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Aeterna Roma RPG

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JULY, 74 CE

Ambrosius awoke to the aching of limbs and the cold press of iron shackles against his wrist. He’d managed to achieve some desperately needed rest in the night, despite his stilted position and the makeshift mattress his cage wall provided. Upon noticing the slave stirring, a Roman soldier kicked at the young man’s shin and barked, “Get up!”.

Ambrosius’ eyes fluttered a moment, before his face assumed an irked expression. If looks could kill, his captors would currently be the ones at his feet. The Romans would prove to be in no mood for games, as Ambrosius suddenly felt a brutish and calloused hand upon his nape, wrenching him upward and using the momentum to thrust him forward, towards their destination.

Making their way in to a long and dark corridor, with no candles to illuminate their way, Ambrosius would form a daisy chain with three other slaves and their legionary guards, so as to not lose their way in the sprawling and unfamiliar complex. Upon turning a corner and reaching the building’s atrium, they would be blinded with a sudden assault of light to their unaccustomed eyes. As Ambrosius’ vision adjusted to his surroundings, he took note of the opulence present within the structure he now occupied. Silk carpets, rich tapestries and marble busts littered the room, and a strong perfume struck his senses.The senior legionary addressed one of the household’s female slaves and demanded, “Go find your master, girl!”

The legionary turned back to the assorted slaves he had accompanied and smirked, “Welcome to your new home, curs. If you survive that long.”

@Brian

Edited by Polarity
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He needed new recruits to take in. It was as though the Gods had answered his prayers when four slaves would be brought to him for training. There was a chance that there would be a champion from among their ranks. Yet it was equally likely that they would be made gladiators with an average service record. Some would possibly be freed while others would die for the roar of the Roman crowd. Either way, so long as he was able to gain a return on his investments, it was perfectly fine by him. 

Titus walked beside his lanista, Gaius Vellius and looked down at the men as they arrived. He smiled to himself and with a silent nod of agreement the two men left the balcony. The slave girl opened her mouth to tell him, he raised his hand to both acknowledge and shut her down immediately while they walked to where they would be received. It was quite... unexpected to bring the recruits inside right away. Slaves traditionally were brought to the back in order to be presented. 

Titus and Gaius stood side by side. The elder looked rougher, older and had clearly had a rough upbringing by his expressions. 

"Slaves typically go to the back," Titus warned for the future. Casually his gaze moved from one specimen to the next.. to him, they were livestock that could speak and would earn him coin. Gaius walked close to them. The lanista started with the one furthest from Ambrosius. Gaius observed, studied them closely and walked past them. His gaze glared at them in a dominant fashion. They were the lowest of the low in gladiator society. If they survived and had the honour of the brand, they would enter the brotherhood of the gladiators and even receive an honourable burial at their passing. 

While this was happening... 

"Where are these ones from? Prisoners of war?" Titus asked, and silently wished he had a son to teach the family trade. Sure, the ludi contracts could be removed by Caesar yet why remove the right family for the job?

@Polarity

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The senior legionary’s self-satisfied smirk was replaced with disciplined constraint upon the entrance of the ludus’ manager. At the delivery of Titus’ casual critique of the Centurion’s protocol, the elder soldier produced a parchment and proffered explanation in a practised manner, “By order of the Senate of the People of Rome and the assent of the revered Caesar, Ludus Dacicus is henceforth appointed custody over the accompanied candidates for gladiatorial training.”

He relaxed his demeanour at the conclusion of his brief recital, before addressing Titus’ question directly. “Three captives, courtesy of the tribes of Dacia. The young one is a Briton, as far as I can tell. A would-be rebel from what I’ve heard. Supposed to be ‘immortal’, but judging from that scar on his leg, I’d dare say not ‘impenetrable’,” the Centurion guffawed at his own remark.

Though unknown to Ambrosius, the arrangement concerning his consignment to this school in particular had been an exceptional case. Traditionally, captives of hostile tribes and prisoners of war were sent to Ludus Gallicus, but these slaves had been spared this fate due to an initiative by the city’s aediles to sponsor prospective talent in an effort to alleviate a recent strain on that associated ludus, as a result of a minor inundation of war criminals. The three other slaves had been selected due to their experience in the Thracian style of combat, whereas Ambrosius’ recovering wound had rendered him unsuitable for the more heavily-armoured classes of gladiator that the Gallic school specialised in.

“Is everything in order then?” The Centurion broke the silence his solitary amusement had caused. He clearly wished to be done with this task he’d been assigned and get back to the camp of the urban cohorts, where he’d likely be able to evade further duties for the day.

@Brian

Edited by Polarity
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The Dacians and Dacia had been taken many years ago. But there were always issues with them. The Britons, on the other hand, were quite easy to attain and his top lip lifted with amusement at the Legionary's joke. Many men thought they were immortal until they began gladiatorial training. It was only then that they began to realise that they were mortal. His second-in-command stopped and turned back before he gave a nod of approval. Each of the potentials meeting his preliminary standard. The harsh training would likely decide who would survive, and who would not. 

"You may go, wine and food has been left for you both," Titus answered. The offer was not needed. It was wise to keep relative peace with the urban cohort of the city. It would make his illegal operations run much more smoothly. Although he rarely, if ever, had any issues when it came to that area. 

"Doctore!" He called out, and the glistened veteran of many combats approached to view the men. "Dominus, Sir," Quintus greeted his superiors before he turned towards the men. Titus, since his staff were present, was content to permit them to show them whether the candidates would be suitable or not. There were upcoming games, and he was required to send both experienced veterans and new recruits coming up soon. Once the guards were out of the area. The gates were locked. Secured them inside. On Quintus' belt was the sharp whip that would remind the slave's of their station. 

Titus had to beat the Ludus Magnus. He had to.  

"Maggots!" Quintus roared, even for Titus, Quintus was particularly crude in his mannerisms and behaviour. Still, he got the job done -- and done right. 

"If some of you prove yourselves worthy. You will become gladiators and become something better! If not, you will die the worthless scum you are!" Quintus called out. The other gladiators of the Ludus jeered, calling out a variety of threats, curses and mockery towards the men who were not yet their brothers. 

@Polarity

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Constructed on a raised plateau upon the slopes of the Oppian Hill, from this elevated position it looked down on the neighbouring Ludus Magnus. Were one to stand at the parapet of the Dacian school’s walls, they could catch glimpses over the walls and in to the far side of the interior courtyard of the rival facility. Whereas Dacicus was surrounded by an exterior wall, providing an expansive open space on all four sides of the central structure, the adjacent school encompassed the entirety of its boundaries within the interior of the building; it could be said to be the closest rival of the Flavian Colosseum for sheer volume, when one paused to consider its subterranean capacity.

The legionaries that accompanied the quartet of slaves to the Ludus, had made it a point to acknowledge the other two most prominent training schools as they passed the smaller ludi of Matutinus and Gallicus. Though unbeknownst to Ambrosius, a regional division arbitrarily separated the four schools, despite their close proximity. Whilst the latter two resided in the second region, known as the ‘Caelemontium’, Magnus and Dacicus were circumscribed to ‘Isis et Serapis’, the third region of civic planning. This was perhaps corollary of their individually perceived influence and importance.

Further in to the structure that formed the main hub of the ludus, an oval, wooden construct, enclosed on all sides, waited in the centre of an open-air arcade. The curtain walls of the assembled amphitheatre were tall enough to provide a protective partition between the spectators and the occupants of the arena, but without obscuring the view of all but the shortest of onlookers.

Ambrosius was wrought from his observation of the scene by bellowing of his new ‘custodian’. “Doctore!” The Roman beckoned another servant with a title unfamiliar to the young Briton. The call was quickly met by a response and the arrival of a much older gentleman with Gallic, even perhaps Celtic characteristics. It occurred to Ambrosius that this was unlikely to be the only kinsman among the mass of multi-ethnic slaves that were contained further within.

Vermiculi![1]” The instructor interjected with another Latin term, incomprehensible to the Briton’s mind, but the tone was impossible to misinterpret. The Doctor continued the assault of his foreign tongue upon Ambrosius’ unfamiliar ears, “…you prove…worthy…you will…become gladiators…become…better…you will die…scum you are!” These were the only words of the many that he had just been introduced to that he had been able to distinguish. It reminded him of the insults that the Roman population of Petuaria[2] would mutter as locals passed them by. ‘Gladiators’ was a term he had heard several times, in the barely noticeable background conversations of those very same Romans. Though he knew they fought for entertainment, he had never encountered one personally before now. He pondered how one might ‘prove worthy’.

@Brian

Reader Advisory:

  • [1] 'Vermiculi' is the Latin term for 'worms/maggots'.
  • [2] Petuaria is the Latin name for modern Brough, East Yorkshire, UK.
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