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Found 10 results

  1. Liv

    Joining forces

    Outskirts of Narnia, days after Clemens' proclamation For nearly three days Titus had walked along the Via Flaminia, moving steadily away from Rome. News of the Praetorian Clemens declaring himself Caesar had spread through the city like a wildfire, and Titus, being the man of action he was, could not simply stay home and wait for the traitor's thirsty supporters to knock on his door. No, his first course of action had been to entrust the safety of his wife and daughter to his older brother. Quintus had always been good with words, a proper diplomat, and he would no doubt find a way to send Valeria and little Flacca to stay with his own wife Cornelia, at a sufficient distance from Rome. His second course of action had been to change to his most nondescript tunica and cloak - one grey, the other brown and both unremarkable in every way save for the quality of the fabric and the attention put into the seams -, tuck his trusty pugio into his belt and grab a good amount of coin. He'd need it for the long journey to Cappadocia, and a larger amount than under ordinary circumstances. Silence and safe passage would have to be bought at some point, and perhaps a horse if he was feeling bold enough. Laurus, his faithful body slave, was ordered to stay behind despite hearty protests. The man was getting up in age and his eyesight had been failing for some time, and Titus feared the slave would simply be too recognisable. Instead, Laurus was to stay and protect the house from looting and thieves, and the teenage son of the cook was to accompany Titus on his way to Quintus Alexander's legions. They would pretend to be a slave trader and his servant, making for Dacia to secure a new batch of conquered hands to sell in Rome. It was a good plan at its inception, or so Titus thought. They would exit the capital from the north so as not to arouse suspicion; Clemens and his men would definitely expect the high-ranking class to take the Via Appia to the south, whether to seek refuge in their villae or to board a ship headed eastward, or attempt to escape via the port of Ostia. Taking the Via Flaminia toward the north-east through the mountains did not seem plausible enough to Clemens as a means of exiting Rome, as he did not seem to have increased his men's monitoring of it. The first day had gone well. They had made good headway after leaving the city at nightfall, and the boy slave was quite adept at lighting a fire when Titus decided they had come far enough to get some rest. Too bad the boy had been gone by dawn, the dimension of his task too much for a boy of 13 who had never been out of the city previously. It was a minor setback, but the slave's presence had been far from crucial. Titus could start a fire easily too, and only having himself to worry about should there be a fight certainly made things easier. Sleep would have to be visited in short light bursts, but that was nothing his service hadn't trained him for. The last milestone he had passed told him he was only three miles away from Narnia. Once there, he would have to opt to continue following the same road or making a detour through the Via Flaminia Nova, but given the lack of trouble thus far, Titus was inclined to stay on the main road. He was yet undecided as to his final destination on mainland Italia: Ancona had a more geographically favoured position, but the port of Ariminum was busier and more developed. From one of these cities Titus intended to cross the Adriatic to either Salona or Dyrrachium, and then make his way overland to Cappadocia. Another option was to sail to Tarsus in Cilicia and then cross the mountains to Caesarea, but Titus was not a fan of ships and preferred to stay on firm ground as much as possible. His stomach would thank him for it. Despite the short distance left, Titus' feet were clamouring for some rest. The prickling of thirst in his throat was getting harder to ignore, too, and so he decided to make a quick stop. Just a couple of passi off the road was a great oak, and Titus wasted no time in accepting its silent invitation and nestling down between two big roots, back leaning against the trunk. He emptied his water skin and wiped off a few errant droplets with the back of his hand. There was no longer any bread left, but he could resupply in Narnia, perhaps buy some smoked sausage and dates too. And a horse, because at this rate - even at his good marching pace - it was going to take far too long to reach Quintus Alexander. Over on the road a cart plodded along; even from this distance Titus could see the driver's fabulous red moustache, and immediately pegged him for a Gaul. Not far behind, two men followed the same path. There was nothing particularly eye-catching about them, but the older one's countenance seemed familiar. Titus squinted. It might not be wise to rise and approach them out of the blue just to get a better look; they might think him a thief or a roadside bandit. If only the oak had been a little closer to the road... @Chevi @Sharpie
  2. May 75AD Circus Maximus Aulus had changed seats after his conversation with Gaius Fabius Maximus had come to an end, and found himself sitting next to a woman he recognised as belonging to gens Cornelia - one of the Scipinones branch, he thought. More importantly, though, she was the wife of Quintus Sulpicius Rufus, whose brother had ended up joining him on his flight from Italy a decade earlier. "Good morning," he said to her, being polite. He had moved to sit by her; it would be unforgivably rude to ignore her, especially as she was related to friends of his. "I see you seem to have been lucky in your betting so far - pity about the Reds' shipwreck earlier." It had been rather a spectacular crash, with the Blues' driver pulling ahead and cutting in on him, forcing him into the spina which rand down the middle of the Circus, forming the centre of the oval race-track. He had bet on the Whites, who had come in second after the triumphant Blues, a team he did not think anyone had really expected to win that race, the driver being a new man and therefore an unknown quantity. @Anna
  3. June 74CE. (After In the hot seat.) Eventually, the trio at parted after the meeting at the Flavian Colossuem and Octavius had spent a little more time with Ario. Before they had parted. As promised, Octavius made himself available to seeing Aulus and catching up on all the news from the provinces. No doubt Aulus would wish to see his sister and ensure his family was settled in. An invitation for a midday meal was sent earlier in the week in order to ensure that it did not impede Octavius' busy schedule, and hopefully showed courtesy to Aulus' as well. Messengers passed back and forth in order to work out a date. Sometime, an arrangement would be made for the families of both of them to meet and spend time together. However, this meeting would be for the two men. To catch up for old time's sakes. The home still had signs of Octavius' father and the family members who had resided here for a long time. However, over time, the current generation had begun to leave their mark on the place. The hour of Aulus' arrival was gradually getting closer. Rufus waited nearby and had gradually become part of the household. Octavius continued to work, writing and preparing things for the next day. His scribes behind him were also working, occasionally they would check with their Dominus about whether the work was acceptable or not. "Turio greet my guest when he arrives and bring him to the Atrium," Octavius instructed and the slave obediently walked to fetch the guest. Food and wine had been prepared. He had planned a meeting in the garden rather than the office he regularly worked from when he was at home. Eventually, he would rest and have a break while meeting his old friend from the past, and to be able to fully catch up with what had taken place between them. Eventually, Octavius hoped for their families to be able to meet. @Sharpie
  4. It had been another day, another Senate meeting, another long discussion about things Aulus really (in all honesty) cared little about, personally, merely taking an interest in things because it was expected of him, because it was the right thing to do, because who else would govern the Empire if the Senate abrogated its responsibility - and if everyone felt as Aulus did and did not attend the meetings they should, then civilisation would crumble. imperium rested with Quintus Augustus, naturally, but he required advisers, and nobody could presume to advise unless they knew about the matters their advice would be required on. Anyway, it was the duty of a Roman to put Rome first, his own opinion and feelings on the matter notwithstanding. Aulus twitched his Senatorial toga straight, so that the fall of fine wool over his left arm showed its broad purple stripe to best advantage and turned to the exit, to collect Felix and find a cup of wine in a caupona somewhere. The senator between himself and the outside was a man of bout his own age, but who hadn't started his political career until quite late, although he had had a promising military career, ended with a bad wound which he had been recovering from when Aulus had taken his own (aborted) first political step. "Junius Calvus! It is you, isn't it? How do you do - I don't think I've seen you since... it must be four years ago." @Mord
  5. Aulus wasn't entirely sure how he'd heard of the young Athenian - he was the client of a friend of a friend - but he had enough recommendation to at least be considered to tutor Titus in the finer points of rhetoric and philosophy. If Titus didn't follow in his father's footsteps, Aulus would be surprised. He could go into law, he supposed, or take a full military path, but he had three or four years yet before he had to make that choice, and in the meantime, learning the art of oratory and rhetoric would stand him in good stead whatever he chose to do. He looked up as a slave appeared at the door between the tablinum and the atrium. "Domine, the philosopher is here." "Send him in." "Yes, Domine." There was a very slight hesitation in the slave's voice but the man withdrew before Aulus could query it. The reason for that hesitation became obvious as the slave reappeared with a stranger in tow. He didn't appear very Greek - in fact, he looked almost British. "Cleisthenes? Of Athens?" Aulus said, coming to his feet behind the desk. @Jacob
  6. Aulus had promised his son that he would take him somewhere, just the two of them. He had had to discharge several duties first, but had cleared a day, refusing to make any appointments of any description. He'd had too many occasions recently where things had come up at the last minute (the curse of a provincial governor the Empire over!) but now that he had resigned his imperium and was a private citizen again, he could refuse to see anyone and everyone for a day. He felt almost like a youth again himself as he took Titus to the Campus Martius. There were temples there, a circus (smaller than the Circus Maximus, naturally, but still in use), the Augustan Mausoleum, and the potential for watching Praetorians at some military drill. Aulus had foregone his toga for a comfortable linen tunic in blue, with a darker blue pallium, edged with silver embroidery that picked up the silver creeping into his hair. "I suppose you don't really remember much of Rome?" he said, looking down at his son fondly. @Mim
  7. (Takes place about a week before the Senate meeting.) The sweltering heat of Roman summer was a probation Titus had let himself grow unaccustomed to. The noxious odours emanating from the Tiber nauseated the whole city and gave way to legions of mosquitos out for the citizens' blood, sucking away their energy and leaving behind torpor, sickness and infernal itching. Rome was lethargic and its ennui spread to its inhabitants; Titus' household had been no exception. His wife, usually so agreeable, was keeping the slaves on their toes with sharp criticism of their fanning skills. Little Valeriana had scratched her legs raw thanks to mosquito stings and would take no comfort from anybody except her nanny. Flacca and Publius had engaged in a lively discussion about which sorbet was best that had yet to come to a conclusion, even after Titus had taken them out to buy some for the three of them (and conceded Flacca's point that strawberry ice was clearly superior to honey ice). It was getting to be just a bit too much, and claiming some vague meeting Titus slipped away from his stuffy residence. The Gardens of Sallust were a veritable oasis in the city. Lush vegetation grew in all directions, displaying infinite shades of green. Venerable trees provided shade and a respite from the heat, their leaves murmuring in the summer breeze. To Titus it almost felt like being in Gaul again, where the weather had been milder and the nature wilder, rural as it still was. Dacia had the best summers, its mountains and forests keeping the temperature pleasant. Britannia hardly had summers to speak of, between the constant drizzling and the attacks of the natives. A wretched land, truly. Titus strolled down the stone path at a leisurely pace, adjusting his gait here and there to stay in the shade. Some bird was singing in the distance, but Titus was not familiar with its cry and therefore could not identify it. He was too deep in thought, anyway. It had been half a year since his return to Rome, but he felt no closer to coming to a decision now than when he had arrived. At first it had been easy to delay the matter, for his family had kept in busy, and old acquaintances and clients required proper greetings; then he had had innumerable news and rumours to learn of, new information to acquire. Then came festivities, and Senate meetings, and dinner parties... And now it was summer already. Old man Chronus and his wheel waited for no one. He stopped briefly to drink from a fountain and caught sight of a small pavilion. Perhaps contemplation of the building's simple colonnades would bring the clarity his mind sought. @Sharpie
  8. Aulus had no idea what the time was when a slave came banging on the door of the servants' quarters, bearing news that te Praetorian Prefect, Clemens, had proclaimed himself Emperor (which Aulus was aware of) and that he was out for the blood of anyone connected with the Junii-Silani and Flavii-Alexandrii (which Aulus most certainly was not aware of). "I have to leave Rome," Aulus informed his anxious wife. "Leave...?" "I can't stay here, they know me, they know who I am, they know where to find me..." "But what about me - what about Titus?" She held the baby up in wordless appeal. "You'll be safer once I'm gone. But you should go too - we can't go together because I'll put you in too much danger. I have to go - tonight, when it's dark and we can be more anonymous." Horatia laid the baby back against her shoulder. "'We', Aulus?" "Two men, in tunics and cloaks - it's still cold, that won't look out of place. I can't take Linus, everyone knows he's my slave." They probably didn't, of course; nobody looked at slaves, but it would only take one person to see the slave's face and recognise him and the game would be up, and Aedile Aulus Calpurnius Praetextatus would join his ancestors decade before he had anticipated doing so. He was only thankful that his father was still in the family villa at Baiae. "Go to my father at Baiae; I'll leave enough money for that journey. You might have to walk, it'll help you stay anonymous. Take Linus, or one of the others - a plebeian family getting away from the riots won't look too strange, several of them still have families with farms away from Rome. Hide Titus in the slaves' quarters till you go - hide yourself there, pretend the family left for the country." "And what about you? Who will you take?" "I'll take Felix. He's about as anonymous as they come, despite his size, and people will think twice about troubling us. I doubt anyone will actually connect him with this household, anyway." "Where will you go?" "Where do you think? I will plan to make my way to join Quintus wherever he is and maybe we can stop this madness that has seized Rome." It was a few hours later when Aulus, clad in a dark anonymous tunic, layered over two more, and with a cloak around him for both inconspicuousness and protection from the weather, clasped his wife and infant son in his arms, perhaps for the last time, and turned to leave his father's house from the anonymity of the slaves' side door, the taller shape of the house slave Felix following him. Aulus took a breath and grasped Felix' arm, drawing him level. "We can't be seen to be master and slave, not now. It's too dangerous. Call me... Davus. Call me anything you like, but do not let the word Domine pass your lips before we are out of here." He did not dare to think what might befall him if the slave decided that he could maybe get his freedom by betraying his master.
  9. May 74AD It might not have been within the very hour of his arrival back in Rome, but it was not so very long afterwards - a mere handful of days - that Aulus found himself walking the old familiar streets from the family domus to the Atrium Vestae, the building near the Forum Romanum where the six Vestal Virgins lived. Felix had fussed his toga into folds as perfect as he could manage, despite repeated warnings that he would only have to straighten them again once they arrived at their destination. "There is something to be said for having lictors," he said, tossing the remark over his shoulder to Felix, his capable body-slave who was almost his master's shadow when they went anywhere. "Possibly, Domine, but you always said that they restrict anyone from being able to be anonymous." Aulus couldn't help the smile that rose to his mouth at the words. It was a moot point, anyway; he was no longer a praetor with imperium and six lictors to precede him everywhere he went. Nor was he a governor, barely able to step foot outside the governor's palace without finding himself attended by approximately three quarters of the province's populace, all needing some judgement or intervention. To walk the streets of Rome, arrayed in tunic and toga as a private citizen, was a breath of fresh air. The same couldn't be said of Rome itself, especially in the Forum, which lay in a valley between the Capitoline and Palatine Hills. Aulus did not expect to gain entry to the Atrium Vestae - he presumed there might be a place within the walls where men were permitted - but the Vestals were very much a private sort of group, as was only right for people in their position in society, and who had as much to lose as they did. The actual Temple of Vesta, its circular shape a stark contrast to the usual rectangular plan of the other temples to be found in Rome, was a different prospect, and it was in that direction that Aulus turned his footsteps, ignoring the long-suffering sigh of Felix behind him. The sacred flame in the middle of the temple was being tended by a Vestal. Not his sister, but one of her fellows, he thought. "Salve," he said, as soon as he could absolutely certain that he wasn't interrupting a prayer or sacred rite of any sort. He snapped his fingers at Felix, who stepped forward with the offering he had brought - a basket of bread, some cheese, and some of the smoked sausage that was a speciality of the region where he'd been posted. "A gift, for Vesta." @Gothic @AzraelGrim
  10. (Letter dated in April 74) To my dearest sister Calpurnia, from your own brother Aulus, greetings. I am writing to you on the occasion of my recall to Rome by our lord and master Quintus Flavius Caesar Alexander Augustus - not, I hasten to assure you, because I have done anything wrong or committed any great crime during my tenure here in Raetia, but in order to further my career politically - it is hard, if not impossible, to become Consul while physically as far away from Rome as I am while I write this. Your nephew and niece are grown so much I doubt you will recognise them. Horatia has recovered from losing another child (she assures me she has, but I will not be pushing the pace of our return, out of concern for her health - although I long to see you and Pater once more). You should not look to see us in Rome before May, and I am sure we shall not be in the city for long before we have to retreat to the cooler weather to be found elsewhere, probably by the sea or around Herculaneum or Pompeii - we have grown almost acclimatised to the weather here, which tends to be colder and softer than that of Italia. I do not understand how you can bear the heat of a Roman summer; I am fortunate enough to have been able to move around somewhat even in the hottest of places I have been. We shall be back in Rome as soon as ever we may, and you may rest assured that I shall not delay in seeking you out, if a man may call upon a Vestal his blood-sister without being thought impious. I shall soon have a new will to lodge in Vesta's temple anyway, so it need not be thought improper - or perhaps I should speak with one of your fellow Vestals about that? I have written separately to our father but you may pass on my filial duty to him regardless if you so desire. Until our next meeting, farewell! @AzraelGrim
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