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  1. Mid April 77AD It was mid April and the weather was warming, trees were blossoming, and most importantly the first green sprouts of wheat from the grain which had been planted earlier in the season had been confirmed in the fields; the grain was fertile and growing and Rome would not starve. Ceres' blessing was on them for another year. In celebration, as was traditional each year, sacrifices of pork, wheat, salt, and incense had been offered to Ceres. Her statue had been draped in garlands of spring flowers and ceremonially paraded from her temple to the Circus Maximus, where she held the seat of honour next to Caesar himself, who sat in the Goddess's presence. There were to be races today, not of the chariots of which Romans were so fond, but of horses, in the more traditional form. Their riders would goad their individual steeds around the track, whilst the spectators looked on. Imperial Area Immediately below where Titus sat with the decorated statue of of Ceres was the space reserved for the rest of the Imperials. Tiberius occupied this area, cool under a cloth canopy, clad purely in white as was traditional; a bright tunica and toga candida. Immediately about him there was space who those whom he had invited; family of course but also the younger generation of the Senatorial class, both male and female, whilst the more senior Senatores and their wives had space reserved to either side of the Imperials, within conversation range should they desire. It was an arrangement intended to demonstrate openness and largesse, whilst also allowing his own generation - stunted somewhat by the chaos of the purges - to meet, mingle and forge their own friendships and alliances. As he watched the stands gradually fill, Tiberius wondered whether he would be able to spot Jason's cousin in the race.
  2. February 77AD the day after Whoever Brings The Night His head was hurting, especially on the left side and towards the jaw in particular. When he moved up his hand to his head and his face, he could feel more than one area that had swelled and there was even a crack in the skin above his one eyebrow. He’d been bleeding. The blood was dry now, feeling coarse and unnatural and he almost wanted to rip the wound open to make it bleed again. Just to feel it, his own blood. Maybe that’s what he would feel now. Unless he could get out, somehow. Marcus had no idea what time of the day it was or for how long he’d slept after he passed out in the cell. Now someone came up to the small cell he was in, a guard, holding a wooden cup of water in front of the cell and what looked like old and dry bread. He was teasing Marcus, pretending he wouldn’t give it to him. Said he didn’t deserve to eat that well. Then the guard let Marcus touch the bread, as if he’d actually give it to him. And then he pulled it back and tossed it into a corner far away from the cell. And the water, he poured that onto the ground in front of the cell. And laughed, before he spat at the stain of water and left. Marcus leaned against the back of the cell. He should not have done it, he should not have let his anger get the best of him and he should not have gone out to kill one or more of all those people in the room that night. But he had wanted to remove them, so they could not put him in danger. Instead he’d been caught for the deeds he'd done. And while a part of him enjoyed that they wanted to see him dead, and a part of him had enjoyed seeing people he’d hurt before, people whose blood he’d seen… while he had enjoyed that, he had not enjoyed the blows to his head, mostly given by Alexius. And he did not enjoy sitting in this cell. All he had here was his mind. Maybe he should put it to use. He would need to speak up for himself. Marcus assumed he’d have a trial. Anything else would be unjust. He would plea for a trial. It had to happen. So that he could speak for himself and maybe prove that they could not prove that he was behind the murders and the attacks. Yes, that’s what he’d do. He would think. And so he did. No other guard came with food for him. And he was so far into his own thoughts that he barely noticed it when someone did approach the cell again. There wasn’t much light here anyway. Why should he bother with opening his eyes?
  3. March, 77 AD Fuck. Why could he not just have fallen in love with some plebian girl or even a freedwoman, just as he was a freedman? But no, it had to be a Patrician woman. And even a Patrician woman, whose brother had been Consul not long ago and whom herself had been a Vestal Virgin until not so long ago. First she’d stopped being a Vestal. And the virgin thing, well Alexius had everything to do with that ending for her too. And what a night it had been. Just one night! But he wanted more and that meeting in the library was almost more than he could stand. Alexius found himself working more. Spending more hours by the warehouse, so that hopefully once he did go home, he’d be tired enough to just sleep. Instead of spending less hours, so that he could go out and find someone to share his bed with. Not that he hadn’t also done that. But it just wasn’t the same anymore. He kept wishing it was her. Gods, he’d put her on a pedestal, had he not? And now all he wanted was her. So he’d stopped trying to make other people distract him, because it didn’t work. Was it fair that he was sharing pleasure with a woman and then closing his eyes, seeing Calpurnia’s face instead of the one he was with? No, it wasn’t fair to anyone. So he had to stop. Yet he could not have the woman he wanted the most. And it wasn't like his longing for pleasure died out. But he didn't want anyone but her, not really. It was all more fucked up than anything he’d ever tried before. Lexus had also noticed the change. He’d commented on how quiet the flat had become. Not that he thought it was bad. But he said he worried for Alexius. Who just rolled his eyes and would down some more wine, because what else could he do? He didn’t want his son to worry. Another night on the town it is. He couldn’t work late every night. Alexius found one of his favorite taverns and downed some wine. Then some more. He ended up being very drunk. At some point late at night, he’d begin walking home. Now he did feel tired. He sat down on some steps in front of a temple to rest. And apparently, he fell asleep there. Right until the sun rose on the sky and people began roaming at the Forum again. Right until someone would see him there and decide to try and wake him up. (( OPEN TO ANYONE ))
  4. Saturnalia, 76 AD It was Saturnalia and that meant many nights of having fun. The first night Marcus had spent in his own home, or rather, his mother’s husband’s home. Marcus had never been adopted and didn’t really consider Tusca his father at all. But he was there, for the dinner and to have fun with the slaves. Or they had fun with him. Apparently he deserved a lot of pranks, but he supposed he should have seen it coming, with how he often treated them. This was their only chance at getting back at him. But this was only the first night. Days went on, more nights came and one evening he thought that maybe he should take Tiberius out for a drink or two. Or ten. He deserved a bit of fun! So off Marcus went to the palace, only to find out that his friend wasn’t there. The praetorians had not seen him and his body slave wasn’t there either. Claudia couldn’t be lured out and besides, her bodyguard was missing as well. There were a lot of people missing from the palace, Marcus learned. What worried him most was Tiberius though. It was one thing to go out with Marcus, at least they’d be two then. But alone? Tiberius, with his history, alone in Rome on Saturnalia? So out he went again, to look for Tiberius. Where the fuck could he have gone? He didn’t even know what he was wearing. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack, but he was determined to find his friend before something went wrong. He couldn’t have gone far, surely, without a litter or anyone guarding him. Marcus went in the direction of the Forum Romanum first. Something interesting was bound to happen at the Forum and maybe he’d find Tiberius there. On the way, he stopped many people to ask if they'd seen his friend. Maybe one of them would actually have a useful response?
  5. Mid April 77AD It was Cerealia. The year had turned, the days had warmed, the grain fields were sprouting and Ceres had found her daughter Prosperpine and was enjoying having her at home again. Varinia could understand how she felt, now that she'd been enjoying sharing her son's home for the last few months, after years of separation. And enjoying her freedom, of course. She had grown more accustomed to it over those months, and was really starting to enjoy being able to do even just simple things when she wanted, as she wanted. Like making little flatcakes. Flour and water and eggs, honey and dried fruit soaked in wine, all mixed together and fried on a griddle to make little warm, puffy rounds of deliciousness. She'd packed them into a basket lined and covered with cloth to keep them warm, and carried them down to the insula's inner courtyard. The building was home to a range of people, from those who lived in multi-roomed insulae like themselves, to those who lived behind their shop fronts on the ground floor, to those who rented single rooms on the top floor. Every one of her neighbours whom she'd met had been lovely so far, and she was looking forward to meeting more as they celebrated the turning of the year. On top of the basket she carried a spray of wildflowers that she'd collected early that morning from down by the river and these she strewed over one of the tables that had been set in the courtyard, before placing her basket on top of it. She was pretty certain that Alexius would appear once he smelled food, and of course there was her own household. Who else might appear, with a plate or basket if they could afford to share food, or just themselves if they could not? All were welcome in her eyes. This would be fun.
  6. Saturnalia, 76AD Vibia stifled a yawn behind her fingers and tried to blink the sleep out of her eyes. Saturnalia might be fun for the slaves and the plebs but it was the Venus' busiest time of year, and perhaps its most unpleasant. The most generous of (rich) masters often doled out gifts to their most valuable, trusted slaves which sometimes involved a night with a beauty from the Venus. They had poorer manners than her usual class of clientele and seemed to want to savour every minute that they paid for. It was exhausting, and so it took her almost the full day to be ready (and willing) to work after sleeping, visiting the baths and tidying her rooms from the detritus her clients left. Now though, the sun had dipped well past the horizon and evening was drawing in. She could hear the tell-tale sounds of Rome's best and brightest being...entertained in the rooms down the corridor but Vibia herself was led resplendent on one of the couches in the main room, fingers softly trilling her cithara. A few of her colleagues; men and women alike milled around, entertaining the guests of the clients being seen too and likewise trying to prop themselves awake. A woman's work was never done, and particularly not a whore's on Saturnalia. The familiar jangle of the bells that overhung the front door sounded and Vibia lazily dragged her eyes up to see a new client walk in. Interesting. TAG: Open!
  7. Saturnalia, December 76AD "Theo!" The sun had set, the western sky still glowed with pinks and purples, but already torches were lit along the main streets and outside the domii and insulae. The sounds of celebrations could be heard from various quarters as the citizens of Rome enjoyed the One Night of the Year when the rules were tossed aside and freedoms of all kinds prevailed. Spurius always tried to run his stock of slaves down as low as possible as this night approached, but for those who remained he had thrown a lavish banquet, complete with wine and entertainers, and then thrown the doors of his warehouse for the night, locking only the inner store rooms. It said something of his confidence perhaps, or the way that he treated them, but virtually all would be back by morning and any that weren't were usually sleeping off a hangover somewhere, and trickled back eventually. Once he'd served the banquet he'd left them to it, wandering off into the night with a jug of good wine in his hand. His own personal slaves were also out doing as they pleased, and once the warehouse was seen to he always felt somewhat at a loss on these nights. Perhaps it reflected the rest of his life; there was a certain emptiness. Most of his peers were wed with families of their own, or involved in politics, or other dealings, or had some vice to service. He had none of these things. He told himself that he was happy that way, though the vision of his once intended would occasionally float in the mind's eye. Her father had rejected him on his return, not wanting a cripple for his daughter. Never mind that he was set to establish a successful business, which he had. He was a cripple, and probably that was how most saw him. It was easier not to risk more rejection, if not the most fulfilling. He told himself he had plenty and was content. Sometimes the greatest lies are the ones we tell ourselves. What he had surprised himself to find was a certain camaraderie with another ex-legionnaire. He didn't know where the man lived, but he knew where Theo worked, and on impulse he headed that way, and found himself standing at the entrance of the ludus, calling out hopefully. "Theo! Theodorus!" @Chevi
  8. April, 77 AD Another day in the life had begun and began to speed up as the morning progressed. Get up, wash, get dressed, begin cutting vegetables and setting the slaves to work too. Her mother was not well today and would not leave bed. Her father helped a little, but mostly he also tried telling the slaves what to do. Melissa did most of the work and she told herself she was happy to do it. If she didn’t do it, then who would? Just the slaves? No, that would not do. The hours before noon easily passed and then came the warmer part of the day. It was no longer winter and with spring came warm days. Sure, some days were warmer than others, but this was one of the very warm ones. They decided to close the thermopolia for a few hours after noon, because most people would spend that time going to the thermae or relaxing instead. Such was the life, at least in the area where she lived. Melissa thought it a good day to visit the thermae, it had been a few days since last time. So with a towel of her own in a simple bag, she set off towards the nearest thermae. Luckily, there were a few of such in the Esquiline. After taking her time in the bathing areas, she finally got dressed again and went to the surrounding gardens of the thermae to sit down by a fountain. Melissa felt she was not busy and the warmth made her feel a bit lazy. She leaned over to touch the water in the fountain and thought she might taste it, when someone came walking by, startling her so she almost fell into the water. Luckily, she caught herself and looked around to see who was in such a rush. OPEN
  9. Late March, 77AD It had been a while, since he’d been back here last time. He had actually come back a few weeks after Charis had come to see him at the market. And he’d had time to think the whole thing over a few times. He still didn’t quite grasp how such a sweet and kind girl could turn into the opposite over such a short span of time. She’d been so nice and friendly when he met her at his father’s domus. She even said she took his advice for Peregrinus and sleeping habits. But then she came to him at his job at the marketplace and told him to leave Rome and not come back. Few had treated him nicely here in Rome. Most seemed to misunderstand him or simply just not understand him at all. There was nothing for him here. Or, not much. He had tried to not give up too easily. He had told Charis the truth about why he was here, just like he told his father. Why would they not believe him? But he said to his father after that dinner party, that he’d be back and so he kept his promise, at least to begin with. He was stubborn. His mother had sometimes said that he inherited that from his father. He never saw that before… but now that he knew that Wulfstan was not his father, he understood. He had come back to his actual father’s house quite a few times, knocking on the door and walking inside. This was his father’s house. He was not just yet another visitor here, so why should he wait outside? Yet every time he was met by a slave and eventually asked to leave, because the Dominus was not at home. That had happened quite a few times over the next few months. Antonia was apparently never at home either, so he'd never met his half-sister. And if Charis was there with Peregrinus, she stayed out of the way. Eventually he stopped coming. Charis was right. He clearly wasn’t wanted. Not by anyone but his half-brother Teutus it seemed. At least they got along. Time went by… and now springtime was coming and he had always planned he’d return to Germania when next spring came. That time was now. He had finished with the warehouse at the marketplace and had told the landlord of the insula he lived in, that he was leaving very soon. And now, he showed up in front of his father’s house one last time. To tell that he was leaving. He didn’t expect them to be sad that he had to leave. He wasn’t sure what he expected. But it felt right to tell them. So there he was, outside the house, pulling himself together to knock on that door. Why didn’t he just do it? It felt so… final, somehow, to do it. Rome had not always treated him nicely, but still, it wasn't easy to just say goodbye, was it? Once he left, he wasn't sure he'd ever come back, after all. He might not see any of the people he met here, again. Wulfric sighed and leaned against a wall opposite the front door to his father’s domus. (( OPEN THREAD FOR ANYONE ))
  10. February 77 AD The night following Falling Apart and Crime scene investigations It was far from the first time he’d killed someone. And it had felt so good when it happened, the feeling of the knife penetrating the flesh, the way the man had doubled over, forcing the knife deeper, all the way to the handle. The way the blood had run over Marcus’ fingers. The way the other man died, the way Marcus touched the wound and the warm blood. Until he realized he needed to flee. The man wore white robes; the man was a Senator of Rome. It was not good. But Marcus was sure it could not be traced back to him… Or was he? Somehow, what happened tonight made him think to everything else that had happened, since he attacked that girl at Saturnalia. She’d been so afraid. Her blood had been so red and warm. He’d almost wanted to fuck her after he cut her, but then he didn’t, because he thought he killed her. But he didn’t. She lived and she was with a guy named Alexius, who also knew the Egyptian who came to his shop, who knew a mute boy. A mute boy that Marcus thought he'd met sometime. He couldn’t be sure it was the same, but maybe. It seemed like a puzzle, almost impossible to solve, but he knew he had the right pieces. He just had to finish it. If all of this really was connected… it was very bad for him. He knew how they treated murderers. They’d often end up in the arena against some beast of a gladiator and Marcus wouldn’t win such a fight. And he had no death-wish. All he wanted was to do what he’d always done. The next morning he woke up in his bed. He hadn’t changed, he’d been thinking about the murder until he fell asleep. Then he yelled for Manus to come and help clean him, and his female slave could get him a fresh set of clothes. There was blood on his tunica from yesterday. He told Manus to burn it. Once he’d cleaned up and wore clean clothes, he went down to open the shop as usual. Pretending like nothing happened last night. But then people began coming into the shop to be shaved or have a haircut. And there was gossip. About the important Senator that was murdered in the street last night. And the Vigiles were looking for the murderer. Many people were looking for said murderer. Marcus worried more and more. So much that he felt distracted. He closed the shop early, locked the chest with blades and once darkness fell, he put his cloak back on. And went out into the night. Towards the Esquiline Hill. He had to solve the puzzle. And he had to attempt removing the people he thought might know too much. He could start with Alexius. Or Artemon, whom he had already shaved once. Artemon might be easiest. Not that he had not killed bigger men before, but why take a risk when you could be safe? He hid in a dark doorway near the insula, watching the area. Marcus didn’t know if he’d kill them tonight, a murder two nights in a row might not be the best idea. But he needed to see them and needed to think about what he'd do. Then he might at least threaten them. Hurt them. Silence them. Something. And so he waited.
  11. Early January, 77 AD Alexius had gone out for another night on the town. He’d been very thoughtful lately, especially after Ovinia had been attacked. There was so much he did and so much he could do… and so many things he couldn't do and didn't do. He wasn't getting any younger and still, he was just yet another freedman in Rome, sometimes struggling to find his place here. He had plenty of friends and probably even more lovers to spend time with, and he had Lexus too, but there was still something missing. Something he could often drown with wine and forget in the arms of someone else, and yet his mind wandered. Back to the time when he was married. He’d tried to count the years, he’d done it a few times to be sure and it would seem that it was about 13 years since he divorced Ariella Alexia. He’d not had a very long and steady relationship since. A few had lasted more than just one night, but those could be counted on one hand alone. At the end this evening, he decided it wouldn’t do him any good to sit alone with these thoughts, so out he went. It didn’t take him long to find a popina. And before he knew it, an attractive woman was sitting in his lap, picking up wine to serve to Alexius’ lips. They were both having a good time. She was lovely. That’s right until a man entered the popina. Not that that was out of the ordinary. But after looking around, he was heading straight towards Alexius and his companion. He looked a bit familiar? Alexius thought the man was coming for him. But then he slapped his companion. Smack, it said, and everyone at the popina stared at them. Alexius as startled as everyone else. “What the fuck are you doing Artia?!” He growled and Alexius gave them both a surprised look, but the man just looked at him, actually offering Alexius a smile. He was familiar! He’d slept with that guy too, once upon! Artia slipped off his lap, “Marcus, I can explain…” She said. Marcus was his name! And Marcus looked at Alexius again, unsure of what to say to him, “What?” Alexius asked, “I didn’t know she was yours! Or… did you want to join?” He attempted with a small smile, but Artia now gave Marcus a look. “You know him too? Seriously, Marcus?” She snapped at her husband and then looked at Alexius, “Everyone just wants you, don’t they?” And then she slipped off his lap, whispering on the way, “Another time maybe…” Then she took her husband’s hand and dragged him away from the popina. They had some talking to do, clearly. Especially if they both slept around. With the same people, apparently! Leaving Alexius alone again, looking maybe more than a bit surprised. “Well, that was dramatic!” Alexius then said with a chuckle, suddenly thinking that maybe it wasn’t that bad to not have a wife. But everyone at the popina was looking at him and he realized that perhaps this put him in a different light than usual. A bit embarrassing, actually. Well, fuck them all then. But not here. With a sigh, he downed the rest of the cup of the wine and stood to leave. Half-drunk already and the night had just begun.
  12. April, 77AD It was sometimes amazing how time would just fly by. And yet, everything was the same. It was like the wind and you never knew where it would take you. For now though, Manius had returned to where it all began, more or less. His father had worked at the slave markets. Manius had done the same, when he was old enough. Right until he was stupid enough to gamble and become way too indebted, so that his wife and son were murdered. He put himself on a pedestal on the slave market instead. Became what he used to command. Eventually, freed again. Life took him from one place to the next and suddenly, he was here again. Nothing had changed really. Life was much the same as always, he thought. And Manius did tend to think too much. For now, he was done with the day’s work with Spurius’ lot of slaves, so he made his way across the market, planning to go home to the simple one-room insula he lived in now. He couldn’t stay in Spurius’ warehouse and be a burden there, that was not fair. There wasn’t much life in his eyes these days. He worked hard, did what he was supposed do when he worked. But there was little left to enjoy besides that. Spring was coming though. He remembered lovely days in the gardens of Sullust with Salacia. But she too was gone. The only joy he had left in his life, gone too. Manius sighed and looked to the sky. It had been dark all day, the weather felt heavy and now, of course, before he got very far from his working place, it began raining. The rain quickly went from a drizzle to a pour. He sighed again. This was his lot in life. Everyone else ran for shelter from the rain. Manius didn’t care. Instead he let the rain soak his hair as he continued walking. It almost felt liberating. Almost. OPEN
  13. Late September, 76 AD It was late September and fall was definitely coming upon Rome now. The weather wasn’t too cold yet, but it was not summer either. Pinaria pulled her palla closer around her and looked over her shoulder after her servant, Gaia Lucia. The woman was actually a freedwoman, but she and Pinaria had not yet parted ways and she wasn’t sure she wanted to. At the same time, she was not sure if it was actually love between her and Lucia, but they cared for each other. Deeply. And Gaia Lucia came with her everywhere. Soon it would be dark and they needed to head home from the temple. Lucia suggested a shortcut through an alley between a few streets, said she knew it. Lucia said it wasn’t entirely safe though, so they should hurry. Pinaria nodded and followed the former slave. But Lucia hurried a little too much and suddenly she was too far away. It had become darker as they walked and suddenly, Pinaria did not feel safe at all. She tried to call for Lucia, who had disappeared around a corner. Pinaria stopped for a moment to call for her servant again. That’s when she heard it, in the silence behind her. Footsteps coming in her direction. She looked over her shoulder to see a hooded figure some way behind her, “Hello? I don’t mean to bother you… I’ll be on my way…” She said and moved on, but the person kept following her. Suddenly he was right behind her and held a blade to her throat. Pinaria froze and squeezed her eyes shut. She thought about her son. This was not happening, was it? It was... “Please, don’t hurt me… I have a son…” She said, and yet she felt the man pull her closer, “What do you want? I don’t have any money. I gave them all to the temple. You can have my necklace…” She suggested to the stranger behind her, “I don’t care about such things…” He whispered back to her and she felt the blade cut into her throat and stinging pain of it. He’d cut the side of her throat. It wasn't deep, but enough to make her bleed. She felt his other hand move up. He touched the wound and got her blood on his fingers. “Wha… what do… you want?” She stuttered, afraid, but she heard nothing but his breathing as he touched the wound again and smeared the blood between his thumb and his other fingers. Suddenly she heard her name and she dared to look up. It was Gaia Lucia! Lucia came back for her! The man behind her saw it too. He let go of her, but not before he also cut her arm through her palla as he pulled back. Then he quickly ran away in the other direction. Pinaria ran towards her servant and fell into her embrace. She felt her heart pounding in her chest. Together the two women made the rest of the way out into the more open street again. Now, however, it was entirely dark. And there was still a bit of a way to get home. "I'll run for help!" Gaia Lucia promised Pinaria and tired as she was from the sudden incident, she didn't argue before it was too late. Suddenly she was alone again! What if that maniac came back? What in the name of Hades did he want? With a sigh she dared to take her eyes off the street for a moment, as she leaned against a nearby wall and moved the palla away from her arm to inspect the bleeding wound.
  14. January, 77 AD Lucius knew the area well. This was where the infamous Gardens of Sullust were to be found and the hospitia he stayed in, was here too. He planned on settling down on the Quirinal Hill with his wife and the kids and a good amount of slaves too of course. They had a good home in Hispania and they were going to have that here too. A large enough domus for two busy parents and three growing children. Armenia would soon be ready to marry off and he hoped that he could find a future betrothed for her here in Rome. He was betrothed to his own first wife, when she was just 12 years old, after all. But he didn’t meet her until a few years later. And was it here, in the gardens, that they met? He could barely remember and he hadn’t been married to her for very long either. Then Leontia entered his life and she was a good wife to him. In the beginning it was hard, because she had not known she was to marry a brothel master like Lucius, but she learned to tolerate it and today, there was no issue with it. She even helped him and she had given him three living children. He couldn’t have wished for more in a wife. Yet she was far away and he was right here. There were plenty of other women in Rome though, and men, and Lucius was here to see if the city and its people would be useful to him once more. He'd grown, while he was gone. And not just in age, but also in coin. He'd bought a few honey cakes and brought them with him to the gardens. There weren’t a lot of flowers in the gardens at this time of the year, but it was always interesting to walk through them. There was a shrine here dedicated to Venus and he sat down on an old fallen stone pillar near it, not because he really had anything to say to the goddess, but more because he was curious who else might show up here. As he sat there, he unfolded the cloth he'd carried the honey cakes in. Just as he picked up the first piece to eat it, he heard footsteps on the path towards the shrine and looked up to see who was coming this way. He was intent on always keeping his eyes open and staying alert. You never knew whom you might meet and when they'd be useful to you, after all.
  15. September 76 AD It was still pleasant out, though a little brisker than the height of summer, but warm enough that the gardens could still be enjoyed in the evening, the spaces set aside for the party warmed by strategically placed braziers and lit by taller torches. They gave a flickering light, sometimes gentle and sometimes casting odd shadows, but adding a playful and at the same time primal air to the event. Invitees had never-the-less been encouraged to bring a warm cloak, toga or palla, just in case. But it was meant to be a relaxed evening, not a stuffy, formal event. In his ponderings over the illnesses of Caesar's past, Tiberius had developed a hypothesis that one potential cause could be stress, and so this evening was meant to be something of a stress relief, a fun and fanciful time with friends, particularly for Titus. He'd invited their siblings and cousins, along with their peers. None of the older generation, whom he'd been accustomed to thinking of as the 'adults', because suddenly he and his were adults. There would be other, formal events for all generations in the near future, he was certain. Food had been organised, not a multi-course, reclined cena but rather platters of tasty, nibbly delicacies, carried by slaves or placed on strategic stone tables. Other slaves carried pitchers of wine, ranging from the vinyards along the Tiber through to Greek vintages, and elegant glass cups were available to drink from. Tiberius had asked Marcus Junius Silanus to organise entertainment, and already a flautist was playing a merry tune by one brazier, whilst nearby a juggler tossed coloured leather balls in increasingly complex patterns whilst balancing another on their nose. The layout of the gardens meant that there were several spaces, corners for conversation or the central area for lively conviviality. Here and there Praetorian Guards were unobtrusive in the shadows, keeping an eye on their Imperial charges, whilst more screened entrants at the gates. Once inside, the gardens seemed almost magical. (OOC: Open to: Characters under 30, of Imperial or Patrician class, as guests Slaves of guests Hired entertainers.)
  16. February, 77AD Marcus Barbatius was not a happy man at the moment. Last time he went to the Elysium, they gave him a petty and afraid girl, and he cut her and then after a few weeks, he’d come back for her again. Her or another. But during those weeks, Titus had suddenly left the Elysium and had not sent word to Marcus, so he didn’t know what was going on. There was a new owner to the only brothel Marcus cared to visit, and he was difficult. Apparently now he had to pay to cut the girls again, and he wasn’t sure he wanted that. He had of course paid before also, before he met Titus, but now he’d gotten so used to their little arrangement, that it displeased him. And that was not the only thing that displeased him. That stupid guy from Egypt who came to his shop a few weeks ago, had spilled gossip about a mute young guy, who claimed he was friends with a barber and he’d even mentioned another guy named Alexius. Marcus had heard the name before, or rather, read it. On the walls of Rome. It wasn’t hard to find out where the man lived and what he looked like. He had quite the size and was easily recognizable. Plus the guy, Artemon, had also told Marcus where they lived, more or less. It was easy to find out about that. And then one day, not long after, Marcus was walking through Rome, he saw the girl he cut at Saturnalia. So she lived! But not only did he see her. She was together with the man called Alexius. But, that also meant she’d most likely told someone about Marcus. And maybe this Alexius knew. And since Alexius had a party with the mute kid, who was friends with a barber, it was all very likely that it had to do with Marcus. He wasn't stupid, he could put two and two together. They, however, were stupid. For thinking he'd not find out. To Marcus, it felt like Rome was falling apart. It felt wrong. Maybe he should leave Rome, like he left his hometown. Start over somewhere else. That’s what he was considering, as he sat at a random popina in Rome, eating a stew with a cup of wine on the side. The more he thought about the whole ordeal, the angrier he felt inside. And the best way to calm down again, was to give into the anger and take it out on someone else instead. He finished eating and stood to enter the fresh night. But as he was leaving the popina, someone else was walking in. Marcus glared at them and then almost violently pushed them out of the way, in order to disappear into the early Roman evening. OPEN FOR ANYONE (it is likely that the thread will take a violent turn)
  17. August 76 Teutus had found and secured the use of a warehouse near the river's edge, located between the Aventine and where the river swept around Regio XIII, after passing Tiber Island, the Probus Bridge and the remains of the bridge defended in antiquity by Horatius. It was a good-sized warehouse, easily acessible from the river, with its own wharf, and easily secured (though Teutus would ensure that he had a couple of trustworthy guards on the site at all times - he was not going to have a guard or two there only when there was something valuable on the premises, and give that fact away). There were other warehouses nearby and he neither knew nor cared what was stored in any of them, save only that their presence would help disguise his own goods should anyone come looking with less than honest intentions. He was on the site today to ensure that the latest shipment was stored properly, dressed as befit his station as the owner of the business in tunic and pallium and with a commanding presence (if he didn't particularly feel commanding he could at least look it, and followed his father's example as far as appearances went). Some of his goods would be sold directly, some via auction (he knew a good auctioneer who would get decent prices and not charge exhorbitantly for his services). All in all, trade was good, and he could present his father with a good report of his dealings. He turned as his clerk murmured, "Domine, there's someone to see you..." There was indeed. "How can I help you?" Tag: Open!
  18. July, 76 AD He was not a slave, on his way to the slave market to be sold to another household. That’s not how it happened, when you were a freedman in Rome. No, when you were a freedman and the man who originally freed you had died, you were entirely free. And since he sold his old home, the one he inherited from his father… and his wife was still missing… and he now lost his job, he had nowhere to go. All he had was the sack with his things in it and the money he’d been given when he left the family and the domus. It had been interesting to work for the Tusca family, although also challenging. He could see why the young lady had needed a bodyguard – she was beautiful and easily tempted and he would never trust her half-brother, whose words were as smooth as butter and his eyes full of mischief. But the family had no need for him anymore and so he ventured into the streets of Rome again, considering what to do. Maybe he should find himself an insula to live in? He didn’t have a lot, so it would be a simple room in the top floor or something. It would have been easier, had he been a slave. Then he would have known where to go. The slave market or a new owner. But now he needed so much more; he needed a new job and a place to stay. He sat down on a step, thinking through his options. What could he do? Maybe return to the market as he thought about and ask for his old job back? That was the best option. He didn’t want to look for an insula before he had a job. So he stood, but as soon as he’d taken a step, the knot in his sack (which was really just a large piece of linen tied together as a sack) fell apart and everything spilled onto the ground. He cursed and sighed deeply, before beginning to pick them up quietly, because this was his lot in life. Things falling apart. As they always did.
  19. 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
  20. Aulus had visited the Temple of Juno where he had offered a sacrifice in thanksgiving for his wife and their marriage, and then gone on to the Temple of Jupiter to offer a sacrifice for the continued health and well-being of the Emperor, and to ask for favour in his quest for consulship - and for wisdom if he was elected (he would go and make similar sacrifices at the Temple of Minerva if he was fortunate enough to be elected). Although he had Quintus Augustus' approbation, so that was something. He wasn't about to take it for granted, though - anything could happen between now and then, of course. And of course he'd asked for the priest to take the omens for him, to find out if the gods were in favour or not of his ascending to the Consulship. He was ambitious, to be sure, but his was an ambition tempered with pragmatism, knowing that he wanted nothing further, nothing higher in Rome than that. A friend of Caesar's, not a rival - never a rival. He had supported Quintus Flavius Alexander through the grim dark days of civil war and would continue to support him, and his heirs. The omens, as far he could ascertain, were favourable, and he left the smoky darkness of the temple feeling more settled and certain. He paused on the temple steps to throw his toga back (he had covered his head with a fold of it as was usual when conducting a ritual) and rearrange its folds into something more becoming a senator and less like a priest, and took a deep breath of the clean fresh air.
  21. Davus had dropped his master's toga and several tunics at the fullonica, and while he was supposed to head back, he'd managed to avoid getting told that directly, which was enough justification in his mind to be able to head down the hill to the Forum, for a short while at least. If accosted, he could always come up with a reason for being there; the cook always needed something from the market and there were plenty of reasons for a house slave being out of the house. He stopped at a hot food stall for a snack, only to realise that the previous customer had left their change behind. "Excuse me!" He called, trying to be heard above the noises of the crowds.
  22. September, 76 AD She could barely believe it when it happened – but suddenly she saw Eucleia’s tail disappear out the front door to the domus and the dog was gone. Her father and her brother were not at home. It was just Sosia and the slaves. What should she do? She had to find her dog! She could not imagine not having Eucleia, she’d had the dog for four years already and she loved her. And how on Earth did she get out? Who left the door slightly open? With a heavy sigh, Sosia opened the front door on her own and looked out into the late afternoon, “Eucleia?!” She yelled, but the dog did not come. She looked over her shoulder and then she wrapped her palla around her and went out. And closed the door behind her. She still stood just on the front door step to the street. She hadn’t said anything to anyone. It was kind of embarrassing, that her dog had run away and no one but her cared so much about Eucleia. They would not go looking for her. Where could she have gone to? She stopped an old lady walking by, asking if she’d seen the dog and she thought she’d seen a blonde dog running around a nearby corner in a certain direction. Sosia thanked the lady and began walking, occasionally calling out for the dog that did not show up. She kept asking people if they’d seen Eucleia and a lot of people had noticed the beautiful and well-groomed dog running around. Finally she spotted the fur walking down a narrow alley behind some houses. Sosia followed Eucleia. This time the dog turned its head when she called. It was indeed her dog! She finally managed to put a leash around the dog’s neck and then turned around. But where did she come from? She didn't recognize any buildings. Now she could really use Davus to help her figure it out. Or even Tiberius. But none of them were here and the sun was setting. She was lost. In Rome.
  23. July, 76AD A Taberna1 on the Via Ardeatina, halfway between Ardea and Rome Well - at least it wasn't a caupona, but the taberna they'd been forced to spend the night at wasn't exactly a palace either. Gaius and Lucius - her two eldest full brothers - seemed to think it was perfectly adequate, but then again they'd both only recently returned from the legions so any half-decent shack would probably look decent compared to the garrison in Thracia for Gaius, and Hispania for Lucius where they'd spent long, torturous years as tribunes. The small group - Gaius, Lucius, Ovinia and the three slaves they had between them had been visiting their paternal Aunt at her country estate for a week, forced to do so by their father who chose of course not to go himself, citing his work when in reality his three eldest children knew he couldn't stand the woman. She understood why; Ovinia Antonilla was cold and miserly who lived in a damp villa with sour looking slaves and the three siblings had spent a week being lambasted for their lack of a marriage (her), and lack of progress up the cursus (Gaius and Lucius). When it had come time to leave, Ovinia kissed her Aunt's cheeks and sent a silent prayer of gratitude to the Gods for allowing her to escape and promising a sacrifice on her return when they made it back. That prayer, however, had obviously incensed rather than amused the Gods (or maybe it did both) because 10 miles outside of Ardrea, with another fifteen to go, the wheel on the carpentum snapped clean in half. The men had debated for a good long while; they could send one of the slaves back to the house to fetch another carriage but their Aunt was unlikely to stand for it and would insist they came back until it could get repaired. None of them willing to accept another second of her hospitality, the three patrician's and their retinue had instead chosen to walk to the nearest taberna and check-in for a night until they could find a carpenter. So here they were, as the sun was setting and the cool air of the night settled (mercifully) about them. Ovinia didn't like it much here, but at least she wasn't at her Aunt's. Anything but that. They'd booked two rooms; one for the men and another for her where two of the slaves would stand watch outside all night. Whilst not as rough as a caupona and open largely only to equite and senatorial travellers, the taberna was nonetheless a risky place for a young, unmarried patrician girl so she begrudgingly accepted her door-men. Or she would, when it was time to retire. For now though she was content to explore the grounds of the place as her brothers ate and drank in the adjoining bar. She had no stomach for anymore rich meats or cheeses which seemed to her to be the only thing on the menu and so had slipped outside for some air, citing women's problems as a reason for her to go alone. Her brothers didn't argue - she'd only be a short distance away, and they knew from experience Ovinia could scream bloody loud if she wanted. The night was cool and her slaves were back inside and so she was enjoying the peace, sat on one of the little benches that overlooked a poorly-tended pond, when she heard footsteps behind her. TAG: Open! 1 Wikipedia tells me that a taberna wasn't just an eatery, but also was a pseudo-inn for genteel travellers.
  24. The palace at night was peaceful, and the prince was one to sleep past dawn. Not raising until Apollo's rays peaked through the gossamer drapes that fluttered in the gentle breeze. That night, however, Titus was awake. Fretting in his bed as he felt some sort of unnerving feeling settled into the pit of his stomach. Almost as if he knew the gods were angry for some reason. His body slave tried to get him to cast the thought away. That is just his mind playing tricks on him. Still, it needled at him. Until he finally began to doze off thanks to mere exhaustion. That was when the earth began to quake, rattling the buildings of the city, including the palace. Titus bolted up right as the room around him shook, he could see his men slowly coming to, shouts around the palace could be heard. "We need to get to the gardens." He told them as he stood, grabbing his tunic and sandals. Pulling them on as he moved quickly out of his room. Slaves were running around trying to save what they could from being destroyed as they too headed towards where they would be safe at. Another tremor hit, this time stronger , forcing him to make haste before he stopped and realizing he didn't recognize any of the slaves as his younger brother's. "Get to the gardens, I need to go find Drusus!" He said, pushing his servants and his tutor towards the way to safety before making his way towards the rooms he knew housed his brother. --- 30 6 75 | sorry fort he anticlimactic starting post lol | open to those living in the palace. | no posting order, short posts are
  25. December 19th, 75AD The fact that gambling was banned during the year unless on the festival days proscribed in law baffled Lucius. He supposed he understood it - if he really dredged his mind - from a practical perspective in that it caused no end of temper tantrums amongst the sore losers and those caught cheating, enough drama to entice further violence, but surely the Senate or the Emperor didn't need to legislate to prevent against such inane fighting? Ridiculous, and another facet of life in the city that was too rigorously controlled. The ability to gamble during Saturnalia - as far as he could see it - was one of the festivals only benefits and as he sat at one of the outdoor seats, throwing his dice in the Game of Twelve1 he was currently enjoying, he managed a rare, rueful smile. He'd not really celebrated the previous two nights, aside from ordering his half-sister and son to prepare some meagre meal for the slaves on the first night. He'd shuttered himself away in his room for the rest of the evening and let them have their fun, whilst he stewed in his own melancholy. When all was said and done, he was rather proud he'd only yelled at them to be quiet once or twice throughout the evening. As he cast his final throw and manoeuvred his piece in the dim light, his smile grew and his opponent - some portly equite man (judging by the gaudy clothes) through down the money Lucius was owed in a huff, before storming off into the dark of the evening, overturning his chair in the process. Lucius only smirked and gestured for a slave girl to right the fallen article with a flick of his wrist. Nobody knew him here, which is why he liked it. The Forum was packed with the festivities and he blended in as just another upper-class man on an evening jaunt. He was dressed finely, as befit his station, but in the shadowy corner of the Forum - with only the flicker of oil lamps and torches, he felt fairly discrete. It's why he'd risked a turn on the table (and won, he hastened to add in his thoughts). Picking up his cup of wine, he reclined in his seat, in no hurry to find another opponent for a third match. Instead he let his green eyes wander over the forms of the people congregating in the square. Gods most of them were vile; plastered drunk, sweaty and stumbling even in the dead of December. He swallowed the sneer he wanted to affect as he took another sip of wine. TAG: Open! 1The 'Game of Twelve' or Ludus duodecim scriptorum
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