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Found 14 results

  1. Britannia, late 67AD Nostalgia hit him with full force as Titus entered the military camp on a chilly (for one, not rainy) morning. It was early, but the camp was alive with the hustle and bustle of hundreds of men going about their tasks... Except for a group of four off to his left, where two huddled close to the ground and two others stood and watched. As he got closer to them, the familiar sound of dice rolling inside a cup could be heard, followed by sudden silence and a mix of boastful laughter and groaning. Fasces in tow, Titus approached one of the spectating legionaries and barked a question at him. "Soldier! Where is your legate?" The man flinched and whipped round so quickly he nearly broke his neck, showing a face full of pimples. He had the presence of spirit to step away from his comrades and salute Titus. "I-I d-don't know, sir!" the young soldier managed to stammer out. Titus was unimpressed. "Then why don't you do something about it?" The legionary stared at him with an asinine look. Titus hoped Balbus Papulus was at least a good fighter, since he had neither beauty nor brains. He rolled his eyes, feeling his patience dwindle. "Go find out, then come back here and take me to him, you idiot!" The order spurred the young man into action at last, and he sprang off in search of his general. In the mean time, Titus busied himself with shooting the gambling soldiers dirty looks until the sting of disapproval - or the threat of the fasces - was strong enough to make them put the dice away and start polishing their boots with exaggerated gestures. Balbus Papulus came back surprisingly soon and lead Titus through the camp to one of the bigger tents. The young man did his best to announce that "Qua-quaestor Titus Sulpicius Rufus is he-here to s-s-see--", but Titus dismissed him with a sigh and a wave before he could finish and strode into the tent. A quick look around the tent and its occupants let him know he needn't be too formal, but proper greetings were de rigueur in case someone was lingering just outside, trying to listen in. "Salvete, legate, Aulus Calpurnius," he greeted each man with a nod, predictably ignoring the slaves in a corner. Now that that was out of the way, Titus relaxed his posture a little, but still did not smile. "Did you know you have men gambling for money this early in the morning? At least teach them to be discreet about it." @Sara @Sharpie @Chevi
  2. Early May, 74AD - the day after the events of 'A Dacian fable' Dawn had brought with it a new day, one of more subdued excitement and a return to everyday discipline, though spirits naturally still ran high in the camp. After a wet night of drinking and celebration, the morning sun was oddly unwelcome by many, but the soldiers powered through hangovers and soon the camp was bustling with noise and life. Titus had not drunk to the same excess as most of his men, having learnt his lesson long ago, and so he left his tent and trod through the drying mud unbothered to get a proper look at some of their new captives. He had passable information of who was who in that ragtag tribe, but wanted to get a feeling for himself on who might yet cause trouble and who would go down quicker. Inside one of the smaller tents were a couple of higher-profile prisoners, and Titus immediately focused on a tall, well-built man, still dirty from the fighting. They'd had been given a little water to drink, but not anywhere near enough for a measly clean-up. His right arm looked to be in very bad shape, and the pain must have been agonising; should it regain some function, it would still probably never be strong enough to hold sword, spear or shield again. The warrior in Titus could sympathise - to many a man, death would have been preferable to such an injury. The more pragmatic side of him saw it for the good fortune it was for the Roman side: one less fighter to worry about, as he would not be able to take up arms against the Eagles now or in the future, nor train their youths to do it for him. And this one, with his uncowed gaze, would have been very capable of doing just that. Even now, though he was was restrained by tight ropes sturdily wound round his wrists, ankles and neck, the Dacian managed to affect a smug, prideful air not unlike that of his tribeswoman Titus had dealt with the previous day. Perhaps they were related, although he had no knowledge of this one sporting such fine gold on him, or even a particularly ornate weapon. But the man before him would crack sooner or later, like that wench would if she had not already. Exactly how that would happen was yet to be seen, but Titus wasn't overly concerned; if he did not find the chink in the armour himself, someone else or Saturn as the lord of time would. With a frown on his face Titus studied the other man for a few moments, appraising him as he would a ware. Those instants were enough to form a first opinion, but he would allow the Dacian a chance to make his own case. "What shall I do with you, with your arm like that?" @Jane
  3. Mid December, 74AD Longinus enjoyed the walk up the Esquiline Hill, perversely finding the ache in his legs satisfying. But he lingered now, outside the domus for Titus to join him before he was admitted. A request for a meeting had been sent a little over a week ago and he was bringing his closest friend for moral support (and because he suspected the opportunity to speak to a Praetor was decently tempting for Titus). He'd had absolutely no luck in engaging Tertius' elder brother, Secundus about the matter of his niece (his letters going unanswered and the offer of wine and a meeting refused). In frustration, he'd complained to his mother where he'd been promptly been informed that the oldest Varus was rumoured to be of unsound mind and that should Longinus wish to make any inroads, it would be better to speak to Tertius. And thus he'd found himself standing outside the domus, enjoying the last few dregs of warmth from the December sun. Seeing Titus approach he grinned and offered a dramatic roll of the eyes, "What a good first impression we're to make - late." He snorted and inclined his head to the slave who promptly swung open the door to admit them. Their presence was announced and Longinus couldn't help but glance around as he waited for the older man to join them. The domus was suspiciously quiet, or quieter than Titus' whose home was filled with the chatter of children and hurried feet of slaves running after them. He'd understood the Senator was widowed, much like himself, and had a young daughter of similar age to Cassia (his mother really was the font of all knowledge) and supposed the two men had more in common (at least superficially) than he'd anticipated. As Tertius approached, he cracked a broad grin in greeting; "Salve Senator Varus," He moved to clasp the other mans arm. "Thank you again for agreeing to meet me." TAG: @Atrice @Liv (& @Sharpie if you want Attis or Teutus to join!) Charis is also in the domus and may/will join the thread if/when invited over by Tertius. She's currently working in the garden, dressed up in the fancy chiton Tertius had picked out for her and looking eerily identical to her sister Nymphias...just more petite and brunette.
  4. Mid-December, 74AD Longinus cast a disapproving glance to Titus and muttered; "Here? Really?" It was not that Longinus was a snob, and the middle-class suburbs were nothing overtly offensive, but the man was trying all he could to get out of this particular activity. He wasn't even overly attached to his beard, or his hair (both of which had been dutifully trimmed a month or so ago), but he was reluctant to admit that his friends or mother were right. The man was stubborn to a fault. Glancing at his friend again, he ran a hand over his beard for the (probably) the final time and sighed. "The things I do for women, eh?" He chuckled and moved to enter, but not before hesitating. "This bloke's supposed to be good, isn't he? I mean, he's not going to cut open my throat, is he?" He arched a brow at his friend, but with an amused glimmer in his eye, "I can't have survived the battlefields of Britannia to die bleeding in a barbers chair..." He snorted in amusement but with a heavy sigh, swung the door and blinked into the dim light of the man's shop. He'd not routinely employed the services of a barber for the past few months, and much as he enjoyed the company of his body slave, he didn't trust Attis as far as he could throw him when it came to razors near his throat. He coughed, to alert the man of his presence and rolled his eyes at Titus. TAG: @Liv & @Atrice
  5. Sara

    A Dacian Fable

    Early May, 74CE Zia grinned at her son, holding his hand firmly but letting his little legs wander as he took in the sights and the smells of the military camp. To a child, what had happened and where they were now was some great, drawn out adventure. To Luto's four year old mind there was nothing sinister in all the men in their red cloaks, nothing malevolent in the tent in which they were hurriedly stored in with all of the other women and children. His big brown eyes took it all in as if he were living one of the great tales of heroism his father and grandfathers had told him. Little Luto even went so far as to wave at a few of the passing legionaries as they were escorted through the maze of straight lines to, what she presumed, was the commander's tent. Her smile was in part for the energy of her son, but also for the thought he'd be sleeping in a tent like the rest of them during this very uncharacteristic May rain which drizzled down on them, soaking man and woman alike to the bone. She'd not told anybody who she was since her arrival in this place, but presumed somebody else had spilled the beans. Probably Diegis, the idiot. She had considered it safer to be an anonymous woman and boy caught up in the chaos of the skirmish than one of its architects. That anonymity, clearly, was not to last. She'd not seen her husband since he was bundled away under a swathe of red cloaked men in stupid helmets, but she knew he'd seen his father and brothers fates. A small part of her ignited at the thought that it left him as the chief, a bigger part hoped he wouldn't prattle on about it too much. She'd heard rumours about what had happened to the chieftains of occupied provinces; paraded through the streets of Rome in chains. She hoped her husband had more sense than to prattle on about his family. Finally drawing to the tent she cast a dismissive glance over it, her nose wrinkling in displeasure. This was where the great and the good of Rome lived? She was a little horrified. Shunted through the flaps, her hand still clasping her sons, she blinked into the dim light. It was barely dawn outside, and the candles that lit up the canvas made it smoky and hard to see. She didn't recognise the man sat in front of her, but then they all looked the same in their silly little outfits to her. Luto, however, unfettered grinned at him and pointed at the crested helmet set aside, beaming whilst he asked in Dacian; "Can I play with it?" Zia yanked back his arm as he moved to touch it and reminded herself to drill some sense into her boy at the next opportune moment. She said nothing to the man and instead just arched a brow, waiting for his big speech. TAG: @Liv
  6. Sestia found herself, for the second time that week, driven to exasperation at the ineptitude of her slaves. More specifically, those tasked with her transportation. To her, it seemed like the simplest of simple tasks: you pick up the litter, you walk with the litter, you pick up the mistress at the appointed hour, at the appointed place, and you carry said mistress and said litter back home. The bearers themselves were dusky Nubians whose grasp of Latin was, at best, tenuous – so they could be forgiven. However, they were supervised – for this very reason – by Fronto, a fat Syrian who spoke Latin and Greek perfectly and whose job it was to ensure that those of the mistress’ staff who did not, should properly understand. Given that Rome’s streets were a traffic nightmare, it was not the case that in public places, such as the Arena, the litter and its bearers could be parked ad infinitum until it was required. Sooner or later some job’s-worth vigils patrol would saunter up and slap them with a ticket for blocking a thoroughfare. Sestia could appreciate that and plans were normally made for such an eventuality. The litter should return to the Domus Afinii Gallii, ideally, and come back at the time agreed. This was simple stuff. You did not have to be the Urban Praetor or a Treasury Quaestor to wrap your head around this. All it required was an ability to follow orders and have a general conception of the passing of time and basic urban geography. She would have ordered Fronto’s beating if she thought him so stupid as to fail to understand this. However, she was very much afraid that he might actually be clever…too clever. Her suspicions – not yet any more than this – was that the wily Syrian was using her litter as a private taxi service during the hours she was engaged elsewhere. Presumably he and the bearers pocketed the proceeds. How else could you explain his fine clothes and ability to put on weight so quickly? She made a mental note to find one of her slaves who had a single honest bone in their body and use them to get to the bottom of what was going on. All of this, however, did not change the current situation. Sestia had made it clear to Fronto that she required collecting from the entrance of the Arena an hour before the end of the day’s events. The point was that she would thereby be saved from the crush of drunken revellers released after the final event, hurrying off to popinas, bars, brothels and homes. They would avoid the inevitable traffic jams on the way home. In short, a whole lot of stress and difficulty could be easily avoided. Yet, here she was, stood in the central entrance arch as the crowds streamed past her, barging and buffeting her and Brysias like flotsam in a choppy stream, and there was no litter in sight. Well, there were litters in sight, plenty of them, just not hers! Brysias was being driven to distraction, forever looked about her and Sestia and their belongings to ensure that no light-fingered cutpurse or thief could get at them. Another group of revellers practically charged down the hallway, cheering and whooping, clearly three sails to the wind, full of drink. Several women of ill repute laughed and joked with them, pawed at by their drunken companions. One cheered as he smashed a clay cup against the wall whilst another stopped to empty the contents of his stomach against the wall whilst his friends laughed. They barged past, almost knocking Sestia off her feet. Admittedly, the soles of her sandals had an unnecessarily large and bolstered wooden heel on them so her footing was precarious at the best of times. Only just recovering from this barging, the pair were officiously chivvied out of the way as a troupe of Arena cleaning slaves hustled past with mops and buckets to start their work. Crowds were still pouring down the internal staircases and cramming into the entrance hall, slowly pushing and shoving their way out to be disgorged onto the street as if from the belly of a great beast. “I swear by Juno I will have Fronto whipped until he can’t walk for a month,” Sestia said, with a small hint of rising panic in her voice. @Liv
  7. (Letter dated late November 74 AD) Titus Sulpicius Rufus to his dearest friend Longinus, greetings . As promised, brother, here is the list you desire. Most Almost all of the work is Valeria’s, but I took the liberty of summarising it lest you end up with two full scrolls for each lady. Calpurnia Praetextata Sister to our good friend Aulus of the same name and by all accounts a very beautiful woman, although I have never seen her up close. I don’t think it gets any more prestigious than marrying a former Vestal, although fertility is naturally an unknown quantity in her case. Claudia Caesaris Second only to a Vestal is the imperial household. Again, I am not closely acquainted with this lady, but she is young and said to be very good-looking. I can ask my sister-in-law Cornelia for more information if it pleases you. Oriana Laecania It saddens me to inform once more I have no first-hand account of the beauty of this lady, but according to Valeria she throws some very nice parties. My dear wife tells me she is Equite but looking to move up and comes across as rather smart. Young widow, no children, plenty of money of her own so she won’t go after yours. Caecina Tusca I know it has been your lifelong dream to settle in that mucky shithole we know as Britannia, and to accompany you in your misery who better than the proconsul’s daughter? Think about it, you could have dinner with your father-in-law every night! Too bad it’s not a hereditary magistracy… right? Quinctilia Varia Widow, on the older side, but not too old to have a third child. Comes from a good family, too. Do you like redheads, Longinus? Sergia Auletia If the mother doesn’t cut it, maybe the daughter will - but don't go thinking about threesomes now! Valeria says she hasn’t been married before. Licinia Aureliana My sister-in-law’s niece, daughter of her sister. I haven’t actually seen her in years but she’s said to be very pretty. If you do not find anything to your liking on this list, Longinus, then I will once and for all be convinced that the Britons sacrificed the real you, cock and balls and all, and summoned your castrated lemur to take your place. I shall make sure the appropriate rites are observed and pray for your soul once a year or so. Farewell, my dearest friend and brother. @Sara
  8. Every time he went out drinking with Longinus, Titus swore to himself it would be the last. And every time, he went back on his word, thinking it couldn't hurt. He'd lost count of how many cups they had had, or what exactly had been in them by the time they stumbled out of the final tavern and made the surprisingly sober joint decision to head to whichever of their domus was nearest, sleep the inebriation off and wake up in cosy sheets with a massive hangover the next day. "...Anyway, this Pustula bloke was just sooo mean," Titus resumed the story he'd been trying to tell Longinus for the last ten minutes, "sooo strong, that he's got this-- this pot shard or whatever it was..." He held up a hand and closed it around an invisible piece of broken ceramics. "And he goes and fights the guards, the brothel guards, and he goes and stabs them! Like this!" To demonstrate exactly how it had gone down, Titus punched Longinus in the shoulder, making a 'whoosh' sound effect for good measure. It didn't even register for him when his friend staggered and almost lost his balance. They were utterly pissed, of course they were wobbly too. @Sara
  9. Late summer, 65 AD The errant scroll had been one of many forgotten or discarded by their author after they’d served their purpose. They were a common find for Titus to make, scattered about the house when the slaves did not manage to pick them up fast enough – study, atrium, peristylium, under furniture or poking out from beneath a pile of garments. Valeria was a prolific writer and composer when the Muses came to her, and they’d been visiting at a higher frequency as the bump under her clothes grew bigger. Boredom was never too far off, its shadow always looming from right round the corner, and pregnancy brought its own set of limitations from what Titus could remember and confirm through observation: when it wasn’t swollen feet it was wobbly balance or a bladder with the sudden size and capacity of a single grape. No wonder she’d been going through wax tablets and papyrus faster than the vigintiviri at their busiest. He’d been about to toss it into the fire when a line caught his eye, the words surprisingly familiar to him. Titus unrolled it a bit more and skimmed the visible contents, eyes growing wide in disbelief. A moment later he was hastily unrolling the entire thing and reading it with a frown and full attention. His mind went foggy and his breath caught in his throat. It was Valeria’s handwriting, no question – he had seen it plenty of times and recognised it beyond doubt. What he had not been expecting was to see one of Landicus’ newest poems staring back at him, complete with annotations and crossed-out words where they had been replaced by better-sounding ones. He’d heard these verses quoted and discussed amongst the people in the city streets, and the soldiers in the provinces were always eager to study the lecherous poet’s works. And now that he thought about it, Titus had previously acknowledged instances of stylistic similarities between Valeria’s verse and Landicus’ – a word here, an expression there -, but all had been filed away as coincidence or the influence of earlier literature. Yet this was neither, and he had been a fool to ignore the signs. Jaw grimly set and the sound of his frantic heartbeat drowning out everything else, Titus left the room with a firm-one handed grip on the scroll and went around the house in search of his wife, poking his head into various rooms until he finally found her in one of them, hunched over a desk with her back to the entrance. “Valeria…” he softly called out from the doorway, the unrolled scroll hanging by his side. For the first time in forever, there was no smile in his voice when he said her name. Even if, for a single minute, he were as eloquent as putting thought to word as she, there was still no easy description of the feelings that whirled and churned inside his chest. Disappointment. Inadequacy. Uncertainty. Resentment. All of it directed at himself, for not being enough. Not entertaining enough, exciting enough, smart enough, adventurous enough for this one-of-a-kind woman who had come unapologetically into his life five years prior. That she would have to resort to her own imagination to provide what he could not hurt deeper than the deep gash to his cheek and ear and sword through his side that had seen him sent back to Rome. He waited for her to turn around and acknowledge him before walking over to where she was and dragging off a folding chair conveniently placed only a couple of feet away so he could sit next to her. There would be no screaming match or lashing out at her, especially not when she was carrying his child. Instead, Titus tossed the scroll onto the desk so Valeria could read it and silently gazed at her face, dejection written all over his own. Did he even know her at all? “Would you care to tell me about this?” His tone was quiet, just above a whisper, but Titus kept his eyes trained on hers. He just wanted to understand. @Joaquin
  10. Valeria had purposely made it be known that she had a surprise in mind, offhandedly as if it were an afterthought, as if a surprise was as easy as a roll of the tongue. She rapped her fingers and had a devilish grin on her face, a look more appropriate for the wake of a devious murder plot rather than anything that might resemble normalcy or even innocence. But beyond ‘I have a surprise for you’, she had said very little else to her husband, not what time, whether it would be that day, or what the nature of what she had in store. If it left him anxious or shivering with anticipation, then she derived more pleasure from it. She often felt satiated by watching others squirm, whether it was Landicus’s foul written word or her own love of a little mischief. Something was clearly being planned, however, and even in the days ahead of her little slip of an announcement, she had to keep not only the preparations out of Titus’s attention but her children’s, although Sulpicia might’ve come to some level of conclusion, being that she was reaching the age to grow suspicious of any degree of ‘alone time’ between their father and mother. Of course, there was perhaps the occasional overhearing her mother’s burst of laughter and “you call that a penis?” through the walls when Titus wasn’t home. But if there was anyone that had a closest idea it was Vibia. After a back-and-forth, she arranged for the courtesan to arrive at their home in the evening and be met by a servant that was definitely not Nymphias until Valeria was able to join her. When the same servant had come into the chamber that Valeria had been in, reclining in candlelight with Titus, she leaned over to observe who it was and gave a quick “thank you, so-and-so” before they could stop, catch their breath, and open their mouth. At that moment, Valeria seemed to grow a sudden amount of energy as she drew up to her feet. “Are you ready for your present?” she asked with excitement carrying through her voice. @Liv and @Sara
  11. The sun's punishing rays made sweat drops bloom on Titus' forehead like so many miniature flowers for the third time in just as many minutes, and he wiped them off with the back of a calloused hand. Was it really absolutely necessary to replace the oleanders and croci with new bulbs on one of the hottest days of the season? It wasn't domina doing the (literal) dirty work, so expecting her to take the weather into consideration was too much to ask. And he wasn't even a gardener, by Jupiter! He hoped, however, that he didn't do such a poor job that it would elicit punishment. As if on cue, the mistress's voice sounded from inside the house, calling his name. Titus set the spade aside against one of the columns and wiped his hands on his tunic; when he'd put it on that morning it had been a clean if nondescript grey, but all the digging and pottering about had stained it black and brown and several places and his hands were faring no better. If only there were a basin with water nearby... It would not be wise to keep domina waiting. Resigned that this was as clean as he was going to be for the time being, Titus quickly made his way in to the atrium, trying his best not to track dirty footprints inside. As expected, domina stood tall and proud in the atrium, but she was not alone: another, very familiar slave stood as well, appearing to await orders. Why would she have summoned Valeria too? Titus could not afford to waste time thinking about it. Taking his place next to Valeria, he bowed his head and lowered his gaze to the floor. "You called, Domina?" @Beauty @Joaquin
  12. November 74AD The house had been readied for the evening, all breakable items moved out of the way to less public areas of the house than the atrium, triclinium and garden, soft drapes hung, and musicians ensconced in a corner where their playing could be heard. Scantily-clad slaves (both male and female) were stationed in various places throughout the public parts of the house to direct guests or serve them in whatever way they wished - offering further food or drink or more personal attention. They were the prettiest Aulus could find, and their clothing, such as it was, left little to the imagination. Aulus himself was stationed in the atrium to greet his guests. He was wearing a synthesis, a light garment more suitable for an evening occasion like this than the heavy toga or even the less formal pallium. He had stationed a slave nearby with a tray of wine-cups to offer the guests as they arrived. (Please note: Any other people who know/could know Aulus are invited, and any characters who could be hired/lent for such an event are also welcome to join in - just reply to this thread and I'll add your character to the tags list! Once the party is under way, feel free to make your own threads in this board.)
  13. With Publius ill, Valeria often visited her father’s in the mornings, giving him the company of his only living child and helping out her mother around the domus to alleviate the stress. His sickness, which was described by the physician as a ‘pneumonia’, seemed vile with a heavy phlegmatic cough and given his age, there was always a buried fear inside Valeria that one breath would be his last. When they had first arrived in Rome, Valeria had herded the children along with her but as time went on, it seemed better that only she went for a multitude of reasons, even if their presence did seem to brighten their grandfather’s days. After one such morning, Valeria returned home, seeking out a particular reclining seat accompanied with cushions that was brought out by the slaves into the gardens. Despite the fact the days had been growing colder, the Italian sun was warm against the skin. She was rather proud of ‘her’ garden, as she liked to call it, despite it being considered an ‘indulgence’ by some, in the summers, it would be lush and bursting with vivid flowering plants, including saffron and hyacinths, but now, the greenery had begun to fade into autumn. With a scroll that she had obtained the night prior at the launch of a novel by a writer who had gained a celebrity status, she settled down comfortably with a wine glass that was refilled frequently at her request. She had never heard of him, Pustula they called him apparently, but so far, it seemed so bad that it was good, which might have been the unintentional appeal. Intermittently through all the shuffling of the parchment, there were loud but short laughs. @Liv
  14. 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
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