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  1. 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
  2. The first deep rumblings did not waken Marcus. They did, however, awaken the horses in the stables, and they, in turn, woke Marcus (and, hopefully, the stable staff). And then the earth moved. "Ahura Mazda!" Marcus swore, and rolled out of his bed. His immediate thought was for his son and daughter, his second was for his staff and horses. He threw on a tunic and left his room, turning to his children's room. Their nurse was looking out of the door, wide-eyed. "Earthquake. Get the children out into the courtyard, and stay there!" She nodded and withdrew, leaving Marcus to head to the other side of the house, that overlooked the stables of the White faction. There were several people already down there, milling about in apparent confusion. He looked back to see the nurse holding his children's hands in a firm grip. "Papa!" "Go with Esther, I will be with you soon - I have to make sure the horses are safe, too." He headed into the confusion of the stableyard and began to assert order. "Stay in the middle of the courtyard! "Varica, Bassus, Menelaus, Theseus, Azarion - start bringing the horses out. Don't spook them any more than they are already. Everyone else, you will need to hold them, and if you cannot be calm, at least be quiet!" @Beauty @Chevi @Echo @Liv @Jane (Thread title from Horace Odes book III - post equitam sedet alta Cura)
  3. (February 75CE) Marcus had no idea if the new slave, Azarion, knew just how closely he'd been watched since he'd been hired by the White faction. He had given him into the care of Varica, his head trainer, and received reports from him that made him take a closer interest in the boy. He had gone back to the boy's master with a proposition. They had struck a deal and it was that which had led to Marcus' standing on the balcony outside his office, watching the activity in the stables below, waiting to spot one particular slave. There he was. Rather than summon the kid to him, Marcus descended the stairs to the stable-yard - he would only bring the kid back down here, there was no need to make him do the trip twice for no reason. "Azarion!" he called, once he could be certain of not interrupting or disturbing him. @Chevi
  4. The Whites' stable complex was the usual bustling place it always was, with slaves exercising horses by walking them round the yard - one had been re-shod and a mare had recently foaled. The carpenter was busy fashioning a new chariot, and the wheelwright was shaving spokes for a new wheel for one damaged in the last race. Slaves were mucking out stalls and doing all the hundred and one other things that kept a chariot team ready and able to compete in the furious races that had made the Whites famous. Marcus had been closeted with a visitor for what felt like an eternity, talking about the opportunities that backing such a faction could provide, and had come out of the session the renter (not, strangely, outright owner) of one half-wild barbarian boy who seemingly had a magical touch with horses. Marcus had initially been put off by the FVG brand on the boy's arm, and the discussion over that had led to the final agreement, that the Whites would take the boy on to work in the stables for a fixed sum payable every eight days, and if not fully satisfied, the boy would be returned to his master, no harm, no foul. They had shaken on it and the boy's master had left, leaving Marcus in charge of a boy who looked still half-feral. At least the tunic he was wearing could pass as white, Marcus supposed. If you squinted. It was at least not blue, green or red. There was something to be said for small mercies. "Come along, I suppose you ought to see where you'll be working," he said, leading the boy out of his office and into the bustling yard. The Whites complex was formed of four separate wings around a central courtyard. There were stables along three sides, enough to house all the numerous horses (it was not unknown for them to put three teams into the same race), with various workshops, the kitchen and dining hall making up the fourth wing. Over the stables were hay-lofts and dormitories for the slaves, with living quarters for the free craftsmen situated over the workshops. Marcus' office was also on this second story, which had a shaded balcony overlooking the central yard, giving Marcus a good view of everything that went on, for which he was responsible. @Chevi
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