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  1. 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'.
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. This venue still remained popular. All despite the grander structure that had been built by the Flavians and continued to serve as a training facility. Occasionally, the smaller performances would take place here, still. Lucius did not travel with his son this time. Instead he chose to come alone, mingle with the crowd and see what was available to do. Thus far, politics was fairly quiet and the Flavians were not like many of their predecessors. It gave him a sense of uneasiness. Did this mean any scion of the bloodline would end up being just as sane as he? Would the united family remain so after the death of Quintus Alexander? Throughout history many brothers, cousins, and distant kin would throw in their own lot if it meant there was a chance of rising. There had to be a way to temper ambitions and ensure that there would be a good candidate who would serve. Lucius sat and watched the games, half-heartedly and did not enjoy them as much as he used to. A familiar face was seen. Manius Aemilius Scaurus Pius, crippled and he had heard mixed things about it over time. He had seen him walk with a cane in the past and had mixed feelings. How would he react if he was forced to live in such a state? Lucius raised his hand in a greeting to his fellow Senator and then gestured for Pius to join him. "Salve Scaurus Pius, it has been some time since I have seen you." He greeted him. They were not close nor did they spend a great deal of time together. Both of them were connected to the Flavian dynasty through marriage or adoption. The connections likely aided them both. Lucius waited to see what the other would say or do. @Chris
  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. 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
  7. May 74AD The Aventine Baths were some of the best in Rome, and right on Paulus' metaphorical doorstep. And, like the other baths, the patrons needed only to pay an as in order to have access to the full glory of the Roman bathing experience, from the tepidarium to the caldarium to the finely decorated frigidarium. And if that wasn't enough, there was a library and palaestra (exercise ground) too. Paulus, not being a scholar, ignored the library in favour of the baths. It was hot work, overseeing his staff and organising a decent auction (today marked the fifth copy of the Boy With a Thorn in his Foot that Paulus had seen this month, and today's offering had been a particularly bad copy of the original statue - the original was probably shoved in some back room in the Emperor's palace). Now, if some of the statues here came across his threshold, he might turn a decent profit. The one over there that pretended it was Plato (and was probably some totally unknown Greek instead) was a far better copy than the anaemic thing he'd seen this morning. "I don't suppose that really is Plato, though," he found himself remarking to the man on the bench next to him as the slave massaged his shoulders - true bliss, to be under the hands of a skilled masseur! @Jacob
  8. May 74 Rufus, being his new master's body slave and not his secretary (although things might still change, of course) had been sent away when his master's visitor arrived, with the admonition to remember to stay within call, but not so close the master would think he was deliberately eavesdropping. Eavesdropping was not something Rufus had ever felt particularly comfortable doing, and he was even less comfortable with the thought he might appear to be doing so, especially as he was still on trial to see whether he would be suitable in this position long-term or not. He was not about to risk anything, and had found himself a spot out of the way across the garden from the tablinum where his master was meeting his guest, where he could see his master and hear him call if he was wanted, but where he couldn't overhear any of the conversation. It was a nice shady spot of the garden under a vine trellis and Rufus settled down. He had been allowed to borrow a wax tablet and stylus (both cheap and plain, unlike the one the master used) in order to practise his writing - he could write, he was extremely fortunate in that, but it had been a while since he had and he did not want to find himself in a position where he was taking dictation or trying to write something up neatly and found himself wondering what way round the letter S went. And there were few enough other things he could do that would occupy him for more than a few minutes at most. He leaned back, enjoying the sun for a moment before he did anything. It was rare to have any time alone, especially now, and he appreciated every second he could get away from his master (although his master wasn't a bad master, quite the opposite. Everyone needed some sort of alone time sometimes, even slaves). It couldn't have been very long that he sat there before a shadow fell across his face and he blinked up, thinking at first that he had been summoned. The person looking down at him was the boy who'd accompanied master's guest, though, and he didn't look as though he'd come to call Rufus in to attend the master. "Hello," he said. Alone time or not, he didn't mind being interrupted by someone new, especially a fellow slave. "Care to join me?" He patted the bench beside him. @Chevi
  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
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