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Aeterna Roma RPG

Interview with a Caesar


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Late March 74CE.

Claudia had lived in Quintus' household for some time now. While she was his niece and daughter of the late Claudius, she had always been treated as his daughter and given the respect. Occasionally, she had nightmares of what could have been. A time when her fate was in the hands of an incompetent halfwit, and would awaken happy that it was not the case. She had received word that her uncle, Quintus Caesar had desired to speak with her and there was no indication about what it was. Naturally, she could not refuse and she wanted to show her uncle that she was growing into a fine Roman woman. She had a family lineage to live up to. With Livia dead, she was the last of Claudius' daughters left alive and was one of two daughters left alive from her mother. It was a careful balance honouring the memory of both parents and ensuring that her uncle understood where her loyalty remained.

She walked through the corridor towards the Aula Regia, a place where important meetings occurred and her mind raced with the possibilities of what her face would be. Her bottom lip went inward, she purposely stopped herself and raised her chin. 

Claudia would be fearless. 

Not a girl but a woman now. Her chiton was was a pale blue made of silk and lined with gold thread along with semi-precious stones. Soft, lambskin sandals adored her feet, her hair was half flowing down her back and it was dark, shiny. A picture of health and youth. The door opened and she was admitted into the room. She bowed her head respectfully. 

"Ave Caesar," She greeted him and then continued, "You wished to see me, Uncle?" She asked, this time with a little more familiarity. 

@Chris

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Over a decade had passed since Quintus first assumed the title of 'Caesar' and at last earned his spot at the top of the Roman world. From youth he had been an ambitious man - always seeking to maintain superiority over his brothers, and always seeking a way to get out from the shadow of his father. For most of his life he was known as 'Quintus, the son of Cnaeus' or (at times even harder to bear) 'Quintus, brother of the Augusta'. As time continued on and his family secured more and more gravitas, Quintus had been able to put himself into more positions of power and respect until at last he turned the tables. No longer was he recognized for the grandeur of his deceased relatives, but now they were remembered by their connections to him.

The Julians had all but killed one another over the decades of their family's rule. Quintus has resurrected their fortune by bringing their sole surviving daughter out of exile, and marrying her. Through his son Drusus, their blood survived. The Claudians, ancient and austere, had all but been eradicated much in the same way as the Julians they had so closely become tied to, but Quintus saved them, too. Allowing Tiberius to resume the name given to him at birth and continue the line; other Caesars might have killed the boy. A younger Quintus might have done the same. Instead, he allowed the sons and daughters of the families that paved the way for his to become a part of his family... but he always kept a close eye on them.

Quintus understood that he was not immortal. He cared little for how he was to be remembered once he died, but instead considered the future of the empire once it came into the hands of his successors. Through his life, Quintus had put a great deal of energy and effort into maintaining the strength and loyalty of his family. As he saw it, the shortcoming of his predecessors was that their shortcomings as parents had manifested into shortcomings in children. He wanted to build a strong core around whoever the next Caesar might be, and he was no fool to think that women were without importance.

With that thought, he had called for his niece Claudia.

"Ave Claudia," he said as she introduced her arrival to the Aula Regia. "Indeed I did call for you," he continued. He had stood when she entered, but motioned for her to take a seat if she so desired. He returned to his. He observed her for a moment before talking further. "You certainly favor your mother," he said. "The image of her  youth."

@Gothic

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Claudia smiled in response and noted the lack of a familial embrace. When she was younger he would have wrapped his arms around her and kissed her cheeks. Perhaps this meeting was more formal that she first thought it would be? Or maybe it was her rise to womanhood that caused the divide to occur? At this time, she did not permit it to shake her nerves and waited. 

It was difficult to tell what the reasons were at this point. She gracefully walked and sat across from him. Relaxed yet dignified in her demeanour. Claudia had heard similar things said to her, and again smiled wide in appreciation. Claudia had fond and faint memories of her. Kept alive by the various statues and words spoken by her family. Much of her upbringing was done by her sister's, grandmother, cousins, and her aunts who aided to shape the woman she would become. She never met her father, Claudius and remembered Honorius who had always been kind to her. She remembered his smile and the scar along his lips, and chin. Later, the Augusta, Julia Drusilla was her constant mother figure and quiet in demeanour. She absolutely welcomed her and Rutiliana into her nest. She had heard whispers that this compassion was not always seen -- the great Augustus had been kind to the children of his enemies.

At least, until they had opposed him. 

"Thank you, Uncle, and I hope to live up to the high standards she left for me." She said, in the past, she had heard gossip that Quintus and Lucilla were often unlikely allies yet were similar in their ambitions. Claudia often wondered what would have happened if her mother had pushed through the illness that had taken her. The Gods often did not smile kindly on those who pushed those thoughts aside. Now closer she looked at him and paid closer attention to his face. He was older than when he was when he had first become Caesar and brought peace to the empire. Yet there was still a vigour about him and not the slow wit she had witnessed in many older men as their years continued on.

He was not immortal. 

"Have you been well, uncle?" She asked. Drusilla, she saw a majority of days and kept company with her often.

@Chris

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Over the years Quintus had become better at being around children. For a long time he had ignored them until they were of an age to be able to do something - or such had been his thinking in the past. It wasn't until he observed his son Titus - and his brother, until he passed - and how inquisitive they were, how quickly they learned and mimicked, that he understood the importance of showering love and attention upon adolescents. Yet, once the children grew into young adults, Quintus largely reverted into his more spartan outlook; not that he was unapproachable, or impossible to speak with, but more that he made sure to keep a distance. He would dole out affection and approval as it was necessary, but never give it for the sake of giving it. Young women were an entirely different beast to tackle.

A soft smile crossed his face as Claudia spoke to her wish to live up to Lucilla's standards. He thought to himself that Lucilla was the only person ever able to live up to her standards. Even still, it was an admirable goal for his sister's daughter.

"As well as I could hope," he said in response to his niece's concern. "I believe the youth and vigor of Drusilla and Drusus keep me young," he added with another smile. "And you? I must admit I am not entirely attuned to the issues of a young woman such as yourself, but I trust you are healthy and satisfied with things in general?" He didn't honestly expect that Claudia would tell him anything otherwise, but it was worth the effort to ask.

@Gothic

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She smiled, Drusilla and young Drusus were two people she also spend a considerable amount of time with. Things could have easily gone negatively for her if Drusilla had been an unkind woman. Instead, Drusilla was generous and kind. Claudia had a strong feeling that Quintus would ask about her health and other issues to Drusilla although kept silent on that for now. Claudia was fertile now. A woman... not that she wished to make that knowledge well known as of yet. Marriage was to be expected both terrified her, and excited her. 

"I am well, Uncle. I have been busy with my studies and assisting Drusilla with her charity and temple work," She answered, they were important things for her to learn and to develop skills she would need. At the very least, she would need to know how to survive within the political system of Rome, and thus far, she was a skilled pupil. Claudia sipped her drink to wet her lips. She had no illusions that her Uncle (and possibly others) would have their spies to watch her, both for information and in order to protect her from harm. Perhaps honesty was the best way to go? 

"The Praetorian guard, Decimus, has been a good fit for my household and has been taking me riding in the morning time," Claudia explained. It was not the most feminine of habits, in fact, it was quite masculine. Yet Lucilla was an avid and skilled rider. She gave a small shrug and chuckled. "I like to keep busy."

@Chris

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Quintus listened attentively as his niece shared what she would of her life. He remembered his sister at her age, in her teens, when one day was the most glorious-blessed-by-the-gods day, and the next Pluto himself had come to earth to wreak havoc. If Claudia truly was so similar as her mother, Quintus could only presume she had a similar womanly side to her - or at least that's how he saw it.

As she spoke on the time she spent with Drusilla, Quintus couldn't help but feel satisfaction in the fact that Drusilla was in his life. That she had been spared by the gods and not an absolute lunatic who'd lost her wits, or a vengeful witch upon her return to Rome was itself the work of the gods... or her strong will. That she further spent her time with the needy only served to strengthen the view of the Flavian name, and perhaps restore some faith in her own. By joining her, Claudia too could only help to cement a strong public image.

Then she spoke of riding. "Lucilla was a strong rider," he commented. "We raced often as children, before I left for training. I won't admit that she bested me, but she came close." He laughed at the memory. It was strange how with age the spite and jealously he felt for his siblings had turned to nostalgia through memories. He made a mental note to have a separate meeting with this Praetorian Decimus, but made no comment to Claudia of it.

"It is good to be busy, keep your mind active and learning. Tell me, how are you getting along with your siblings?" He was mostly curious about Tiberius, though any news on Flavia was not unwelcome.

@Gothic

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Claudia chuckled, her own riding was not as skilled as her mother's and someday, she hoped that she would be even better. "I heard that story. Your childhood sounded like it was quite the adventure," She commented, like her Uncle, she had many siblings and cousins to spend time with. Claudia had also heard that in their younger years that her mother and Quintus had not always been on the best terms yet always worked for the benefit of the family. The family name and connections always came first. She leaned down to take another sip of her wine, she had seen and spoken to her uncle many times prior to today yet it felt as though this was more official. 

The comment about her sibling was one she was going to bring up concerning riding. Either with Titus, Quintus' son and Tiberius. Drusus was still a bit too young. "We are getting along well. Tiberius is determined to reach his goals, Flavia is enjoying her life outside Rome, and the twins," Her smile widened, "are doing well." She added, no doubt he would have received news of the later additions to the family. Sestia Honoria and Sestia Saturnina. It may not have been what he desired or wanted yet the close proximity meant she was raised alongside his children. It caused her to bond with them and consider them to be siblings. 

"Rutiliana is blossoming into a beauty and little Drusus is so clever, interested in everything." She mused, it was fun to spend time with children although there were times when the lure of adulthood called to her. One name she did not mention yet was Titus, the eldest of Quintus' children. "Titus is also good, cheeky as always," She said with a joking sigh. 

Now it was her turn to ask. 

"Is there any specific you would like me to tell you?" @Chris

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As Claudia commented on the adventure that his childhood must have been, Quintus took a moment to recollect on all the things he had seen and experienced. In hindsight, and to someone full of youth who had yet to see the world, he could understand how adventurous and exciting it all seemed. To him at the time it had simply been what was expected of him, or what he needed to do in order to prove himself.

He came back into focus on the conversation as she spoke of the children in the greater family. He smiled softly as she rattled off updates on each of the children, not unlike a quaestor reading a report to his legatus. A mix of ambition and competitive spirit had driven Quintus and his siblings, and had pushed and pulled them together and apart, not unlike the moon with the waves. Some had succeeded - most notably himself, Lucilla, and to a lesser extent Octavius and Jullus - and others hadn't. He had always attributed their drive as a mix of the blood they had inherited. The Cornelian political prowess and competitive nature to serve above and beyond, and the Flavian ambition for one to prove himself, or herself, worthy.

Quintus considered what traits his children might have inherited, or even Claudia herself. As the daughter of Claudius and Lucilla, what parts of each of them did she carry with her? But then she asked if there was anything in particular he wanted to know, which caught him slightly off guard.

"Only anything you feel you should tell me." He paused for a small sip of wine. "Though, I didn't call you here to speak with me to interrogate you." Quintus placed trust in his greater family, and hoped that they would build a stronger bond than he had with his own brothers and sister.

"Though..." he considered a thought in his mind. "If I were to ask you the strengths and weaknesses of each Titus and Tiberius, as it concerns their personalities, what would you say?"

@Gothic

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Claudia listened and could not resist a friendly giggle when he invited her to tell him what she believed he should know. She had heard that Quintus' personality had changed considerably over the years, he had begun to embrace his family more and in turn, they had begun to warm up to him. It was likely that she saw things that he would not, especially when it came to Tiberius, and his next question gave her a moment to pause. She reflected on the question before she gave her answer.

Claudia had watched both of them grow from boys into men, she had witnessed the change and yet believed herself to be the most mature of the family's children. Except of course, cousin Juliana who was one of the eldest surviving children from her Uncles family. 

"Titus is certainly bold, daring," She said, turned her hand as she revealed each point about him, "courageous, boastful, entitled, kind, and expects the world at his feet." Claudia explained, she liked Titus and his company. He was still a young man in a privileged position, it was not uncommon for the youths of Rome to believe they would have a great destiny. Rome was built on ambition. Then came her twin brother, Tiberius. "Tiberius is watchful, considerate, loyal and believes that he needs to earn everything he receives," Claudia mentioned, considered more and continued. "He does not have the same confidence in his abilities that Titus has, and both could do with more lessons. To encourage Tiberius and to somewhat," Could a Roman prince ever be truly humble? "humble Titus' daring with the wisdom that he needs." She answered, not that her Uncle had asked for her recommendation and gave a little shrug. 

"Together they would make the ideal man."

@Chris

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Quintus listened to Claudia's assessment of her brother and cousin as objectively as he could. It was a hard thing for a father to listen to the opinions of others about his own children - even when those with the opinions were family themselves. Quintus, though, had a knack for remaining impartial. He supposed it was a trait he inherited from his own father - to always expect the worst from his offspring until they proved him otherwise. A perfect example was Drusus' relatively recent adoption of a cat and her litter of what ended up being seven(!!) kittens. Quintus expected the boy would let the animals starve, run away... or worse, allow them into Quintus' office where they would ruin his missives. But, he hadn't... yet.

"The ideal man," he repeated her words. "I like that. Together they make the ideal man." He said it again, and then to himself: Together they would make the ideal ruler? "I see much the same as you in regards to the both of them. Titus has taken to the position he has earned by his name alone, and is not afraid to show his perceived importance. Tiberius, contrarily, is a bit more reserved and calculating. A warrior and a politician, it seems. Though, both will have to serve in the field and the curia to win the adoration of the people, the legions, and the senate. That is where their true natures will shine."

Quintus paused, realizing he was talking too much like a military man in front of a young woman who likely didn't care about his musings. A question came to his mind then, but he hesitated a moment before asking - a crack in his otherwise impeccable armor. "Speaking of ideal men," he said softly, broaching the subject, "you are nearing an age where suitors will make themselves known. I trust that is something you have been prepared for?" Quintus assumed that Drusilla, or perhaps Juliana or one of the other women of the family had taken over those aspects of Claudia's upbringing... though he wasn't entirely sure.

He took a steady drink of wine.

@Gothic

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Claudia nodded her head in understanding. She expected both of them would need to serve the Empire and prove their worth. She was interested in learning which of them would succeed the most with the people of Rome, and maintain Caesar's favour. She was disappointed that he did not continue with the discussion concerning the political career they would have. "It is vital for the people of Rome to see them. You have a new dynasty and it is important for them to make their mark," She answered objectively. Putting aside her father and the connections she had with him. 

It was not a topic she had been either dreading nor one that shocked her. Marriage was an important part of Roman life, and a connection to the family was important. It was only a matter of time before the topic would have come up, and she appreciated it coming now rather than a sudden announcement of upcoming nuptials. "If you are asking whether the women of our family warned me about what would come on my wedding night? Yes, I have been well versed in what will come," She answered, and itched to know whether there were already any candidates that her family wished to connect to their family. 

Would she like him? Would he like her or would any marriage be solely for politics?

"I, forgive me, but has any candidate been chosen for me to marry?" 

She was not sure what answer she hoped for. 

@Chris

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