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Longinus smiled at the thought of his father doing anything other than flustering and swearing at the sight of the great big brute of the savage. He loved his father dearly, but leadership skills seemed to have skipped a generation. As the conversation moved on and Titus started to tell his own story. He couldn't hide his surprise and spluttered a choked laugh, eyes wide with shock and outrage. Whilst, obviously, completely indecent as it was he imagined it was not the first time something such as this had happened. Given legionaries hadn't the ability to marry and the camp followers were of...poor quality, it was to be expected. It didn't make it any better, however. 

"Oh yes, do tell." Longinus grinned and then straightened his mouth, trying not to laugh for the poor barber's sake. He hadn't really a sense of just how stern a legate Titus was. He'd missed that part of his life, whereas his friend had been in full view of his own turn in glory. 

 

TAG: @Liv @Atrice

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"There's not a lot to tell," he started, looking at Longinus with some confusion. He knew how that sort of thing was handled, why act like a whore pretending to be a virgin? Barbatius' curiosity was quite natural, and if any of the man's slaves were eager to know how the story ended, they hid it very well. "Anyway," he shrugged, "demotion to centurion for the prefect, for being stupid enough to get caught." In addition to having lost his rank and prestige, the man's pay had also gone down by an order of magnitude, but as a peregrinus, his punishment did not need to be especially severe.

The legionary, on the other hand, had been a citizen - and, worst of all, on the receiving end of the act. "And fustuarium for the legionary." Titus had not particularly enjoyed giving the order, but lack of discipline was the mortal enemy of any legion and the gods be damned if he was going to let it settle in its midst. Fear kept men alert and fighting fit better than excess camaraderie. It occurred to him that Barbatius, being a civilian, would likely not know what that meant, so he felt the need to provide a succinct, matter-of-fact summary. "That means being beaten to death with sticks." Sure, they could try to escape, but most never managed to. That one hadn't.

And now he had probably killed that easy-going mood they had managed to create, since everyone had gone as quiet as the barber's slaves.

@Atrice @Sara

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Of course Marcus would love to hear the end of the story Rufus had begun to tell. And while he understood that there had been some indecensy going on, Marcus was not so shocked. Maybe he should have been, but he had not served. No, what interested him far more was of course hearing how it did not end well for the prefect and the legionary. He wanted to hear about the punishmen. Longinus seemed amused for some reason, but also wanted to hear more about it and silence fell while Rufus was allowed to talk again.


First he claimed there was not much to tell, but Marcus arched a brow, as if he did not believe it. Then the other continued, saying the prefect had simply been demoted... but the legionary had gone thruogh a fustuarium, which Marcus of course knew what was. He was always curious when it came to ways to inflict pain on others, so although he had not served, he knew this part. Rufus explained anyway though, what it meant. If Rufus thought he'd killed the mood, he was sorely mistaken. The slaves were as quiet as always and he had managed to get Marcus' attention.


"I know what it means." Marcus said and focused on a moment on Longinus, finishing the last few strokes with the razor, "There you go, smooth as a baby's butt." He said with a smile to Longinus and with a cloth he wiped off the eccess oil from Longinus' face. Then he looked up at Rufus again, interested, "Did he die from it? Or is it a very ordinary kind of punishment, that means they can go on with their duties afterwards? Apologies for the questions, but I am always interested in learning more about how our empire and the defense of it, works." 

@Sara @Liv

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Longinus arched a brow. The man didn't look like he'd served as an auxiliary but he wouldn't put it past him. He also didn't want to consider the notion that he knew what fustuarium was any other way. He smiled at the man though, graciously, as he finished and wiped the excess oil from his face. With a sigh he stood up and moved to look at himself in the small mirror in the shop. He ran a hand over his jaw and then through his freshly cropped hair. He looked like a different man and it surprised him. And although not vain by any stretch of the imagination, he had to admit a bit of stubble on his chin looked better, more mature. Not that he was about to tell the barber, or Titus that. 

He clicked his fingers at the docile young slave and asked; "Wine." Which he took gratefully with an inclination of his head and took a deep sip. 

Turning towards Titus, back to Marcus he grinned and arched a brow. "Yes, what happened to him?" He knew full well what happened but he wanted to highlight the oddness of this interaction and this place (and this man). Continuing, he glanced back between Marcus and Titus. "Time for your haircut and shave Titus?" He grinned, self-satisfied.

 

TAG: @Liv @Atrice

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Things had just taken a turn for the bizarre, Titus thought to himself as he too raised a brow, not quite knowing what to make of Barbatius's apparent curiosity. The man knew of the punishment but not when it was called upon or its consequences? The brief suggestion that he might have served in an auxiliary attachment was quickly dispelled, for his questions made no sense if that had been the case.

He tried his best to keep his expression neutral as he answered, but a hint of apprehension might have seeped through. "Uh, he did die, so that was the end of his duties for him." Titus still wasn't sure how capital punishment related to the defence of the empire for a civilian, and his confusion was starting to show, but at the same time it wasn't like the topic was a military secret, so he had no good reason to suddenly grow shy. "But they can attempt to escape. If they succeed, they won't be chased, but then it's like they're exiled. Can't go back home, can't stay with their legion... I suppose it's a bit like being a fugitive slave." Subconsciously he glanced at Barbatius' slaves, the quiet young woman and the equally silent assistant. "It's a serious punishment," he added gravely, "it's not like we dish it out every time someone dallies at breakfast."

Longinus was at last done looking more presentable. It was rather amazing how much more respectable he looked with a clean-shaven face and hair of an acceptable length - now the wife hunt could proceed in earnest. "A job well done, as usual," he praised the barber, at the same time giving his friend a thumbs-up. And now it was his turn, though it was more maintenance than anything as neither facial nor head hair required as much attention as Longinus' had. He abandoned his post by the doorway and went to occupy the seat the other senator had just vacated, secretly looking forward to a bit of pampering, fresh-smelling oils and all.

"The usual for me," he told Barbatius, looking up. By that Titus meant getting rid of a 5 o'clock shadow and a regular haircut.

@Atrice @Sara

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Marcus had not served in any army at all... he simply had an interest in ways to inflict pain onto others, in a lot of different forms. He might not use them himself, but it was always useful learning about such things. So he had heard tales about fustuarium, and knew what it was, but was curious to see how it ended for the person on the receiving end of it. Meanwhile he finished shaving Longinus, considering this a very good conversation and topic too. Longinius smiled and stood and looked in the single mirror Marcus had in the shop - and he seemed satisfied enough. Longinus asked Aculia for wine and she quickly brought if or him, then returned to her place in the doorway. 


Rufus explained that the legionary receiving the harsh punishment had died - what a pity for him, Marcus thought. Wasn't it a bit stupid to give such bad punishments for your military men, that they died from that instead of from a battle. Then they would not be useful for the battle, after all. But it was not his place to ask questions about such things, since he had not served. Rufus continued saying people could escape, and if they did, they would be exiled and live more or less like fugitive slaves. Rufus added that it was a serious and not very common punishment. Marcus nodded, "That makes sense. If you dealt it out too often, the empire would grow very slowly, would it not?" He said with an amused tone, thinking about all the dead soldiers who could have fought battles instead of dying in the camp. 


Marcus smiled again, when Rufus complimented his skills at shaving Longinus and then he took a place in the chair for his usual service from the barber. 


"Of course, Senator." Marcus said and wiped excess oil off the razor too, "Would you like a scented oil too - orange, or perhaps another?" He asked Rufus. It would be easiest if Rufus would want the same as Longinus, since the oil had already been prepared, but of course, it was not up to Marcus to make the decisions for such fine men. He hoped Longinus was satisfied enough too to return another time. Quietly he began combing some water into Rufus' hair to prepare it for the haircut.

@Sara @Liv

 

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Longinus took up Titus' post and lent languidly against the doorframe to the shop, absently running a hand over his freshly shaved jaw. 

He really had minor interest as it was in the intricacies of shaving and grooming when it was himself undergoing it, let alone when it came to Titus' own shave. Instead, he let his eyes wander around the shop dispassionately, noting the neatness and order - nothing was out of place and aside the noise from the street it was eerily quiet. He thought to himself that he'd never quite been somewhere like this before. His eyes fell on the young woman who stood stock still, hands clasped around the wine pitcher and eyes glassy. He'd never quite seen a slave like that either, truth be told. Perhaps it was that he cut his own an odd amount of slack, but even Titus' had some colour and personality underneath their quiet mutterings of 'yes, domine'. And he knew his friend rules his domus with a tighter fist than his own. 

With interest, he indicated with a jerk of his freshly cropped head to the two silent slaves in the shop. "How do you get them so...quiet?" He frowned. He felt more at ease asking personal questions now he was safely out of the reach of the razor and by the door. The same, of course, couldn't quite be said for his friend who was at the mercy of the knife. "I've never seen such...well behaved slaves. Have you, Titus?" 

 

TAG: @Liv @Atrice

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Titus nodded sheepishly at the barber's amused inquiry, not really understanding why the man seemed to be amused by the whole talk of fustuarium. "Yes, well, if you were to dish out capital punishment for every minor thing, it would lose its effectiveness. If a man doesn't fear death, then what does he fear? And how do you control him?" A disciplined legionary was a good legionary; a fearless legionary was an idiot.

"Gods, definitely not orange!" Titus exclaimed with a look of mild revulsion. "Don't want people to think I've been rubbing chins with that one." He stared straight at Longinus and smirked, daring the other to say something back, before turning his attention back to Barbatius. "Frankincense would be nice though, if you've got that...?" An earthier fragrance was more to his taste than citrusy perfumes.

He was all but ready to close his eyes and abandon himself to the simple earthly pleasure of a scalp massage, but of course Longinus had to pipe up and require his opinion on, of all things, the barber's slaves. Had one of them suddenly caught his friend's eye, for him to be so intrigued? Titus arched an inquiring brow, but admitted to himself that Longinus did have a point. The slaves were extremely well-behaved, almost unnaturally so. They nearly resembled statues in their stillness. "No, me neither," he agreed, his gaze flitting from the quiet girl with the wine pitcher to the one who had mixed the oils, to yet another one standing by. Thinking back to that macabre story about the slave who had slit his own throat, Titus began to suspect that their silent devotion to their master was indeed owing to visceral fear. A fear so great that it shocked them into lifelessness. He was no charitable, egalitarian soul, but he would take a too-feisty slave like that Dacian wench of his any day over one of these poor shells of a servant.

Since he wouldn't be able to fully relax under Barbatius' ministrations anyway thanks to all the chatting, Titus thought they'd might as well get to the bottom of it, or as close to it as social affectations permitted. "Yes, do tell. How do you train them?"

@Atrice @Sara

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Marcus could only agree with Rufus, that people needed fear in order to be best controlled. It was surprising though to hear, that such ideas were also common in the military. Although Marcus did not think you needed to fear death itself to be controlled... although it certainly was useful to the whole thing with taming slaves and making them obedient. He didn't answer the question though, because Rufus was also ready to be shaved and requested a scent on his own.


"Of course we have some frankincense." He said with a smile, it wasn't as cheap as the orange though, but there was no need to mention that. A short glance to Manus made his longest living slave understand, that he should get going and make that shaving oil ready for the fine Senator. Meanwhile Longinus had leaned against the doorframe to the shop and Rufus seemed more than ready for having his hair cut. Longinus then suddenly spoke up, wondering how Marcus got his slaves to be so quiet and well-behaved. Rufus agreed they were very quiet and well-behaved and Marcus smiled, that made him quite proud. He had done a good job with these at least. Germanus had been more troublesome, but hopefully he would soon learn too... or he might never! 


Now Rufus was curious too and Marcus sat down on the stool next to the chair, "It's really not so hard. You spoke about making the soldiers fear death, to make them easier to control. I think death is maybe a little bit harsh, so I agree more on your first notion... don't deal it out every time. Very often a good punishment is enough. And make sure they know their place and make sure they know that they are replaceable. They are only slaves, after all." Marcus pointed out, "Manus there, he is good though. Aculia is satisfying too so far." He added, glancing at each slave in turn, Manus had been with him three years and it was probably best to keep him loyal, when he had been that so far. And Aculia was definitely learning too. Still though, it was worrying that they had to ask, the Senators. Were their slaves not as well-behaved? "Do you never punish your slaves if they fail you?" 

@Liv @Sara

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Longinus grinned at Titus childishly, "You should be so bloody lucky." Longinus knew whilst he preferred the fairer sex, an attractive man was just as welcome in his bed. Nonetheless, even the vague idea of Titus being that man made bile rise uncomfortably in his throat. Gods, not if his friend was the last man on earth would he...he shook his head to rid the thought from his mind and concentrated on the much cheerier conversation around discipling slaves. 

He arched a brow as Marcus spoke, watching the man intently. His comments did sound as outlandish as he feared, but there was still something unnerving about the statuesque slaves that littered his shop. 

"Of course I do," He picked up a grape and tossed it in his mouth from the side. His eyes briefly flitted over the female one who stood stock still, as if this conversation was happening out of earshot. "A couple to the mines, a few branded and sold if they ran, and the lash very rarely but," He shrugged, "I'm probably too easy on them. Some of the things I let them get away with..." He grinned and tossed in another grape. Pointing an accusatory finger at Titus he rolled his eyes, "This one probably thinks I'm too soft on them." 

 

TAG: @Liv @Atrice

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