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Peregrinus was against her chest, tied to her with a piece of fabric wound over him and around her back, finishing with a knot at her waist. The six month old boy seemed unperturbed by it, and it had the benefit of keeping her hands free - something she sorely needed. In one hand she carried a rough woven sack filled with blankets and cloth for Peregrinus, and in another bag slung over her shoulder she carried a spare tunica for herself, what little food she'd been able to swipe and a wineskin filled with water. She was shrouded in a cloak, but besides that and the bags she carried and her son, that was all she had in the world. She bit back bile at the thought. It was late, or was it early? Somewhere after midnight, either way, but the streets of Rome were full of laughter and merriment of some festival that Charis had never learned the name of. She looked a little out of place; child strapped to her body and lugging her bags, but the city was full of unusual sights and most people paid her little heed. She drew to the appointed spot, at the gate leading out to the via Flaminia. What are you doing. Cynane wasn't here, she should be here by now, shouldn't she? Charis was sure she was already late and her courage was failing her. She shouldn't have done this, she shouldn't even be thinking about it - she was positive that even the thought of escape warranted crucifixion. She felt the bile rise in her throat again and fought the urge to be ill. Hold your nerve. This hadn't been planned for long, only a matter of weeks ago she had been contented enough in her life - Peregrinus was growing, strong and healthy and things with Tertius were a little less awkward and then she had met with Cynane and it had all unravelled. The thought of trying to do this, be here, forever without her friend - who was so determined to leave and forge her way back to Britannia...Charis could have cried - and she was not a cryer by nature! The image of her son, growing up free and happy and healthy in the wilds and forests and fields of her homeland, away from his fathers pervasive, insidious influence, with her - and not just her as a slave, her as a free woman and his mother...it was too much for her to refuse. She had agreed, and now here she stood. But the nagging doubt did not escape her and the longer she waited in silence, alone, the more she wanted to turn on her heel and make haste back to the domus. Where are you Cynane. TAG: @Atrice
"Io Saturnalia!" The cheers and laughter echoed in the hallways of the insula, and outside on the streets. It was the most joyous of Roman celebrations, one that Theo truly learned to enjoy since his move to the City. Even though they were a small household, a mere apartment in the insula, he and his wife were happily preparing for their first Saturnalia together. They did not own slaves who could have turned the day around on them, but there were still sweets to eat, spiced wine to drink, games to play, and gifts to give. In the spirit of the festivities, Theo was trying to do his very best in preparing said sweets, with honey and flour and walnuts. A plate of fresh pomegranates stood on the table, one of them already opened and spilling ruby red seeds. As soon as Didia returned from running some errands, they would have the whole rest of the day to themselves. The games would not start until the following day, which gave the medicus leave from his usual work at the ludus. When he head the door open, Theo glanced over his shoulder, grinning with a smear of flour on his face. "Io Saturnalia!" @Sara @Sharpie
AU - 72CE - Dacia Zia slammed the door to her quarters so loud she was sure the wood would snap off and splinter. "Zia!" The voice beckoned from outside, booming through the wooden walls that made up the Chief's residence. "You have to listen to reason now girl." Zia huffed and kicked at a box that lay at her feet, aiming it at one of the slaves who squealed and jumped out of the way. From down the hall she could hear Luto cry. He hadn't stopped crying since she had broken the news that his Papa wasn't coming home. The handle to the door rattled and then the oak opened up and the face of her father-in-law, stony but sorrowful, loomed into view. "Get out of my room." She swore and aimed another kick - this time at a loose bundle of clothing - which landed at his feet. The man raised his hands, and she could see from few paces away that tears pricked in his eyes. Weak. Pathetic. Scared. Was all that came to mind as she looked upon him. "He's all we have. You have to see reason." She scoffed and shook her head, a glower on her face. "At least meet him with me. And then we can see, hm?" Zia huffed again and appraised her father-in-law Cothelas (or not her father-in-law, now?). She only nodded her assent, and it was reluctant assent at that before clicking her fingers at the slave. "Find me something to wear." Her father-in-law smiled, relieved and inclined his head - backing out of the room slowly. She noted he didn't turn his back to her as he walked away. Smart. --- It was some hours later that she was in the great hall. Those survivors of the battle two days prior were there; a motley court of the injured and the afraid; filling the room but leaving a gap in the middle. Zia was arrayed in her finest, gold glinting from her wrists and her armbands and a diadem atop her hair which was left long down to her waist. Her son sat next to her - between her father-in-law and herself, eyes still red raw from crying but mercifully quiet for now. She could tell Cothelas was nervous. He picked at the skin around his nails and his eyes were red-rimmed from tiredness. She supposed losing both of one's sons in one fell swoop was bound to do that. She dared not dwell on Diegis lest her face crumple. No, keep projecting strength, that was what she told herself. Somebody has to. The battle had been short and bloody. The Ratacenses, her husbands (late husbands) tribe were fearsome and well equipped, and had decimated the legion that had surrounded them. A winner could not be declared; they had both lost their commanders. The Dacian's had lost Diegis and his older brother, heir to the chieftaincy, and the Romans had lost their legate and tribune. The former of which had been sat stewing in a dank little hole for the past two days, but now he'd finally see the light and the Dacian's own particular brand of mercy. Many had called for his execution; something public, something painful. He had taken their hope in the form of the two heirs, and Zia had at least initially agreed. Yet Cothelas, in one of his rare moments of intelligence had held a different idea. Luto, her son, was now to be named the heir. He was, however, only four and utterly fatherless and frail in the way that all children that age are. Besides, Cothelas knew that the Romans would be back - braying for blood - and Luto would be first on the pile. Hence his simultaneously utterly ridiculous and utterly brilliant plan. What better way to appease the Romans than by aligning yourselves with them? And what better way to do that and keep your independence then by matrimony? Zia had been appalled, but understood. If she married this Roman and eventually had further children, they would be of both Roman and Dacian blood. Half-brothers and half-sisters to their future chief, and beholden to two lands. It would show that their tribe was serious about peace, but would not surrender in the traditional way. Yet despite the logic, she didn't like the idea one bit. Cothelas knew that as well as anybody and so had arranged, after a public greeting of the man (whose name Zia had already forgotten), there would be a private summit between his daughter-in-law and her future spouse to...test the waters, as it was. Her nails dug into the wood of the chair as she gripped onto it. The doors at the end of the hall broke open and the room was bathed in light. She squinted those narrowed green eyes at the figures that approached, a man bound in rope at the wrists, escorted by two of the surviving (and purposefully largest) Dacian warriors. She turned to Cothelas when the Roman was in earshot and scoffed. "This is him?" TAG: @Liv
October 60CE. (This takes place during Lucilla's funeral) There was a long reason for the wasting illness that had plagued her. The funeral procession led through the streets of Rome. Surrounding the casket as it was drawn were the population in the clothes of mourning. Her family were around her, no doubt it would be her male relatives who would give her the funerary orations and share her achievements (and theirs with the populace). She wore a death mask that concealed her features from view. Inside, images of Darius' death, happy and troubled memories stirred as her body began to twitch. Which God or Goddess from down below had decided to bless (or curse Rome)? Finally, a dark memory took hold. One of anger..... betrayal.... Her hand lifted and knocked the shroud off. There were cries of shock from the crowd and followed by silence. Perhaps this was all a trick? An illusive one the family had pulled to lure out enemies into the open? Her hand was pale, tinged with grey and purple where the blood had begun to pool. The mask was pulled off and thrown, smashed on the floor as the litter was placed down on the ground, and she pulled herself up. Her funeral gown was beautiful, she wore ornate necklaces, rings and bracelets as she had done in real life. Her face, beautiful once in life had faded with her mouth semi-open and her eyes grey, clouded and hungrily. A shocked (and terrified) praetorian stepped forward to assist her only to be sharply yanked forward. Her arm grabbed him by his uniform and pulled him towards her with surprising strength. Her mouth dug into his neck as he screamed in complete terror and tore with her teeth. She gulped down what she could. Screams of panic filled Rome as people began to fight or flee. Soon the praetorian's eyes changed and together they began to attack others who approached....