had value. Sure enough, within a few moments the medicus of the Ludus appeared, working quickly to stabilise his patient. Tiberius couldn't see much, but it was only minutes before the man was moved by two attendants, under the direction of the medicus. Hmm. The beginnings of an idea began to form. Tiberius turned to one of his attendants and asked the man to find out the name of the medicus, and ask that when - and only when - he had treated his patient to his satisfaction, he come and speak with the young Imperial. The medici who usually attended the Imperials had no answers. But sometimes those who sat outside the arena saw more of the combat. @Chevi
  7. July, 76 AD He was not a slave, on his way to the slave market to be sold to another household. That’s not how it happened, when you were a freedman in Rome. No, when you were a freedman and the man who originally freed you had died, you were entirely free. And since he sold his old home, the one he inherited from his father… and his wife was still missing… and he now lost his job, he had nowhere to go. All he had was the sack with his things in it and the money he’d been given when he left the family and the domus. It had been interesting to work for the Tusca family, although also challenging. He could see why the young lady had needed a bodyguard – she was beautiful and easily tempted and he would never trust her half-brother, whose words were as smooth as butter and his eyes full of mischief. But the family had no need for him anymore and so he ventured into the streets of Rome again, considering what to do. Maybe he should find himself an insula to live in? He didn’t have a lot, so it would be a simple room in the top floor or something. It would have been easier, had he been a slave. Then he would have known where to go. The slave market or a new owner. But now he needed so much more; he needed a new job and a place to stay. He sat down on a step, thinking through his options. What could he do? Maybe return to the market as he thought about and ask for his old job back? That was the best option. He didn’t want to look for an insula before he had a job. So he stood, but as soon as he’d taken a step, the knot in his sack (which was really just a large piece of linen tied together as a sack) fell apart and everything spilled onto the ground. He cursed and sighed deeply, before beginning to pick them up quietly, because this was his lot in life. Things falling apart. As they always did.
  8. July, 76 AD Marcus rolled his eyes at yet another posh son of a Senator, with his nose up in the sky, talking about that and hither as if he had any say in anything, with his old man still alive. Marcus was free as a bird, at least. His brother, his Pater Familias, was nowhere near Rome. He wasn't even sure where he was. His mother’s husband of course, he did what he could to keep Marcus afloat and out of trouble, but honestly… the man was not here and Marcus could do as he pleased. Which was not listen to nonsense about future escapades in faraway countries. The guy didn’t even know if he’d get there yet! He slipped away from the group of young men chatting and found his own bodyslave lingering near one of the entrances to the peristyle. This was a party or ‘social gathering’ for young men of high quality, to meet and interact and maybe form friendships and alliances to last until they one day would become important men. So boring! Marcus didn't need parties like these. He didn't know why the old man at home thought he did. There weren't even any girls present! “Silvanus… I’m bored. Why don’t you fetch me a jar of wine?” He told his slave and Silvanus arched a brow, “It is not our home, Domine. I can’t just…” He tried to argue, but Marcus rolled his eyes for who-knows-which-time this evening, “You can, because I told you so. And if they say you can’t, tell them that I sent you and if they don’t do as I tell them, I’ll tell our host what awful slaves he has. And what they did to me through you.” Marcus said and Silvanus could not see how he could argue himself out of that. So off he went towards the kitchens to find the wine. Meanwhile Marcus slipped over to a slave standing around with a plate of finger foods. The sticky, but delicious honeyed dates! Marcus picked a few off the tray and ate them, they were the ones with black pepper inside, his favorites! Expensive too! When he was done, he licked his fingers, one by one, until Silvanus showed up with the desired jar of wine, “Great, you got it! Thanks!” Marcus carried it off towards a corner of the atrium, where he could sit down and drink it on his own. Or so he thought. @Chevi
  9. May, 76 CE The sound of a footfall, shod in a boot of leather, crunching the rimed dead grass underneath, as the winter wind tugged at his cloak. His breath, frost filled clouds coming from nostrils, and lips slightly parted. Gathering ice crystals on the beard about cold-dried lips. In his hand, a long spear, as with stealth he approached the den. One tender plume of vapor standing proof of the sleeping bear therein. His weapon raised on high. Eager but still cautious signals, man to man, with steady hands and keen eyes, as they encircled the lair. A final sign, and the hunters moved forward at speed and thrust the cruel tips of iron down, through spaces between logs and earth. Those holding the silent dogs some paces back felt the urgent tug at collar and lead, as the hounds quivered and lunged with anticipation. A wounded roar. A bellow. And the spears withdrew and pierced anew, bringing the creature stumbling out into the thin air of a day far too early. The dogs released by their handlers, baying with frenzy. The spearmen quickly retreating. Several bows twanged in unison and sharp tips found their marks. Blood and foam and an ever insistent cry of rage. Tarbus once again moved in, with the others, on all sides, and quickly the death blow was dealt. Bending over eagerly, to peer into the face of his prey. But instead of hair and fangs and eyes dimmed to the sun evermore, he saw another face, fair and fresh yet washed with blood and sorrow on her brow… Tarbus woke with a start. His heart was pounding in his chest, and sweat suffused his face and back. Another muggy day in Rome was set to begin, the sun just beginning to peep over the rooftops of the grand city of splendor. In the stables it was still dim, and quiet, the horses only just beginning to shuffle about in anticipation of their own day to come. He sat up, having no desire to return to a sleep beset by nightmares. Two years it had been, but always the same come nightfall. He rose and brushed stray bits of straw from his one piece of clothing, a simple tunic spun of rough cloth. He slipped his feet into a worn pair of sandals, and moved to begin his own day, one that would be like all the others, since his arrival in Rome. Much later, when many, but not all, of the never ending tasks that were required to keep and train and race multiple teams of horses entered and competing successfully at the Circus were seen to, he stood for a long moment, leaning against the frame of the wide doors that gave into this section of the stabling. He gazed at the sky, the sun now tilting down into the west, his own gaze fixed to the east. To home, so far away. More than a month’s march, if one also had the use of a boat to cross the water. His fingers went to the simple, serviceable iron collar about his neck, a weight he had grown accustomed to physically, but which served as a constant reminder. He was clever enough to realize, that was its main purpose. Many people there were, in that moment, milling about. But his dark eyes immediately caught the presence of a newcomer. A face he hadn’t seen more than a handful of times, and not since before their arrival here, was still etched in his memory. He knew the former legate at once. But to look at Tarbus, there was no sign of emotion. His face was like stone, though the eyes moved to follow the progress of his owner as the man made his way across the yard.
  10. April, 76 CE “Tst, tst…” Tarbus gave the headstall a shake with his good hand, to get the stallion’s attention. He spoke gruffly to him in Dacian. “Stop being an asshole. You’re not going to get to fuck her so just keep your dick to yourself!” He gave the stallion’s flank a flick with the tip of the lead, making the animal side-step skittishly, its partially released member swinging pendulously as its hooves beat a little tattoo on the stone flags of the yard. On the far side of the stable area, a mare in heat pranced, aware in her own way that she was garnering interest and causing a ruckus. She too might be receptive to some four footed frolicking but that was not going to happen. Typically, mares in heat were not brought to the stables at the circus, just for this very reason. Someone must have screwed up and miscalculated her cycle. Tarbus wished he knew who to thank for this added headache to his day. He chucked the lead strap once more, moving his hand closer to the halter, just in case the amorous racer decided to give him any trouble. The horse leapt a bit, this time towards the slave, but Tarbus stood his ground and muscled the knucklehead, with their shoulders pressed hard against each other, man to beast. “The gods take you! Be still!” Tarbus grumbled sternly, as the groom approached once again, in their combined effort to get the excited animal harnessed and ready to be brought together with the rest of the team. In this the two men were falling behind, and that was never a good thing. Suddenly, the mare nickered, a true ‘come hither’ call. The stallion reared, cowkicked – narrowly missing the groom’s head – and plunged forward, almost knocking Tarbus, cursing, to the ground. But he managed to keep his feet and was running after the horny animal, trying to grab the leather lead that flapped in the air, while those many people in the yard jumped to the left and to the right trying to avoid the fractious creature, who trumpeted his love song to the heavens.
  11. January, 76 AD Alexius just needed a break – and a drink! He’d been working for some senator the last few days, apparently the man had fallen out with a gang and wanted extra protection, so Alexius was luckily at the right place at the right time to protect the man. It would seem that the problems had settled now and Alexius would be out tomorrow, looking for something new to do. Tonight though, he got his payment for the job and he had plenty both to pay his landlord, food for him and Lexus… and for a night on the town. Working shady jobs for senators usually paid well! And who knew what would happen on such a night? It wasn’t so warm though, but sometimes that meant a good chance to find someone to stay warm with. Alexius was hopeful, both when it came to the amount of drink he planned to have and also when it came to someone to keep him company. He just hadn’t found them yet, but the night was young. He wore his regular clothes, just a crimson tunica and short breeches and a belt – and a cloak, of course, to stay warm until he found someone to keep entertained. He soon enough found himself entering Bacchus’ Cup, which he often just referred to as Bellona’s, since she was an old friend of his and fellow freed gladiator – or gladiatrix, since she was a woman. She greeted him happily when he entered and Alexius found a seat where he could watch the door. This was one of his favorite places to go out in Rome. Soon enough a jar of wine stood before him and he filled the first cup to the rim and downed half of it in one go. Then he leaned back against the wall behind him – what did this night have in store for him? He looked towards the doorway and saw a striking brunette enter the place – and it would appear that she was alone. Alexius smiled, hoping she’d look his way. @MsMeowMaam
  12. Mid-January, 76AD Saturnalia had come and gone with the fresh winter winds that whipped about the city. Although it didn't get nearly as cold as Britannia here, Longinus' body was unused to the cold after a summer spent outdoors, basking in the heat of Italia and Greece. The hypocaust was at full steam (literally) for the occasion and the paterfamilias Longinus had spent the early afternoon chivvying slaves to make his domus look presentable. It was an odd place; half-decorated in his late wife's style, a quarter under the influence of his mother with her love for garish frescos and vivid mosaics, and the rest was left up to his tastes. Tastes which bordered on the downright odd. A British battle axe on the wall in one room, some pottery he'd found en route back via Gaul in another. It was an eclectic place that had none of the polish of other Senators and Patricians his rank, but it indubitably suited him. The slaves had done their work admirably though and it was at least tidy. After he'd waved his mother goodbye (thank the Gods) to spend the late afternoon and evening with his cousin Lepidus, Cassia his daughter going with her, Longinus was left alone with the slaves. He didn't know why he felt nervous, he'd come to his decision without much fanfare after a disappointing few months looking into the impossibility of adoption, and unsuccessfully musing over other eligible women. Maybe he was nervous because of the family? They didn't have the best reputation around, and his mother had curtly reminded him as she departed that Tertius - who'd seemed at least affable, and nice enough - had recently had a bastard born son by a slave, a son whom he'd recognised. Longinus had resisted the urge to tug at the neckline of his tunic at the remark, given he'd been in the same situation some months ago with Sestia, although that was a secret he'd take to his grave. He'd invited both Tertius and his eldest brother here today though, and perhaps that was why he felt oddly ill at ease. He found Tertius pleasant enough but his brothers reputation preceded him. Unfortunately for Longinus, his plan required the paterfamilias and that meant Secundus himself. He hoped Tertius could temper him a little though, hence the dual invitations. Poor Longinus wasn't to know of the discord between the brothers. A slave disturbed his thoughts and announced one of the brothers was here. "Yes, but which one?" He asked with a frown and the slave girl merely sighed and shrugged, "I don't know domine, he's tall, dark haired..." Longinus had to suppress a chuckle, "Yes dear Merula, that's very helpful." He shooed her away with a wave of his hand and jumped to his feet from where he'd been sat in the garden. Bounding through the house with his customary energy, he drew to the atrium and slapped on a wide grin he didn't quite feel. "Welcome!" TAG: @Járnviðr @Atrice
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