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Decimus Rutilius Atellus

A Cloaked Meeting (Aia)

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Posted (edited)

MID APRIL

74 AD

It had been some time since he'd made his way to this tavern, though he'd been here before. Trouble with it was that a few members of the guard came by from time to time and he'd rather not discuss anything with them tonight. Tonight was a special night. Tonight was the night that Aia and he had both agreed would be best to meet again since their brief combat at the mausoleum. He'd heard nothing problematic since that night, save for a chastising remark from the guards on duty when he came through the gates of the castrum with blood on his tunic. He'd simply told them that some men had tried to mug him and they'd nodded idly. It was a normal occurrence in some sections of the city, especially at night, and as long as he'd not ended up dead on a corner they could care less.

He wore a simple green tunic embroidered with small patterns of leaves and horses. It had been a gift from his mother; included in a package he'd received a short time after arriving in the city. She still loved him enough to make and send him things while he was away, and a part of him wished they'd stationed him in Spain so he could spend more time with her in her later years. She'd always taken care of him, she and his father both... The thought that they might parish while he was away on some foreign soil did little to ease his conscience, though a few glasses and a letter home would certainly solve that. 

He'd already ordered two mugs of mead, letting the other sit opposite of him at the table. Anyone who made for it would find a mean glare if they weren't his friend, though.

In the back of his mind, he wondered if she were still coming! The night was certainly getting on, and although he'd also purchased a room from the kind owner for the night, he'd little wish to sleep in it himself if she were a no-show. Of course, if something had kept here there would be no helping it. Things like that happened from time to time and if ever there were two that could handle a bit of flexibility in companionship it was these two. 

Boredly, he continued to swirl about the contents of his cup, awaiting the red haired interprex. 

 

@Chevi

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Well, on the upside, they did not have to meet in a graveyard anymore. Not that a popina after dark was much more respectable for that, but at least it was warm, and was run by someone friendly. It was easier to slip away too, since they were once again visiting the imperial palace. All Aia had to do was walk down to the Via Lata, and make sure she was not noticeable. Good thing she had scouting experience.

Walking into the tavern, she looked around. Not a crowd tonight, really, but enough people that they would not stand out, sitting at a table. Aia nodded to the person behind the bar, and walked to the table in the back where a familiar figure was already sitting, guarding two mugs of... something. The table was obscured from immediate view in a corner of the room. Aia smiled as she slipped into her seat opposite from Decimus.

"Look at you, dressed up like a civilian!" she gave his embroidered tunic an appreciative nod. It was a nice outfit. On her part, she was wearing one of the simple dresses Juliana had outfitted her with, a shade of blue-grey that worked well with her hair. The palla was a darker blue, concealing her from view on the way here. She shrugged it off her shoulders now, and adjusted the blue ribbons holding her growing hair in some kind of a respectable shape. "And you got drinks! Lovely. I needed one." she added, grabbing the mug that was left out for her "Long day. So, how are things among the praetorians? Did you get into trouble after last time?"

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" 'Spose youd've preferred the full cuirass?" 

He smiled up at her, more than happy that she'd finally arrived. Never doubted her for a second. It amazed him more and more how she was transitioning into her more feminine role, wearing dresses and letting her hair grow long. She was becoming a brand new individual, at least on the outside. In terms of her nature, he couldn't say that he truly noticed any changes since they'd been in Britannia, save for the fact that she had revealed herself to be a great lover of gossip and the like. 

At the mention of the guard, he waved a hand. 

"They didn't care one bit. Said I got mugged! Guess it's not too uncommon in a place like this, though. And your mistress? What did she have to say?"

Decimus was curious whether or not she'd gotten away with that whole... 'Period' alibi. If she hadn't, then they might well be in danger of being discovered tonight. Mistresses did not like it when people in their employ led secret lives, especially if they were involved with the care of their children. 

 

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" 'Spose youd've preferred the full cuirass?" 

"Yes, and the weaponry." Aia grinned at him over her drink. Like he didn't enjoy showing off in uniform. If Aia had managed to get away with being a soldier a little longer, maybe she would have gotten one too. She doubted she would ever take it off. Then again, Decimus liked to be dressed simply, unless he was on official duty.

"They didn't care one bit. Said I got mugged! Guess it's not too uncommon in a place like this, though. And your mistress? What did she have to say?"

"Nothing" Aia shrugged "Managed to clean the dress without her noticing." it had not been easy, but Aia was not exactly a stranger to blood stains. And the domina did not bother with the cleaning of the household clothes unless they were her own, and not properly clean.

"Mugged, huh?" she chuckled, licking her lips after the mead "Let's hope your mistress doesn't hear about that. A bodyguard getting mugged does not exactly sound great... she might swap you for that Briton woman she's got."

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Decimus waved away the idea. 

"Told 'em I slew the lot! It wasn't exactly hard to prove with a bloody blade."

A smirk drew across his face and soon enough he was taking a long draw from his cup as well. The mead was cool and sweet, just how it should be served, and it made his nerves relax almost immediately. He was glad that they could enjoy a drink together in relative safety within these walls, save for if a guardsman walked through. Gossip was rife within the capital, and it was truly the last thing they needed to be ratted out.

"That Briton is something else though... Big and brutish girl. I don't imagine you've met her?"

He raised a brow at her, genuinely curious as to whether or not they'd been acquainted. Sure, there was little reason for them to speak to one another, but anything was possible.

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"Told 'em I slew the lot! It wasn't exactly hard to prove with a bloody blade."

"Well, you kind of did." Aia smirked over her drink. Decimus did kill one of the grave robbers, and if he had not been there, well... well, for one, Aia had not have been there either, because what the heck would she be doing in a cemetery at night, but also, she would not have been able to bring down three men alone. So, if Decimus wanted those laurels, he got them. As long as he was not swapped for someone else in his job.

"That Briton is something else though... Big and brutish girl. I don't imagine you've met her?"

"Who? Cynane? Of course I've met her" Aia grinned. She'd encountered the Briton woman not long after she joined Juliana's household. It was clear from her grin that she liked her, or at least thought that she was damn fascinating "So, how is it, working alongside a Briton warrior woman? Have you arm wrestled her yet?"

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Decimus was somewhat surprised that she actually knew her personally! He could tell just by looking at her that she believed the Briton to be the bees knees, but he could speak very little of their own relationship. It had been somewhat difficult to adjust to being around her, though after a few biting exchanges they'd seemed to learn their limits and had come to appreciate one another... At least professionally. Of course, that was just his view of the situation, he could hardly know the feelings of the Britannic warrior. 

"It's interesting... No, we've not done anything like that. The princess expects full professionalism between us and I don't think contests of strength would promote good blood."

A knowing smile would come across his face as he dipped the cup back once again, reveling in the mixture's sweetness before placing it back on the table.

"I would crush her, mind... She looks like she'd be able to handle a sword well enough, though. Probably lopped a few heads in the Arena, though I was never around to see it." 

 

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The idea that Decimus and Cynane were protecting the same person was all kinds of amusing. They were both good at what they were doing, but in the end, they were as different as it came: a Briton woman and a Roman man, each other's opposites in personality as well as history. Aia could only imagine what their work interactions would be like.

"It's interesting... No, we've not done anything like that. The princess expects full professionalism between us and I don't think contests of strength would promote good blood."

"No fun" Aia pouted, before drinking more of the mead. It was sweet, and much cleaner than some of the other beers and meads offered in the city.

"I would crush her, mind... She looks like she'd be able to handle a sword well enough, though. Probably lopped a few heads in the Arena, though I was never around to see it." 

"Crush her? Really?" she arched an eyebrow "I don't know, she looked pretty powerful to me. And anyone who gets our of the arena alive has to be something special. I mean, yeah, we've faced her kind of the battlefield, but let's be honest, they put up one hell of a fight." It seemed so far away now, Britannia, the legions, living as a boy, all of it. It sounded almost funny out of Aia's mouth, talking about war. "I bet the princess likes to have someone like her to show off." she paused, then flashed a grin at Decimus "Next to her very own veteran praetorian, that is."

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Taking another drink from his cup, Decimus could only smile at her assessment of the Briton that she seemed so fond of. It was true that she was an exalted veteran of the arena and though he'd never seen her fight in person, there was no doubt in his mind that she was powerful enough to fell any man. The real test of a warrior's ability, however, was in their technique and he'd hardly met any Britons who knew how to fight beyond savage slashing and relentless assault. The ludus may have taught her a few things, but that overeager northern fire would probably still take over if she was ever in a real fight again. 

"Mmm... You're probably right. And don't even bother mentioning me, I am the guard that everyone expects to see. Another Roman in a toga watching over the Princess? I'm expected. She's the flashy exotic companion that impresses everyone."

He'd smirk at the thought, finishing off the contents of the cup and continuing with some mild disdain. 

"Everyone's seen a veteran around here before..."

He'd honestly hoped things might be a bit different in the city then what he'd heard on the way down from Gaul. Of course, people were respectful and thankful towards him, but no one would ever really know his name. His lot in life was dedicated service, never named and never needing to be named. His only consolation was that those he cared most about would remember him well. Perhaps that's all he'd ever need. 

@Chevi

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Praetorians were something one got used to very fast when one was frequenting the Palatine. They watched over the safety of the imperials, and added a certain aura of veiled threat with their mere presence. Selected from veterans and deemed the best of the best, they were serving the imperials personally, swapping the frontiers for a different kind of battlefield... if they did their job really well, they would not have to fight at all. And then then were the other guards, the ones selected to be impressive.

"Mmm... You're probably right. And don't even bother mentioning me, I am the guard that everyone expects to see. Another Roman in a toga watching over the Princess? I'm expected. She's the flashy exotic companion that impresses everyone. Everyone's seen a veteran around here before..."

"Not one like you they didn't" Aia noted with a chuckle. Decimus was special, not for his looks or for his battle prowess, but for the kind of person he was. Aia wondered whether the princess knew what kind of a man was watching over her safety. "I bet your parents are proud, though?"

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Posted (edited)

Decimus nodded and smiled at the thought of those he loved back home. It was a world away still, though it seemed closer than ever. When at the front, everything seemed an impossible distance away, separated by barriers both mental and physical, but at the center of the entire empire everything felt strangely connected. He felt as though he could walk to Spain on a whim if he so chose, but obviously it was much more complicated then that. Being a soldier meant swearing away a decent portion of your independence for a variety of benefits, though what it took away was often times a heavier price. 

"Aye, they're proud enough. I imagine one day my village may erect a statue of me... Wouldn't that be nice? Perhaps I'll tell them to erect another near me, paint the hair all red."

 He'd deliver the last with a coy smirk, finding the entire prospect a bit silly, but not out of the question. They didn't have to be big statues, after all. 

Signalling to one of the tavern maidens that his glass had become empty, he'd give a shrug to the younger girl and look back to the table. 

"It's too bad that no one will ever know of your military exploits... Great as they were."

 

@Chevi

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Aia wondered what it would be like to see Decimus among his family. People in the legion seemed to be soldiers, born all grown up like Minerva, and she did not usually waste time on trying to imagine them in a civilian setting. But being friends with Decimus, she could not help but trying to picture his parents and his childhood home. Maybe it was just because she didn't have either of those anymore.

"Aye, they're proud enough. I imagine one day my village my erect a statue of me... Wouldn't that be nice? Perhaps I'll tell them to erect another near me, paint the hair all red."

"Oh yeah, a full figure statue in a toga. The Divine Decimus." Aia grinned, finishing her drink off so that she could order a fresh one as well. People got statues left and right these days, but most of them were imperials or very wealthy senators and the like. She chuckled at the idea of getting her own statue one day. Not likely.

"It's too bad that no one will ever know of your military exploits... Great as they were."

"Aia, Slayer of Barbarians, Speaker of Languages." she held her chin up, striking an elegant pose with her palla wrapped over one shoulder "Yeah, not likely. But I got out of it alive, that's gotta count for something, right?" she shrugged the palla off "I'm not a war hostage and not a slave. And I'm not married to some wrinkly old fart, thank the gods. That's a win in my book." a server girl showed up to refill their drinks from a pitcher, and Aia nodded in thanks to her.

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A chuckle would come from the guardsman as she posed, listing off her titles as if she were some foreign noblewoman! He always found the way she viewed the world calming. Making light of such things was surely the way that one should go about life, at least until they wished they were famous on their deathbed. 

"Aye, all that's true! You've been favored by Fortune herself with all of your good luck. And you've gotten to eat from both sides of the table!"

Decimus nodded to the server girl as well, offering a warm smile to her as she filled his cup. Aia was right to appreciate what she had of course, though he couldn't help but wonder if the new life she'd come to discover could ever hope to compare to the one she could have led. Of course living a lie like that was something that he could never quite understand. Whenever he thought of the struggles she must have gone through, and the days filled with fear that she'd not done enough to cover her true identity, it was all he could do to push the thoughts out of his mind entirely. How much undue stress had he caused her in the days before he'd known? How many times had he nearly uncovered her himself before the fateful day? Every time he looked back, he could note several more occasions than before. 

It was not long before he'd taken up his new mug and began to drink away at it. If he'd not already began, he might well have realized that he shouldn't have too many more. He was on duty tomorrow, as he always was, and the wiser part of him didn't want to wake up to Vulcan knocking at his wits all morning. 

Leaning back in his chair, he continued. 

"I trust your goals are coming along nicely though? The children are speaking proper Gallic with their slaves and making their mother run mad?"

Of course, he didn't just want to hear of her home life, but also of her plans for the future. They'd always told each other quite vaguely what they desired from life, but the occasion came along where one might wish to hear if anything had changed...

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"Aye, all that's true! You've been favored by Fortune herself with all of your good luck. And you've gotten to eat from both sides of the table!"

"Half of it was army bread" Aia chuckled. She survived a lot, and her life could have been calmer and better under different circumstances, but all in all, she was happy with what the fates had measured out for her far. It led to sharing a drink here on her own time, and she was alright with that.

"I trust your goals are coming along nicely though? The children are speaking proper Gallic with their slaves and making their mother run mad?"

"Quintus is adorable. He makes friends easily." Aia smiled "He is more interested in horses than languages at the moment, but he is a bright child. He has a future in politics... maybe I will be a respectable matron once he comes into power." she chuckled, sipping more of her drink "What about your plans? Found a house for the wife yet, or the other way around?"

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He shook his head at the thought of both, though he'd often spoken of his aspiration to have both of those things for himself before he was an old man. The simple torment of service was that one never got to truly enjoy the fruits of their labor until they were a good way through their younger years. He'd been lucky to join up at seventeen and not once he'd reached his twenties or he might well be waiting until he'd reached his fifties before he was relieved from duty! The thought shook him. To be an old grey legionary was no easy task... 

"No luck on either of those fronts, I'm afraid... Finding a home so near the hill is a difficult thing to manage, and it would have to be for obvious reasons. As for a wife... Well, I've little time to speak to any women about town. More than half of them are laden with children anyways."

It was not as if he hated children, quite the contrary, but he didn't much care for the idea of raising another man's. If he was to have a wife he'd want her to be pure and free  of any curses that might suddenly attach themselves to him. 

" 'Guess it couldn't hurt to make more of an effort... Where to look though. The market? How would you talk to someone in all of that noise?"

 

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Joking and chatting was always nice, especially over cups of drinks, but Aia did not forget that they both also had plans, and things to help each other with. On her part, she had promised to help Decimus with... women, in general, even if she was not the best representation of them. The man needed a decent wife, and from the looks of it, he had a bit of a trouble finding one. Or figuring out where to put her.

"No luck on either of those fronts, I'm afraid... Finding a home so near the hill is a difficult thing to manage, and it would have to be for obvious reasons. As for a wife... Well, I've little time to speak to any women about town. More than half of them are laden with children anyways."

Aia chuckled, hiding her smirk in her cup. She'd never really thought about what it would be like to actively search for a woman who was wife material.

"'Guess it couldn't hurt to make more of an effort... Where to look though. The market? How would you talk to someone in all of that noise?"

"Unless you want to purchase one... no, probably not the market." Aia grinned "I mean, it really depends on what you want from a wife. If you want to seduce a pretty girl, then yes, the market, you can chat them up there and help them carry their baskets or whatever. The festival days are good for that too I'd guess. If you want someone that will keep house well for you... talk to some matrons and see who's looking for a husband with a steady job. If you want to marry up the ladder... then you're gonna need a matchmaker that knows what they are doing."

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He was quite on-board with her line of thinking at the beginning, but that look of interest soon died away at the thought he'd have to sit in front of some old doting women attempting to play the hand of Venus. He knew matchmaking to be a fairly regular institution for those who had difficulty finding the time or patience to reach a woman outside of their professional lives and he certainly didn't feel like he needed that sort of help. He could, however, be completely mistaken. 

Rolling his eyes, he tilted his cup back once more and groaned for a moment.

"Matchmaking is so unnatural though... No heart in it."

He'd smirk as soon as he denied the notion.

"Perhaps you'll see me chasing girls about the forum, bumping into them and making them drop their baggage like a fool until one decides to give me a go! It's worked for a few friends of mine... For a night at the very least."

Smiling at the thought, he couldn't help but notice that her hair had grown in somewhat more since their last meeting. In truth, the girl he'd come to know in Britannia had come to be someone quite new, at least on the outside, and there was no denying that she had fairer features than most he'd crossed paths with in his three-odd decades roaming the earth. Perhaps it was the mead, but he couldn't help but admire the way the rough candlelight seemed to create a reddish aura about her newly grown locks. Again, he couldn't quite ascribe this effect to be anything but the alcohol he'd already had, but it was certainly extraordinary.

"Mind you... I'd not take a girl home from a tavern, heard nothing good of that sort of thing... Y'know if I weren't here I suspect men might be buying you drinks all through the night. A perk of your new status."

 

@Chevi

 

 

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"Matchmaking is so unnatural though... No heart in it."

Aia smirked at Decimus over her drink, but there was a softness in her look.

"D'aww, Decimus. You're a lover at heart."

Who would have thought, knowing him from the battlefield?

"Perhaps you'll see me chasing girls about the forum, bumping into them and making them drop their baggage like a fool until one decides to give me a go! It's worked for a few friends of mine... For a night at the very least."

Aia chuckled at the idea. Sure, by the rule of large numbers, it was bound to work once or twice... about as many times as he would get beaten up for bumping into decent Roman women. Then again, Decimus had a simple charm about him, so maybe he had better chances than most, with the cheerful naive girls at the market anyway. Aia shook her head, amused at the whole line of thought. Gods bless this man. There was something in his eyes as he looked at her in the candlelight of the tavern. Both of them had been drinking quite freely, but the moment, it was nice. Aia's sarcastic smirk softened into a smile.

"Mind you... I'd not take a girl home from a tavern, heard nothing good of that sort of thing... Y'know if I weren't here I suspect men might be buying you drinks all through the night. A perk of your new status."

She actually blushed, just a little. "You mean, men just can't resist a royal tutor?" she ventured, but she knew her attempt at avoiding the compliment was weak at best, so she gave up with a laugh "Decimus, are you trying to say that I look good as a woman?" she tilted her head, looking at him for a moment before giving him a break "And, for the record, you are buying me drinks."

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On any other night, the Praetorian would have likely retreated from the suggestion. He knew full well that her new existence had not been an easy transition, as she'd hinted at that fact when they'd hidden themselves away in that pantry on their first meeting some weeks ago... He was far past the point of denying it, at any rate. 

Shrugging at the point, he'd let his elbows rest freely on the table, finding it much more comfortable than remaining completely upright as he'd been taught to do. 

"Well.. Let me just say your efforts haven't been totally in vain these last few weeks. Honestly I'm still trying to decide what suits you better, make-up or mud."

She'd almost certainly see the edgings of a coy smile at the rims of his mug as he finished off the last of the mead he'd had. If it had not become quite apparent by now, the golden drink was certainly doing something for his confidence, though whether it was well placed or foolish remained to be seen. 

He'd not wait wait long on his next move, waving a single hand at the maiden who'd been serving them for some time now. He knew if he kept on like this, he might well not wake up in the morning, but there would always be a man in the legion to splash water on another's head if it should come to that... The lecture to follow would be the only real note of consequence besides a headache. 

 

 

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She had caught Decimus off guard with her question. They had both been drinking, and neither of them was exactly an expert when it came to talking about... mundane, everyday things like looks, or, gods forbid, feelings. The whole thing was amusing, or at least that was what it seemed like to her, and she chuckled as he heroically did not back out of his line of thought.

"Well.. Let me just say your efforts haven't been totally in vain these last few weeks. Honestly I'm still trying to decide what suits you better, make-up or mud."

She did blush this time. It was a very Decimus thing to say, and since he was certainly not trying to flirt with her, she had to take the compliment at face value. It felt nice. Aia never thought of Aius as particularly handsome, and she was still trying to figure out if she made a decent woman or not. The other women in the household had been doing their level best to help her settle into her new looks.

They got another round of drinks. Decimus was losing some of the tense posture he had as a praetorian. It looked good on him. She was also feeling the heat of the alcohol in her body. It had been a while since she'd ventured out drinking. Not since she arrived to Rome and changed into women's clothes.

"Well, mud is not currently in fashion in Rome, or so they tell me." she noted. Her make-up was not really strong (she hated the face powders and the eye liners), but at least it did a good job. Good to know. "But... thank you." she added with a smile. Decimus somehow made her feel better about the whole thing.

"Let's talk about the house, then, since you can't really have a wife in the castra, can you" she decided, moving the conversation to a less awkward topic, and sipping her drink "What kind of a home would you want? If you could have any kind."

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The thought of the noble ladies of Rome walking about with their faces caked in mud was amusing to say the least, and he could only imagine what hell would be raised if some of them had to even trudge through it! It was only when she'd offered up the idea of a home that he'd recalled what they were speaking of before. Either way, he'd need a few moments to think about it.

There was a time in his life when he'd wanted to be a farmer of some sort, like his family, but as he'd grown older he'd come to loathe the idea that one day he'd have to leave the life of an adventurer behind and resign himself to some field, however rightly earned it would be. That's not to say that many men hadn't made comfortable lives for themselves out of farming, far from it, but he certainly couldn't find any peace in the idea. He liked to be in the action, living through the spectacles of history right in the heart of where they took place! 'Course life in the city hadn't been particularly groundbreaking as of yet, but something would certainly come along that may rock the boat. It was Rome, and something new was always brewing in her streets. 

"A flat would do me fine enough... I don't think I need a palace just yet, but something small and to myself would suit my needs just fine. There are some apartment blocks near the hill, but the trouble is the price."

Shrugging, he took yet another glass from the maiden as she made her rounds, popping a few quadrans into her hand before turning back to Aia. 

"'Spose it's nothing compared to the villa you'll have one day? After years of dutiful service, mind you."

 

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Between the two of them, Decimus was the one with the more conventional life. Citizenship, military service, promotions, a good job, plans for the future. House, wife kids. A place to call his own, and a family. They were not big our outrageous dreams, but sometimes they could still feel far away, especially when someone was in the Roman military system. It would be a while before Decimus would have his own life, unless time and politics took him in another direction. Aia hoped, for his sake, that they wouldn't.

"A flat would do me fine enough... I don't think I need a palace just yet, but something small and to myself would suit my needs just fine. There are some apartment blocks near the hill, but the trouble is the price."

"I hear the prices are outrageous" Aia noted with a chuckle, waving a hand like she was some housewife gossiping about everyday life "And that's for the ones that don't even have water!"

"'Spose it's nothing compared to the villa you'll have one day? After years of dutiful service, mind you."

"Well, that's the trick though, I don't need to buy a villa, as long as my husband does" Aia grinned at him, keeping pace with the drinking. She was definitely feeling the kick of the mead by now, but it was a welcome sensation. "The catch is, I have to lure one into marrying a woman of questionable background." she added with a chuckle, but there was a hint of seriousness in her voice. She could not disclose a huge part of her past to any decent man that would be interested in her, not without risk. And she had not come up with a decent cover story yet.

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He heard that very hint of seriousness come through as she described how the other men of Rome might see her. Even if he hadn't heard it he wouldn't have needed to. The fact of the matter was that beyond her current station as a tutor for a noblewoman, life would be very uncertain. If, gods forbid, she was ever forced to leave the home of the woman for one reason or another he could scarcely imagine where she might head next. Military service would certainly no longer be an option, and he very much doubted she'd head for that direction again anyways. Still though, there were plenty of reasonable professions available for a woman in the various trades that existed in the cities, though none of them especially bred good marriages to wealthier men. 

Shrugging, he let his cup rest on the table for a moment.

"Not impossible... Perhaps you'll be able to seduce them with your cunning and charm." 

A sly grin would cross his face, but only for a few moments. It was an odd observation to make, the fact that she'd have to weave a false tale about her life together so that she might one day find someone that would provide for her. It was something that he'd never had to do; adopt a new life born from fiction and memorized daily so that it may become a reality...

"And what will you tell people of yourself?.." He felt inclined to ask. "Has your new life been written yet?"

@Chevi

Edited by Sains
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"Not impossible... Perhaps you'll be able to seduce them with your cunning and charm." 

"You bet" Aia grinned at him, batting her eyelashes. Deception was something she knew a lot about from her years passing as a man - although deceiving men into seeing her as an attractive possible spouse was a whole different game. One that needed grace and feminine wiles instead of showing strength and rough masculinity. But Aia was learning fast that a lot of man were actually fairly susceptible to low levers of charm too. She'd just have to find the right one.

"And what will you tell people of yourself?.. Has your new life been written yet?"

"Haven't quite settled on a story yet" she admitted, swirling the drink in her cup "The easiest way to go is tell some of the truth, but not all. Daughter of a merchant family from Gaul, hired by a Roman noblewoman on account of her talent with languages?" she smirked "Or maybe something more exotic, like a princess from Britannia who escaped to Rome to join civilization?" she could pass as a Briton, as long as no one else around her spoke the language well enough. The rad hair made it a lot easier, anyway. "If all else fails, I can always just be kept as a courtesan by some rich Roman who likes redheads. But that would require a whole lot of witty conversation, and that sounds like an awful lot of work." she added with a grin. Not everyone was as easy to talk to as Decimus.

@Sains

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He'd nod as she ran through different variations of what she'd come up with so far. Of course he'd chuckle at the very idea that she'd tried to pass herself off as a princess, especially at the thought that more and more Britons were beginning to stream down towards the epicenter of the Empire due to the recent conclusion of hostilities. It would only take one or two of them passing around gossip to dispel any credibility that story might have... Except if she'd made it really convincing. To be honest, he doubted many Roman men would do the digging to find out if she were really telling the truth so long as she spoke well enough. Men in this city were ready to eat up just about anything so long as they could display her as a prize. Whether or not they'd marry her remained to be seen. Indeed, working on the tale of her life as a merchant seemed like a much more realistic route. 

The thought of her being a courtesan or any of that sort gave him the chills, and he doubted she would ever seriously consider that. Waving the idea away, he shook his head smiling. 

"Just memorize a few hundred lines of poetry, I'm sure that you'll be able to use them in any conversation... It would make you appear witty. And if that all failed you could simply impress them with your expert fighting techniques." 

Waving his hand through the air as if he held a dagger, he'd soon turn his attention back to his cup to finish it off and let it sit empty for a time. 

"If you're lucky one of the kids might take you on as a retainer. Plenty of worse jobs, to be fair."

 

@Chevi

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