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  1. OCTOBER, 74 CE Pausing in the arcade of the Ludus’ domus, reserved for the household of Titus Justinius Canicus Phiscerus, Ambrosius surveyed the scene of the surrounding courtyard. The leaves upon the trees that littered the gardens had begun to exhibit tinges of saffron and brown, indicating the passing of summer and the onset of autumn. Being unaware of the exact day of his birth, his family equated the beginning of the season with such a time. It would mark his eighteenth year, but he held no doubts that he would spend this anniversary in the absence of his family, for the first time in his life. Previously, he had often shared this occasion with his youngest sister, who had been born during the same season. The Briton had been returning to his quarters from a discussion with the ludus’ manager, where he had been briefed on the possibility that he would shortly undergo his first gladiatorial contest. Despite only having a few short months to prepare, his instructor had informed the Imperial client of Ambrosius’ perceived suitability for the tournament – though he was hardly the only one. It seemed as though they were scraping the bottom of the barrel to provide a respectable levy of gladiators for the event and hedging their bets in the process, hoping to achieve a grand victory. Some might consider it ‘desperate measures’. Resolving to cast such thought aside and return to his room, he turned on his heels and strode towards the central hallway that divided the wings of the structure in to east and west, whilst providing him with a route from the south towards the gladiator’s quarters at the northern end of the premises. He travelled in that direction for roughly fifty meters before coming to a halt as a familiar figure exited from an adjoining room. Catching their gaze, he would recognise the individual as a woman that often accompanied Titus’ wife during periods of training, watching from afar. Her frequent presence gave the Briton youth a curious pause for thought, realising he knew nothing of the woman, despite her frequent presence becoming second nature. “Me, uh- I sorry... mea domina[1],” Ambrosius quickly apologised in broken Latin, despite being uncertain of any wrongdoing. His very existence had been considered an offence at various times during his captivity. Neglecting her darker complexion in ignorance of geography, he presumed her to be of Roman birth and somehow of relation to the master of the house, thus the term of respect. @Liv Reader Advisory: [1] Latin phrase meaning "my lady".
  2. MAY, 74 CE Ambrosius had been given less than three weeks to heal on a painfully, sheer bed of thin straw, on the ground of a stone floor, during his captivity with his Roman subjugators in his homeland of Britannia. Four walls and a roof provided the only redeeming feature of his imprisonment and a begrudgingly welcome change from the preceding months, exposed to the elements. It had taken almost a month to reach Burdigala[1] from the port in Petuaria[2], as the seas had proven treacherous around the Britannic coast. Despite his injuries, his robust frame and strong arms would be deemed indispensable at the oar, with the lash of his captors ensuring he remained aware of that fact. Calmer waters would meet them on the Mediterranean and ensure smoother sailing from Narbo[3] towards Ostia, where Ambrosius would once again be forced to limp on his lame leg, when the caravan of soldiers and slaves marched towards the capital. He had been allowed to rest for mere moments as they had arrived at the modest entrance to the pomerium[4], having travelled upon the Via Ostiensis[5] past the Circus Maximus and coming to a halt in the Forum, betwixt the Tabularium[6] and the Tullianum[7]. The imposing façade of the record hall only added to the dichotomy of the dank recess of the neighbouring carcer[8]; dwarfed in grandeur, yet unparalleled in prompting visceral sensations to those in such a precarious position. The myriad of emotions that raced through his mind, as he absorbed and analysed the unfamiliar surroundings that he would now be required by circumstance to call ‘home’, would not shake the immovable and impassive expression that he had adopted months before his present predicament. “Go find the Praetor,” the commanding officer of the detachment ordered of a subordinate legionary. Ambrosius had understood the Roman’s short directive well enough, but this would be the first time he had encountered the term ‘praetor’. He would soon come face to the face with the man who held such a foreign title, but for now he could rest again. Along with his newfound and circumstantial compatriots, they would be placed in to separate and temporary, three-walled holding cells, jutting out from the exterior wall of the prison. He planted his shoulder in to the clay edifice and propped himself up, hoping to ensure stability in spite of the pervading adversity resulting from his weak and aching left leg. @The Young Pope Reader Advisory: [1] Burdigala is the Latin name for modern Bordeaux, France. [2] Petuaria is the Latin name for modern Brough, East Yorkshire, UK. [3] Narbo is the Latin name for modern Narbonne, France. [4] The pomerium is the historical and religious boundary of the city of Rome. [5] Via Ostiensis is the Latin name for the via Ostiense, the road from Ostia to Rome. [6] The Tabularium is the record office of Rome and an important hub of civil and judicial activity. [7] The Tullianum is the Latin name for the modern Mamertine Prison. [8] 'carcer' is the Latin term for 'prison'.
  3. JULY, 74 CE Ambrosius awoke to the aching of limbs and the cold press of iron shackles against his wrist. He’d managed to achieve some desperately needed rest in the night, despite his stilted position and the makeshift mattress his cage wall provided. Upon noticing the slave stirring, a Roman soldier kicked at the young man’s shin and barked, “Get up!”. Ambrosius’ eyes fluttered a moment, before his face assumed an irked expression. If looks could kill, his captors would currently be the ones at his feet. The Romans would prove to be in no mood for games, as Ambrosius suddenly felt a brutish and calloused hand upon his nape, wrenching him upward and using the momentum to thrust him forward, towards their destination. Making their way in to a long and dark corridor, with no candles to illuminate their way, Ambrosius would form a daisy chain with three other slaves and their legionary guards, so as to not lose their way in the sprawling and unfamiliar complex. Upon turning a corner and reaching the building’s atrium, they would be blinded with a sudden assault of light to their unaccustomed eyes. As Ambrosius’ vision adjusted to his surroundings, he took note of the opulence present within the structure he now occupied. Silk carpets, rich tapestries and marble busts littered the room, and a strong perfume struck his senses.The senior legionary addressed one of the household’s female slaves and demanded, “Go find your master, girl!” The legionary turned back to the assorted slaves he had accompanied and smirked, “Welcome to your new home, curs. If you survive that long.” @Brian
  4. SEPTEMBER, 71 CE Located near Roman Petuaria[1], Britannia The weather had begun to adapt to the seasonal climate, but on days like today, with their tunics soaked in sweat, it was as if it were still mid-July. Immin was a new addition to the family, by way of his recent marriage to Turi’s[2] elder sister, Erea[3]. He was a strapping veteran of the conflicts with the Romans that had plagued the Parisi tribe over a decade past and Turi quickly grew enamoured of his new brother-in-law’s history fighting against the Romans–a people he had grown to revile since they slaughtered his father on that fateful day, near Petuar in the winter of 62 CE. Their friendship, as well as Turi’s interest in swordsmanship, would result in Immin taking the enthusiastic youth under his wing, versing him in the ways of warfare. On this day they began after dawn, but by noon, that day’s regimen had been fairly exhaustive and presented a lull in the exercise, which had given way to a discussion concerning the boy’s late father. “I remember, on the day he departed for Petuar… he was large enough to wrap all five of us in his arms as we bid him farewell,” Turi recollected fondly on the last impression his father ever imparted on his childhood memory. “Then again, maybe we were just small enough. A matter of perspective, I suppose,” Turi pondered aloud, as his sight dropped to the ground and he reflected inwardly on the rhetoric statement of his own design. “Eyes up!” Immin ordered upon a successful break of his opponent’s tepid guard. “Stay focused,” he further instructed, recognizing his pupil’s wavering attention. Despite the stern vocalisation of his in-law, it would be the firm welt of Immin’s wooden sword upon his collarbone that would register with Turi’s cognisance. Ach! That’s going to hurt tomorrow. He shrieked in pain and annoyance, “Oi! What was that?” Withdrawing a couple of paces from his current position and rolling his shoulders in an effort to dispel the discomfort, he sneered at his so-called tutor. Ignoring his student’s outburst, Immin began to address the issue at hand. “Men don't fight for what they’ve lost; men fight for all the things they can still have. Take care you don’t abscond with your pleasant memories and childhood dreams. A man needs to face the realities of life in order to overcome them. Too many unprepared boys who believed themselves grown, have only to be found wanting,” he ended his protracted lecture on a pregnant pause, leaving his words to ruminate in his young ward’s mind. Turi gawped at Immin in momentary stunned silence upon his surprising, almost regretful disclosure. The adolescent Briton had never been particularly good at reading social cues or interpreting body language. He attempted to deflect the serious turn of their conversation on a humorous note, “Has my sister married a Briton warrior or a Greek tragedian?” “War shapes many things, my dear boy. Whether it be the men who fight them or the minds who suffer them. One need not be Greek nor Roman to recognise a particular poetry, certainly tragedy, in all our lives… now, raise your shield,” Immin concluded their discussion that abrupt note, ending the brief standstill and swinging his training sword overhead. Turi took a step forward, heaving his circular shield above to accept the strike. The weight of the blow would cause his arm to quake and strain under the pressure. Without letting up on the assault, Immin followed up his overhead swing with a piercing lunge in to his pupil’s midsection. His thrust landed square, connecting with Turi’s chest and compelling him into a kneeling position, as air rapidly expelled from his lungs. Immin rested the flat side of his weapon under the boy’s chin, using the leverage to force eye contact. Raising an inquisitive eyebrow, the senior Briton queried, “Yield?” Turi groaned at the prospect of having lost yet another bout to the more experienced combatant, since he’d thought he had substantially improved of late. When Immin removed the point of his sword from the neck of his student, Turi saw an opportunity and seized upon it. When the elder man reached out his hand, presumably to assist the boy to his feet, Turi swung wildly at Immin’s ankles and swept him to floor. The younger man quickly ascended to a standing overlook, resting one of his feet on the trunk of his tutor. Mimicking his assailant only moments ago, Turi rested the flat of his sword on his opponent’s chin and repeated Immin’s inquiry in a sarcastic tone, “Yield?” Their swordplay was interrupted by the sound of footsteps upon the stone path that encircled the house. “Uh, er- Erea!” Turi stammered in his sudden alarm. He struggled to find the words to explain their predicament, since Erea had long voiced her disapproval at the prospect of Turi wielding weapons. Since they lost their father so many years ago, with Rome’s might had proving indomitable. “Um… welcome home, dearest Sister. Back so soon? How was your day?” He attempted to diffuse the situation with a quick succession of questions, once again detracting from the more serious matter at hand. @Sara Reader Advisory: [1] Roman Petuaria, known as Petuar to the local Britons, is located in the modern-day East Riding of Yorkshire. [2] Ambrosius' Briton name was Turi [3] Charis' Briton name was Erea
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