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Entering the arena (Darius)

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COLLIS PALATINUS » Domus Claudialis » Entering the Arena (Darius)
Entering the Arena (Darius)
Post by traci on Apr 1, 2009, 11:58pm

If anything ever made Antonia Vitellia nervous, it was the idea of requesting an audience with Darius Flavius Honorious. The journey to the palace in a litter had been less nervewracking than standing here in their entrance hall, awaiting a slave to go past that she might summon the poor soul towards her. Right now, waiting anxiously, she felt as though she were in the Arena, facing a pride of starving lions. Indeed, a pride of lions might been far safer than the palace itself if such horrors as murder truly did occur her.

For a moment, she almost laughed at the irony. She, Antonia Vitellia, was afraid of murder? Hardly! She was causing her father's death now by slipping a concoction of herbs in his mulled wine and his disgusting mutton soup. The sicker he got, the more the servants and slaves were forced to pray for his leaving soul. It was amusing and depressing at the same time. If she had been more sadistic, she would have enjoyed watching everyone suffer, even her pathetic brother Tidus. As it were, she wasn't sadistic, just cold hearted and manipulative. As a result, she felt little sorrow except subconsciously. However, as she took no great pain to look into that subconscious, she had no knowledge of this sorrow or this deep seated pain she was causing herself.

In anycase, Antonia knew what it was to be the predator. She had never felt as the prey. This case was different though and though it showed not at all on her beautifully composed face, Antonia felt a trill of fear sing its way up her spine and then down to her toes. This was it: she was launching herself from her father's nest, taking control, and helping her family become respected, feared, maybe even loved at one point. They would become powerful. She desired it above all things. And once they were powerful, she herself could become a truly respected woman and have her pick of suitors. No one, in the end, would deny her.

Just then a male slave, probably from Greece, walked by. Seeing her, he stopped, bowed, and waited. "Slave," she ordered, "Go and see if your master, Darius Flavius Honorius, is in the home. Tell him Antonia Vitellia has come to meet with him. Tell him it involves the money my father owes him. We have come to pay him directly." The slave stared at her, stunned at all she was saying. An Equestrian noble family owed the potential heir of the Emperor money? She did not look as though she even needed to be loaned any and, besides, what could a fifteen year old boy have to loan a woman of clear wealthy standing?

"Well," she snapped, "Go!" The slave bowed again and then seemed to rush off into the palace, disappearing past another group of slaves from Egypt. These slaves Antonia eyed with something akin to disgust and admiration. She was no great fan of Egypt but she had to admit that the women of the country had a certain grace about them. Thinking such thoughts, she stood and prepared herself to wait, composing what she had in her head and thinking of how to make it sound sweeter to the potential heir's ears.Re: Entering the Arena (Darius)
Post by darius on Apr 2, 2009, 2:39pm

It was morning, and that meant Darius was in the midst of his training regimen when a slave he didn't recognise approached him and waited to be acknowledged. Darius paused his one-man war, sweat glistening off his pale, nearly nude form in the waxing morning sunlight, as he turned to regard the slave.

"What is it, Servus?"

"Dominus. A woman named Antonia Vitellia is here to see you. She says it is about the money her father owes you. She wishes to pay it off, I believe." The slave parroted, keeping his eyes downcast as he spoke to the Prince.

Darius tilted his head. So, the slave he didn't recall was bringing news of a visit from a woman he was rather sure he didn't know, who was offering a boon he couldn't recall incurring. That was dodgy, he thought, but his auspices (Taken just yesterday) had portended a stranger bearing gifts, so he splashed a bit of fountain water and toweled some of the sweat from his body.

"Take me to her." He said, throwing his formerly abandoned tunic (purple) over his head and tying the belt as they walked.

Within minutes, they were in the hall where Antonia waited. He looked her over with interest. Indeed, he'd never seen this woman before. He'd have remembered. Her lips, alone, were enough to mark her in any man's mind. But he had just come from his training, and so his teenage mind was easier to control than usual; He pushed it away from the carnal, and into the fiduciary.

"I am Darius Honorius." He said, inclining his head politely as he stepped up to Antonia. Though young, Darius was incredibly tall for a Roman. Both of his parents were tall, but he towered over both. It might have been intimidating, if he weren't so skinny. "You wished to talk, I understand?" He gestured, "There is a sitting room, right this way, if you'd care to follow. Greek," He regarded the slave, "Bring wine." He started into the sitting room.Re: Entering the Arena (Darius)
Post by traci on Apr 2, 2009, 5:33pm

A slender, handsome youth came into view as she waited. Other servants had passed by in the meantime, each looking at her with curiosity, one male slave even winking at her as if she would sully herself by flirting with him. She simply stared at him as if his actions were so foreign to her that she didn't understand them and eventually he walked away, unsure of himself and any talent he might have with women. Smirking, she resumed waiting until the youth came into completely view.

She eyed him, sure that it was Darius himself. The youth was handsome, as many people had told her, and tall for his age. Someone had told her that he was fifteen years old but, looking at him, she could have easily believed he was older. For a princely boy, he appeared slender and well kept instead of some fat, spoiled brat that she was anticipating. Perhaps that put her a bit more on edge, knowing this prince did not look as she expected him to.

"Salve, dominus," she greeted, bowing her head low in respect, the chiton she was wearing unintentionally showing more of her flesh than originally intended. She did not plan, on any level, to seduce the potential Emperor. After all, she prefered her men older and wiser. As handsome as this youth was, he was too young and appeared too vulnerable to her. Like a child but with a man's growing features. Interesting.

"Indeed, I did wish for an audience with you," she refused to say more, not wanting to give away the whole errand, and simply inclined her head in obedience to his wishes and guidance. She followed him into a sitting room, watching the slave jump to do his orders. It was amusing, watching someone older than fifteen jump to a younger boy's wishes. She wondered for a moment if the slave resented having to follow those orders when he could have been master of his own home back in his country. However, Antonia was never one to spend too much thought on slaves and their potential pasts and futures. To be sure, they were stuck in Rome, serving as slaves, one day potentially being freedmen. Until then, they served her and every other Roman citizen and were considered beneath her.

Upon reaching the sitting room, she reclined upon one of the couches, her eyes inviting Darius to recline with her so that they could begin their business talk. "As you might have heard from your slave, dominus, I am Antonia Vitellia, daughter of Marcus Vitellius, a great merchant of Rome," she said first, "We are a good family and do not lack in any wants. We have always been loyal to the Emperor, gods grant him health, and his wishes and his laws. Though we are only Equestrian nobles and new come to our privelged life," she continued, thinking that it was not newly come at all since they had started their lifestyle far before Antonia was born, "we are wealthy indeed, a product of my father's occupation in life and his skill at it."

She watched as the slave entered the room, placing down a pitcher of wine and some cups for the two of them. Her eyes watched the slave's movements, glittering and sharp in the light of the sitting room. She waited as the slave stood there, awaiting further orders. Antonia herself would not dismiss the man, only Darius could do that. Instead, she paused, a slight smile playing across her lips in delight. Re: Entering the Arena (Darius)
Post by darius on Apr 3, 2009, 9:59am

"Audience granted." He said, with playful formality as she followed him into the sitting room. It was not the most awe-inspiring room in the palace, but it was certainly functional and quite conveniently close, at the moment. Which is not to say that it was a pauper's quarters. It was quite lavishly decorated with the spoils of wars spanning the existence of the Roman City State and into the modern era.

When Antonia made herself comfortable, Darius sat down upright on the nearest sofa; His eyes briefly trailed down to her breasts. A momentary lapse of control, but Antonia's bosom was not to be neglected. He quickly remembered himself and willed his green eyes back up to her face as a wine cup was placed into his hand.

"Well, I congratulate your family on its rising star." Darius offered, with a small, uncertain smile. "It was not so long ago that my own family ascended. I've only been a prince for under a year, and... It's a lot to get used to." The decadences. The luxuries he denied himself, for the sake of strength and betterment. It was a greater challenge and, in that and many respects, he appreciated it.

Darius sipped his wine and glanced over, noticing the slave hovering silently by. With a gesture, he wordlessly dismissed the man, before returning his full attention to Antonia's breasts... er face!

"But you did not come all this way to give me the history of your family, My Lady. I must say I'm quite curious. Why did you seek me out, of all people?"Re: Entering the Arena (Darius)
Post by traci on Apr 6, 2009, 5:15pm

She found it fascinating that every man in Rome seemed interested in her breasts. She was aware that they were larger than most of the women in Rome's were and she was aware that they were the color of alabaster and just as smooth but she was still fascinated by the fact that everyone seemed to enjoy them far more than she did. A small smile fluttered around her lips as she watched even the potential new Imperator of Rome eye them. Well, if they were going to be there, they might as well work for their room and board, she reasoned with herself, leaning over to grab her cup and filling it with the wine. She sipped, taking delight in knowing that Darius would have to wait until she finished her sip to learn her purpose.

After all, what good was having potential help for someone if you didn't enjoy it at the time?

She lowered the cup to the table again, setting it down gently as if she were a mother and it was her child. That done, she looked up him through her lashes and then smiled. "It was a blessing, dominus," she murmured, "when your family entered the Imperator's. Despite only a year in the Imperator's house, you've clearly almost grown into the role. But," she shifted around her weight on the couch, seeming to come back to business despite the fact that it had been on her mind the whole time, "I digress! I meant to come here to tell you about my family's wealth because," she hesitated, as if afraid to be speaking to the wrong person, "we believe you should be the next Imperator and the next Imperator needs funds to wage any campaign, political or warlike, against an opponent. My family and I have unlimited money as no matter what, the profit shall continue to roll in. And as it rolls in, it shall go, some of it, to you and to your claim as Emperor of Rome."

She tilted her head to the side, allowing the danging golden earrings to cascade from lobe to the end of her porcelain shoulder. Her light blue eyes were playful, speculative, smiling. "We want to help, dominus, and we love Rome far too much to have it fall into Camillus's hands. The only thing we ask in return is for you to consider supporting my brother as he is quite interested in politics and in serving Rome in that arena as well." Her catlike eyes smiled upon him, sparkling with opportunity and, what seemed like, a true desire to simply help. Granted, helping was far from her mind. Instead, the desire to raise up her family remained.Re: Entering the Arena (Darius)
Post by darius on Apr 6, 2009, 7:25pm

Well, well. This was interesting indeed. Darius was becoming increasingly aware that, through little action of his own, his name was being bandied about the city as a genuine possibility to be the next Emperor. Last week, he'd expected to seek adoption by the next Emperor. This week, it looked more likely that he'd be the next Emperor. Scipio and Camillus did their work quickly. He smiled, taking great solace in this information.

"Your confidence in me is refreshing." He said, with a slight chuckle, "Though I know not from whence it is derived. I was under the impression that I was something of an unknown in all this. You know, I've waged no great battles like Camillus, Scipio, or my grandfather Flavius Germanicus. I've made no waves on the social scene. I can still go out into the street without Praetorians, because my face remains unknown to the city. I am inclined to wonder what I've possibly done to earn your family's faith. And please, do not see this as skepticism. Merely curiosity."

As she spoke of Camillus he pursed his lips, thoughtfully. Camillus alleged to be Darius' ally, though his Mater had brought up cogent points about the potential for treachery there. It would do him well to have more than a few securities to protect against such an eventuality. It was unlikely that Camillus would be wholly satisfied by power behind a curtain. He had that now. Camillus had to hunger for an unveiling. He had to. After all, didn't Darius desire the same?

"And do tell me a bit about your brother, if you would, My Lady?"Re: Entering the Arena (Darius)
Post by traci on Apr 6, 2009, 8:56pm

She smirked, the action as leisure as a cat stretching in the sun. It was a good metaphor for anything involved with Antonia: leisurely, taking her own sweet time about it, seeming indifferent to all else but her own comfort and her own time. Everyone else could wait, time, even, could wait for her. She would not wait for anyone but her own timing and when her timing said it was right, she would move or speak and move with the rightness of the moment. "I believe my confidence in you is well placed. Indeed, the mere fact that you are your mother's son is enough to restore my confidence in you no matter the circumstances. You may think that I am silly for putting my faith and love of the Empire in the hands of a man younger than myself, " she was very careful to say man rather than boy in this case, "but I have seen the other canidates in the forums and in the markets. They do not have the true well being of the Empire at heart, the true well being of Rome. Rome who I love more than my life, whom I had resided in all of that sacrificial life. I think you, above Camillus and above that consol in the senate know that Rome is the heart of the Empire and you will take care of it. You have not lived long enough, like them, to develop the hatred towards all things not Roman and can clearly see the best for the Empire. You will not think solely of yourself upon taking this throne but of us all."

She stared at his face, her eyes blazing. "I think you will be a great Emperor, as Augustus was. Indeed, never forget that even Caesar was a boy once, before he fell for the Egyptian and slipped for his glorious way, blinded from lust or love for her. Augustus was a boy as well, wearing heels on his shoes to make himself taller. Not even expected, for his youth and his strange ways, to take Rome by storm and yet he did. For me, that is proof enough that you can do it though you are still young, younger than I. And should you falter, you have the benefit of your mother and father being in the streets of Rome and friends strewn throughout it's body. They will tell you the facts and you will rule well and prosperously, bringing Rome to a new golden age. At least, that is my hope. That is why I support you." Her smirk grew, into a smile that was slightly subdued, as if she were calm and steady in her support. "Besides, I heard word that the Romans themselves are willing for you to lead rather than Camillus. There is something slimy about the man. Something I, even with my naive eyes, do not quite understand. Too charming, or something else that is subdued and too hard to put my finger on."

She hesitated, sipping her wine again and laying it gently back onto the table top. She was no lightweight and so the wine did naught but quench her little thirst and wet her tongue for more speaking. She paused, her eyes flashing up at Darius for a moment and Antonia felt the weight of supporting her brother now upon her. "My brother," she began, thinking of Tidus, "is...beautiful, actually. There is no other way to describe it. His body, his mind, his words, his face...It's all beautiful as if Venus decided to resculpt, for her pleasure, Adonis. He not stupid, my brother, for all that he takes his delights where he can. He knows when he's being played with, when he's been toyed with and he doesn't like it. But his loyalty, once garnered, is steadfast. If Caligula had had him in the Praetorian guard so long ago, treachery would not have occured and history would have been utterly changed, perhaps not even for the better. But that is the man my brother is. Loyal, affectionate, and sweet but very intelligent and very cutting if need be. He knows what has to be done and he does it without too many questions and he can, and will, be subtle about it."

She thought of Tidus and how she controlled him. She was always the one person he could never figure out, the one person that was his Achilles' heel. Should she tell this boy that might one be Imperator? Reveal her cards? Nay, she would keep that locked tight in her heart where none could find it and use it against sweet Tidus.Re: Entering the Arena (Darius)
Post by darius on Apr 6, 2009, 11:43pm

"Well, if you were a man I think I'd make you a Senator upon my coronation. You're terribly persuasive and, if I didn't already agree that I'm the best option for Emperor, I think I'd be convinced now." He said, jovially. It was mock arrogance, and that showed in the way he looked down and smiled to himself.

"Are your 'beautiful' brother's words as pretty as yours?" He found it extremely unfortunate that he happened to be glancing at her breasts again when he said the words 'pretty as yours' but, his eyes darted up quickly to hers. He wondered why she asserted her brother's beauty to him. He wondered if he seemed homosexual to strangers? He knew his Mater had her suspicions. Which she voiced... Constantly. But was he effeminate? He certainly hoped not. His father would be so disappointed. Not to mention all the work he put into being a man. Godsdamnit, he wasn't homosexual. He wasn't sexual at all. He denied himself everything carnal. He even tried to avoid looking at Antonia's breasts, because he was a civilised gentleman. He certainly didn't stare at other men's... business.

"And what position do you seek for your Tidus?"Re: Entering the Arena (Darius)
Post by traci on Apr 8, 2009, 2:17pm

She smiled completely, displaying white teeth, flattered by his comment. If women were allowed such powerful positions in Rome, she would most certainly be advocating for herself rather than her brother. After all, of the two, she was better suited for jobs that required political manuvering. She doubted Tidus knew who Darius was, to be honest, but...She did. Antonia was now taking care of her family, before her brother, before her father. It all lay into her hands and she was enjoying it absolutely. "Flattery, dominus?" she murmured, her voice playful and sweet as she lowered her eyes in a "demure" manner. "I did not believe you so well-versed in the art of it. In anycase, my beautiful brother speaks little but when he does speak," She flashed her eyes up, her smiling drifting away into an almost dreamlike quality. "When he does speak," she continued, her voice soothing and lulled with drunken dreams, "it is with power and with truth. He is not one to tell lies, though he can when it protects those he needs to protect. A small speaker, yes, but a powerful one. And better yet, he knows how to use his tongue appropriately so no slander shall be spread on accident."

She played with her cup, her slender fingers circling the rim, her eyes following the motion. Smooth, slow circles, tracing the gold and the gems and the well wrought metal of the cup. Dreamlike... "I want him to be somewhere where he can do your work and fufill all requirements without being under too much speculation. He shouldn't be known to be Darius Honorious's servant, not at first, or else he will make so many enemies that he will be unable to move and thus unable to complete any tasks you give him. Instead, give him an obscure spot where he can rise easily. And then, once, perhaps, he has attained the Senate with ease...You have your man there and he will do your bidding. The Senate will not go against you because Tidus will be protecting your interests and our wealth will keep the Senate as your servant as well." She tilted her head to the side again, relaxing, her brown hair with its ringlet curls cascading down her shoulder along with those golden earrings. "Wealth opens all sorts of doors, dominus. Let ours open them for you." Antonia's eyes smiled at him from half-lowered lids, her smile now covering her teeth so that it became a rare thing. Always the mantra running through her head: Let them work for the smile. Let them think it is a rare gift, a blissful one, to be bestowed only when they work for it. Laughter, above all things, is the crown of your smile so hold that back. Hold that back and unleash it only when it has the most power.

"I know you are wise and understand where to place my brother so I make no requests, just requirements. Besides, I love Tidus too much to lose him and I want his rise to seem as natural as possible," Antonia added.
Re: Entering the Arena (Darius)
Post by darius on Apr 8, 2009, 8:03pm

"You expected me to be a poor flatterer?" He chuckled. "That's fair. I suppose I don't get out much. But, even if I stay in the palace, we have visitors by the score each day. Dignitaries from abroad, and local nobles alike. I've even heard the Queen of Egypt is visiting with my Mater today, as a point of interest."

He listened as she described what she wanted for her brother, Tidus.

"Easily done." Darius said with a nod. And it was. She'd given him liberty to place Tidus where he would. He already had a few thoughts. Had she been more specific with his assignment, things may have been a bit more complicated. A position he could promise, as long as it was his to decide. "Very easily done." He nodded.

"Well, if those are your sole prerequisites, I think I can safely consent without deliberation. I will gladly accept any help, monetary or verbal, that you may wish to endow in me." He offered his wine cup forth in a toast to seal the deal. Re: Entering the Arena (Darius)
Post by traci on Apr 10, 2009, 6:10pm

"Not a poor flatterer," she insisted, slightly chuckling, "Just a bit more unversed in the niceties of conversation." She felt more comfortable now, completely in her element. What more could she ask for, really? She had protected her family, used their resources wisely, and, now, her brother's future was secure in the politics of Rome. Looking at the boy before her, she realized where a golden future could be saved for the Vitellii when the old Imperator died. Where Rome itself could be saved with her family leading others to glory. Where she, Antonia Vitellia, could be saved in reputation and in the minds of the populous of Rome. With this decision, she had made everything come together and she couldn't feel any more proud.

"Ah, yes, the queen of Aegyptus," she said, her amusement growing, "Be careful around her, dominus, for if she is anything like her predecessor, she will lead an unwillingly, scandalized Rome by its nose and never apologize," the wealthy noblewoman's eyes narrowed slightly, analyzing him, "But you are wise in history and in thought. You know this already. If you didn't, I wouldn't have come here offering my family's support."

A full smile flooded her face upon hearing his reassurance of her brother's position. "I am very, very pleased, dominus. I knew you would know what to do with such a man as my brother and I assure you...anything you give him will please us immensely for it is more than we had before, for certain." Her eyes brightened with mirth and joy. Clearly, she was impressed with the potential prince's knowledge of Senate and politics as well as how to work them to his favor. Truly, he was his mother's son.

"A toast then," she said, still smiling, "To Rome, to new friends, and to promises that shall always be kept." She clinked her cup against his then drank deeply, tilting her head back. When she had finished her wine and placed the cup back on the table, her lips were tinged red. "Now, then. I must be going. It has been my utmost pleasure to serve you, dominus, and I have no doubt my family will feel the same once they have learned what you have done for us." She rose from the couch and then bowed to him, showing the deepest respect. "Will you escort me out, dominus?" she asked, politely.Re: Entering the Arena (Darius)
Post by darius on Apr 11, 2009, 7:35am

Darius paused a moment before rising to comply with her request. He was glad she asked to be escorted out, because he wasn't sure he'd have done so otherwise and he realised that he'd have been rude if he hadn't. He made it a point to remember to do that with ladies in the future. Most ladies who came to call on Darius were relatives who expected no pretenses of chivalry from the prince. This lady, in all likelihood, just didn't know the best way out of the palace, but still...

"Of course." He rose, and gestured toward the exit, leading her in that direction. "You're a very clever woman, My Lady." Darius offered, unsolicited. "Making a deal like this now, before the others start to rally. You're the first of your kind, and for that your rewards will be all the handsomer."

There would come a time when people would clamour for his attention, and so he'd have less attention to offer. But she'd beaten that rush. She'd overlooked the obvious successors, toward the more subtle truth of the actual. That took wit, he was forced to acknowledge.

"And yes, as to the matter of the Egyptian Client Queen... I'll be sure to watch out for asps in the Palace today." He said, with a playful smile, as he walked her outside.Re: Entering the Arena (Darius)
Post by traci on Apr 13, 2009, 9:40pm

She smiled, simple, unadorned. "Well, I daresay that you have now captured my heart, Prince of Rome, for you have flattered my intelligence and that, more than flattery of my face or body, is the best compliments ever. However, I'm sure your mother beat me to supporting you long before this day. Did she not bear you, after all?" She arched a brow over a calm, blue eye. Her steps sounded faint on the tile as the two of them walked together, like companions that had known each other for all their lives. However, rest assured that Antonia was not silly enough to think the two of them were friends simply because they had made a deal with one another. She was quite well aware that Darius could pull out of the bargain and thus leave her without quite a few hundred pounds of gold and if he wasn't remorseful about it, well, she would be played the fool.

Then they'd see how flattering he was towards her intellect...

"Indeed, be very careful, dominus," she warned, "I hear that asps have a thick poison and strike quickly. However, if you watch where you step and listen for any hissing, you might be able to save yourself." Her smile disappeared, a light frown replacing it. She came to a stop before the doors leading into the sunlight and, thus, the outside world. "I has been my utmost pleasure to do business with you, dominus. I look forward to, perhaps if it pleases you also, seeing you in the future." Antonia bowed to him as a slave rushed to open the door for her. The door opened with a solid wall of hot Roman air slamming against her face and body and the sounds of citizens mulling around outside careening through her ears. If she was disturbed by the sudden difference, her face showed nothing. Instead, she looked serene, almost confident in the future. "Until we meet again, dominus, may the gods light your path and bless your every step." She bowed once more and then strode out, into the blistering heat and into the bright light of day. The sounds of the crowd swallowed her form as she disappeared and the only thing left behind was the smell of her sweet perfume.

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