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13th of October, during the festival Fontinalia

The Piscina Publica were public swimming grounds and luckily placed not very far from their home. And this was quite lucky on a day like today – it was, after all, Fontinalia and it was the day of celebration for Fons, the god of wells and springs. Septima Major was out with her sister, Minor, to celebrate the day. They’d spent the last few days on preparing a most beautiful garland out of flowers and grasses and leaves and now it was done and ready to be hung on a fountain near the Piscina Publica on this very day.

Septima Major was excited – she loved festivals like these and could barely wait with going out. Maybe she spent a little too long getting ready. Septima Minor had been ready for a while, before Major finally decided she was done too. She wore a very pretty, bright green chiton with a yellow and red palla over it. Her hair had been done up on her head, with twirls and curls and a few yellow flowers and green leaves added to the style. It went very well with her pretty blue eyes. On her feet were simple slippers.

They carried the garland together on their way to the fountain. She gave her sister a smile, after she’d waved to a few people she knew on the way – Septima knew many people and she liked to talk to people and make new friends, “Oh I hope someone else didn’t already decorate the fountain we decided on. It’s going to look so pretty, isn’t it?” Septima Major said with an excited tone, “I wonder if there’s going to be music too. And maybe someone set up a shop that sells food and drinks? We could stay a little while.” She suggested with a smile, “Oh, do you think anyone’ swimming in the pools today? That would be interesting.”

@Chevi 

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Fontinalia was one of the holidays Septima Minor enjoyed. She was devoted to the gods of Rome, as well as the gods that now belonged to Rome from Egypt, but that did not mean she was comfortable with all the rites and celebrations that went with them. She enjoyed her peace and quiet, and tended to get nervous in large crowds - and Rome, even on a good day, was the definition of a large crowd. Sometimes, devotion and excitement carried her on, while other times she felt like never leaving the house (Lupercalia was one of those times). 

Fontinalia was a good one.

The would have been out at the Piscina hours ago, if it had not been for Thalia trying to look her very best. As if she had to try. While the two sisters looked very much alike (except for the eyes), Thalia didn't really have to try to look good; she was effortlessly stunning in a way Septima Minor never quite grasped. Today, she was content with a buttercup-colored dress and a matching palla that she let her sister pick out for her for the festivities. Her hair was pinned up in a simple way, decorated with an abundance of flowers. Septima Minor liked flowers. They were fascinating.

“Oh I hope someone else didn’t already decorate the fountain we decided on. It’s going to look so pretty, isn’t it?” 

"Very" she smiled at her sister over the abundance of colors and scents that the garland represented. It was beautiful work from flowers freshly picked.

“I wonder if there’s going to be music too. And maybe someone set up a shop that sells food and drinks? We could stay a little while. Oh, do you think anyone’ swimming in the pools today? That would be interesting.”

"You mean men?" Clio ventured with a chuckle. She knew her excitable sister all too well. "I bet they will be. Don't let them catch you looking, though." There were already a lot of people around the Piscina. Some fountains were already decorated with flowers and garlands, and people seemed to have the same cheerful anticipation as the twins. "You know, these used to be the sacred fountains of Rome before the first aqueducts were built..."

@Atrice

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It wasn’t that Septima hadn’t wanted her sister to be dressed up in something more colorful and vibrant – but she knew that her sister didn’t like that and preferred to be more down-to-Earth and not quite so noticeable. So she’d picked that dress with the matching palla… but made sure she was well-decorated with flowers too. Together they now carried the garland they made together and Septima was, as usual, chatty on the way to the fountain.

Clio, as she sometimes called her sister, agreed it would look very pretty and then Septima went on about how she hoped it would all be. Her sister naturally knew exactly what she meant, when she wondered if anyone were swimming in the pools.

“I’m not sure I’m very good at being discrete.” Septima said with a laugh, when Clio warned her to not catch them looking. She smiled at everyone they passed and then her sister of course had to mention some of the history behind the fountains they’d arrived at. She knew Clio was like a wandering scroll of knowledge and sometimes, what she talked about was kind of boring, but sometimes, it was interesting. Like now.

“Really? Sacred fountains, hm… do you think they’re still sacred? Can they cure the sick… or are they sacred in another way? I wonder why they are not sacred anymore. Where did the... sacredness go, if they are not sacred anymore?” Septima mused, wondering how something could be sacred at one point and then suddenly, not sacred anymore. She looked around, “I can’t imagine Rome without the aqueducts. They’re everywhere!”

@Chevi

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“I’m not sure I’m very good at being discrete.” 

Thalia knew herself, and Clio knew her sister. She was friendly and attractive, and did not have to do much to draw attention even when he was not trying. She was definitely the more popular of the two of them; Clio tended to get lost in her own thoughts, and put on a thinking face that made most interested parties retreat.

“Really? Sacred fountains, hm… do you think they’re still sacred? Can they cure the sick… or are they sacred in another way? I wonder why they are not sacred anymore. Where did the... sacredness go, if they are not sacred anymore?... I can’t imagine Rome without the aqueducts. They’re everywhere!”

Clio chuckled at her sister's questions. Thalia was generally patient with her historian ambitions, but not terribly interested, unless a topic came up on occasion that somehow caught her fancy.

"The first one was built almost four hundred years ago." she noted, almost without thinking "By Appius Claudius Caecus. And no, I don't think they are still sacred, otherwise people would not be swimming in them for fun. But, to an extent, every water is sacred, of course." she nodded at the wreath they were carrying. Fontinalia was all about celebrating the fountains of Rome, after all. And celebrating they did; as they got closer to the Piscina, someone called out in Greek, and splashed some water their way.

@Atrice

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Really, Rome without aqueducts was barely Rome at all, she thought to herself, as they walked together and somehow chatted about the fountains and aqueducts and sacredness and the history behind it all. Or, it was more her sister with the history and Thalia with the other chatting. She smiled when her sister chuckled at all her random questions, and then her sister calmly pointed out how the first fountain was built hundreds of years ago and mentioned some name Thalia would probably have forgotten anyway in a few moments. Then she said the fountains were not scared anymore, but the water was.

"That doesn't make sense. So the fountains aren't sacred, but the water in them is..." She tried to wrap her mind about that and about hundreds of years old fountains and then shook her head. It was too much to take in. She was here to have fun.

"Which fountain should we pick for our garland?" She asked then, looking around at the square and the people and all the flowers and happiness they were surrounded by... "How about the large one?" She nodded over towards the largest fountain, which was already decorated with several garlands, but she decided she also wanted in on the big one. Carefully she tugged at the garland she and her sister held, to pull Clio with her. It was only a matter of time however, before the garland might break.

@Chevi

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"That doesn't make sense. So the fountains aren't sacred, but the water in them is..."

"There is no life where there is no water" Clio clarified with some reverence. In the cult of Isis, the water of the Nile was sacred, as it had kept Egypt alive in the middle of the desert since times immemorial. Something that could give life like water did had to be held in respect. This was why festivals like the Fontinalia had started, to remind people how precious their water was. 

"Which fountain should we pick for our garland? How about the large one?"

"Sure, we can do the large one" she smiled at her sister, heading that way. There were other people placing garlands, chatting, sharing drinks, and laughing. Some young men were splashing around in the water. One of them noticed the sisters carrying flowers, and commented to his friends, loud enough to be heard: "Look, even the nymphs are coming out for the festival!"

@Atrice

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Her sister commented on Thalia's wonder about fountains not being sacred, but the water was. It really made no sense. But she quickly moved on, barely hearing what her sister said, because it looked like such a fun place to be, this area, right now. And to think this was going on in all of Rome. She smiled by the thought and wondered which fountain they should pick. Clio agreed on the largest fountain and they headed that way, Thalia happily smiling at everyone and maybe she glanced a little too long at the young men splashing in the water. She blushed a little, they were so handsome and their bodies glistening water pearls. 

Then one of the young men commented on the twins coming with their garland, calling them nymphs and Thalia laughed, "Are we nymphs now? I wonder if we control the water then... or whatever is in the water..." She said with a smile, "What do you think, sister? If I'm a nymph, I suppose I should get into the water too..." She added with an arched brow and half an eye on the young men, certain that they were paying attention too.

It was a great idea, getting into the water. She looked at her sister and leaned closer, "You would not tell, would you? If I did go in...?" 

@Chevi

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Clio blushed as the young men called out to them, and turned her attention to the garlands. She did not need to look to know that Thalia was probably looking right back at the half-naked men, enjoying the view and the attention. 

"Are we nymphs now? I wonder if we control the water then... or whatever is in the water..."

"You can control whatever is in the water any time!" one of the young men yelled, and the others laughed and splashed. Clio huffed, busying herself with arranging the garland on the fountain among the other decorations. It did look very pretty, and the scent of so many garlands was almost overwhelming. 

"What do you think, sister? If I'm a nymph, I suppose I should get into the water too..." 

Clio blinked, looking up at her sister, then at the young men who seemed to be very much in approval of that suggestion.

"You would not tell, would you? If I did go in...?" 

"Are you sure it's a good idea? Lots of people would see..." Clio whispered back, worried. She would not tell on Thalia, of course. She never did. They had a stronger bond than that, even if they were both going to get in trouble in the end. Still, she was not sure Thalia should do something so reckless...

@Atrice

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Her sister blushed when the young men called out to them, but Thalia was more curious than shy about them. There were so many things she didn't know and she was so damn curious about it all! Hopefully her grandfather would soon find a husband for her, or else she did not know how much longer she could wait. She mused about controlling what was in the water and chuckled when the young men said she could do that.


Then she thought about also bathing in the fountains and this got Clio looking at her while they were arranging the garland on the fountain. Thalia was still entertaining the idea though, hoping her sister would not tell on her! But Clio didn't know if it would be a good idea, since people would see it.


"But it is a festival, Clio..." Thalia said, her eyes pleading, "Surely it would not be that wrong, would it?" She said, reaching up to wrap the garland around some more and she took a step to the side. Maybe she should not do it, although it was tempting and it wasn't even cold today. One of the handsome young men kept looking at her and sent her a wink and now she did blush when she looked at Clio again, "Why should I not?" 

@Chevi

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"But it is a festival, Clio... Surely it would not be that wrong, would it?"

Clio looked at her sister, biting her lip, torn about how to answer. Technically, festivals in Rome allowed a lot more freedom to the people, even the women, than any other ordinary day, so Thalia was not wrong on that count. Festivals were special, sacred occasions with their own rules, and, at least in this case, the celebration of life. On the other hand... she was not sure their family approved quite this easily.

The young men whistled in the background.

"Why should I not?" 

"Well, it's..." how to argue this, to not get caught between being called a prude and disrespecting the festival? "You think it's not... too much? You are almost old enough to marry..."

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She could see that her sister was considering the options. And she knew that she could sometimes be too spontaneous, but that's why her sister was so wonderful to have... she was so much more considerate for some reason, she was thoughtful, she did not just rush into things. You could say that Clio was almost like her conscience in some cases. Maybe now was one of those cases? And she would not jump into the water unless Clio thought it was alright. It was not that she wanted to embarrass her sister, she just wanted a little bit of fun too... she chuckled when the young men whistled and shook her head at them, and then Clio said she thought it was too much since Thalia was almost ready to marry.

"I suppose you're right." She said with a little sigh, thinking that it might always be too much. Right now she was almost ready to marry, but when she was married, certainly her husband would not allow such... fun? She did not think any proper man in Rome would allow his wife to jump into a fountain just like that.

"I won't, then." Thalia said and let go of the garland to step backwards and down from the edge of the fountain. It was then she let out a little yelp as she slipped on the wet edge and fell... not into the fountain, but onto the ground just next to it. Luckily she caught herself before her head hit the ground, but the foot that slipped hurt a little. Well this was not part of the plan and so not fun at all! She sat up more straight and bent her leg to look at the foot and ankle, forgetting all about young men and garlands for a moment.

@Chevi

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Marcus had been out to visit one of the Whites' sponsors, otherwise he probably would have never been anywhere near the Piscina Publica on a festival day like today - Fontinalia was a spring festival, at least in its rites and mood, if not in season, with young women and young men decorating the fountains in gratitude for the gods' gift of water. Marcus knew how valuable a resource water was - the White stables needed a great deal of it for all the horses, not to mention the staff, and more for cooking with, too.

He was passing one fountain with a couple of young girls decorating it with a garland of flowers. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, chattering excitedly away, and as he paused to watch one of them stepped backwards and missed her footing, tumbling with a startled yelp, although she caught herself before her head hit the stone paving.

"Are you alright?" he asked, stepping forward.

 

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"Thalia!" Clio cried out as her sister stepped back, lost her footing, and fell backwards. Not into the water, although that might have been a better option... or at least a softer landing. Instead, she landed on her back just by the pool, accompanied by a few yells and a few laughs. None of the flirty young men had been close enough to gallantly catch her, to everyone'd dismay. Clio let go of the garland and stepped down to crouch by her sister's side. "Are you alright?..."

Her words were echoed by an older man who suddenly appeared at their side. Clio looked up, not recognizing him. Maybe he could help? If Thalia needed medical attention, she couldn't really carry her back home all by herself...

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Thalia still sat on the ground after she fell, trying to twist her leg so that she could see her foot and ankle. That her dress slipped a bit up her leg she barely noticed, she was so busy with seeing if her ankle would swell or get a bruise or something. Her sister had cried out when she fell and Clio hurried to get to her side, asking if she was alright. Thalia looked at her, but before she could answer, there was a man approaching them, also asking if she was alright.


Funny that none of the young men from the fountain had come to her rescue, she thought to herself and looked up at the man - not as young and handsome as those in the fountain, but he seemed friendly and kind, she thought.


"I... don't know. I just fell. It does hurt." She said, glancing to her sister, wondering what she thought about the man approaching them. Honestly she did not fall on purpose, it was not fun being in pain. But that it made someone come to her aid was maybe not so bad? No matter what though, should they speak like this to a stranger? Probably not. She should introduce herself.


"This is my sister, Septima Minor. I share her name, although I am Major." She added, "Do you know anything about injuries, sir?" 

@Chevi @Sharpie

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"It would be very hard to be in my line of work for long and not learn about injuries and how to deal with them," Marcus told the injured young lady with a smile, grateful that she wasn't screaming in pain as he knelt down beside her. Which meant that it was not likely to be a very severe injury, though falling off a step could not be compared to falling out of a chariot drawn by four galloping horses.

The girls were about four years older than his own daughter, who would be joining her own friends to decorate the fountain near the White stables for Fontinalia next year, or the year after.

"As you have told me your names, it is only right to return the favour - I am Eppius Parthenicus, known to my friends as Marcus. And no, I am not a medicus, but I have some knowledge of how to treat sprains and set broken bones. With your permission, I would like to take a look at your ankle and make sure that you haven't hurt yourself very badly. Tell me if it hurts when I press here... or here..." He pressed gently, listening for the indrawn breath or sharp yelp that would mean he'd found a tender spot.

 

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"I... don't know. I just fell. It does hurt." 

Clio knelt by her sister, trying to puzzle out how she could help. The man seemed like he knew what he was doing, or at least willing to offer help. If worst came to worst, they could find someone to help carry Thalia back to the house, and call a medicus there. Thalia pulled up her foot, and some people were turning to watch the interesting spectacle, but as there was no blood or screaming, and a man already nearby, most quickly lost interest.

Thalia, even with a hurt ankle, had the presence of mind to introduce themselves to the man.

"It would be very hard to be in my line of work for long and not learn about injuries and how to deal with them,"

"Are you a medicus?" Clio asked hopefully. Maybe they were lucky?

"As you have told me your names, it is only right to return the favour - I am Eppius Parthenicus, known to my friends as Marcus. And no, I am not a medicus, but I have some knowledge of how to treat sprains and set broken bones. With your permission, I would like to take a look at your ankle and make sure that you haven't hurt yourself very badly."

He was not a medicus, but he knew what he was doing. Clio watched with mixed worry and interest as he examined Thalia's ankle, hoping she was not hurt too badly. His name sounded vaguely familiar.

"If you are not a medicus, how did you learn how to do this?"

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It was kind of the stranger to approach them and maybe offer his help somehow, and it was surprising he was the only one who did it. There was really every reason to treat him with kindness, she thought, and despite the pain she managed to remember her manners and introduced both her sister and herself. She did not think he knew anything about injuries, but thought he could go for help - then he surprised her by saying he did know about injuries and how to deal with them! 

Then her sister asked if he was a medicus before she did, but she did not think he was. He was much too finely dressed to simply be a medicus, she thought to herself, and he then shared his name and said he knew about sprains and broken bones. Thalia nodded when he said he would take a look at her ankle and then he wrapped a hand around her bare skin and pressed gently.

She went all quiet while he did it and winced when he reached the part of the ankle where the tibia met with the ankle bone... "There..." She said. Meanwhile, Clio had been watching them in silence until she wondered how he learned these things. Thalia gave her a look, Clio was not so worried that she could not stop and ask him unrelated questions. What mattered was he knew stuff. She felt a tiny bit irritated that her sister was interrupting, always so curious, even when she should not be.  

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"I don't think it's broken," Marcus said. "Can you move your foot at all?" 

He looked up at the unhurt sister - Minor. "I've dealt with far worse injuries than this - I don't suppose you've ever been to the races at the Circus Maximus?" The biggest of the circi was also the closest - but then, they might prefer the games, or their father might not take them anywhere, being young unmarried women. Presumably unmarried, neither one was wearing a stola, the mark of a married woman as the toga was the mark of an adult man.

"I'm the head of the White racing faction," he said, although the information probably wouldn't mean very much to the girls. "It's a bit like the lanista of a ludus, but for the races rather than the games."

He had far more responsibility than any lanista, though, because there were all the horses to care for as well as the charioteers.

@Chevi @Atrice

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Thalia gave her a look, but Clio decided to ignore her sister. If this man was going to put his hands on her, Clio needed to know he could be trusted, or at least that he knew what he was doing, even though he wasn't a medicus. She watched closely as he examined Thalia, and bit her lips, hoping the ankle wasn't broken. A broken leg was serious business, and it would lay Thalia up for weeks at best, and she'd go stir crazy.

Maybe it wasn't broken. Maybe.

"I've dealt with far worse injuries than this - I don't suppose you've ever been to the races at the Circus Maximus? I'm the head of the White racing faction,"

Clio's mouth opened in surprise. The races! No wonder he knew about injuries. She had only been once or twice, and she was more occupied with the technicalities of chariot driving and handling the horses than the actual excitement of the race, but... well, the races were popular. And the leader of a faction was a very important person. Clio glanced at her sister, to see how Thalia would react.

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Marcus said her ankle was not broken and asked if she could move her foot. She wriggled it a little bit, but let out a pained whimper... "I can move it, but it... hurts." She said, while he kept talking to Clio and explained how he knew about injuries. Then he spoke about races and the Circus Maximus and how he was the head of one of the racing factions. Head of a racing faction! 


"That's an impressive title!" Thalia said before she could stop herself, "I mean... well... it is. It could be fun seeing a race, now we know you. Once I can walk again." She added with a little sigh, wondering how in the name of Hades she was going to get back home again. Now this day wasn't going to be as much fun as she had thought it would.


"Do you think grandfather will let us go see a race soon?" She asked her sister. To her it was exiting, both because of the races themselves, but also all the people there. She loved watching people and talking to them and there were so many interesting things to see. To be honest, it was only half of the time that her eyes were on the actual race.

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"That's all right, you don't have to move it any more," Marcus said. That she could move it was good; proof positive that she had not broken it. Even a sprain would be painful but there was no need to move it now. "It's only a sprain, but I'm sure it hurts. I recommend that you rest it - don't put any weight on it if you can avoid it, and keep a cool compress on it."

Of course, she could  not remain here with it. He looked up at Minor. "Do you live nearby?"

Hopefully their home was not too far away; her sister might be able to hop there with help. He could probably carry her, if it wasn't too far. She was a sturdy thing, but he doubted he would have to carry her right across the city; she and her sister would have chosen a fountain near their home, one they probably used daily.

 

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If there was anything that could make Thalia forget about an injured ankle, it was meeting a new and interesting person. Someone involved with the races, Rome's favorite pastime, definitely qualified as interesting, and therefore a momentary remedy to the pain.

"That's an impressive title! I mean... well... it is. It could be fun seeing a race, now we know you. Once I can walk again. Do you think grandfather will let us go see a race soon?" 

Clio couldn't help but chuckle a little at her sister, thinking of the next entertaining thing while she could not even stand up. She put a hand on Thalia's shoulder, waiting for the man to decide how serious the injury was. Thalia said she could move her foot, so it couldn't be that bad, right?

 "It's only a sprain, but I'm sure it hurts. I recommend that you rest it - don't put any weight on it if you can avoid it, and keep a cool compress on it. Do you live nearby?"

"We walked from home" Clio nodded "Should I... should I go fetch a litter?"

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Thalia nodded when Marcus told her, that she would not have to move her ankle anymore. But then she had indeed gained a distraction from the pain, which was Marcus being the head of the White racing faction. Thalia had never actually met someone who dealt with such things, so it was very interesting. But the two others also kept talking, Marcus said that her ankle was only hurt by a sprain and she should rest it and put something cool on it. She nodded quietly and Marcus asked if they lived close by. Clio replied before Thalia could, explaining they had walked and wondered if she should fetch a litter.

"Maybe you should?" Thalia suggested, "I'm sure Marcus can watch over me while you do that. You have been very kind so far, Marcus." She added, looking up at the friendly man. He might not be the youngest and not the handsomest she had seen, but you also got very far with kindness and he had that. And he must also be clever, she thought, since he was the head of a racing faction. He was probably in charge of a lot of things she could not even imagine. It really would be interesting to go and see the races and then maybe Marcus would show them the stables or something afterwards. That would be even more interesting! 

But first things first, she looked up at her sister, waiting to see if she would fetch a litter or what the other two would agree upon.

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Posted (edited)

"Yes, if you don't mind leaving your sister while you do so," Marcus said. If their first thought was a carrying chair or litter, then money was likely not a worry and hopefully they would have a slave who would be able to help the injured girl into the house. 

"Have you hurt yourself anywhere else?" he asked Major, now that they had ascertained that her ankle was almost certainly not broken. He had not seen the whole accident but if she had bumped her hip, say, on the way down, there could easily be additional bruising on top of the sprain.

He noted that neither of them had said if they had ever gone to the races. Perhaps their father - or grandfather, if he was the paterfamilias - would allow them to come, as his guests? He might get a new sponsor out of it... And that was as far as he let that chain of thought go; one did not do very well in Marcus'position if one dwelt on 'perhaps' and 'maybe' and 'if this, then that'.

He wondered instead how easy, or hard, it would be for Minor to find a chair; he had never noted how common or otherwise they were around here, beyond berating the carriers when they got in the way of teams heading between the stables and the Circus.

 

@Chevi @Atrice

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"Maybe you should? I'm sure Marcus can watch over me while you do that. You have been very kind so far, Marcus." 

Oh, Thalia was curious about the man now, and Clio was sure she didn't mind being left to chat with the leader of the Whites while she waited for a litter to be taken home. Clio hesitated for a moment, looking around. They were in a public place, with lots of people bringing flowers to the fountains. It was probably alright to leave Thalia alone with Marcus for a little bit. 

"Yes, if you don't mind leaving your sister while you do so," 

"Alright. I will be right back." she decided, nodding to her sister as if adding don't do anything foolish, before she turned around and hurried off.

@Sharpie  @Atrice

((Feel free to do a couple of rounds without me))

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