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July 76, the Circus Neronianus* It was still summer in Rome, still hot, and yet with the advent of a new Caesar, there was a new air of excitement and anticipation even in the heat that pervaded Rome. It was cooler outside the boundary of the city - not a lot cooler, but enough. Racing was something that everyone had an opinion on and interest in, no matter the season or who wore the purple. Most races took place in the Circus Maximus, that vast stretch of racetrack in whose shadow the Whites' stable lay, but there were other venues in Rome for racing to take place, and one of those was the new Circus outside the boundaries of the city, across the Tiber. It was a venue for less prestigious races, and therefore the perfect place to introduce a new charioteer to the business of actually being a charioteer. Marcus had made sure that Azarion had had the opportunity to drive around this smaller track so that its shorter length and tight turns would be more familiar during his first race. And now the chariots were lined up at the end of the Circus; behind the carceres, the starting gate. When the signal was given, the gate would allow all the chariots to move forward at the same time, aiming them deliberately to the right-hand side of the spina that ran down the centre of the circus. Marcus would watch this first race of Azarion's future career from near the starting gate, where he could see right down the circus on both sides of the spina, although not the curve at the far end. He had Varica stationed on the spina itself to cover that - being able to hear of any occurrences there would help with the final assessment of the day. Seven laps would tell whether Marcus was right, or wrong, in his assessment of the boy. @Chevi ( @Járnviðr and @Atrice if you want to include Menelaus and Caeso as either spectators or participants) *Two things: the Circus Neronianus was begun by Caligula (and finished by Claudius in our own timeline, there's no need to think it couldn't have been finished by AeRo's own Claudius); I have referred to it by the name it has in our world because I don't know what it would otherwise be known as. The thread is set in the Transtiberim even though this circus is technically not in that area simply because it is on the other side of the river and only just outside Rome itself. See the map here
Two days after the races at the Circus Neronianus (stupid name), and Jason had tracked down the boy he'd seen racing, that he thought looked remarkably like his cousin, last seen being hauled off, kicking and screaming and with blood everywhere, to be sold gods-knew-where to gods-knew-who. How and why he'd ended up here in Rome, the same city Jason was now living in, was a minor miracle. The fact that he'd seen and recognised him was a bigger miracle - how close had they been, for how long? They could have passed one another a hundred times in the Forum or the streets and never seen one another, and for Jason to have seen his cousin racing a chariot for the Whites... He had followed his master home docilely and slipped out to the garden during the night to give thanks to Tabiti for the preservation of his cousin, the last member of his family he had seen and to ask for her continued blessing on the boy (chariots were not horses, but it was closer to actual riding than Jason himself had come for several years), as well as for her favour when it came time to speak with his master. He had left as an offering a bronze coin of indeterminate provenance, whose reverse showed a horse. Tabiti would understand. That had been the night after seeing his cousin at somewhat of a distance. Today, he had permission to come to the Whites' stables to try to see his cousin from a lot closer up. Maybe even to actually talk to him, if the gods smiled on them and Azarion's masters would allow it. He entered the stable-yard and was hit full-force with nostalgia - the layout was all wrong but the sounds and scents were all right. He hadn't been so close to this many horses for the best part of ten years, and had to swallow. "I'm looking for Azarion," he managed in accented Latin, addressing the first person he saw who might spare him enough time to point his cousin out. He was in luck; the other waved him towards a stall where he could see his cousin's dark head as he moved around the horse. Feeling relieved that he'd been right in thinking the boy was his cousin, and somewhat jealous that he hadn't been renamed - though how he would have asked for him if he had been was anyone's guess, he crossed to the indicated stall. He would not interrupt Azarion's work; simply waiting would allow him to spend that bit longer in an environment that took him straight back to his childhood. @Chevi