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Aeterna Roma RPG

You, me, and the dead woman


Chevi

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Kalends of April, 74CE

Romans buried their dead along the roads so that they would be remembered. It worked. Aia had barely been living in Flavia Juliana's villa for a couple of weeks, but she was already familiar with most of the names that lined the road between the villa and the city of Rome. The larger, more elaborate headstones and burial markers were easier to read and remember, but even the smalls, simple ones were starting to grow on her. Women, men, children; Romans, provincials, nobles, plebs. It would have been very apt to muse about the great equality of Death - except, even in death, some were more equal than others.

Caecilia Trebulla had been one of these people. Her mausoleum stood a few paces off the side of the road, almost halfway between the city gates and the villa, a few minutes' walk from the roadside inn nearby. It was the shape of a miniature house, but still larger than most of the grave markers around. The lady's family had some connections to Egypt, and she had been an avid follower of Isis, which meant that she had been buried embalmed, and not cremated by Roman custom. The small, house-shaped mausoleum guarded the sarcophagus with her mortal remains. Around the small building was a wall, lower than a man's shoulders, decorated with simple patterns. Insite the wall, around the mausoleum, there was a small garden planted with mint and other scented herbs and shrubs, a small votive altar, and a bench where travelers could sit, read the grave inscription, and visit with the memory of the deceased, thus keeping her immortal. 

This was the bench Aia was currently sitting on, in the shadows of some shrubs, having placed her small offering cake on the altar. She was not afraid of the dead - she had encoutered many of them much closer and more personal in Britannia. But it was only fair that if the lady was going to host her clandestine nighttime meeting with Decimus, she should be given appropriate thanks.

Aia was wrapped in a dark palla, hiding her bright red hair. She waited quietly, keeping an eye on the surrounding landscape and the road in the moonlight, until she could make out the shape of the approaching man. She waited still until she could make sure it was Decimus, before she shifted out of the shadows.

"Boo!"

@Sains

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It had been many months since he'd traveled this way. Originally he'd come to deliver good tidings from the governor of Britannia himself, an honor he'd not soon forgotten, though among the other's he'd been given it seemed rather insignificant now. Perhaps that was the reason he felt so anxious. How it would it have looked, him leaving the city to sulk around on the grounds of some mausoleum to meet with a girl? Not to mention that this woman was on the Imperial staff, to some degree, and the first time they'd been reunited they'd slinked off into a dusty pantry! People would assume the worst of him and his honor. He cursed the situation under his breath.

Then again, he knew he'd have to look to the positives if he were to continue. The night was fair, the moon bright, and his friend alive. With any luck, they'd soon find a better place to meet, but at least they could speak once more. Solid friends were a rare commodity in the Empire, and as it was fated that Aia should fall back into his view after their final goodbyes in Gaul, he could only assume that their destinies were crossed in some way. It was an interesting thought, though he was no priest. Who but they could tell why the Gods had brought her to Rome? 

Finally, these idle thoughts gave way to the realization that he could see the Mausoleum in its entirety. It was an elegant structure fit for a noble Roman, though he could hardly say he wished to be entombed in the same way. It was... A bit much. 

As he approached the gate to the gardens, he took note of how empty it seemed. Had she not come? Was he mistaken on the date? It would have been a bloody good waste of his time walking here and walking back with nothing to show for it but the mud on his sandals. He entered, a bit annoyed but in good spirits. If anything he was early, and he could rub her nose in it that he'd been faster to the spot. All notions of this were shattered, however, as a figure soon emerged from the shadows and took him by complete surprise. 

He didn't fall! No, he didn't fall; but he did retreat a few steps, drawing his knife. He may have lunged if the voice had said anything other than, "boo" which was a sort of silly phrase for a highwayman to open with. Usually, they were curt, asking for what they wished and being off. No, there was one likelihood that trumped all others. 

"Aia?... Are you run mad?"

He lowered the knife now, placing it back onto his belt and shaking his head. He couldn't be upset at the joke, but it seemed a bit out of place with how on edge he'd been approaching the damned thing. 

"I'll get you back for that! Just you wait for the day."

 

@Chevi

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Aia laughed at Decimus' reaction. He didn't yelp, fall or run - while that would have been amusing, she also did not really expect a praetorian to be that easily spooked. But he did back away, and draw a knife, which meant the prank was successful. 

"Aia?... Are you run mad?"

"Just bored" she grinned as she stepped out of the shadows, wrapped in her palla. She was carrying a knife too, under the wraps of the cloak, for emergencies. She did not expect Decimus to walk the road at night unarmed either.

"I'll get you back for that! Just you wait for the day."

"Seems like I will be waiting a long time" Aia shot back with a chuckle, moving over to sit on the small marble bench, and offer a place next to herself. "What kept you so long? Princess having a late night orgy?" she undid a small bundle she'd brought, revealing some food she'd lifted from the kitchens for the road "Cheese?"

 

@Sains

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Decimus couldn't help but laugh at the suggestion that the princess had been involved in some palatial orgy. Considering the things he'd been doing with the princess, he'd hardly imagine she'd any stomach for that type of thing. No, her lot was much more elegant than all that, but he couldn't say for sure what she did when in the sole protection of that Briton... Far as he knew they could be worshipping earthworms or whatever they truly believed in.

"Oh no, just had to sort out some things for another party of her's... It's tiring work at the palace, y'know? Hardly like the carefree life of an interprex... I don't expect they've quite caught on to that northern tongue yet, have they?" 

 Decimus smiled at the offer of cheese, breaking off a small piece of the block before sitting down at her side. 

Here they were, at the side of a mausoleum. Honestly he'd thought the place might look a bit more eery than this at night, but everything seemed pretty natural. The weather was fairer than it had been the last few days which was a blessing. He hardly wanted to sit outside while it was pissing down rain, though knowing Aia they'd have gone inside the crypt if that were the case. 

 

@Chevi

 

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Aia did not know much about the princess, but she doubted she had orgies. Officially, anyway. And Decimus would probably not the the person she ordered to supervise them, even if she had. 

They sat on a bench, in the shadows of the mausoleum streaked by moonlight. It was more peaceful than eerie, which confirmed her initial idea that this was a good place to meet.

"Oh no, just had to sort out some things for another party of her's... It's tiring work at the palace, y'know? Hardly like the carefree life of an interprex... I don't expect they've quite caught on to that northern tongue yet, have they?" 

She snorted at 'carefree.' Nothing was truly carefree in Rome when you were a woman. "Oh I don't think they ever will. The boy is interested in anything at this age, and he likes stories about scary barbarians... the girl" she shrugged "It's hard to convince someone living in the heart of the empire that they should be able to speak Gallic, let alone British. To tell the truth, I think even the domina only keeps me around because her husband asked her to. Which is good enough for me. The food is good." she smirked, taking a piece of cheese as well. "Anything new and exciting at the palace?"

@Sains

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Decimus nodded, expecting as much from children whose interests were drawn to different topics as a moth was in a well lit home. It seemed rather usual that their minds might flick to her lessons about the strong gallic tongues at one instant and to the happenings of a street vendor at another. Of course, he could only think of one remedy that he'd use if he were their guardian. Discipline. Discipline always helped everyone. 

"Aye, some 'Gyptians have come to discuss... Grain or something."

 His hand waved away the boring subject matter so that he might continue.

"Funny thing is, they've brought a damn near Zoo with them! Snakes, little rodents, even some dreadful looking insects... Not only that, but did you know they put metal on their cats? Some chief brought one out covered in more precious stones than the Princess wore that day. Bloody absurd..."

Decimus suddenly snapped his fingers, cursing his forgetfulness. In one brisk motion, he revealed the skin he'd brought with him on his back. 

"Wine, if you like."

 

@Chevi

 

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"Aye, some 'Gyptians have come to discuss... Grain or something. Funny thing is, they've brought a damn near Zoo with them! Snakes, little rodents, even some dreadful looking insects... Not only that, but did you know they put metal on their cats? Some chief brought one out covered in more precious stones than the Princess wore that day. Bloody absurd..."

'Grain or something' was not exactly political news, but then again, Aia was never going to get close enough to Roman politics to actually understand them. Decimus knew the kind of stories that were more interesting, especially when they involved people from faraway lands. Like Egypt. Between the two of them, Decimus' distrust of the Egyptians had been a running joke for years, and Aia chuckled, thinking about the expression he must have had on his face when the envoys showed up with their menagerie. And cats in full jewelry. 

"Wine, if you like."

AIa nodded, accepting the wine skin. She did not bring any cups, so, after splashing some of the wine on the ground in libation, she raised it to her lips and took a few sips. It was not the first time they shared a drink like this, and she chuckled as she handed the skin back, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. "Drinking like barbarians." she grinned, tasting the heavy, unmixed wine in her tongue "So, did you find out why they brought the zoo along? The Egyptians, I mean. Did the princess get any of the cats as a gift or something? Maybe a snake? You gotta watch out for the snakes..."

@Sains

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Decimus followed her example, upturning the skin for a moment before taking a swig of his own. It certainly wasn't the most refined way to drink wine, nor did it taste like it, but it still sated thirst well enough. He gave her a smirk at the suggestion that they were drinking like barbarians. They'd done it enough on the island, and he hardly saw any reason that they should change their ways now that they lived near the city. 

"Ah yes... Well, it seemed pretty innocent but the princess seems to think that they're trying to win over the affections of her Uncle. Could be that some Egyptian prince has come of age and they'd like to 'Secure' the peace between our peoples. Can't say I believe Caesar would ever go for that idea, though. I mean come on..."

He chuckled at the idea. A Roman princess and a 'Gyptian prince? Certainly would make for quite a child, and the people would never stand for it. Better that the child be half Gaul, at least it would look like a Roman... 

"Other than that... Well, it's been said that the Egyptians are getting pressured more from the east, Parthians and what not. Would be a sight to see. Another war with those Scorpions. Don't know if I'd like to get a piece of that action, mind you... Too many arrows."

 

@Chevi

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Foreign visitors were always the highlight of Roman life. Many of them milled around on the streets, but the really interesting ones, the rich ones, tended to keep their visits to the palace, and the houses of noblemen. Aia loved catching glimpses of them, bejeweled cats or otherwise. They were a visible sign that the empire was vast, and there was an even greater world beyond.

"Ah yes... Well, it seemed pretty innocent but the princess seems to think that they're trying to win over the affections of her Uncle. Could be that some Egyptian prince has come of age and they'd like to 'Secure' the peace between our peoples. Can't say I believe Caesar would ever go for that idea, though. I mean come on..."

"Egypt and Rome never mixed well." Aia pointed out with a smirk. It had been a century, and the conquest of Egypt was slowly sinking into legend. It was just something about the cultures, so fundamentally different on the two sides of the sea. Rome was strong, but Egypt was old, and they did not like letting the Romans forget that.

"Other than that... Well, it's been said that the Egyptians are getting pressured more from the east, Parthians and what not. Would be a sight to see. Another war with those Scorpions. Don't know if I'd like to get a piece of that action, mind you... Too many arrows."

"And the scorching heat" Aia added with a frown. She had no personal experience with Parthia, but it sounded like a shitty place to go to die. Besides, Decimus was a praetorian now. They wouldn't need him on the front lines anyway. "You're better off guarding the princess here, barbarian princes come to the doorstep anyway." she added with a grin. "Talking about that, do you want to hear news from the mysterious world of women?"

@Sains

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Decimus tagged on an affirming hum to her comment about the heat. Of course his homeland was hot, but it was nowhere near as hot as the deserts of the East. All sand and rock... No wonder the Parthians were so desperate to conquer some actual fields. He often wondered how they'd survive if those few rivers in their lands ever decided to wither away and dry up.

Aia was right of course, though. His place was here, guarding the royal family and the princess against overly ambitious young fools from around the Empire. Who knew what sort of vile acts these men would take to bed a princess? No, they'd see their balls chopped off first. Truly, he'd only encountered one or two of these fools that had required him to take action, that action often being as simple as a step forward and into the light where he could be seen. That was the other thing about a guardsman's life. It was often spent in shadow. The less seen of him the better, but he would have his eyes on her ladyship always. 

"The world of women? I'm sure you're having as much fun exploring it as I would! Has it not become terribly dull?"

He could only imagine the boredom that came with seldom leaving the home, though she would certainly be allowed to. It more came from the fact that there was simply quite less reason for a woman to leave the home in this city bound society. Slaves could be expected to collect groceries and do the more menial tasks that could then be completed in the home once they'd returned. It was a good setup if you liked that sort of life. 

"Tell me what you know." 

 

@Chevi

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"The world of women? I'm sure you're having as much fun exploring it as I would! Has it not become terribly dull?"

Aia chuckled, and fished an apple out of the bundle of food. They had made an agreement that she would tell Decimus about what she found out about the hidden world of Roman women - especially regarding marriage prospects. In the past few weeks, she had been getting used to living as a woman, and being a member of a larger household. She interacter with the women of the noble family, her fellow free servants, and the house slaves. They were all women in different ways. Some were horrible. Some were alright. She still had a lot to observe.

"Never a dull moment."

"Tell me what you know." 

"Well" Aia smirked, biting into the apple "The good news is, you do not need to be a poet to get a wife. The general concesus is that poets are terribly exciting, but no one wants a husband that talks that much." she chuckled. She had been listening in on gossip, especially when men were the topic of choice. "Money, on the other hand, is important. You better keep your wife comfortable, or she will make your life miserable. Believe me, they have ways." she shrugged, munching on the apple "Size, apparently, only matters to men. I find that one hilarious. If only the guys back in the legion knew that, they would be so confused..." she giggled. "I blame Ovidius for the rest. Of course, decent women don't read that filth. Not officially, anyway."

@Sains

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Decimus took the information in stride, not making a sound until she'd reached her points on size. It was all out of respect for her great ability as a scout, but that tidbit had finally broken him. Not that it was any sort of relief or great problem for the Praetorian to learn such a thing, but it certainly was odd. Though, thinking on how often he'd heard his comrades scrutinizing the various aspects of the other sex's genitalia, he surmised that they might well be under more pressure than the men in that aspect of anatomy. 

"Well... S'pose that's all good to know. I never was one for poetry, but I can recite a few."

At the notion of discussing her comments on 'Size' he let out a cough, though whether it was a natural one or an artificial one he'd never tell. Regardless, he looked to the food for a distraction and grabbed yet another piece of cheese, pleased with it for now. 

"I don't need to mention to you what men find terribly attractive in a  woman, you've had plenty of experience in the legion. Seems all they took about is the size of the arse and the breasts... Funny that. And not too many of them are looking for a wife that speaks often, besides to announce food." 

He thought back to the several instances where Aia had been present at legion meals and other occasions where the men would get rather boisterous. The talk always eventually circled back to women, as they'd not seen or thought of 'true' women for some time. Sure, the odd Briton was enough to sate their urges, but many that were returning from the Isle would find it more difficult to bed a woman in a civilized society. Might even get a few of them in trouble...

@Chevi

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Decimus seemed more than a little surprised to hear her findings on the topic of women's wishes. Aia was used to talking freely, even swearing, courtesy of spending so much time among soldiers. In a way, it was comfortable, and she knew she could trust Decimus. Still, the look on his face was amusing as she went into less decent details

"Well... S'pose that's all good to know. I never was one for poetry, but I can recite a few."

"Remind me to get you drunk enough to do that" she chuckled. Decimus reciting poetry, indeed.

"I don't need to mention to you what men find terribly attractive in a  woman, you've had plenty of experience in the legion. Seems all they took about is the size of the arse and the breasts... Funny that. And not too many of them are looking for a wife that speaks often, besides to announce food." 

"And most women like a husband who is not even there." Aia noted, chewing on the apple "My domina, for example. She likes her husband well enough, but since he is in Britannia, she has the run of the household. She likes to do it the way she wants. I hear even husbands who live at home like to leave those things to the wife. Which, honestly... sounds boring on both counts." Also, women who didn't talk? Fuck no. "Probably why a lot of women keep lovers, for excitement." she shrugged. Men wanted what they wanted, and women did too. "They do like to be wooed. Roman men don't do a lot of that, not for their wives, but it goes a long way, it seems." she shrugged again. "The rest I found out... you really don't want to hear."

@Sains

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Hearing talk of lovers always interested Decimus. It was probably because he could only imagine the types of things that the nobles got up to when they weren't being watched. Perhaps the Emporer had a hundred young girls he kept hidden away from his wife? Of course, he'd never be able to figure that out, except by accident, and if he did he'd probably not live long enough to tell anyone about it. 

"You know, I met her husband. He seemed like a decent man, but a bit boring. As a rule, I guess, most men of his rank start to repeat themselves. Seldom find new adventures to talk about. Won't ever be a problem for me, I hope!"

Truly that should be a curse worse than death, to be boring. He dreaded the day he might find where adventure no longer found him and he were old and grey. Perhaps he'd be wiser, but no one wanted to listen to the ramblings of an old man besides their grandsons, and even they'd get bored. Perhaps that's why he felt so unsure about this whole Praetorian business. He'd likely never leave the city again unless the Caesar deemed it necessary to move to the frontier. 

"And what about you? You know those fine street urchins will begin to woo you with song-birds and poems. How do your people even go about that whole... Business?"

 

@Chevi

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Flavia Juliana was not a bad employer. She ran her household well, and she managed to find things to do for Aia beyond tutoring. She was grateful for having work, and the tasks she had been given made her feel less like she was living on charity. As far as work for a freeborn, unmarried woman went, living in Juliana's villa was definitely a win.

"You know, I met her husband. He seemed like a decent man, but a bit boring. As a rule, I guess, most men of his rank start to repeat themselves. Seldom find new adventures to talk about. Won't ever be a problem for me, I hope!"

"He seemed pretty speechless when I saw him" Aia grinned. Then again, it was not his fault, having just found out there was a woman serving in his army. As for adventures... Decimus already had quite a few stories to share. "And I doubt you'll run out of stories to tell anytime soon. Not while guarding imperials. Whether you get to tell them, that's another question..."

"And what about you? You know those fine street urchins will begin to woo you with song-birds and poems. How do your people even go about that whole... Business?"

"My people?" Aia blinked, arching an eyebrow. What did he even mean? Women? Gauls? She looked at Decimus with a deadpan expression "The women of Gaul choose their husband from among men who kill wild beasts with their bare hands and bring them the raw, bloody hearts to inspect." she noted, before she snorted with laughter and swatted at Decimus' shoulder. "I grew up in a province, you fool. Everything was boringly Roman. My father would have picked a husband for me if he hadn't decided to raise me as a boy instead." she shook her head, taking another bite of her apple, but paused mid-bite.

"... did you hear that?..."

@Sains

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Decimus rolled his eyes and joined in the laughter that came with the less-than-serious explanation. Of course, he'd known she'd grown up in the provinces, but he hoped that her father might have told her some old stories about how their people used to marry! His father hadn't, but he'd always suspected that was because he wasn't too fond of thinking about life before the Romans. 

He was reaching for another morsel as well, though Aia's sudden whisper caught him somewhat by surprise. She'd heard something? In the back of his mind he began to imagine the worst, but the safety he'd been afforded ever since he'd arrived in Italia even now began to draw him to different conclusions. He let his hand drop once more to his side and began to look casually about the place. All was still, there was little to draw the eye in the moonlight save for the brief flickerings that came through the trees. 

"Hear what?.."

He'd hardly let out the words before he heard it too. It was an unnatural sound. A stick breaking if he could quite place it. Either an animal had come to pay them a visit or they might well be in the presence of a spy... Or worse. 

"Aye... I hear."

 

@Chevi

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It took Decimus a moment to notice the noise. Aia almost thought she had imagined it - they had been talking, laughing, and eating, so it was possible that she had just not been paying attention to background noises - but as they both stilled and listened, it happened again. The sound of a stick snapping, leaves rustling. It could be a nocturnal animal. Or it could be something else.

Aia tilted her head, listening for another sound, as she slowly placed her apple back in the basket. If they gave themselves away by shouting or making noise, an animal would flee - but a person might not. And even if they were among the graves at night for their own shady business, so was Aia and Decimus, in a way. That would not work out well for anyone.

Scout training kicking in, Aia motioned to Decimus to stay quiet. There was the sound again, and flickering light beyond the hedges in the distance. Definitely not an animal. "What in Tartaus are they doing out here?" she whispered, glossing over the fact that she had no good excuse to be in a graveyard at night either.

 

@Sains

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Decimus had soon eyed the flakes of light that passed through the hedge that still concealed the two. He couldn't hear any voices, at least not yet, but there was no doubt that these men were making their way towards the mausoleum's entrance.  With a steady hand, Decimus reached for the blade that hung at his waist. He wouldn't draw it, at least not yet, for they hardly knew who these people were. Even still, the sound it made when being drawn may well be enough to draw their attention. 

He nodded at Aia, acknowledging her gesture and remaining vigilant. What business did they have traveling the roads so late at night? Even if some did, there was certainly no reason for them to be this far off the main path. Choosing to walk down this path could only have ever led them to the Mausoleum, so mischief of some sort was clearly their intention. 

"Perhaps they've come to pay their respects..."

His whisper bore a hint of urgency as he thought about what they should do next. They could sit here, and await these men and their intentions or they could attempt to hide. Hiding anywhere in this rather small square of small trees and shrubs would have been viable for Aia, of course, but he'd feel somewhat exposed due to his size alone. Not wanting to move, he leaned over to Aia once again. 

"Uhh.. Well... What should we do?"

 

@Chevi

 

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"Perhaps they've come to pay their respects..."

"This time of the night?" Aia whispered, doubtful of the possibility. While some religions involved nighttime rituals, the shadows approaching did not seem like they wanted to be noticed. There was no singing or chanting of any kind. But they were also not travelers, or they would not have wandered from the road. People did much more unsavory things among graves at night - most involved witchcraft, or curses buried in fresh graves. And then there were... the grave robbers. They would go for mausoleums like the one Aia and Decimus were currently sitting behind. Followers of the Egyptian gods tended to go to the afterlife with the goods they wore and used in life. Prime target for criminals who wanted to make quick money, and had no qualms about the shades of the dead.

"Uhh.. Well... What should we do?"

"Hide" she decided, grabbing up the basket with the food and shoving it behind the bench. "I think they are here for the mausoleum." She stood up, wrapping her palla around herself, and dragged Decimus to the side wall of the mausoleum, where the hedges and trees cast enough shadow. They would not be able to completely disappear, but they would also not be immediately noticable from the front of the building. She pulled Decimus into the shadows as much as she could. "They might be coming to break into the grave." she whispered. If they did, there would be not much of a chance for the two of them to get away unnoticed.

@Sains

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Decimus let her lead the way into the shadow without a second thought, for she surely knew the best place for them to be at that moment. He knew just as well that grave robbing was a common problem for mausoleums outside of the eyes of any meaningful guard. Families may never know their relative had been robbed if the thieves were careful enough to cover up their tracks when they'd left, but all too often men would leave the crypts agape. Of course, it was a gruesome sight to whoever came across the scene as well, skeletons torn apart, limbs laying haphazardly about the grave... A heinous crime against religion. 

It almost made him angry, thinking about those details and yet hiding in the shadows like some low-down reptile. Not that skulking in the shadows did not have its' merits, but it certainly wasn't normal procedure for him. 

"Probably just some scrawny thugs... I'll see them off if it comes to it."

And he would if he could see them! For now, there was still only the dim golden glow of the torchlight that edged ever closer. He knelt now, finding it much more comfortable than to hunch over, though he did need to adjust his tunica. He looked to hear as they edged nearer, hoping she'd made some sort of miraculous discovery in the last two minutes since they'd concealed themselves. 

"Any ideas?"

 

@Chevi

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"Probably just some scrawny thugs... I'll see them off if it comes to it. "

Hiding was obviously not an option. Flat against the shadows of the wall as they were, Decimus was not exactly the hiding type, and even grave robbers could not be dim enough to not notice them eventually. Running was also not an option, not in the dark among graves.

Fighting... was an option. Wouldn't be the first time, and it was clear where Decimus' vote would go. Time was running out now, the thugs were close enough for her to make out three distinct voices, hushed whispers in Latin. They would have a better chance if they jumped them first. Barely. Aia only carried a knife, and that was not exactly a big advantage.

"Any ideas?"

"A very bad one." Aia admitted as he crouched down. Hiking her palla and tunica up, she glanced up at the block of the mausoleum, judging the height "But if it doesn't work, we can always just stab them. Hold still.

The mausoleum was not easy to climb, but it also wasn't impossible, thanks to the ornamental reliefs halfway up the wall. Stepping up on Decimus' shoulder, while it was a wobbly affair, gave Aia enough boost to make it the rest of the way. Once on the slightly angled roof, she had a vantage point at the shadowy landscape, and the light of the torches not far away. From their vantage point, she was barely more than a shadow. Wrapping her palla loosely around herself, she pulled one corner over her head.

"Halt, mortals! How dare you disturb my eternal peace? A curse on those who approach with ill intentions: Do kindly fuck the fuck off, you unbelievable morons!"

Yes, alright, this had sounded a lot better in her head. But Romans were nothing if not superstitious. And to the uninitiated, some obscure dialects of Gallic probably sounded passably like the language of the dead. Right?

@Sains

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Decimus had half a mind to object to this idea, whatever it was, but having no better ideas he thought he might as well let her natural creativity take over. He got into a more practical position for her, supporting her weight by holding her ankle as she climbed up to a better vantage point on the roof of the mausoleum. It was indeed a shaky affair, though not one which was ever in any real danger of failing. He stayed there, stoically holding his position in case she might suddenly decide to climb down or something. Even now he couldn't guess at what she meant to do from that roof, though it certainly wouldn't be any use to him if they all suddenly came into the garden. Soon enough she was up onto the roof, safe and sound, and he looked at her for a few moments in quite a confused state. 

If it did come down to it, Decimus would be ready to draw his blade and run the men through but that would only truly work until one of their lot got around him. That was the trouble with fighting a gang of men after all, no matter how skilled one was in single combat, fighting three murderous curs would almost certainly result in a trivial wound if not a life-threatening one.  He sighed as loudly as he dared, quite frustrated with the situation and the freshly upturned earth that now stained the shoulder of his tunica, though it wiped away easily enough. What came next, however, was quite a shock. 

He would not have believed her if she'd proposed doing it from the get-go, though it would have been quite a joke. She'd simply stood up there and turned herself into a ghost... A bloody ghost of all things! Had the situation not involved a gang of potential looters and all of the dire consequences that often accompanied those types of men, he'd have laughed out loud! But, that being the case, he stifled his laughter into a muted snicker. She was crazy, after all.

However confident he may have been in her abilities to fool the approaching gang, he thought it best to draw his dagger. The grip felt cool in his hand and he was more than ready to use it if it meant defending his friend from a possibly gruesome demise. That was the thing, he didn't much care if he left this place with a blade in the gut, just so long as she made it home alright. Funny thing that... He couldn't ever recall being so arrogant in the field. Perhaps it was all of the romantic ideology he'd been saturated with since coming to the city. Edging closer to the gate, so that he might more effectively ambush the party, Decimus could do nothing but wait for the results of her attempted ruse in anxious suspense. 

 

@Chevi

Edited by Sains
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There was a faint snicker from below as Aia threw herself into the role of a vengeful spirit. Decimus' amusement was contagious, and she had to thank the gods of the night that her smirk was probably not visible from below. Bless him, he boosted her up to the roof of the mausoleum without question whatever kind of insane idea she had in her head. Because this, honestly, truly was the worst one yet.

But not entirely wrong.

There was confusion below, as the torches stopped moving, and hushed voices conversed in tense urgency. One of them sounded more than a little upsed. Aia stood still, waving her arms lightly to make her palla flutter in the air (there was not much wind to help with the effect). Eventually one figure below seemed to break from the other two, hurrying away in the night.

"Fine! Run, you fucking coward, we didn't need you anyway! But you better leave the fucking city before we find you!" another one of the voices yelled after them. Alright, then. At least three became two. Still shit odds, but Aia liked them marginally better. The reimining two, however, did not seem like the type who could be scared off by an apparition.

"Well... shit." she muttered. If they came any closer, there would be a fight.

"Quite the performance, little lady!" the same voice called out to her, from just outside the fence of the mausoleum "May I assume you and I are here for the same practical reason, or did we walk into your... business hours? Maybe we could come to some kind of an understanding?"

For lack of a better idea, and not being able to see what Decimus was doing below, Aia decided to stall for time. Hopefully, he'd come up with the next great idea.

"That depends on what your practical reasons are. Are you and your boy looking for a quiet place to fuck? Because this place is kind of unclean, if you ask me..."

@Sains

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Decimus had not remained idle for long, seeing that there was a definite need to move into some type of advantageous position, even if he wouldn't be able to necessarily help Aia down from the roof of the mausoleum. He was sure she could manage it though, as it was not dangerously tall. His concern now rested on the couple of remaining men that remained outside of the perimeter of the garden. He moved as quietly as he could, taking careful measures to avoid small dried leaves, twigs, and anything else that might give away his position as he edged along the hedge line towards the gate itself. 

The plan was simple, prepare for the worst. Whether he wished to hurt them or not was out of the question, they would surely soon come through that very gate and begin their own plans to take Aia captive as they would any other common girl who'd gotten in their way. It was a shame that pursuing this fiery young spirit atop the mausoleum may well be their last. His breathing slowed as the light from the torches now flicked across his skin through the bushes, revealing to him how close they really were and how quickly this situation was likely to escalate. He dare not signal Aia as to his whereabouts, as that would only serve to ruin the surprise... Hopefully, she'd kept some kind of eye on him or she may well believe he'd fled. 

Finally, and not a moment too soon, he arrived at the boundary of the gate. He pulled ever so slowly on the smooth metal handle of his pugio, careful not to betray any leathery hiss or scratching with his movement. He'd certainly be able to kill one... He just hoped that the other would be caught quite off guard. In position, and ready to fight, there was little to do but wait and see if they were foolish enough to enter. 

 

@Chevi

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This whole situation was getting nowhere fast. Aia held her ground (or roof), stalling for time with some sharp words while she racked her brain about possible solutions. For excruciatingly long moments, she had no idea what Decimus was up to, until the torchlight flickered outside the gate, and she caught a glimpse of his face below. He'd shifted his position to near the gate. If the grave robbers decided to come in, there would be a confrontation. Aia felt her heart pounding.

"Oh, there might be some fucking in the near future alright" the man responded from below in a very suggestive tone. Aia huffed, and sat down on the edge of the mausoleum roof, dangling her legs. Her hand, in the cover of her palla, felt around the roof tiles. "Why don't you come down, swetheart, and we can introduce ourselves?"

Men are so simple.

"I wouldn't come in, if I were you" she said truthfully "Whoever is buried here is under the protection of the Egyptian gods. And they are very serious about the sanctity of burials. Are you willing to set off some nasty curse on yourself for a few trinkets?"

That, or a knife to the ribs.

"Really, go away. I don't even know who you are. It's not like I will tell anyone."

There was a pause on the other side of the gate. Aia hoped at least one of the two was hesitating. 

"No. I doubt that you will." one of the men said finally, and stepped through the gate.

@Sains

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