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  1. The early summer sun was out, brightening the city’s white columns and terracotta, and with good weather came the endless prospects the outside world had to offer. While Valeria was often content staying at home with her wax tablet and scrolls, she also found herself in need of stimulation and company outside her family. Because the high-end bathhouse was a place of both leisure and a cultural hotspot with the occasional theatre or music performance and a collection of literature housing reading rooms and a library with shelves for scrolls. Despite having the litter brought to the baths where she intended to enjoy a warm soaking and massage, Valeria was gowned – for the journey – as an artist would express herself: in bright colour, with a thick, styled wig, and kohl. She made sure to have Horatia accompany her. “Think of the fun we’ll have,” she promised. After all, the weather, and an excursion anywhere put her in good spirits. As they left the heat of the sun in the front gardens of the bathhouse, they were welcomed by the coolness of the bathhouse interior. Although music or the projection of dramatic lines were not yet filling up the frescoed walls, the high domed ceiling compensated for it with the sounds of echoing footfall on marble and the flapping of birds that had found their way inside through the skylights. “Oh, I was hoping they would be here,” Valeria gasped eagerly as her eyes caught the set-up of stalls near the entrance, each were brimming with colourful trinkets and perfumes. The woman made a quick beeline towards them, pressing her fingers with their polished and coloured nails here and there as she pulled one thing out after the other followed by a “how much?” before she put it back. It was never a question of money as it was that Valeria simply liked the victory of a good bargain. After having some perfume sprayed on to her wrist, Valeria took a whiff before turning to Horatia, holding it out for the woman to smell. “What do you think? It doesn’t smell too much like a centurion’s sweaty ass, does it?” @Sara
  2. Late July, 75 AD The problem with boat trips was that they, without exception, were all far too long. The moment Titus stepped aboard a vessel whether big or small, civilian or military, his stomach began to threaten to make its way out of his mouth and quite literally abandon ship and jump overboard. It had not yet succeeded, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. He knew all the tricks in the book and had tried each of them at least once, some to greater success than others. Travel on an empty stomach. Fix your gaze upon a far-off point in the horizon. Close your eyes. Try not to move your head. Press down on the inside of your wrist, approximately in the middle. Press down on the area between the thumb and the index on the back of your hand. Promise Neptune a great many sacrifices. Curse all the gods and threaten to withhold sacrifices. In the end, what worked best for Titus was lying on his back, eyes covered by his arm so he resisted both Sol’s unforgiving rays and the temptation to open them and look about and make matters worse, and distracting himself by reviewing what was to come. Aenaria had better be all the touts promised and more, or else he would personally drown them all once they were back on the mainland. Thinking objectively on it, they were probably right: a number of quality vineyards that offered wine tasting tours, quaint little towns, pristine beaches and hot springs and therapeutic mud capable of healing tiredness if nothing else. He looked forward to spending a few days there and sampling all those portents; it would give him the fortitude to mentally prepare himself for the journey back. Fully aware of how childish he looked and just as equally unbothered by it, Titus readjusted his head on Valeria’s lap and repeated the plaintive question he had posed some three-quarters of an hour earlier, though he kept his arm in place as a sun shield. “You spot land yet?” Any similarity to their children's 'are we there yet?' of some days prior was purely and entirely coincidental. @Joaquin @open-ish
  3. Outside the Circus Maximus, the crowds were swarming and increasingly smellier as they began to bump shoulders under the hot sun while trying to push into the complex and its seating arrangements. Naturally, Valeria had very little interest in watching the gladiatorial games, much less the races, and household names like ‘Menelaus’, ‘Bassus’, or ‘Marcellus’ of the Whites evaded her. She often left such things to Titus to take Publius, but she thought of it as a treat for her children, a spur of the moment decision following a morning’s visit to her father’s. The younger two particularly would find excitement amongst the crowds, charged by the social energy and adventures that circled the track over and over again. Flacca, on the other hand, was at the age where she seemed to want to be elsewhere and instead carried reading along with her. Regrettably, it was not the great Landicus, but it was still something that made Valeria smile. Although years ago, when Valeria had done the same, would have made her father hiss a “put that away”. It was poor manner to read in company, after all, but to Valeria, it was poor form to be unread. As they tracked through the crowds towards where they could make their entrance, Valeria instinctively held onto her son’s shoulder to keep him close, while her eldest was carrying her squirming sister, who kept trying to climb over Flacca’s shoulder to point out people or animals in the surrounding area. As Valeriana pointed in one direction with a “look!”, Valeria followed as she swept through some of the people spread out and around the stadium and caught the familiar face of Pinaria Gaia. “We’ll go inside in just a moment,” Valeria told her children, only to be met with Publius’s complaint. “But our seats!” “But Pinaria Gaia!” Valeria complained back, mimicking her son’s whine, before she added “it’ll only be a minute” even though in momspeak, that essentially meant the same as when she created a side-trip to the markets with her children and had them bouncing from foot to foot in exhaustion as she turned minutes into hours of looking at fabrics and jewels. As Valeria approached, she tilted slightly as if to get a good look at Pinaria as she excitedly opened her arms. “Fancy seeing you here,” she greeted her with a laugh. @Atrice
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