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The summons to a private interview with Quintus Caesar Augustus could not have come at a more opportune time, as far as Aulus was concerned. He had news that he needed to impart, and the sooner the better, for all concerned - if he could.

He arrayed himself in his Senatorial finest, reflecting that the last time either man had seen the other, they had been in far more comfortable military gear. He idly wondered if Quintus Augustus would recognise his former tribune out of his breastplate and military cloak.

The Domus Augustorum was designed to impress and overawe those who approached it. Doubtless the original house, inhabited by the Divine Augustus, had been somewhat less impressive - he had been famed for the simplicity of his habits and lifestyle, after all - but it had been extended and improved upon until very little, if anything at all, could be discerned of the original. Aulus refused to be overawed; he had a previous acquaintance with the primary inhabitant of the place, which many of the visitors to it did not, and Quintus Augustus would be the same man whether Aulus met him here or in the midst of a military encampment in Cappodocia.

He gave his name to the slave at the door and was allowed inside, guided within the rabbit warren to the very heart of the palace, to be admitted to the presence of the Augustus himself, a private interview without the presence of all those who wished to present petitions for this favour or that.

He went forward, enough to be seen by the man seated upon the curule chair at the far end of the room, and waited to be acknowledged.

 

@Chris

Edited by Sharpie
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"Ah, Aulus Praetxtatus!" Quintus stood as he saw the figure of his ally enter the room. He matched the man's steps until near enough to him to extend a military hand shake. "Good of you to come. Wine?" He turned to a slave who, with near impeccable placement, was standing just a few feet away from them with a vase and cups in hand. Quintus went ahead and took his, and took a drink. 

"I trust the preparations for your campaign are in order?" Quintus of course backed Aulus' nomination as consul, and would see to it that the man took the chair of prominence in the coming year. Though Aulus was two decades younger than himself, Quintus considered him a strong ally, daresay a friend. It was no secret that Quintus was not a man to trust easily. For almost all of his life he had relied upon his own strength and cunning to advance his career and his station. But those few men who showed not only loyalty, but a consistent kind of loyalty.. those were the kind of men worth supporting.

@Sharpie

 

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Aulus grasped the arm extended to him in a firm military shake. He had never wanted the purple; his own ambition was not of that sort, but in the chaos and confusion of Clemens' purges, he had known that his place was by the side of his old commander, and he had supported Quintus Flavius Alexander in his own bid for power, knowing that the older man's quest was the best hope for peace and prosperity for Rome itself - and so it had proven.

"Thank you," he said, accepting the wine-cup offered to him. "And yes, I think so. I had in mind to build a thermae or some such for the city - with your approbation, naturally." He would not go against Caesar's wishes, of course, but there was a long tradition of consuls (and those seeking that position) offering civic works for the benefit of the city. "I understand Octavius is building a new library now that his amphitheatre is finished and in use."

 

@Chris

 

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Looking over the brim of his cup, Quintus nodded. "Yes," he said, returning his now emptied cup to the slave, "Octavius has the gift of seeing space for great and impressive buildings where I only see slums." He chuckled, and then continued on to the point, which was Aulus' own ambitions. "Certainly the city could use a thermae... or some such. All new building projects are now passed through Octavius, but whatever it is you have in mind, give me the outline first and I'll make sure it gets approved."

At the break, Quintus motioned for Aulus to follow him through the rear exit of the Aula Regia into the courtyard where they might enjoy the fresh weather as they talked. "So tell me, Aulus, what other ideas do you have in mind for your coming year?"

 

@Sharpie

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"I had heard that, but it didn't feel right speaking with him before I'd spoken with you, Augustus," Aulus said. He finished his own wine, handed the cup to a waiting slave and followed the Emperor through another door into a private courtyard.

"I think the thermae will be my major project for the year, although I do intend to allocate funds for the Domi Alimenta, which will no doubt please the Augusta. I am sure that Horatia Justina would also like a way to be involved - she is quite the organisational force. You may have heard of the ladies' reading club she has set up?" Maybe not, unless Quintus and Octavius had discussed it; Quintus Flavius would likely be far too busy with projects of much greater importance.

 

@Chris

 

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Though Quintus trusted his brother Octavius, he nevertheless appreciated Aulus' intuition to defer to the higher authority when it came to matters of the state. He allowed a quick smile to cross his expression before returning to his regular straight face.

He continued to listen as Aulus talked and they strolled into the courtyard. The caretakers of the courtyard were out, trimming bushes and tending to flowers as necessary. In the distance were two of the German Guard, different from the Praetorians in that they alone remained within the halls of the palace as the Praetorians protected the imperials everywhere outside of it.

As Aulus expanded upon his plans for the coming year, he touched the subject of his wife and her resourcefulness. "I believe Octavius mentioned something of it," Quintus said, seeming to remember his brother broaching the subject not so long ago. "It is an inspired thing, to be sure. If we have more educated and socially engaged women, we can hopefully have better-educated and more responsible children." Quintus gave most of the credit for his own success to the morales his mother had instilled upon him.

"I am sure the Augusta will be happy to help however she can."

Just then, one of the message runners approached from the far end of the courtyard. He was promptly stopped by the guard, who intercepted the message and brought it to Caesar.

"Ah, just a moment, Aulus," he said, and stepped away from his guest to read the missive. His eyes scanned it over quickly and without a word he returned the parchment to the guard and then returned to Aulus. "Apologies. Where were we?"

@Sharpie 

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Aulus stepped back as a messenger brought a missive to the Augustus. He found himself a little annoyed at the sudden sense of trepidation and put it down to the sudden scrutiny his family had come under for no apparent reason. The Emperor must receive hundreds of written communications daily; even as a provincial governor, Aulus had been the recipient of several score of letters and notes all seemingly of the utmost importance. He was not so self-centred that he was convinced any such message must concern him, but he could not completely dismiss the notion that perhaps it did.

"I hope that you will forgive the presumption, Augustus, but I find myself in the middle of a... delicate situation, concerning one of your own Praetorians," he said once Caesar had returned the note to the guard, without saying a word in reply to whatever its contents might be. "One of my slaves was picked up and taken to the Castra Praetoria where he was questioned with regard to my connections to certain men including but not limited to Lucius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Scaurus. It was suggested that my loyalty to you might be in doubt."

If Quintus himself thought that Aulus was poised to betray him, then there was nothing that Aulus could do to stem the tide. If, however, it was all due to the Praetorian in question as Aulus suspected it was, then he had at least made the Emperor aware of it. And his relationship with Quintus went back a good twenty years or so - to Aulus' service as a tribune many years before Quintus had risen to the purple. Twenty years of loyal service would not easily be put aside, by either man - or at least that was Aulus' fervent hope.

 

@Chris

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